Nigeria: Jonathan In Secret Meeting With Olu of Warri Over Vexed Issues
BEVERLY HILLS, January 23, (THEWILL) – President Goodluck Jonathan Friday evening held a secret meeting with the Olu of Warri, Ogiame Atuwatse II, reportedly over series of vexed issues that have bedeviled the Itsekiri nation in recent time.
The President touched down in a presidential chopper around 5:30pm at the World of Life Bible Church playground which is adjacent to the Olu's palace in Ajamogha area of Warri.
He then rode alongside Governor Emmanuel Uduaghan to the Olu's palace where he was welcomed by Itsekiri Traditional Council of Chiefs and other prominent Itsekiri leaders.
It was learnt that the President originally came to visit the President of Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), Pastor Ayo Oritsejafor, and decided to pay homage to the Olu before leaving town.
Sources told THEWILL that the meeting was not unconnected to threats from many quarters that the President would lose the support of Itsekiri nation following series of unsettled issues which had bogged the people in recent time.
Although details of the meeting were still sketchy when filing this report, a source privy to the meeting said the discussion at the meeting bordered on the need to support President Jonathan's re-election bid as well as the circumstances leading to the botched inauguration of the $16billion Export Processing Zone (EPZ) project.
THEWILL was told that the Olu had expressed the displeasure of the Itsekiri people to President Jonathan over the circumstances surrounding the controversial suspension of the inauguration of the Delta Gas City project proposed for Ogidigben in Warri South-West Local Government Area of the state.
Specifically, the source said the Olu told Jonathan that the Itsekiris were unhappy over the abortion of the flag-off since, according to him, the Itsekiris have no prior problem with their neighbours, or share no land with the Ijaw people in the project map.
Reliable sources at the meeting further told THEWILL that the President particularly promised to meet with Chief Ayiri Emami and Chief Government Ekpemupolo (aka Tompolo), the two dramatis personae in the EPZ crisis, who had defined the conflict with their continued dominance of the Delta waterways.
“Olu told the President that Itsekiri nation is unhappy over his cancellation of the visit to flag-off the EPZ project.”
“Olu told him the Itsekiris share no land with Ijaw in the EPZ map and that it was sad that the President suspended his visit based on threat.”
“But the President said he didn't cancel his visit based on threat but security report which came to him very late….
“He however promised to meet with the two arrow heads in the crisis, Ayiri and Tompolo, alongside the Minister of Petroleum to iron out things.”
“The President also promised to ensure that the groundbreaking is carried out before the expiration of the tenure of Governor Uduaghan.”
He said he will meet with the stakeholders on the project during his campaign rally in the state,” the sources, who craved anonymity, disclosed to THEWILL.
THEWILL recalls that a few weeks ago, former leader of the Movement for the Emancipation of Niger Delta (MEND), Tompolo, had embarked on a similar peace move to the Olu's palace in a bid to mend fence with the Itskiri people following wide- spread allegations that he had railroaded the President from carrying out the inauguration of the project owing to demand by his Gbaramatu kinsmen on the project's name and others.