Akpabio: NDDC board to be inaugurated July

Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Senator Godswill Akpabio has affirmed that a new board of the Niger Delta Development Commission wouldl be inaugurated between June and July.

Ex-militant leader, Government Ekpemupolo, alias Tompolo, and some agitators had issued a seven-day ultimatum for the Federal Government to constitute a substantive board of the NDDC else they would destroy oil facilities in the oil region.

Apparently following the threats, Akpabio on Friday met with ethnic nationalities from six states of the Niger Delta in Delta State.

Representatives of Ijaw, Isoko, Ndokwa and Itsekiri ethnic nationalities in Delta State, Ijaw kings and youth groups from Bayelsa, Ondo and Edo states were in attendance.

The Tompolo ultimatum expires Monday, but Akpabio who braved the odds to visit Oporoza, traditional headquarters of Gbaramatu Kingdom, in Warri South-West Local Government Area, where he met separately meet with Tompolo and the ethnic nationalities, said they should give him June and July for the inauguration of NDDC board.

Akpabio stated that the list of board members was ready but indicated that the board inauguration could not be within the period of the ultimatum, as the forensic audit had yet to be completed.

Deputy Governor of Delta State, Deacon Kingsley Otuaro, who welcomed the minister and his entourage at Osubi Airstrip, Effurun, near Warri, urged Akpabio to listen to the voice of the people, saying the ethnic nationalities were unanimous that NDDC board should be inaugurated.

According to Otuaro, the Delta State government had engaged many groups in the last few days to prevent break down of law and order, urging the minister to do the right thing.

Fiyewei of Gbaramatu kingdom, Chief Godspower Gbenekama, who spoke for the ethnic nationalities, told him that they could not guarantee what would happen if the board was not inaugurated within the period of the ultimatum.

He said: “Anything that happens to the oil industry if the NDDC board is not inaugurated, you (Akpabio) should be held responsible,” adding: “Why is it that everything Niger Delta is interim, interim, 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.”

All the ethnic nationalities present endorsed Gbenekama’s statement as their position, but the minister did not make any pledge that the board would be constituted on or before June 6.

National president of Ijaw National Council, apex organization of Ijaw ethnic nationality, Prof Benjamin Okaba, advised the minister to respect the ultimatum.

Pere of Gbaramatu kingdom, Oboro Gbaraun 11, Aketekpe, Agadagba, appealed to Niger Delta agitators to maintain calm but on the other hand, urged the minister to inaugurate NDDC board.

He met privately met with Tompolo at a different venue, which was the main reason for his coming, but details of their meeting were not known at press time.

The minister and his entourage went with speedboat from Warri to Oporoza and there was no definite agreement

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