All is not well among Niger Delta militants following the recent award of a N48 billion per year (N4b per month) pipeline surveillance contract to ex-militant, Chief Government Ekpemupolo a.k.a Tompolo by the Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited.
Several militant groups in the region are angry with the federal government for leaving them out of the juicy contract and are now calling for an immediate review to accommodate ‘everyone.’
They are threatening to make the contract unworkable.
However, the Ijaw National Congress (INC) yesterday stepped into the matter with the president of the group, Prof. Benjamin Okaba, setting up a five-member committee to interface with stakeholders in order to forestall any trouble.
Some militants under the aegis of 3rd Phase Ex-Agitators’ Leaders yesterday demanded a review of the contract awarded to Tompolo with a view to accommodating other ex-agitators.
The militants, in a communiqué signed by their National Chairman, General Tonye Bobo, Vice Chairman, General Birinumughan Jesse, Delta State Secretary, General Louis Prince and the Coordinator for Warri South, Warri South-West as well as Warri North Local Government Areas, Comrade Abugewa Mene, said the Tompolo contract would fail if it was not reviewed to make it all inclusive.
They also called for a meeting with Tompolo and other relevant authorities “especially with the 3rd phase ex- agitators’ leaders, to ensure proper security of the pipelines and oil facilities in the Niger Delta region. If not, it will fail.”
“We are not calling for the removal of the contract. We are calling for the review of the contract to ensure that everybody is carried along. Because if it is withdrawn, how are we sure that a Niger Deltan can get it? Rather it should be reviewed to ensure that one’s area of interest and influence is secured.”
But the National Secretary of Amnesty Phase 3, ‘General’ Tam Odogu, described Tompolo as the best man for the pipeline surveillance job.
He was surprised at the rancour already generated by the contract award even when Tompolo, according to him, has not disclosed the “method of deployment” for the surveillance jobs.
He said: “Ordinarily, the contract is aimed at stopping all pipelines vandalism, illegal bunkering and others; it must involve people. People must be seen working practically for the government to see how these abnormal activities can be stopped.
“So, people must be taken from every area, both the oil producing and non-oil producing communities. If this thing is shared to communities, as a general, you have to be identified from your community. If it is shared to militant groups, then those in every group must be identified. To me, it is too early for people to start to say this or that.
“My own observation is that Tompolo has to finalise everything about the contract before anything can be done.
“It is my humble advice to our GOC to seek the face of our traditional gods, our Egbesus and the Almighty God, which he has always done, to guide him.
“Some persons think that once they are given this contract, they will sit at home and eat Federal Government’s money. This is work! It is a call to duty, call to service.
“A lot of things are going wrong in the Niger Delta. This is a responsibility given to Tompolo and, by extension, whoever comes into this project also has a responsibility. So all hands have to be on the deck for us to fulfill the end.
“If they don’t want Tompolo to have this contract, I don’t know who they want to give it to that will actually deliver. This is a security matter and the person must have the credibility to handle it.
“So, if they take it from Tompolo, who is that person in the Niger Delta that they want it given to? Tompolo remains the best person for this contract. And all those that are ready to cause problems are all scared of Tompolo.
“Tompolo is the best person for the contract. The Federal Government should be rest assured that Tompolo will deliver. And all well-meaning Niger Delta ex-agitators, Niger Delta youths, we are all behind Tompolo.