From Femi Folaranmi, Yenagoa
Former leader of the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta(MEND), Government Ekpemupolo aka Tompolo has appealed to ex-agitators in the region not to disrupt the peace of the Niger Delta region.
Tompolo’s appeal in the form of a letter titled : “Niger Delta Agitators Ultimatum to the Federal Government: A call for restraint” is coming on the heels of heightened tension due to the failure of the Federal Government to inaugurate a new board for the Niger Delta Development Commission(NDDC) as promised.
Tompolo had joined the fray of those calling for the inauguration of the NDDC board when on May 30, he issued a seven-day ultimatum to the Federal Government to inaugurate the board or witness disruption of peace in the region.
His ultimatum had forced the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Senator Godswill Akpabio to convene a meeting at Oporoza, the headquarters of the Gbaramatu Kingdom, Delta State on June 4 where in the presence of leaders of the Ijaw nation and traditional rulers pleaded for the ultimatum to withdrawn with the assurance that the new board would be inaugurated before the end of June.
However two days into July without the announcement of the new board, tension had begun to build with ex-agitators and some militant groups spoiling for a show down with the Federal Government.
The militant group, Niger Delta Avengers had few days ago announced ‘Operation Humble’ to cripple Nigeria’s economy through the bombing of oil installations and facilities.
Tomoplo’s in his letter pleaded with aggrieved people of the region to avoid the temptation to throw the region into crisis.
The letter read in part: “June 2021 has come to an end. The people of the region are yet to see any tangible move towards the constitution of the NDDC board by the Federal Government. The people are seriously agitated. There is palpable fear and tension in the region.
“I wish to reiterate my earlier position that, the government should as a matter of urgency, constitute the substantive board of the NDDC to avoid unnecessary bickering and crisis in the region.
“Since I reluctantly accepted the outcome of the consultative meeting, I have done so much to keep peace in the region which some major stakeholders in the security circle are aware of.
I have been in constant touch with my fellow agitators in the region to give peace a chance knowing fully well that there cannot be any meaningful development in an atmosphere of rancour and acrimony.
“As it stands now, the one thing the government must do in this issue is to be courageous enough to constitute the NDDC board. Government must be sincere in handling developmental issues in the Niger Delta region as the people have suffered enough, being neglected for several decades.
“The truth of the matter is there is so much bitterness in the land owning to the lackadaisical attitude of this government in handling matters of great importance to its citizens”
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Source: Nigerian Newspapers Online