MEND: Why I am Calling For Meeting Tomorrow-Tompolo
Ex-Niger Militant, High Chief Government Ekpemupolo, (alias Tompolo) has given reasons why he called for a meeting of all Ex-Niger Delta warlords, saying that the call was not a call for re-emergence of militancy in the region.
The ex-Niger Delta agitator gave the reasons in a press statement he signed and made available to our correspondent.
The press statement reads:
I am compelled to clarify issues as they relate to the meeting of the leadership of ex-agitators under the platform of MEND and other organisations summoned at my instance.
The nation would recall that in the build up to the Amnesty offer of the late president, Alhaji Umaru Musa Yar’Adua, there was hesitance on the part of most of Niger Delta agitators until God in His infinite mercy, granted me wisdom to provide leadership.
The nation will also recall that under the Amnesty programme as inherited by the immediate past president, Dr. Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, relative peace was enjoyed even as security of lives and property was enhanced to an appreciable level. Also Oil production increased from 700 barrels per day to 2.5million barrels per day. Put simply, hitherto aggrieved Niger-Delta youths who inadvertently became agitators, upon the acceptance of the Amnesty offer, refrained from armed agitation to face normal urban life.
Nonetheless, while some of us understand to an extent, the apparent delay in the continued payment of the monthly stipend to the ex-agitators in view of the seeming scrutiny of government agencies, including the Amnesty Office by the current administration, same cannot be said of the majority of beneficiaries of the Amnesty programme.
To this extent, some of us, particularly myself and other leaders have been under intense pressure from ex-agitators commanders, individuals, parents and guardians as well as communities who are beneficiaries of the Amnesty programme. While a few see the delay in the payment of their monthly stipends in the light of the need for the current government to settle in properly, others see the delay as a template to stop the programme. The expulsion of some students (home and overseas) by their schools and training institutions particularly has heightened these fears.
Hence, I thought it wise that a meeting of the collegiate leadership of the platform under which we operated as agitators could be convened to appraise the situation and possibly, explore means to douse the tension that is growing among the disarmed youths whose stipends (training allowances and tuition fees) have been delayed for months.
This becomes more compelling in view of the fact that as leaders of the platform that served as midwife to the Amnesty offer, we owe the nation a duty to play our roles in order to stem a relapse of the relative peace in the Niger Delta Region.
Therefore, I consider it unfortunate that a section of the Nigerian Nation and the Media have chosen to mischievously thread the path of misinforming the public and right thinking persons by linking the meeting to whatever decision the current government at the centre may have taken in relation to the stoppage of the pipeline surveillance contract, even though payment have not been made for the services rendered in the renewed contract, or termination of appointments. This is highly provocative and despicable.
The tension generated by the meeting is uncalled for, diversionary and mischievous as no evil is intended in whatever form.
We appreciate the pressures being mounted by leaders from the Region especially as some have expressed concern that the meeting could be misinterpreted to mean the resurgence of hostilities in the Region; we say, it is not.
However, we take into account the fact that having embraced peace and remained supportive of various governments at all levels including the President Mohammud Burhari’s government, we are surprised that a meeting of ex-agitators could prop anxiety.
Hence, we shall ensure our genuine intentions are reflected in our attitude towards peace, security and development of the Region. Calling off today’s meeting can also be an option if need be, in order to strengthen our belief in a peaceful Niger Delta.
HIGH CHIEF GOVERNMENT EKPEMUPOLO
THE IBE-EBIDOUWEI OF IZON LAND.