Government Ekpemupolo, better known as Tompolo, says he has “reluctantly” agreed to allow the process of constituting a board for the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) till the end of June.
President Muhammadu Buhari had, in 2019, ordered a forensic audit of the NDDC’s operations, which uncovered allegations of mismanagement of funds.
Kemebradikumo Pondei, acting managing director of the commission at the time, was eventually sacked, and in December 2020, the president appointed Effiong Akwa as new head of the agency.
However, a new board is yet to be constituted for the commission, following the dissolution of the previous one in January 2020.
Akpabio had visited Delta state to plead with Tompolo over a seven-day ultimatum issued in May for President Muhammadu Buhari to constitute the NDDC board or face a complete breakdown of law and order in the south-south region.
After the visit, Akpabio disclosed that the meeting was fruitful and promised to commence and fast-track the process.
In a statement on Saturday, Tompolo said that he got involved in the matter because of his love for the region and Nigeria.
“I welcomed the consultative meeting of our revered traditional rulers from the region, Delta State Government, the Ijaw National Congress (INC) led by its President, Professor Benjamin Okaba, leaders from the Itsekiri, Urhobo, Isoko, Ndokwa and other Nationalities with the Minister of the Niger Delta Affairs, Senator Akpabio in attendance, at the traditional headquarters of Gbaramatu Kingdom, Oporoza town on Thursday June 3rd, 2021,” he said.
Tompolo said Akpabio had promised to constitute the board immediately, adding that the minister had asked that the process be allowed till the end of June to be completed.
Tompolo said he had reluctantly agreed to this in order to maintain peace in the region.
“The outcome of the meeting has been made known to the public by the Minister. He promised profusely to start the process of the constitution and inauguration of the substantive board of the NDDC immediately (from Friday, June 4th, 2021), and that he should be allowed to drive the process to an end on or before the end of June 2021,” the statement reads.
“As it stands now, I have accepted the outcome of the meeting reluctantly. It is pertinent to state at this juncture that I do not want anything to disrupt the relative peace we are enjoying in the region.
“It was on this premise that I accepted the outcome of the meeting. The ultimate goal in this issue is for the Minister to abide by the promise he has made to start the process of constituting the NDDC board now. Government shenanigans must be put away in this matter, as constituting the NDDC board is very dear to the heart of the people of the region.”
He thanked everyone who played a part in the resolution, saying “it is my prayer that the needful be done to develop the Niger Delta region as seen in advanced climes.”