TOMPOLO AND PENAWOU’S DIVERGENCE AND CONVERGENCE
BY EKANPOU EENEWARIDIDEKE
Three times the cock has just crowed signalling a stainless dawn. In this stainless dawn that is not befogged or fogbound, two great personalities can be seen without being silhouetted. They are High Chief Ekpemupolo Oweizide Government (Tompolo) recently awarded the pipeline surveillance contract based on his known capability to engage Niger Deltans meaningfully and correspondingly eliminate the economically inimical practice of illegal oil bunkering and local refining of crude oil and for which a Coalition of Arewa Civil Society Groups in the North led by Mallam Aminu Abbas the spokesman has commended the Federal Government and Tompolo for the award in prompt condemnation of the baseless ethnicity-motivated public pronouncements of the faceless Amalgamated Arewa Youth Groups in the North, and High Chief Tubodei Joseph Penawou (a traditional prime minister) who are great sons of the Niger Delta region from Gbaramatu Kingdom in Warri South-West Local Government Area and Akugbene-Mein Kingdom in Bomadi Local Government Area of Delta State.
Tompolo and Penawou are two great sons of the Niger Delta. The former has his aboriginal roots buried in Oporoza town now federally empowered through the recent pipeline surveillance contract awarded to him to tackle the economically retrogressive menace of illegal oil bunkering and local refining of crude oil in the Niger Delta while the latter has his roots buried in Akugbene town. For each other both have differences without verbalising into concrete identifiable form. The differences have today grown into irreconcilable differences no human intervention can end except the Divine Intelligence creeps in and works on their minds subliminally. Like a molten lava or magma, their differences have solidified into a war ideologically waged with collateral damage that economically favours and advantages the spectators much more than the two combatants who are often instigated by the onlookers to sustain the ideological war.
Very quickly, let me confess that I was once a personal Assistant to Chief Joseph Tubodei Penawou. Even in my stint as a Personal Assistant I worked devotedly to stoke the fire of war between Tompolo and Penawou because thousands of people became economically advantaged in the raging war between the two great sons. Paradoxical it sounds here but it is the bald truth distilled from the ideological conflagration raging between the two.
High Chief Tompolo is a freedom activist who took upon himself the duty to liberate the Niger Delta from the shackles of oppression and exploitation in the hands of the Nigerian Federal Government and the multi-national oil companies. The peak of this liberation was the declaration of Tompolo as a wanted man in Nigeria though he was later pardoned after he had taken the amnesty offered him by the Federal Government. Before and after the liberation struggle phase, Tompolo provided massive employment opportunities for Niger Deltans through his own companies and the oil companies in the Niger Delta region.
The preoccupation of Tompolo after the emancipation struggle revolves around creating job opportunities for people. His single-minded approach is multi-dimensional. Engagement opportunities are provided for people through the Amnesty Programme, the oil companies, his own companies and through his objective political engagements. With dedication and ideological clarity, Tompolo genuinely mounts pressure on the relevant authorities to open up the political space in Delta State for meaningful appointive engagements coupled with implementation of development projects bound to transform the communities and the people. To transform the people through meaningful engagement is today seen as Tompolo’s ideological obsession though he is yet to be ensconced in the City of Freedom in pragmatic terms but with the recent pipeline surveillance contract awarded to him by the Federal Government of Nigeria, Tompolo would be ensconced in the City of Freedom to engage Niger Deltans towards total eradication of illegal oil bunkering and local crude oil refineries as contractually demanded by the federal government, and over which Chief Boro Opudu, the Chairman of Delta Waterways and Land Security Committee, has pronounced publicly with repeated consistency that Tompolo is the man with the demanded capability to handle the pipeline surveillance contract in the Niger Delta region however the groundless instigation-consolidated condemnatory prounouncements from the self-acclaimed Amalgamated Arewa Youths in the North spearheaded by its spokesman Victor Duniya.
To strike a note of frankness when it is indeed about High Chief Penawou that is focused for analysis, there is something ideologically obsessional. In terms of hardwork and devotion Chief Penawou is a tirelessly restless man obsessed with a vision to provide employment for all Niger Deltans and beyond through his company called First Marine – a company that stands on a solid reputation of optimum performance in job-delivery and execution. In First Marine and Penawou many Nigerians have the material of survival and daily economic sustainability because both are veritable providers of jobs for the masses. It was even with First Marine and Penawou the village boy called Gogi first found some economic footing in life.
