Niger Delta Affairs Minister, Godswill Akpabio, is currently battling to avert a renewed Oil War in the oil and gas region due to his reluctance to engineer the constitution of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) Board of Directors.
Akpabio has been playing politics with the issue in spite of the governors insistence that they can only deal effectively with the development commission if its board is in place.
But, the minister who is overseeing the affairs of NDDC has been arguing that the board will only come after the forensic audit of the commission. His logic has not been doing down well with the active social formations in the oil region.
Matters took a turn for the worse when some of the aggrieved warlords threatened to disruption oil production in the area if Akpabio continues with his brash refusal to give in to the NDDC board being demanded.
The obviously shaken Akpabio told stakeholders in Delta State that he will return to Abuja to commence the process of constituting the NDDC board. But, he did not say if that will happen before the expiration of the seven day ultimatum Tompolo issued for him to act or brace to face the music from the oil creeks.
The rattled Akpabio, was in Oporoza, the traditional headquartres of Gbaramatu Kingdom in Delta State to meet with Tompolo whose real name is, Government Ekpemupolo.
The previous Sunday, Tompolo gave President Muhammadu Buhari a seven-day ultimatum to inaugurate the governing board of NDDC, a development that triggered fresh tension in the vastly polluted oil region.
A coalition of militant groups led by the Supreme Egbesu Freedom Fighters, had vowed, ”there is no going back on the seven days ultimatum handed by the foremost ex-militant leader, Tompolo, to constitute a substantive board for NDDC.”
They urged Akpabio to call off the stakeholders’ meeting on the recent protests in the region and the looming rage over the NDDC issue. Niger Delta Volunteers for Good Governance, also pledged isupport to Tompolo on the ultimatum.
Niger Delta Affairs Ministry Permanent Secretary, had initiated moves to stop Tompolo, from fulfilling his threat of a catastrophe in the oil region if the government did not inaugurate the substantive board for the interventionist agency by June 6.
”The minister briefed the President on the demand by Ijaw Youth Council which issued a 30-day ultimatum to the government to inaugurate the board before Buhari’s last trip to France. The President asked the minister to wait only to behold another seven-day ultimatum by ex-militant leader, Tompolo, last Sunday.
”Buhari cannot be forced to act because Tompolo issued a seven-day ultimatum, they should withdraw their ultimatum and wait for Mr President because action is being taken already on the matter”, the ministry under Akpabio’s watch said.
Apparently piqued by the arrogance, Tompolo, refused to meet with Akpabio to discuss issues surrounding the NDDC and the the constitution of the agency’s board.
Tompoloi who was personally invited to the meeting, did not show up as Akpabio only met with a handful of stakeholders which included Delta State Deputy Governor, Kingsley Otuaro, and the Pere of Gbaramatu Kingdom, Oboro Gbaraun II,
At the Thursday meeting, stakeholders insisted on the seven days ultimatum issued by Tompolo, vowing to shut down oil installations in the region should the Federal Government fail to constitute the NDDC board.
President of the Isoko National Youths Assembly, Amos Ogbokor Etaluku, told Akpabio while the youths of the region are disappointed with the minister, they will not accept anything short of an NDDC Board.
”I want to be very frank with you at this point in time. We are very very angry with you. We are very angry with you in the sense that it is only someone that demonstrates high level of greed and selfishness that can use one single person to run a commission, a commission that is supposed to have nine commissioners. You are using only one person and sideline other states”, Etaluku told Akpabio.
Hammering on NDDC board, Etaluku adds, ”we must tell you we are very angry, and we will not take it any longer. On this note we are standing behind the ultimatum by our leader and the seven days ultimatum. If the seven days expire, we cannot guarantee the safety of oil workers in this region.”