If current efforts being spearheaded by Government Ekpemuopolo, alias Tompolo, to secure and protect oil pipelines in the Niger Delta region against vandalization begin to bear fruit, the rate of crude oil theft will drastically reduce; the negative impact on the nation’s economy which is becoming glaring by the day will become a thing of the past.
Currently, Nigeria is said to be losing over 500,000 barrels of her crude daily owing to vandalization, theft and illegal oil bunkering.
According to reports, Tompolo, former warlord, freedom fighter and Niger Delta militant, has unveiled plans to engage locals from states in the Niger Delta region to police and secure crude oil installations against vandalism, theft and illegal bunkering.
The militant leader and Commander of the defunct Movement for Emancipation of Niger Delta (MEND), was declared wanted by the Buhari government in the recent past. But following a successful legal tussle, he won a case against the federal government in 2020.
According to Tompolo, men and women from various communities in Bayelsa, Delta and Rivers States will benefit from the project as salaries will be paid directly to those employed in the scheme.
The engagement arrangement, he stated, is 60 and 40 percent for men and women respectively.
As the lead consultant to the federal government on the security contract, he explained, there will be further outsourcing of contract to major players in Bayelsa and Rivers States respectively. The project has nothing to do with the region’s amnesty exercise.
The former warlord warned traditional and youth leaders of the communities to support the scheme to protect the rich oil region noting as the move to protect the coast was targeted at stopping revenue leakages which have continued to have adverse effects on the federal
While appealing for total cooperation among various communities in the region, Tompolo reiterated that the exercise is not a case of land dispute. Rather, it stands to bring unity and harmony for indigenous peoples of the Niger Delta states.
He added that operatives of the Nigeria Army, Navy Department of State Security (DSS) Police and other security apparatus are deeply involved in the project. They are ready to arrest and prosecute anyone whose intention is to sabotage efforts to protect government assets.
There are reasons to confirm reports making the rounds that the Federal Government might have renewed a multi-million dollar pipeline security contract earlier awarded to Tompolo.
Informed sources say the government and the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) Limited signed a deal with Tompolo to end illegal bunkering, illegal refining and other forms of oil theft in the Niger Delta. The deal is worth more than N4billion monthly. However, fine details of the contract are yet to be confirmed from official sources.
The former MEND commander, who is famous for his wife knowledge of the creeks is expected to monitor and oversee the surveillance contracts, contractors and their activities in the entire Niger Delta.
Tompolo played a similar role during the administration of former President Goodluck Jonathan when Diezani Alison-Madueke served as Minister of Petroleum.
Said a reliable source: “The government merely reviewed and restored his old contract. Before the cancellation of his contract, the arrangements he put in place tackled illegal bunkering and increased production quota to over two million barrels per day.
“But the new government cancelled the contract, declared him wanted and he was later exonerated of all wrongdoings”
“They have realized the need to bring him back because currently, the country is losing over 500,000 barrels per day to illegal bunkering”, the source said.