For High Chief Tompolo and High Chief Penawou they are defined and yoked together not only by their ideology to develop the Niger Delta through capacity-building and capacity-development and employment opportunities created but also through their passion for the cultural and developmental transformation of their various kingdoms of origin. Penawou is as much culturally and developmentally committed to the growth of Akugbene-Mein Kingdom as High Chief Tompolo is to the growth of Gbaramatu Kingdom. Both are relentless in their resolve to become the notable fine artists of development in their kingdoms using the canvas and murals to signpost or demonstrate their developmental output just as both are implacable enemies of the raging politics of economic and political attrition because what gives them the supreme joy and pride is the rapid economic growth and advancement of the individuals that work under them as staff deployed for the execution of various development projects. To see their staff grow rapidly and radiantly in economic terms is the centre-piece of the philosophy of Tompolo and Penawou.
Powered by an ideology of massive development of the human resources in the Niger Delta, beneath them there is a wordless struggle to outdo the other – though not consciously anchored with an egocentric sense of competition. Between Tompolo and Penawou there is a healthy competition to outdo/outperform the other in developmental commitment to the Niger Delta region. A healthy competition between the two signals endless development possibilities for the ordinary people.
Even still some radius away from the City of Freedom but now predictably closer to the City of Freedom with the recent awarded pipeline surveillance contract, Tompolo works hard everyday to go down in his history as the highest provider of the window for the development of Niger Deltans through engagement opportunities – a similar responsibility Penawou has ideologically thrust upon himself from the world of First Marine. For Tompolo and Penawou they will not rest on their oars until Niger Deltans are transformed on all fronts of life because their ideology is to be on top of the world in their commitment to the development of the Niger Delta region and beyond. This is why there is both a prayerful and visible move to reinforce the war between the two because the more intense the developmental battle for the soul of the Niger Delta between Tompolo and Penawou, the more the people benefit in engagement opportunities and so no one would ever call for ceasefire between the two in their intense ideological war of development in the Niger Delta.
From different camps Tompolo and Penawou are at work for the soul of Niger Delta in developmental terms. Niger Delta cannot grow without an ideological war of development between Tompolo and Penawou. Transformation smiles at the Niger Delta region when both ideologically pursue their strategies of development for the region. The grasses suffer when two elephants fight but for Tompolo and Penawou, the grasses and the ordinary grow luxuriantly and enjoy life when these two great sons fight ideologically to shower developmental radiance on the Niger Delta through the provision of engagement opportunities.
So, as before when I was still a Personal Assistant to Penawou, may the ideological war of development rage more ferociously and beget more monsters between the two because the spin-off and the paradoxes of the war constitute the pride, the joy and the holy grail of Niger Deltans who will perpetually stoke the fire of the ideological war between High Chief Tompolo and High Chief Penawou at every dawn when the dawn dawns on them. The world is at liberty to meditate and call for ceasefire and total end to the Russia-Ukraine war but for the war between Tompolo and Penawou waged ideologically in developmental direction in the Niger Delta without the two actors being aware that they are indeed at war of development – an ideological war pathologically identified, interpreted and reinforced by only busy-bodies fortunate to be called writers by some people – the Tompolo-Penawou ideological war of development shall never never be brought to an end through human intervention because it is the template for the developmentally backward Niger Delta to be developed beyond the developmental agitations of healthy agitators and activists in the Niger Delta region.
And rather prayerfully, carrying in mind the ubiquitous healthy thoughts of Timiebi Maika for Tompolo and Penawou while she was still alive, may Tompolo and Penawou be always inspired to be more dedicated to their resolve to develop the Niger Delta through engagement opportunities created for Niger Deltans since this has been pathologically interpreted by the village boy more specifically as a war of developmental ideology between the two great sons who have very fertile positive feelings for each other in their daily thoughts and meditations despite all these unsolicited interpretations all over the secular space of common interaction and engagement.
And most interestingly, Tompolo has flown to another progressive space to reinforce the struggle to open up healthy engagement opportunities for Niger Deltans and shower economically beneficial smiles upon the face of the Federal Government of Nigeria as an additional boost to the fiscal and monetary policies of the government now that the pipeline surveillance contract in the Niger Delta has been deservingly awarded to him – a confirmed federal move that has got the commendation of Chief Boro Opudu, Dr.Paul Bebenimibo, High Chief Hon.Macdonald Igbadiwei, Hon.Julius Pondi, Chief Kestin Pondi, King Alfred Izonebi, and the great philosopher Timiebi Maika in absentia because she is still in prison…
Enewaridideke, writes from Akparemogbene, Delta State