*Akpabio says board ready, to be sworn-in July 

*Otuaro, dep gov, asks him to respect wish of N’Delta people 

By Emma Amaize, Regional Editor, South-South

THINGS were still dicey, last night, as ethnic nationalities from six states of Niger Delta told the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Senator Godswill Akpabio, who pleaded with them to see the reason that they stood by the seven-day ultimatum given the Federal Government by ex-militant leader, Government Ekpemupolo, alias Tompolo, and agitators to constitute the substantive board of Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC.

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 on 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.

He arrived at 3.00 pm affirming that the list of board members was ready but indicated that board inauguration could not be within the period of the ultimatum, as the forensic audit was 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.

Otuaro said 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 was not known at press time.

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

Vanguard News Nigeria

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