EX-MILITANT leader and founder of the non-operational Movement for the Emancipation of Niger-Delta, MEND, High Chief Government Ekpemupolo, alias Tompolo, has accused oil multinationals of telling lies and deceiving the Federal Government on the actual quantity of crude oil they produce daily.
Tompolo, who spoke to Vanguard through the Executive Secretary of Tompolo Foundation, Warri, Mr. Paul Bebenimibo, weekend, however, offered the Federal Government tips on how to tackle oil bandits in the Niger-Delta region.
He advised government, among other things, to increase shadowing activities in the oil-bearing states and restore its abandoned surveillance contracts in Delta, Bayelsa and Rivers states.
Contrary to the thinking that he has a running multi-billion contract with the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, on protection of crude oil pipelines in Delta State, he said the contract awarded to Oil Facility Surveillance Limited, OFSL, which he is the chair, was only for one year, and that it expired since February 2012.
The Federal Government awarded a contract to Oil Facility Surveillance Limited, OFSL, which you are a principal owner, to secure oil pipelines, yet oil theft is escalating in Niger-Delta. What is wrong?
The Federal Government truly awarded a contract to Oil Facility Surveillance Limited, OFSL, a security company of which High Chief Government Ekpemupolo, alias Tompolo, is the chairman of the board of directors, including some prominent Itsekiri youths in February 2011.
The contract was for a one-year pilot scheme that covers only Delta State and that it is to say the contract expired February 2012, over a year ago.
The operations of OFSL in Delta State was successful within the one year the contract lasted, which many stakeholders in the oil industry, including the present Group Managing Director, GMD of Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, Mr. Andrew Yakubu, attested to during one of his television interviews with journalists.
How much was this contract? We were told it was about N3.6 billion?
The contract sum is between OFSL and the Presidency, represented by NNPC. We would not like to disclose the contract sum because it is a security issue.
However, due process was followed in the award of the contract and invoice was usually sent to NNPC with evidence of work done each month before payment was made. About 5,000 workers were engaged.
You also have another multi-billion naira contract with the Federal Government through NIMASA, to secure the coastal borders. What is really the worth of this contract and the scope?
The Federal Government, through NIMASA, awarded a public private partnership, PPP, contract to Global West Vessel Specialist Limited, GWVSL, and not to Chief Government Ekpemupolo, aka Tompolo. Tompolo is not on the board of GWVSL.
He was only approached by the management of the company to help it in carrying out its operations because of his vast knowledge of the coastal areas. The scope of the job is the area of the Nigerian territorial waters where shipping activities take place. One cannot give the worth of the contract because it is based on No-cure, no-pay.
What are the terms and value of this contract with Global West Vessel Specialist Limited? It is all over the place that you have collected over $103.4 million (about N15 billion).
Well, you have heard the truth and the whole truth from me now. Nevertheless, I know that in the contract terms, GWVSL is to provide a platform (made up of sea-going security vessels, technology for tracking ships, and so on).
No dime was given to GWVSL. It is what comes out of the operations that will be shared between the Federal Government/NIMASA and GWVSL. If there is no increase in the revenue of NIMASA, then GWVSL will not get any money. That is the meaning of no-cure, no-pay.
From the reports by the oil companies and government officials, oil bunkering across the boarders has increased. Why is your company unable to live up to expectation?
For the avoidance of doubt, I want to say that there is no contract now. OFSL fought crude oil bunkerers to a standstill during its operations in Delta State.
Clearly, it gave oil bunkerers the battle of their lives. Some of them are weeping till date.
Are the oil companies in particular telling the whole truth about sharp increase in oil theft?
The oil companies may not be telling the truth. They may be using this strategy to deceive the government since the actual amount of crude oil produced daily in the country is not known.
Who are those responsible for the theft and how do they operate?
The identity of those responsible for the theft of crude oil can only be unraveled through a high-powered investigation because it is a business for the rich.
How can government checkmate them?
The government can effectively check illegal crude oil activities by renewing the surveillance of oil facilities contract in Delta, Bayelsa and Rivers states, as well as expand the job to other oil-bearing states.
Performance can be measured by regular meetings with stakeholders, while the Department of Petroleum Resources, DPR, must wake up and live up to expectation.
For the one year the contract lasted, there were threats to OFSL workers. What were the problems the company faced at the time?
You are correct. For the one year the contract lasted in Delta State, there were threats to the lives of operators of OFSL, inadequate salary for workers. NNPC only approved N30,000 for ordinary workers and N36,000 for supervisors against the proposed amount of N100,000 for ordinary workers and N120,000 for supervisors by the OFSL.
Even at that, OFSL was paying its proposed amount because no one working in a coastal area like ours will accept such paltry amount of money for one month. To do otherwise would be to the detriment of the company.
There were no storage facilities for impounded crude oil, as well as the refined products.