NDDC BOARD: Akpabio summons Niger Delta stakeholders for an emergency meeting over Tompolo’s ultimatum
By Ebi Perekeme
Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Senator Godswill Akpabio, has invited all ethnic nationalities in the Niger Delta region with a view to addressing issues causing unrest in the oil-rich region.
The Ijaw Youth Council (IYC), last week, disrupted the peace in the area over government’s failure to reconstitute a substantive board for the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC).
Also, Chief Government Ekpemupolo (aka Tompolo), on Sunday, issued a seven-day ultimatum to President Muhammadu Buhari and Akpabio to re-inaugurate the NDDC board.
The minister, who disclosed this yesterday in Abuja, said a letter had been dispatched to President-General of the Niger Delta Ethnic Nationalities Youth Leaders Council, Comrade Terry Obieh, adding that the meeting would address critical issues affecting the region.
He submitted that attendance was of essence, as crucial issues would be discussed.
The parley, between the minister and representatives of the IYC, last Thursday, divided group.
The Ijaw youths were led to the gathering by their national spokesperson, Ebilade Ekerefe, to quench the protest across the nine states over non-composition of the NDDC board.
Addressing newsmen after the meeting, Ekerefe appealed to the youths to remain calm for the agitation not be hijacked.
He had said IYC president, Peter Igbifa, was on his way to Abuja to lead the council in discussion with the minister when he was abducted by unknown gunmen.
But Igbifa, shortly after his release, said he was not intimidated by his experience, insisting that the protest must continue with the aim of shutting down the region until the Federal Government inaugurates the commission’s board.
The president disowned Ekerefe and other executive members that conferred with the minister.
He said Ekerefe and his co-travellers were on their own, stating that he never authorised the meeting.
Igbifa, therefore, called on the Ijaw youths to troop out en masse in continuation of the demonstration.
Surprisingly, Ekerefe and the Deputy National President, Comrade Saviour Olali, on Thursday night, suspended the three-day long protest with effect from 5pm on Friday, May 28, 2021.
In a swift reaction, organisers of the #OccupyNigerDeltaProtest flayed Ekerefe for the action.
The lead Coordinator, Kennedy Olorogun, said Ekerefe’s statement asking protesters to stop the march was “unfortunate, irresponsible and disappointing.”