Niger Delta:  Why Buhari   Approved A N48 Billion Oil Pipelines Surveillance Contract To Tompolo

By Stephen Ubanna

In spite of the  award of a N48 billion  Pipeline Surveillance contract  to  Government  Ekpemepulo, popular, Tompolo, a well -known militant Leader in the Niger Delta region, by President Muhammadu Buhari, not many believe that  much could be achieved by his company to man the pipeline  network  across the country. This is because the perpetrators are vried, contentious, loca gangs and communities.

 The N48 billion oil pipeleines surveillance contract to Tompolo’s company is coming after  seven  years of cancellation of  a $103 million security contract  between the Niger Delta militant, Company, Global West Vessels Specialists Nigeria Limited, GWVSNL, and the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency, NIMASA, to man the Nigerian water ways, by the Katsina born Nigerian President.

Abraham Ingobere, the Speaker of Byelsa state House of Assembly,   had said that ‘’oil theft in the Niger Delta is far from being over   as unemployment, poverty and environmental degradation are not being tackled by the government’’. Although, he had commended the government for taken the bold initiative to award the N48 billion pipeline surveillance contract to Tompolo, he would want the government ‘’to extend same to accommodate other stakeholders’’.

Oil Pipeline

 He insists that for the oil theft in the region to stop, ‘’the government must continue to interface with the stakeholders in the Niger Delta region and the people whose source of livelihood have been destroyed by oil activities of oil exploration’’.

There are different accounts of the volume of crude oil stolen every month in the country.  The Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, now batptised, Nigerian National Petroleum Company, NNPCL, with the passage of the Petroleum Industry Bill, PIB, by the National Assembly which had been signed into Law, by the Katsina state born Nigerian President, in August 2021, had aid that the country   loses about N470,000 b/d , of crude oil , amounting to $700 million  monthly as a result of the oil theft,


Tompolo: Company Wins N48 Billion Oil Pipelines Surveillance Contract

Prior to the award of the N48 billion –a year, Pipeline Surveillance  in the nine states of the Niger Delta, spread across the south-south, south east and the south west state of Ondo,  Tompolo, the former Commander  of the Movement for the Emancipation  of the Niger Delta,  was said to have held a meeting   with the Traditional Rulers,  Youths and women  groups, activities and other stakeholders  in the south –south  geopolitical region, on Saturday, September  24, 2022, pleading with them  ‘’to support the efforts  of the government  to rid the region  of oil thieves’’. Information may have filtered out to him that that the Nigerian President has penciled him down to take over the contract of pipeline surveillance in the region.

Even without being engaged officially, by the Buhari government, for the oil Pipeline surveillance contract, he was said   to have declared a clampdown on all oil thieves in the region. He was quoted to have  said in the Palace of  Oboro  Gbarraun, the King of Gbaramatu, Kingdom, in Oporoza,  Warri south west Local government Area of Delta state that ‘’business of pipeline surveillance  is all inclusive’’.

The Nigerian government may have resolved to give the former Niger Delta militant, Tompolo’s company may the multi-billion naira oil pipeline surveillance contract because he knows very well the terrain of the Niger Delta region and the modus Operandi of the pipeline vandals.

The government may have been further encouraged to award the N48 billion oil  pipelines surveillance to Tompolo’s company, because   the military had come to the sad conclusion that the institution cannot be able to secure the Niger Delta and Nigeria at large. Considering the huge amount of money spent yearly on an unending amnesty programme in the Niger Delta states, may have informed why the government decided that that the best thing to do is to hire Tompolo, whom security experts had said was not in any way different from hiring mercenaries.

Kyari: GMD, NNPCL, Says Government Took The Right Decision To Award The Oil Pipelines Contract To Tompolo

A school of thought believes that the N48 billion pipeline surveillance in the Niger Delta is nothing but promotion of criminality in the Niger Delta.  Mele Kolo Kyari,Group Managing Director,GMD, NNPCL, had said that the government made ‘’the right decision to hire private contractors to man its oil pipeline network natiowide’’.  He had said that the private contractors to man the right of ways of the nation’s oil pipelines   were selected after a rigorous tender process.

Contrary news making the rounds that Tompolo’, won the N48 billion Oil pipelines surveillance contract, the NNPCL, Chief Executive Officer, CEO, had said that  the government  is not dealing  directly with  the former Niger Delta  militant  but has signed  a contract  with the company  in which  he has interests.

 Edwin Clark, the Leader of the Pan-Niger Delta Forum, appears to be on the same page with the NNPCL, Chief Executive, Officer, CEO. He had said that, ‘’there is nothing wrong in awarding the N48 billion a year, pipeline surveillance contract to Tompolo,‘’to check  the menace of   oil thieves  in the region’’.   He had said thasimilar pipeline surveillance contract was awarded in the past to unknown individuals to protect the country oil and gas assets that are situated in their backyards but nothing came out of it and wondered why the Tompolo’s N48 billion contract is generating controversy.  

Clark: Defends Tompolo’s N48 Billion Oil Pipelines Contract

According to him ‘’events over the years  have shown  have shown  that the decision  is rather a convenient one considering  how  past and present governments  had handled  the issues  of oil theft  and vandalism in the Niger Delta region’’.

Recall that in 2011, during the Administration of former President Goodluck Jonathan, the government had awarded a 10-year contract worth about $103 million, equivalent of N21 billion, going by the exchange then to Global West sVessel Specialist Limited,   to effectively monitor some section of Nigerian maritime domain which  Patrick Akpobolokemi, the then Director General of  the maritime regulatory agency  was cancelled by the Katsina state born Nigerian President in 2015.

Baba: IGP: Force Dealing With The Pipeleine Vandals

 Until, Tompolo and his Team, mobilise on site,  Usman Alkali Baba, Inspector General of Police, IGP,  had told the Senate adhoc Committee  on oil lifting ,  theft and the impact  on Petroleum  production  and oil revenues  that nothing appears to have changed as the IGP Task Force  on Petroleum  and illegal bunkering , STFPIB, have continued to make seizures  of illegal refined petroleum products in the recent time.

The IGP,  had said last Wednesday,   that the STFPIB,  had made a seizure  of 1, 301,020 litres  of Automotive Gas Oil,  4,900 litres of Premium Motor Spirit, PMS, popular, petrol,  45 litres of engine oil,  123 vessels  comprising tankers,barges, lorries, buses and other vehicles  loaded with illegally refined products.The police boss,  had aid that the STFPIB, had successfully  recovered  and busted  the operations  of  an illegal refinery  in Jijoro community  Rierside , in Delta state , a Creek of about  an hour boat ride.

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