Happy birthday to Tompolo at 50. Government Oweizide Ekpemupolo (Tompolo) was born on 12 April 1971, to the family of Chief Thomas Ekpemupolo at Ikpokpo, Gbaramatu kingdom, Warri South West Local Government, Delta state. He attended Ogeh primary school, Kunukunuma, from 1976 to 1982, and did his secondary education from 1982-1988 at Warri City College and National Comprehensive College, Warri. After a brief stint as Managing Director in his father’s construction, oil and gas businesses (Thomas Ekpemupolo & Sons Ltd., which later became Tompolo & Sons Enterprises, and again later to Tompolo Nigeria Limited – hence the name Tompolo), he launched and became CEO of two major oil and gas companies – Gov-Owei Nigeria Limited and Gov-Sola Nigeria Limited, located at 82, Old Airport Road, Effurun, Warri. He was by all standards very successful and was one of the most influential youth leaders in Delta state. His activities over the years have earned him chieftaincy titles across the region. He is not just a devoted adherent of Egbesu but a high-ranking priest of the religion and lover of African tradition.
Tompolo’s transformation from businessman to an adamant rebel, uncompromising activist, hardnosed revolutionist and inflexible irredentist is a creation of the Nigeria state. Tompolo’s rebellion against the Nigerian state begun in 1997, during the struggle to liberate Warri Ijaw from the age-old dominance by their neighbors. The administration of General Sanni Abacha had without any consultations relocated Warri South Local Government headquarters from Ogbe-Ijoh to Ogidigben. It was this singular act of ‘political injustice’ and government insistence that unveiled Tompolo’s imbued revolutionary potentials and skills. For Tompolo, there is a limit to endurance, silence and patience in the face of ethnic/class domination and socio-political deprivation. It is enough for him to know that Niger Delta suffers from the paradox of nothing amidst abundance natural resources. It is enough for him to also know that Egbesu abhor injustice and oppression of man by man. For Tompolo it was more than adequate to revolt against ethnic domination on the hand, and state-corporate hegemony on the other. Hence, he moved into the maze of creeks to fearlessly advocate for radical change and demand for justice. His exploits against the State-MNOCs coalition, defense of communities against military onslaught and focused leadership among the ranks in the militia sphere earned him the title GOC – General Officer Commanding the Niger Delta. Tompolo, the T-shirt wearing Grand Commander of the dreaded ‘Movement for the Emancipation of Niger Delta (MEND)’ that made the oil-fields borderline ungovernable space is 50-year old – glory be to Woyin. Many on the political right condemn him as brutal, cruel, murderous, restive and all too willing to employ violence to attain justice for the region. On the other hand, Tompolo’s romanticized image as a revolutionary at 50 looms large for the generations of deprived, dehumanized and dejected young radicals in the Niger Delta.
Tompolo and his family have been vilified, hounded, haunted, attacked and maligned by the Nigerian state. Amidst these ordeals Tompolo remains steadfast, calm, undeterred and unshaken. He has shown great courage in the face of naked state brutality and ready (if need be) to pay the supreme price for the liberation of our people and region.
This slim soft-spoken philanthropist whose foundation supports the elderly, vulnerable and children is well admired by the wretched of the Niger Delta. It is a proof of his love, admiration and commitment to the people and region. It is practically difficult to find in one person all the virtues embodied in this great revolutionary figure who is impossible to equal and practically tough to match.
We wish to salute your unbreakable spirit, indubitable bravery, extraordinary ideas, unparalleled kindness, unbeatable principles, incorrigible tactics and highly laudable intensions for our people and region. It is our ardent wish that the Niger Delta you dedicated your entire life and the freedom of people you yearn to see will happen in your life time.
On behalf of the entire Niger Delta, we sincerely wish you a happy, blissful and prosperous golden celebration.
Niger Delta Citizens for Justice (NDCJ)