Tension is mounting in the Niger Delta region following the call for a meeting of all former leaders and commanders of the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND) by Government Ekpemupolo (aka Tompolo).
Shortly after assumption of office, President Muhammadu Buhari cancelled the pipeline surveillance contract awarded to Tompolo’s company.
Also recently, Tompolo’s nominee, Patrick Ziakede Akpobolokemi was sacked by Buhari as the Director General of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency ( NIMASA).
Several former militant leaders had expressed worry over the non-appointment of a head of the Federal Government amnesty programme which they said had stalled the funding of the programme.
The notice of the meeting with the introduction which read: “My dearly beloved commanders and leaders of various wings of the Movement of the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND), I greet you all. It is my pleasure to humbly invite you to a very crucial meeting” was personally signed by Tompolo to demonstrate the seriousness attached to it.
The meeting fixed for Saturday, July 25 in Bayelsa State would deliberate on crucial issues affecting the Niger Delta since the assumption of office of Buhari.
Sources said issues that would be discussed at the meeting included the recent statement credited to former President Olusegun Obasanjo that the alleged poor performance of former President Goodluck Jonathan would continue to affect the Niger Delta region.
The issue of the planned probe and possible arrest of former President Jonathan would also come up for deliberation.
The former militants would also discuss the delay in appointing the head of the amnesty programme and non-payment of three months allowances and scholarship fees to former militants undergoing training in the country and abroad.
A former top member of MEND, who spoke on condition of anonymity said the meeting might also deliberate on the formation of a new MEND and take a position on the actions of President Buhari since his assumption of office.
“We are not meeting to declare war. But the meeting will carefully discuss issues of interest as they affect the Niger Delta region. If you check the region, since assumption of power by President Buhari, there are signs of tension due to the administration’s perceived animosity against the region and the beneficiaries of the Federal Government amnesty deal. Women have cried out. Former militant leaders have pleaded but no answer from Buhari. We cannot fold our hands and let the boys be provoked into violence” the source said. -The Sun