June 22, 2024

Experts fear scary resumption of hostilities in Niger Delta, as FG awards pipeline surveillance  contract to Tompolo

Samuel Agbelusi

The Nigerian government has been slammed for rewarding the sins of criminality with huge gains through its decision to award pipeline security contracts, valued at N4 billion, in favour of Mr. Government Ekpemupolo otherwise known as Tompolo.

Experts in their reactions on the  contract awarded to the ex-Niger Delta militant, told EnergyDay that the decision of the FG will reawaken the insurgency in the Niger Delta area.

EnergyDay gathered that Federal Government through the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) Limited, allegedly signed the pipeline surveillance deal with Tompolo to end illegal bunkering, illegal refining, and other forms of oil theft in the Niger Delta.

In the contract the former MEND commander, known for his creek credibility, is expected to monitor and oversee other surveillance contracts, contractors, and their activities in the entire Niger Delta in a deal worth over N4 billion.

EnergyDay can recall that Tompolo played a similar role during the former administration of President Goodluck Jonathan when Diezani Alison-Madueke was the Minister of Petroleum.

That particular deal was revoked by the President Muhammadu Buhari’s government which has, in turn, restored the old contract.

The experts  therefore urged the Government to  devise a sustainable way that could permanently  tackle the economically retrogressive menace of illegal oil bunkering and local refining of crude oil in the Niger Delta.

According to them, the global advancement in information technology and artificial intelligence as the ideal measure that are needed to handling such critical infrastructural challenge.

They noted that the oil and gas industry players, in recent time, has been utilising data-based approaches to dealing with major crisis affecting the industry.

EnergyDay had it on good authority that before the cancellation of the contract, arrangements were put in place to tackle illegal bunkering, which was later responsible for the increased crude oil production quota at that time to over two million barrels per day.

An industry source who did not want to be mentioned in print, told EnergyDay that the Tompolo deal, was the brainchild of Timipre Sylva, Minister of State for Petroleum, and some top officials of the NNPC including Adokiye Tombomelye, Group Executive Director, Upstream.
EXPERTS’ REACTIONS

Reacting to the contract issue which has been identified as unnecessary and which according to them, will give room for more criminal acts. The stakeholders condemned the position of government for rewarding criminality which will enhance criminality.

According to them, the government should have deployed modern measures to tackle oil theft and pipeline vandalism and ensure strict compliance with the Petroleum Industry Act (PIA) focusing on the import of community participation in the industry.

In a chat with EnergyDay, Professor Iledare, Professor Emeritus in Energy Studies, Louisiana State University, USA, stressed that the government has only shot itself by rewarding criminality that will enhance criminality. This means that rewarding Tompolo has opened ways for others to ensure they collect their share from the government which will awaken the insurgency of oil theft.

Professor Iledare said,  “the deal is already a waste of time for us to comment, just like the government encouraging pipeline vandalism with bumper contracts. In essence, Rewarding criminality enhances criminality !”

Speaking with EnergyDay, Alex Neyin, former  Chairman, Board of Trustee Chair, Society of Petroleum Engineer(SPE), believed that the Tompolo contract issue is a result of the government’s inability to secure the pipeline’s assets in the country.

This, according to him, has further exposed the government’s handling of the Niger delta issues.

Neyin also cautioned that the decision of the FG in respect of the new development will open the way for more criminal activities in the Niger Delta region.

He warned that other Ex-Niger Delta militants, who have abandoned agitation for many years, are likely to request for similar offer.

ANOTHER MILITANT GROUP MAKES CASE FOR ASARI-DOKUBO, ATEKE TOM

While the Tompolo contract controversy ranges on, some ex-militants, claiming to be operating from Rivers and Bayelsa states, have in a viral video on Thursday, threatened the Government for offering surveillance contract for a pipeline in Rivers State community to Tompolo in Delta State.

They insisted that the contract for River and Bayelsa should rather be given to   Mujahid Dokubo-Asari and Ateke Tom,two ex-militant leaders, whom they claimed are natives of the two states.

“General Sempe,”, who claimed to be speaking on behalf of the militants, in the viral video, the and another, who spoke in Ijaw language, warned the government against reawakening insurgency and unrest between the Niger Delta warlords.