Congratulations to Government Oweizide Ekpemupolo (Tompolo)
I take command from heaven and earth to join the people of the Niger Delta at home and in the diaspora to congratulate Government Oweizide Ekpemupolo on his judicial victory. My philosophical calculations point to the clear fact that Tompolo is a new definition of a freedom fighter in the Niger Delta region after Isaac Boro and Chief DSP Alamieyeseigha. He is a virtuous example of the belief that “subordinated people do not take their circumstances passively”. They fight and negotiate through protestation to secure voice. He has from the days of militancy in the creeks to this time erected a very formidable speaking space.
In his freedom struggle, his father paid the supreme sacrifice. He was declared wanted by the powers that be. He was charged to court for alleged fraud and his freedom of movement restrained since January 2016. Today, he has been found not guilty of the charges raised against him. We have the Almighty God and the gods of Ijaw nation to thank for this heart gladdening judicial proclamation of his freedom. One significant thing the world must know about Tompolo even when he was declared wanted, was that, he kept his side of the Amnesty deal entered into with the federal government. He dedicated his post amnesty years to broker peace in the Niger Delta. He sacrificed and is still sacrificing every day of his life, denying himself comfort and spending millions of Naira to stamp out piracy, kidnapping or hostage takings in the region for the political and economic prosperity of the Nigerian nation State. He has empowered many young men and changed their mindset from the bad boy to the good boy through his deliberate agenda of beatification of the area boy. Now that his innocence has been proven by a competent high and federal court of Nigeria, the Federal Government should as a matter of urgency release all his assets and everything legitimately owned that he was denied access.
High Chief Government Ekpemupolo popularly known as Tompolo began the creation of a speaking space for his people in 1994 in the Escravos Rivers. He in conjunction with Oboko Bello Led FNDIC in defence of the natural rights and entitlements of Gbaramatu Ijaw Kingdom in Warri South West Local Government Area. He was also a staunch member of the Ijaw Youth Council when it was established. Tompolo became the GOC of the Movement for the emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND), a freedom foundation that sort to redress the injustices visited on the Ijaw nation and the Niger Delta. Visibly, Tompolo, a militant commander then, is an extraordinary subaltern character who, while exploited and marginalised within hegemonic constructions, challenged dialectical assimilation and organized abandonment of his forgotten places and struggles to destroy the ion gown of Subalternization. His struggle in the Niger Delta is a cardinal example of Subalternity and space that give expression to access and control of wealth accruing from his land in the face of ethnocentric and national dispossession. Thus the Subaltern voice which Tompolo represents is necessary for the decolonisation of the economic and political geography of the Niger Delta.
After the revolutionary season, he embraced amnesty on October 4th 2009 for the return and sustenance of peace in the area, and for the government and oil companies to carry out development projects, and provide jobs and training. His revolt resulted in the call for Amnesty. The Amnesty has given hope and economic empowerment to thousands of Niger Delta youths. The Ministry of Niger Delta and the strengthening and funding of NDDC are also a fall out of the struggle of his generation. The struggle in question advanced the cause of the common good of the underprivileged people in the society. It offered health and education to his people. Tompolo agitated against the insensitivity of the Federal Government and the international oil companies towards the exploitation and degradation of the Niger Delta. Conscious of the fact that the Niger Delta and Nigeria needed to survive in the post oil era, he has brought a deep seaport to Gbaramatu in addition to the Nigerian Maritime University. We must accept the fact that we need to reinvent our existential vision to bring progressive illumination to our grassroots.
It was George Bernard Shaw who said, “Every reasonable man (and woman) is a potential scoundrel and a potential good citizen. What a man is depends upon his character; what a man does, and what we think of what he does, depends upon his circumstances.” Let us for once look at the subject of this celebration closely.
Stars do not shine because of evil men. They shine to give illumination to the earth at night. High Chief Government Oweizide Ekpemupolo, fondly and popularly called Tompolo is an iconic figure in the recent revolutionary history of the Niger Delta Nigeria. He commands a historical force and occupies a historical space separate and eminent from his progenitors. He is one man full of energy and love of human life, a man endowed with inner peace and inner light, a fine nationalists and a quintessential leader, a foundation of peace and communal democracy, a big vessel that works for the Niger Delta and Nigeria. He has the highest quality of leadership: intellectual energy and personal attributes, he is righteous, truthful, resolute, passionate and disciplined, not breaking promises and showing gratitude to those who help him. His intellectual qualities are: desire to learn, to listen to others, grasping, understanding thoroughly and reflecting on knowledge, rejecting false views and adhering to the true ones. Tompolo is valorous, determined and dexterous. Eloquently bold and endowed with a sharp intellectual fabric and moral fibre that governed his world. He has a strong memory and a keen mind. He is amenable to guidance. He is sweet in speech and philosophy, honest and compassionate, an effective communicator and a knowledgeable super-mortal who made decisions that keep Ijaw, Niger Delta safe.
Tompolo is a positive tempering influence on the rancorous politics of his society. He possesses qualities which are akin to those of kings in the medieval era. Courage, strength, fairness, generosity, restraint and respect are his defining character traits. Tompolo acts rather than react in troubled times; he is a rock in crises. He seasons and empowers his decisions with experience, rational contemplation, wisdom and logic. He is a revolutionary institution, a phenomenon of emancipation on whose shoulders along with his generation of freedom fighters rest the destiny of Ijaw nation. Tompolo’s most formidable and significant ideology of freedom fighting is the Ideology of regionalism and particularly, restoration, drawn from the entrails of the pantheon of Ezon religious alignment endorsed by Egbesu. A current ideological form for humanity. A response to human problems of inequality. To Gbaramatu and Ijaw people he is like Hammurabi, the ancient Babylonian King, and the example of a strong king who makes a strong kingdom. Tompolo is one of the very rare breed of post-colonial Ijaw leaders that has brought development and dignity to Ijaw land. I wish High Chief General Oweizide Ekpemupolo a glorious restoration of his rights and liberties.
Prof Bendect Binebai is a professor of drama, dramatic theory and criticism. A lecturer Niger Delta University, NDU, Bayelsa State. He writes from Yenagoa.