Jonathan Settles Itsekiri, Ijaw Feud Over Gas Project

JonA IN wARRI

President Goodluck Jonathan, yesterday, in Asaba, Delta State, resolved the impasse between the Ijaw and the Itsekiri in Delta State over the groundbreaking of the $16 billion (N3.2 trillion) Delta City Gas City project at Ogidigben, Warri South-West Local Government Area of the state. A new date has now been fixed for the groundbreaking ceremony after three postponements since 2014.

Jonathan, who was on a two-day visit to the state, held separate meetings with the Olu of Warri, Ogiame Atuwatse II, who led the Itsekiri delegation, and Ijaw leaders before he finally met with two principal protagonists, ex-militant leader, High Chief Government Ekpemupolo, alias Tompolo, and Itsekiri leader, Chief Ayiri Emami, Vanguard reports, citing reliable sources.

At the peace meeting with Tompolo and Ayiri, brokered by Jonathan’s host, Governor Emmanuel Uduaghan, yesterday morning, “It was agreed that the groundbreaking be done on March 15 and the ethnic groups should abide by the names proposed by the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, for the projects,” Vanuard’s impeccable source said.

“While the main project, Delta Gas City, which many refer to as EPZ, is at Ogidigben, an Itsekiri town, the other one is Gbaramatu Sea Port in Ijaw territory.”.

It was learned that Uduaghan had to intervene before Ayiri accepted the deal.

With a new date now agreed, the Minister of Petroleum Resources, Mrs. Diezani Alison-Madueke, has been instructed to reach out to the foreign investors of the project to ensure their participation at the groundbreaking.

When Vanguard contacted Ayiri, a PDP chieftain, he said he was present at the meeting with Mr. President, but declined to speak on the outcome.

Chairman of the Warri Study Group, Mr. Edward Ekpoko, whose group threatened earlier that Niger-Delta ethnic nationalities might not vote for Jonathan if the groundbreaking was not performed before the presidential election, said, “I was there at the meeting with President Jonathan on Friday, he said he would do the groundbreaking before the election but no date was fixed.

“He told us he would talk with Governor Uduaghan for a new date.”

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