CEM REPORT | The federal government has defended its award of a multi-billion naira pipeline surveillance contract to a former leader of the Movement for the Emancipation of Niger Delta. Government said it is the ‘right decision’.
The federal government explained that it was not the first time that individuals within the Niger Delta region were awarded contracts for pipeline surveillance.
Mele Kyari, the Chief Executive officer of Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited, speaking at the 49th session of the state house briefing at the Presidential Villa, Abuja on Tuesday, said that the federal government is not dealing directly with Tompolo but a private contractors company he has interests in.
Recall that a contract for the surveillance of pipeline in the Niger Delta region to Ekpemupolo, popularly known as Tompolo reportedly worth N48 billion per year (N4 billion per month), according to a report by The Nation.
Kyari noted that the decision was necessitated by the need for Nigeria to hire private contractors to man its oil pipeline network nationwide due to massive oil theft.
“The security agencies are doing their part, end-to-end pipeline surveillance would require the involvement of private entities and community stakeholders.
“We need private contractors to man the right of way to these pipelines. So we put up a framework for contractors to come and bid and they were selected through a tender process. And we believe we made the right decision.”
He further explained that the private contractors will be primarily surviving to right of way and also outside the right of way where national security agencies may be insufficient, the decision was aimed at achieving three broad objectives.
“First, to ensure the government’s security agencies play their part, we have our Navy, the Army and they are doing an excellent job of containing this, but as you do this sustenance is everything and therefore we also decided that we need private contractors to man the right of way and also operate outside the right of way so that they can also join us to manage members of the community.
“We don’t have access to that and therefore, we put up a framework where contractors were selected through a tender process for people who can do it, not everyone can do it and Tompolo is just mentioned, we’re dealing with corporate entities.
“We know that we’re engaging all other individuals who will be of help to us in this situation. This has happened severally over time and the result was that it was contained under a process like this and we believe that we are taking the right decision.”
However, this has sprung several negative reactions for militant groups in the region who are reportedly angry with the federal government for leaving them out of the juicy contract, threatening to make the surveillance contract unworkable.
Akwa Ibom Ex-Militants Forum has advised the Federal Government to revoke the N48 billion pipeline surveillance contract.
Meanwhile, Host Communities of Nigeria Producing Oil and Gas, HOSTCOM, has commended President Muhammadu Buhari for the oil pipelines surveillance contract awarded to Tompolo, saying the action would effectively checkmate activities of economic saboteurs along installation sites.