*JV operations crippled, projects suspended
*MEND says amnesty is for criminals
*Henry Okah in high spirits, awaits release
*Clark asks Tompolo to accept amnesty
By Taye Obateru, Emma Amaize, Hector Igbikiowubo & Yemie Adeoye
LAGOS â€” THE Federal Government and multinational oil companiesâ€™ revenue losses owing to the spate of sabotage of crude oil pipelines and allied facilities in the Niger Delta has risen to alarming levels with the result that revenue generation projections for the 2009 fiscal year may not be met.
Besides, the militantsâ€™ activities have crippled the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) and Shell Petroleum Development Company operated joint venture operations in the Niger Delta, with indications that a shut down may be imminent.
Indications are that job lay-offs may have already commenced in the sector, while sustainable community development projects have been suspended till further notice.
Also, Ijaw leader, Chief Edwin Clark has called on militant leader, Government Ekpemupolo, also known as Tompolo to embrace governmentâ€™s offer of amnesty, saying he should â€œtake it that the war is over and come out to publicly accept the amnesty granted by Mr. President.â€
Investigations with the Central Bank revealed that total federally-collected revenue in the first quarter, 2009 stood at N1,183.72 trillion, representing a decline of 10.8 and 31.9 per cent from the proportionate budget estimate and the preceding quarterâ€™s level.
At N842.26 billion, oil receipts constituted 71.2 per cent of the total revenue representing an increase of 8.2 per cent over the budget estimate, but a decline of 39.5 per cent from the level in the preceding quarter.
The fall in oil receipts relative to the budget estimate was attributed to the decline in crude oil and gas production and sales as well as petroleum profit tax and royalties.
Nigeriaâ€™s crude oil production, including condensates and natural gas liquids, was estimated at 1.68 million barrels per day or 151.20 million barrels for the quarter.
Crude oil export was estimated at 1.23 mbd or 110.70 million barrels for the quarter, while deliveries to the refineries for domestic consumption remained at 0.445 mbd or 40.05 million barrels.
Following an exacerbation of the crisis in the Niger Delta, investigations revealed that crude oil production, including condensates and natural gas liquids may have plunged to 1.22 million barrels per day average in the second quarter of 2009.
Although the relatively higher price of crude in the second half of the year may cushion the impact of drop in output and resultant revenue loses, the sustained sabotage of oil pipelines and facilities in the delta indicates that more shut-ins may be recorded.
NNPC/SPDC JV crippled
Meanwhile, SPDC has served notice that its western Niger Delta re-entry programme which had achieved some measure of success may be in jeopardy following increasing attacks from militants, while also noting that the companyâ€™s staff cannot access
sabotaged pipelines and facilities to effect repairs.
The SPDC operated joint venture appears to be the worst affected multinational accounting for almost one million barrels per day currently shut-in.
When contacted, Tony Okonedo, Shell spokesman said that the company is currently engaging stakeholders on a way forward, adding that overall safety of staff and contractors continues to be a top priority for the company.
â€œSome of the communities have been quite helpful to us and have shown their willingness to have us come back to our operations. I can confirm that we have had meetings with several stakeholders on the challenges weâ€™re currently experiencing in our western operations, and I can also add that many of those stakeholders particularly communities are sympathetic and have expressed their willingness to support us so we can recommence operations again.
â€œWe will resume operations, only when careful considerations of security and safety of people indicates that it is safe for us to do so,â€ the company spokesman explained.
Vanguard gathered that as part of their efforts to cushion the effect of the onslaught against oil and gas exploration and production, the multinationals have commenced the lay-off of non-essential staff, with Chevron warning that 5,000 jobs in the Delta may be at risk.
Further findings revealed that the company may be stopping all community development projects in the region with impact on contractors and government in view of the increasing attacks on its installations.
Amnesty is for criminals â€” MEND
The Movement for Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND) says the amnesty proclaimed, last Thursday, by President Umaru Yarâ€™Adua was not directed at freedom fighters, which MEND is part of, but, at criminals, such as armed robbers, rapists and
Its spokesman, Jomo Gbomo said the group found it difficult, therefore, to read the intention of the Federal Government.
His words: â€œThe Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND) has been receiving calls and e-mails from well wishers from around the world wanting to know our response to the proclamation of amnesty by the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria on June 25, 2009.
â€œOur response has been not to comment on it officially because from all indications, it is not directed at freedom fighters which MEND is a part of. The proclamation of amnesty seems to be directed at criminals such as armed robbers, rapists, kidnappers seeking for ransom etc.
â€œSince criminals exist all over Nigeria, it is not fair to direct such a magnanimous offer to their counterparts in the Niger Delta region aloneâ€, MEND stated.
â€œIf the proclamation was directed at freedom fighters with a cause, it would have addressed the root issues such as a genuine unconditional release of Henry Okah and others, true federalism, federal character in political appointments, investigations
of JTF extra-judicial killings, troop withdrawal time table, displaced civilians, reconstruction of their sacked villages and
Clark urges Tompolo to accept amnesty
Leader of the Ijaw ethnic nationality and First Republic Minister of Information, Chief Edwin Clark, has called on militant leader, Government Ekpemupolo, alias Tompolo, who was declared wanted by the Joint Task Force (JTF) on the Niger-Delta to â€œtake it that the war is over and come out to publicly accept the amnesty granted by Mr. President.â€
He added: â€œI have appealed to Mr. President to direct the JTF to stop their unwholesome search for Tompolo because he is a man of peace. Federal Government knows that, we know that, now that amnesty has been granted by Mr. President to all militants, those directly or indirectly connected, Tompolo falls within that, so every effort should be made to bring him out to take advantage of the magnanimity on the part of Mr. Presidentâ€.
According to him, â€œI appeal to Tompolo wherever he is, he should take it that the war is over, he can come out and take advantage of the amnestyâ€.
The Ijaw leader also reacted angrily, weekend, to security reports that he is one of the sponsors of militants in the Niger-Delta, saying those labeling him as a sponsor of militantsâ€™ are unreasonable and petty-minded.
His words, â€œAnybody who says that I am one of the sponsors of militants in the Niger-Delta is being unkind and unfair to me. I think it is petty-minded people that will say that. I have never encouraged the boys to carry arms. I have always advised
them to carry out their agitation by peaceful means. I have condemned them in the past for carrying armsâ€.
Okah in high spirit
Leader of the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND) Henry Okah is said to be in high spirit following the amnesty granted him and other militants by President Umaru Yarâ€™Adua last week but is anxious that the process for his release
is not delayed.
Sources told Vanguard yesterday that Okah whose 62-count charge before the Federal High Court, Jos was reduced from 62 to three at the last hearing is anxious for freedom to enable him attend to his health.