Rivers State Governor, Siminalayi Fubara, has condemned the federal government’s award of an oil pipeline surveillance contract to a single individual in the Niger Delta.
This is as the federal government, through the minister of state for petroleum, Heineken Lokpobiri, has commended Tantita Security Services Nigeria Limited for efficiently protecting oil pipelines and reducing bunkering since it was given the contract a year ago.
Tantita Security Services Nigeria Limited is a private security company owned by ex-Niger Delta agitator, Government Ekpemupolo, a.k.a. Tompolo.
But during a courtesy visit to him by the Joint Presidential Committee on Crude Oil Theft at the weekend in Port Harcourt, Governor Siminalayi Fubara said it would not be possible for one individual to secure all the oil facilities in the Niger Delta.
He said the only way the problems of oil pipeline vandalisation and bunkering can be efficiently solved is by involving the key stakeholders in the various oil-producing communities in the region.
Governor Fubara said: “Security of pipelines and all those stuff should not be given to one man or one person to say, look o, you’re going to handle somebody from Kalabari to come and control what is happening in Ogba-Egbema. It’s not possible; there’s no way it will work.
“We need to come down and look at it in such a way that we bring in all those
communities, their heads – those people you’re dealing with in this other end; but look for the anchor people and talk to them. Once you can catch them and make them part of the process, there are no two ways; it will go down.”
The Rivers governor accused Abuja-based political stakeholders of being behind crude oil theft in the Niger Delta, adding that citizens of the region at home are not part of that cabal.
He revealed that some of the big players in the illegal oil bunkering business are part of the government in Abuja and called for concerted effort to identify and punish them.
“But who are the significant people in this business? They’re not people here; they’re those in Abuja who have these licences and do this exportation. It’s not my people here.
“So, if those people in Abuja are not encouraging it (oil theft), I don’t think it is there to flourish. It’s just like a thief; if he’s going to steal this camera, somebody is not buying it, he won’t be encouraged to go and steal it.
“So, we need to work, not just on the locals, and also see what we can do to clamp down on these big ones that stay in Abuja, that are also part of the big government,” Fubara said.
Earlier, leader of the Joint Presidential Committee on Oil Theft delegation, Nuhu Ribadu, said the setting up of the committee is a demonstration of the federal government’s readiness to tackle oil theft.
Ribadu, also the National Security Adviser, assured Governor Siminalayi Fubara of the committee’s preparedness to carry out the task, which he said was the essence of the visit.
“You see us here; this is the entire federal might network; strategic individuals and officers are here assembled. This is a clear demonstration of the commitment and a belief that the time has come for us to more or less say enough is enough to open a new chapter.
“We believe that the time has come for us to do the right thing, and we are going to do it. We’re coming in to add to whatever is ongoing, even do it better. We want to assure you, the federal government and residents too, that we’re all with you,” Ribadu said.
It was gathered that Governor Siminalayi Fubara’s condemnation of pipeline security contract to single individuals and indictment of some Abuja-based political stakeholders as culprits in the oil theft are currently generating uncomfortable ripples in some quarters.