“The issue of ultimatum is not something I can speak on because there is a process and it has to start with the minister. The major thing is that we have committed to work together to make sure that we give what the people want.”
“We had a robust discussion and consultation. The meetings have been fruitful. The consensus of stakeholders is that there is a need for more representation in the NDDC and so a board needs to be constituted.” “I have also assured them that as soon as I get back, I will commence the process and fast-track [it]. “We have also agreed that my office will fast-track the process of the constitution of the new board. We have also looked at what is affecting the region. The youths applauded, but they want to see more progress, more employment opportunities.”
In Their response Ijaw elders represented by the Ijaw National Congress (INC), leaders from Isoko, Urhobo, Itsekiri among others told the minister to go back and immediately inaugurate the board of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) and in Unisom that the seven-day ultimatum issued by Tompolo remained in force.
“The seven days ultimatum stands. Governors of the Southsouth told the world that as part of the demands for peace to reign you must reconstitute the NDDC board. The Ijaw youths, Isoko, Itsekiri youths gave 30 days ultimatum. There was no intervention from anybody. How else do you tell the people that they are fools? How else do you tell the people that they can go and die? We are very bitter. The entire Niger Delta is standing behind High Chief Tompolo. If nothing happens at expiration of the ultimatum, don’t blame anybody if anything happens. We have seen this happen before and that is why we are very careful.”
Though, Akpabio tried at the meeting to reel out some of the achievements of the NDDC, he further incurred the wrath of the stakeholders when he told them that they would have the board in July.
The Fiyewei of Gbaramatu kingdom, Chief Godspower Gbenekama, was visibly angry at Akpabio’s suggestion and told the minister that they were not joking with the ultimatum.
He said: “Anything that happens to the oil industry if the NDDC board is not inaugurated, you (Akpabio) should be held responsible. Why is it that everything Niger Delta is interim. In the NDDC, you have interim administrator, in the Presidential Amnesty Programme, you have interim coordinator. Is it only Niger Delta people that interim management should be serving.
“The people here are not some of the IYC executives that you can just call to Abuja, the presence of soldiers in our region is not the reason for peace, it is because of our resolve, we want that board to be constituted, the ultimatum stands, after the ultimatum and nothing is done, don’t blame anybody.”
Meanwhile, the Ijaw National Congress (INC), the apex organization of the Ijaw ethnic nationality, has appealed to the ex-militant leader and other groups, who are threatening to unleash mayhem at the end of the seven-day ultimatum, to suspend their planned protest.
The IYC, rising from a two-day meeting in Yenagoa, Bayelsa State, expressed fear on the consequences of the protest on the country’s economy and insecurity it would engender in the region.
In the last couple of weeks, several youth groups across the region, especially the Ijaw Youth Council (IYC), have in protested against the continued management of the board by a sole administrator. yesterday, the Ijaw Youth Council (IYC) Worldwide rejected the appeal by its parent body, the Ijaw National Congress (INC) to call off the protest.