You’ve Failed My People, Warri Monarch Tells Jonathan …Militants In Verbal Battle Before Meeting With President

•Tompolo, Emami in verbal battle before meeting with President

Faced by the grim prospect of losing   the support of the Itsekiri of   Delta State in this month’s election, President Goodluck Jonathan has bowed to pressure to perform the groundbreaking of the $16bn Delta Gas City project at Ogidigben in the  Warri South West Local Government Area of the  State, before the poll.

The  deal was struck at separate meetings he held with the paramount ruler of the Itsekiri,Olu of Warri, Ogiame Atuwatse II and other Itsekiri leaders, as well as  with former militant leader, Government Ekpemupolo (aka Tompolo)  and  Ayirimi Emami (aka Akulagba), at the  Government House, Asaba on Friday night.

Sources at the meetings said the President  told Ayiri and Tompolo that “he was coming to Warri in two weeks to perform the groundbreaking ceremony and asked them to go and settle their differences in the interest of peace and development of the area.

“Consequently, everybody has agreed in principle to allow the groundbreaking ceremony to take place . We are expecting the ceremony to come up in two weeks time. The president has asked the governor and NNPC to work towards that date.”

The Itsekiri and the Ijaw are laying claim to the project site.

Threats  by Tompolo and his Ijaw kinsmen to unleash mayhem on the area forced the President to  call off the first attempt to perform the ceremony last November.

Stunned by the President’s action,the Itsekiri  resolved to  vote massively against him  in the president election.

Meanwhile, a source at the meeting between the President and Itsekiri leaders said the  Itsekiri monarch  “bluntly told the President that he failed the Itsekiri during his tenure” and that he (Olu)  could not guarantee his people’s  votes for him.

The traditional ruler was also said to have told the President that his people even got a better deal from former President Olusegun  Obasanjo.

“He told  the President that as the paramount  monarch of the Itsekiri people, he could advise them on how to vote. Nevertheless, he said it was not possible to go back to tell his people to vote for him considering the raw deal they have received from him.

“The Ogiame particularly lamented the manner the President aborted the groundbreaking ceremony of the gas project, which was the only benefit his people would have received during his entire six years.”

Apparently worried by the tone of the monarch, President Jonathan was said to have requested for a private meeting with Tompolo and the Akulagba – two of the key players in the controversy over ownership of the lands in the area.

It was gathered that a pre-meeting between the duo was almost called off due to hot exchange of words between the Ijaw and Itsekiri leaders, who bickered over the ownership of the contentious site of the project.

“Although Tompolo was willing to concede that the 2,800 hectares site of the gas project is  owned exclusively by Itsekiri, he wanted an assurance from Akulagba  that the site of the deep sea port would be conceded to the Ijaws of Gbaramatu.

“Ayiri insisted that all the land, including where some Gbaramatu communities are located is owned by the Itsekiri, insisting that he would not be cowed by threat of war or violence to concede his kinsmen’s property  for peace.”

In spite of the latest development, it was gathered that Emami is planning to go to court if the deep sea port is conceded to the Ijaws as it is being proposed by the President and the Delta State Government.

“From what we have gathered, he has concluded plans to challenge the Ijaw’s claim to the land, particularly Ikpokpo and other communities alleged annexed by the Ijaws during the Ijaw/Itsekiri crisis.”

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