By Felix Khanoba
A non-governmental organisation, Vanguard for Transparent Leadership and Democracy (VATLAD), has cleared the air on recent statements on Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) board issued by High Chief Government Ekpemupolo, popularly known as Tompolo.
VATLAD in press release on Thursday and signed by its president, Comrade (Engr) Igbini Odafe Emmanuel, said the Niger Delta’s freedom fighter never called for the change of persons already cleared by the Senate as members of the yet to be constituted NDDC board.
The statement titled; ‘Board of NDDC: Before Mischief Makers And Politicians Misconstrue And Exploit The Genuine Intervention Of High Chief Tompolo,’ read in full : “Our attention has been drawn to reactions of some Nigerian Elites and Politicians, particularly from our Oil Producing South-South Region, to the Statement issued by High Chief Tompolo on June 3, 2021, allowing a 30-Day Extension as requested by the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, to enable him commence and conclude the process of inaugurating The Substantive Board of NDDC.
“First, these mischief-makers have gone public to create the impression that High Chief Tompolo has been compromised to abandon his demands contained in the 7-day Ultimatum he issued on May, 31, 2021, after the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs visited his Gbaramatu Kingdom in Warri, Delta State.
“Second, there are reports now circulating in the Social Media that the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs has proposed to President Buhari to effect changes in the names of some critical members of the Board of NDDC already screened and confirmed by the Senate.
“In the List being circulated include the name of an APC Chieftain from Delta State who is also one of the six closest and long time friends of President Buhari.
“Ordinarily, we would have disregarded these two as mere Rumours intended to blackmail, embarrass, provoke and insult our highly respected Compatriot and brother in the struggle for Peace, Justice and Development of our South-South Region (High Chief Tompolo), and to also cause tension amongst our people and threaten the relative Peace and Security in our Region, but with recent sad developments in our dear Country, Nigeria, any and every rumour must henceforth be taken seriously.
“We therefore wish to state emphatically and unambiguously and for the record, that at no time and at no point in the two Statements issued by High Chief Tompolo, did he suggest or demand that a new or altered Board of NDDC be constituted and inaugurated.
“Instead, in his May 31, 2021 Statement giving 7-Day Ultimatum and his June 3, 2021 30-Day Extension, he deliberately and consistently demanded, on behalf of the nine Oil-Producing States of NDDC, the immediate: “constitution of THE SUBSTANTIVE BOARD OF NDDC”. He did not demand for the constitution and inauguration of A BOARD of NDDC.
“This simply means that he was specifically referring to the Board of NDDC already screened and confirmed by the Senate in line with the NDDC 2000 Act, as amended, but whose members have been unjustly placed on standby under the guise of allowing for forensic auditing of NDDC.
“In conclusion, we are once more patriotically renewing our Advice to President Buhari to be very wary of those Governors, and some of his political Associates/Aides misleading him and putting pressure on him to continue to unjustly and unlawfully delay or jettison the inauguration of the Governing Board of NDDC that he rightly nominated and passionately requested the Senate to confirm, which the Senate did.
“As we stated in our previous Advice to him, those Governors and Politicians who went pleading with him not to inaugurate the NDDC Board were not sincere to him and his APC but only wanted to pitch our people against him and his APC leadership. Have we not been vindicated now?
“It will be against his commitment to restore Peace, Order and Security in our Oil Producing South-South Region if he allows himself to be misled to further delay the inauguration of this substantive Board of NDDC. Nigerians can’t afford to see our South-South Region added to the Regions that are sadly now engulfed in breakdown of Peace, Security and Public Order.
“As High Chief Tompolo rightly stated in his Statement, the renewed demand for the inauguration of the substantive Board of NDDC is for the Love of our Region and Country, Nigeria.
” We can no longer allow the guise of forensic auditing to be used to mislead President Buhari on this matter. Enough is Enough!
” Our Nigeria shall overcome and must rise again.”