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Pipeline surveillance contract: Diri, INC resolve Tompolo, Asari, Ateke rift

By EDU ABADE

Bayelsa State Governor, Douye Diri and leaders of the Ijaw National Congress (INC) and other stakeholders have mediated to calm frayed nerves arising from the pipeline surveillance contract the Federal Government awarded to Government Ekpemupolo, popularly known as Tompolo.

Diri said leaders of the Ijaw nation and other ethnic nationalities in the Niger Delta have resolved to work together to protect Federal Government facilities in the region.

The governor stated this at the weekend at the end of a meeting of critical stakeholders of the Ijaw nation led by President of INC, Prof. Benjamin Okaba at the Government House in Yenagoa.

A statement issued by Chief Press Secretary (CPS) to the governor, Daniel Alabrah, quoted Diri as saying that the stakeholders at the meeting examined all the issues that threatened the unity of the Ijaw nation following the award of the pipeline surveillance contract to Tompolo’s firm.

At the meeting which had Tompolo, King Ateke Tom and Chief Dokubo Asari representatives in attendance, Diri explained that the meeting was convened to foster peace and unity within Ijaw land and that all parties agreed to sheathe their swords.

His words: “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 from the INC, but today, that voice is resonating and I thank all Ijaw leaders that took it upon themselves to ensure that the Ijaw people 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.

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Diri commended Prof. Okaba and others for demonstrating leadership, adding that at the end of the meeting, the INC issued a communiqué titled: _We Are Stronger Together_ and was read by the INC president.

According to the communiqué, a five-man reconciliatory committee was constituted to interface with the various groups and individuals on the pipeline surveillance issue, noting that the Ijaw people were irrevocably committed to the peace, unity and stability of the ethic group and other nationalities in the Niger Delta.

It 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 (PIA) 2021, non-constitution of substantive board for the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) and politicisation of the Nigerian National Petroleum 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.”

The peace meeting, which was presided over by Governor Diri, was attended by the Deputy Governor, Lawrence Ewhrudjakpo, 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 at the event 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.

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