By Nathan Nwakamma
Yenagoa, Aug. 27, 2022
The Ijaw National Congress (INC) on Friday inaugurated a committee to interface with some angry youth groups over the pipeline surveillance contract re-awarded to Chief Government Ekpemupolo.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that Ekpemupolo, an ex-militant leader, also known as Tompolo, is a former commander of the defunct Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND).
Prof Benjamin Okaba, President of the INC, performed the inauguration of the five-member committee at the Ijaw House, Yenagoa, Bayelsa, in the presence of other officials of the apex Ijaw socio-cultural organisation.
Also witness to the event were INC’s national secretary, Ebipamowei Wodu; central zone chairman, Doodei Week, and other Ijaw stakeholders.
The committee is headed by the Financial Secretary of the INC, Kennedy Odiowei, while a former President of the Ijaw Youth Council (IYC), Oyinfie Jonjon, will serve as Secretary.
Other members of the committee are Dan Ekpebide, Ambah Binaebi and Eneyo Athanasius.
Okaba explained that the intervention was necessitated by the need to douse the seeming rising tensions among various groups and persons in Ijaw nation and the Niger Delta over the Tompolo job.
“Recently, the INC has been buffeted with reports of brewing tensions amongst various Ijaw groups as a result of the pipeline surveillance contract. We frown at such divisive tendencies and propensities.
“The purpose of this committee is very clear: to identify and interact with the various and divergent groups and see how their individual interests can be taken care of in the spirit of brotherliness,” Okaba said.
Okaba called for unity and understanding in the Niger Delta, stressing that the pipeline protection job awarded to Tompolo through the NNPC, must not be a source of conflict and infighting in the area.
The Ijaw leader said the region and its people had already suffered monumental invasions and harassments by armed federal troops over the years on account of their oil and gas resources.
He stated that all concerned stakeholders had “a responsibility to ensure that Ijaw land is not made a battlefield for the shedding of blood and destruction of property and values”.
He said it was very important for Ijaws to avoid internal squabbles and refrain from sowing the seeds of discord or promoting the Pull-Him-Down Syndrome.
“We should rather resist external aggressors and invaders of Ijaw territory. We must be patriotic to the peace and unity of Ijaw nation. This, at all times, must not be lost on us all.”
He said it was unfortunate and ridiculous that Ijaw brothers were threatening to kill themselves over crumbs (not even by way of Ownership of Oil Wells) given to them to help protect national assets.
Okaba urged the committee to reach out to the feuding groups and harmonise their individual interests to ensure that Ijaw unity and agenda were not compromised.
NAN reports that the committee is expected to submit a preliminary report within two weeks.