. INC sets up teams to interface with stakeholders
. Third phase ex-militants seek review of contract
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-warlord, Chief Government Ekpemupolo a.k.a Tompolo by the Nigerian National Petroleum 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.”
Mene told The Nation that it was necessary for the people awarded the contracts to “carry everybody along.”
Continuing, he said: “It has to be inclusive for sustainable protection or security of the pipelines; if not the project 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 Because if it is withdrawn, how are we sure that a Niger Deltan can get it?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 pipelines 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.
“We are going to collectively deliver. Tompolo remains the best person for this contract. Federal Government should do the needful and go to sleep. Leave every other thing for Tompolo and the rest of us.”
INC sets up team to interface with stakeholders
In a bid to prevent the crisis from festering, the President of Ijaw National Congress (INC), Prof Benjamin Okaba, yesterday set up a five-member committee to interface with stakeholders on the matter.
Inaugurating the committee at the Ijaw House, Yenagoa, the Bayelsa State capital, Okaba said the anger sparked by the contract award should not be allowed to get out of control.
“The common good and unity of our people should not be compromised at any time,” he said.
“Our people have suffered for too long, and in the process of the struggle for resource control lost lives and communities sometimes invaded and destroyed.
“Instead of being in total control of our resources, allowing crumbs to cause in-fighting and division amongst us would be to our own injury and disadvantage.
“We hope the committee, chaired by the National Financial Secretary of the INC, would yield positive outcomes.”
One-time President of the Ijaw Youth Council (IYC) and currently Special Adviser to the Bayelsa State Governor on Ijaw Affairs, Dr. Oyeinfie Jonjon, is also a member of the committee.
A ‘general’ Lente, leading a group of heavily armed Niger Delta militants, had appeared on Facebook earlier in the week protesting the award of the contract to Tompolo alone without consideration for other militants, naming in particular King Ateke Tom and Alhaji Asari Dokubo.
Lente also cited a community which he said is hosting 83km of over 90km of pipeline but was left out of the juicy contact.
He said: “You are trying to cause confusion. NCTL is over 90km. A particular community has 83km in it, you didn’t give any of them the job but you took it to somebody who is in Oporoza when we have the likes of the former IYC President, Dokubo Alhaji Asari, High Chief Ateke Tom, you didn’t give to them.
“This is the pipeline, come and see. Nobody will stop us. If you don’t give the contract to the original indigenes, it will not work.”
At a point, he mentioned the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Chief Timipre Sylva, and said: “What you are trying to do is to cause trouble in the Niger Delta, especially in Ijaw land. What you are trying to do won’t work for you.”
We’re going ahead with our planned march on NNPC, says Northern groups
Also yesterday, the Amalgamated Arewa Youth Group said it had concluded plans to mobilise thousands of northern youths to march to the Nigerian National Petroleum Limited headquarters next week to protest against the pipeline surveillance contract awarded to Tompolo.
The group had earlier issued a seven-day ultimatum to the government to terminate the contract or shut down the Amnesty Office.
Spokesperson of the group, Comrade Victor Duniya, said alternatively government should award security contracts to youths in the other geopolitical zones to safeguard their regions since the federal government no longer has confidence in the country’s security agencies.
He said: “Since government now has more trust in local solutions, we wish to call on the President to immediately set up mechanism to organise youths in other geopolitical zones into security clusters and give them necessary support so that they can bring peace to their various regions.”