Former Deputy National Publicity Secretary of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Comrade Timi Frank, on Tuesday, advised President Muhammadu Buhari to heed the ultimatum handed down by High Chief Government Ekpemupolo, aka Tompolo, on the immediate reconstitution of the board of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC).
Tompolo had, on Sunday, issued a seven-day ultimatum to Buhari and Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Godswill Akpabio, to reconstitute the NDDC board or face a major breakdown of law and order in the Niger Delta.
Frank, in a statement in Abuja, enjoined Buhari to urgently address issues raised by the former Niger Delta warlord.
He described Tompolo as a well respected leader in the region who “hardly speaks but, when he does, keeps his words.”
Frank said his plea was in the best interest of the country that will be the biggest loser, should Buhari fail to act on the demands of Tompolo and other prominent youth leaders and elders in the region.
According the former chieftain of the APC, “High Chief Tompolo is not one of those Niger Delta leaders to be ignored. He hardly speaks but whenever he does, he is known to keep to his words.
“So, we advise the Federal Government to address the issues raised with all the urgency it deserves to avoid dire consequences.”
He however, called on President Buhari “to immediately sack Godswill Akpabio as the Minister of the Niger Delta Affairs.”
According to him, “Akpabio’s stint as Minister has brought only pains to the people of the region.
“Therefore, General Buhari should immediately sack the current Sole Administrator of the NDDC and appoint a substantive Board that will genuinely represent the people of the Niger Delta.
“The sack of Akpabio and the inauguration of a substantive board that will bring peace to the region has become imperative,” he said.
He added that before now, the Niger Delta Governors had demanded for a new NDDC Board and that “these calls have been supported by youth leaders, elders and all other stakeholders.”
Frank said: “The only person that has opposed the reconstitution of the board is Akpabio, who is running a one man show and has turned the NDDC to his personal tank farm, reason, he is against the reconstitution of a new NDDC board.
“We are not just calling for his immediate sack, Akpabio should not hide under the forensic audit as the new board will not stop the forensic audit.
“Akpabio is taking advantage of the poverty and hunger in the region to gather and induce leaders and youths to support his interest at the NDDC.
“We are well aware that since Tompolo made that statement, Akpabio has been making overtures towards him but we also know that Tompolo will not allow that to happen in the best interest and wellbeing of the people.
“We know him too well and also believe in his capabilities and capacity as a respected and highly recognized leader of the Ijaw nation and the people of the Niger Delta at large.
“Our father and leader, Chief Edwin Kiagbodo Clark and the governors of the region, including youth leaders have all lent their voices to the call for the reconstitution of the NDDC Board.
“This is why the federal government must, as a matter of urgency, listen to Tompolo as he is a man of his words, whenever he speaks.
To Tompolo, Frank said, “We have confidence in you, Tompolo. Don’t let us down in this ultimatum like other leaders that spoke in the past without action.
“People are looking forward to you because they believe in your leadership. Don’t backdown or withdraw.
“If the government fails to act after the ultimatum, back your words with necessary action.”