By Timi Black
A leading Niger Delta advocacy group, Ijaw People’s Development Initiative, IPDI, has described Chief Rita Lori-Ogbebor, as an Itsekiri bigot, over a call to revoke the surveillance contract awarded to the former leader of the defunct Movement For The Emancipation of Niger Delta, (MEND), High Chief Government Oweizide Ekpemupolo, alias Tompolo.
The group, in a statement by its National President, Comrade Ozobo Austin, disclosed to Congress correspondent on Wednesday that chief Rita Lori-Ogbebor is a hypocrite and a mischief maker for failing to call for the termination of the same multi-billionaire pipeline surveillance contract awarded to the Olu of Warri which covered part of Rivers, Delta, Akwa-Ibom and the Edo States.
The statement dated 14th September 2022 titled: “CALL FOR REVOCATION OF TOMPOLO’S SURVEILLANCE CONTRACT: CHIEF RITA LORI-OGBEBOR IS A KNOWN ENEMY OF DELTA STATE AND NIGER DELTA REGION” said Chief Rita Lori-Ogbebor who called for the revocation of the oil pipeline surveillance contract awarded to High Chief Government Ekpemupolo, alias Tompolo is a well-known enemy of the Delta State and Niger Delta region, adding that she should be ignored by Nigerians.
It would be recalled that Chief Rita Lori-Ogbebor addressed a press briefing at Abuja on Monday, September 12, 2022, where she called for the revocation of the pipeline surveillance contract awarded to High Chief Tompolo on the basis that awarding such contract to one individual is an invitation to anarchy in the Niger Delta region.
The group stated: “Chief Lori-Ogbebor thereby joined voice with Alhaji Asari Dokubo in calling for the revocation of the contract because Tompolo is the sole surveillance contractor which is mischievous and provocative.
“IPDI, having studied Chief Ogbebor’s statement wishes to state that the statement did not come as a surprise because Chief Rita Lori-Ogbebor is a well-known enemy of the Warri area, Delta State, and the Niger Delta region as a whole.
“It is on record that Chief Rita Lori-Ogbebor has opposed every effort to attract development and positive appointments to the Warri area, Delta State, and the Niger Delta region in general.
The following are some of the sins of Chief Lori-Ogbebor against the people in the Warri area, Delta State, and the Niger Delta region which tell Nigerians about her true nature.
“i. It is on record that Chief Lori-Ogbebor is one of the mischievous voices in opposing the choice of Warri as the capital of Delta State in the days leading to the creation of the state. As a result of the opposition to the choice of Warri as the capital of Delta State which Chief Rita Lori-Ogbebor championed, Warri lost the Delta State capital to Asaba and today the effect is been felt by all stakeholders in Warri. Warri is presently not better than a slump instead of being one of the fastest growing cities like Port Harcourt, all due to Chief Ogbebor’s misdeeds against Warri.
“ii. Again recently, a son of Warri, Chief Bernard Okumagba was appointed the Managing Director of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC). Ordinarily, such appointments are usually applauded by people close to the appointee and people from his place of origin because of the positive developments that come with such appointments.
However, that was not to be the case as Chief Rita Lori-Ogbebor in her usual manner joined hands with people from outside Delta State who were opposed to the appointment of Chief Okumagba and took him to court to stop his inauguration after clearance by the National Assembly.
Following the connivance of Chief Ogbebor and her cronies, Chief Okumagba and his board members of the NDDC have not been inaugurated up to date.
Flowing from the foregoing, it is no surprise that Chief Lori-Ogbebor has gone to Abuja to team up with those opposed to Chief Tompolo’s contract like Asari Dokubo to call for the revocation of the contract. Chief Tompolo, just like Lori-Ogbebor is from the Warri area, but in her usual manner, she cannot sleep well once people from her Warri neighborhood are doing well.
“It is Chief Lori-Ogbebor’s stock in trade to oppose anything that has to do with her neighboring ethnic groups as an ethnic chauvinist. If not ethnic extremism, why will Chief Ogbebor call for the revocation of Tompolo’s contract on the basis that he is an individual but has not called for the revocation of the Olu of Warri, her traditional ruler’s surveillance contract? Just as the NNPC awarded a surveillance contract to Chief Tompolo, it also awarded a new surveillance contract to the Olu of Warri.
“It is on record that the Olu of Warri has been in charge of the surveillance contract of oil pipelines in Delta State since 2016 and has just been awarded the pipeline surveillance of Rivers and the Akwa Ibom States. Why has Chief Ogbebor not called for the revocation of that contract if she is not an ethnic extremist? Chief Ogbebor’s call for the revocation of Tompolo’s contract is nothing but her usual display of hatred against her ethnic neighbors. She is nothing but an ethnic extremist who has no business in the modern world.”
IPDI urged the NNPC and the Federal Government to ignore Chief Rita Lori-Ogbebor, adding that she is neither a Niger Delta Activist nor a leader in the region.
The group stressed: ” Rita Lori-Ogbebor neither lives in the Niger Delta region to feel the devasting effect of the activities of oil theft nor have any stake in the region by way of investments. All of Rita Lori-Ogbebor’s investments are in Abuja and Lagos from where she addressed press conferences from time to time to promote her selfish interest at the expense of the ordinary Itsekiri people she claims to be fighting for. Let her go and invest in rural Itsekiri communities like Ogheye and Ebrahimi to develop the communities as Chief Tompolo did with Kurutie if she loves her people.
“Niger Deltans from across the Nine states of the region have wholeheartedly embraced the award of the surveillance contract to Tompolo and are ready to work with him. This is evidenced by the thousands of people who have paid solidarity and consultative visits to him at Oporoza, Delta State. The fact that Tompolo can deliver on this very sensitive national assignment is not in doubt and key stakeholders are all behind him to stop the environmental genocide in the Niger Delta region, increase the nation’s oil production, and protect the environment,” the group asserted.
IPDI, however, expressed confidence that Tompolo’s surveillance contract would lead to the employment of thousands of youths which in turn would address youth restiveness in the region, maintaining that it must be supported by all well-meaning Niger Deltans.