The Bayelsa State governor, Senator Douye Diri, at the weekend, led prominent Ijaw elders to intervene in the feud among High Chief Government Ekpemupolo also known as Tompolo, King Ateke Tom and Chief Dokubo Asari, over the recent award of pipeline surveillance contract by the Nigerian National Petroleum Company (NNPC) Limited to Tompolo.
Governor Diri and the Ijaw Elders under the umbrella body of Ijaw National Congress (INC) also said that all the leaders of the Ijaw nation and other ethnic nationalities in the Niger Delta have resolved to work together to protect federal government’s facilities in the Niger Delta region.
The meeting, which was convened under a meeting of critical stakeholders of the Ijaw nation led by the INC President, Prof. Benjamin Okaba, at the Government House in Yenagoa, Bayelsa State, examined the various issues that threatened the unity of the Ijaw nation following the award of the pipeline surveillance contract to Tompolo’s firm.
Speaking at the end of the meeting, Governor Diri explained that the meeting was held to foster peace and unity within Ijaw land and that all parties agreed to sheathe their swords.
“I am happy that the issue has been put behind us. Beyond building consensus, all hands must be on deck to protect the oil pipelines.
“Today, we have seen the end of the matter. Before now, there was a deafening silence in the INC. But today, that voice is resonating and I thank all Ijaw leaders that took it upon themselves to ensure that the Ijaws do not fight themselves.
“Tompolo and Asari are brothers. We have all come to a consensus to protect all federal presence, especially oil pipelines in the Niger Delta, as we sue for peace to attract development,” the governor said.
Senator Diri also commended Prof. Okaba and others for demonstrating leadership.
Present at the meeting were representatives of Tompolo, King Ateke Tom and Chief Dokubo Asari.
Also in attendance were the Bayelsa State deputy governor, Senator Lawrence Ewhrudjakpo, the Commissioner for Ijaw National Affairs, Patrick Erasmus, INC President, Prof Okaba, acting Chief of Staff, Government House, Dr. Peter Akpe, former INC President, Chief Joshua Fumudoh, former Minister of Police Affairs, Alaowei Broderick Bozimo.
Other stakeholders in attendance were Senator Emmanuel Diffa, Emeritus Professor Alabo Dagogo Fubara, Chief Kennedy Odiowei as well as representatives of Farah Dagogo and ‘General’ Horsfall Olali, among others.
At the end of the meeting, the INC issued a communique titled, “We are stronger together” and read by Prof. Okaba.
It also constituted a five-man reconciliatory committee to interface with the various groups and individuals on the pipeline surveillance issue.
It further noted that the Ijaw people were irrevocably committed to the peace, unity and stability of the ethic group and other nationalities in the Niger Delta.
The communique stressed the people’s determination not to allow the pittance in the guise of oil pipeline surveillance create an arena of in-fighting and bloodshed in Ijaw land before, during and after the execution of the job.
The meeting also agreed that the Ijaw nation would collectively stand against oppressive issues and obnoxious legislations to safeguard the future of the people.
Such issues include re-introduction of the National Water Resources Bill, the Petroleum Industry Act 2021, non-constitution of a substantive board for the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) and the politicisation of the Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited with a lopsided board.
It called on the federal government to fast-track the realisation of the proposal for the establishment of modular refineries to put an end to illegal refineries and pollution of the environment.
It also agreed to maintain the people’s position on the restructuring of Nigeria “to free it from the shackles of a faulty and fraudulently contrived foundation that perpetuates injustice, disunity and hegemonic tendencies.”