WARRI- Embattled former MEND leader, High Chief Government Ekpemupolo, alias Tompolo, the Ibe-Ebidouwei of Ijaw Nation has advised the President Muhammadu Buhari administration to fund numerous development projects ear-marked for developmental projects in Niger Delta region, instead of wasting the fund to buy hard military wares and deploy them to the oil rich but neglected region.
Tompolo who spoke through his media consultant, Comrade Paul Bebenimibo noted that Niger Delta region, particularly the coastal area which is a very difficult terrain that no normal human being will love to stay with the present condition, admonished President Muhammadu Buhari to use money to develop the Niger Delta region, instead of using the fund to deploy military men and wares as well as carry out military exercises such as operation crocodile smile and octopus grip by the Army and Navy respectively.
He said that continuous military deployment to the region will not solve the problem of the age long criminal neglect of the region by government.
‘‘It must be pointed out that mere acknowledgement of the fast deteriorating condition of the Niger Delta region by government is not enough to solve the problems there, rather, the Federal Government needs to put up a strong political will to the address the issue of lack of development in the region.
‘‘At the last count, there are over 20 military houseboats in the creeks of Gbaramatu kingdom alone. So much is provided by the government in taking care of the military men and wares in that region without achieving the purpose they are being drafted to the area as the agitation for development of the region continues on daily bases. Government cannot continue to harass and intimidate the people of the region with military might. What the region needs is simply development. And that is what the previous administration meant when it established the Nigerian Maritime University, Okerenkoko.’’
According to Tompolo, ‘‘The previous government also approved the electrification of Escravos and environs, which has gone half-way, only to be discontinued by the present administration. The EPZ gas city and deep sea port project well thought out by the precious administration to significantly address the issue of unemployment in Nigeria has been abandoned also.
‘‘ This is not fair. The huge sum of money used to deploy military houseboats, gunships and fighter jets is enough to fund the Nigerian Maritime University and other development projects in the region that will give a sense of relief and belonging to the people as part of the Nigerian project.
‘‘Finally, we wish to challenge the government to change the paradigm of military deployment to paradigm of development and see that relative peace will certainly be attained.’’ He said.