By Emma Amaize, Regional Editor, South-South & Emmanuel Elebeke, ASABA
Militant leaders of the Niger-Delta region are currently at war over the N4.5 billion monthly pipeline surveillance contract awarded to former leader of Movement for the Emancipation of Niger-Delta, MEND, Government Ekpemupolo, popularly known as Tompolo, by the Federal Government, with Alhaji Asari Dokubo, yesterday, alleging that he (Tompolo) bluntly refused to involve him and other ex-militant leaders in a $144 million coastal protection contract ex-President Goodluck Jonathan gave to all of them during his tenure.
Dokubo, leader of Niger-Delta People’s Volunteer Force, NDPVF, has launched series of verbal attacks on Tompolo since the Federal Government, through the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation Limited, NNPCL, awarded the pipeline surveillance contract to Tompolo and other contractors in the Niger-Delta.
It will be recalled that Commander of defunct MEND, Victor-Ben Ebikabowei, aka Boyloaf, and other ex-militant leaders and stakeholders of the Niger Delta, had on Monday, lashed out at Dokubo over his recent outburst against Tompolo over the pipeline surveillance contract.
The Pan Niger Delta Forum, PANDEF, the South-South regional group, and Ijaw National Congress, INC, the umbrella socio-cultural body of Ijaw ethnic nationality in the Niger Delta, had also intervened in the simmering feud.
This came as Niger Delta activist and Itsekiri leader, Chief Rita-Lori Ogbebor, yesterday warned the Federal Government to, as a matter of urgency, withdraw the pipeline contract awarded to Tompolo, describing it as invitation to anarchy.
Reacting, yesterday, Ijaw Peoples Development Initiative, IPDI, a rights group in Niger-Delta, yesterday, urged FG to disregard the call by Lori-Ogbebor to revoke the pipeline surveillance contract awarded Tompolo.
Defunct MEND commander, Boyloaf, who spoke for other ex-militant leaders had said on Tuesday: “I condemn the attack on Tompolo by Dokubo-Asari. This is unacceptable and unexpected of a leader of his calibre.
‘’He is qualified for the contract and Dokubo-Asari did not oppose when somebody else from Edo State, the late Capt Hosa Okunbo did a similar contract in Rivers. His company still operates in Rivers.”
Tompolo just a technical partner — Source
Vanguard could not reach Tompolo for comments on Dokubo’s allegations yesterday, but a source familiar with the matter said: “Maybe he is talking about the Global West Vessel Specialist Nigeria Limited’s $103 million security contract with the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency, NIMASA.
“Besides, the job was not a contract, it was a PPP arrangement which Global West provided platforms to shore up NIMASA’s revenue base above 50 per cent, and only shares from the remaining 50 per cent in the ratio of 60 per cent to Federal Government and Global West — 40 per cent.
“It is common knowledge that President Muhammadu Buhari ended this very contract shortly after he assumed office. Tompolo, as a technical partner, was affected and could not have been involved as Dokubo thought.”
Jonathan confirmed job is for us —Dokubo
However, Dokubo, who did not hide his anger over the Tompolo contract, in a Facebook video, said the Amanyanabo of Okirika, King Ateke Tom, Victor- Ben Ebikabowei, a.k.a. Boyloaf, he, and other ex-militant leaders visited former President Jonathan while he was in office, and confirmed that the contract was for all of them, adding that Tompolo stuck to his guns.
Though Dokubo admitted executing and receiving payment for a pipeline surveillance contract under Jonathan, he said this in a conversation with Tompolo after he sealed the current contract. In addition, he spoke about why he (Dokubo) will not go to Oporoza to meet Tompolo.
He said: “Many people have called me about Tompolo getting a contract. I do not have a problem with Tompolo having a contract, never, and I will never have a problem with Tompolo or any other person.
“Tompolo had been doing contracts, I never complained. Now, during the time of Goodluck (former President), he awarded through NIMASA a coastal protection contract to Tompolo, Amanyanabo Ateke Tom, myself, Boyloaf, Egberipapa, Farah and everybody went to meet with the former President and he said the contract was for all of us. And we left that place. We tried to communicate with Tompolo. He said the contract was exclusively his. We did not want to raise an eyebrow over the $144 million that they gave him per year. He did that contract for two years. He did not give anybody a dime.
“Today, they lied that the Trans-Nembe line contract was the Olu of Warri’s, who has Rivers State; it is a lie. I am talking of Kalabari, I am not talking of Rivers State. 83 kilometers of pipeline pass through Kalabari, through my native Kula, my native Ilama to Cawthorne Channel. They gave it to him.
“People said he is not a greedy man. If a man can take $144 million that the former President gave us, Goodluck is alive, let them meet him. Boyloaf was there, Ateke was there, ask them. I will not try to please anybody; he vehemently refused that the contract is his, that he will involve nobody and did not involve any of us.
“I do not need anybody’s respect, you do not have to respect me, I will say the truth. You cannot take what is Gbaramatu’s, after taking Gbaramatu, you want to take Kalabari’s own (portion). I do not want to talk about these things but when you make comments, I will talk about it, and I will clarify issues.
“So, if the Olu of Warri has taken Rivers State, he took this, he took that, what was the approach of Olu of Warri to the people from where they gave them and the approach of Tompolo? Did Tompolo reach out to anybody when he got the contract? He assembled small boys at Oporoza and people started complaining, and he said we should come to Oporoza.
Why I will not go to Oporoza
“I spoke to him on the phone; I am older than him; that I should take my two legs, enter a boat, and go to Oporoza. Amanyanabo Ateke should take his two legs, enter a boat, and come to Oporoza. All the others should come, they went because they want the money, I cannot condescend to that level because of money and go to Oporoza.
“What is the approach of the Olu of Warri to the people within the area that he operates, how has the Olu of Warri been reaching out to the people? Did he sit somewhere and be sending people or even if he sent people, did he ask all of them to come to Ode-Itsekiri or to Warri to meet him in his palace?”
Reverse contract or wait for anarchy, Lori-Ogbebor tells FG
Reacting to the contract awarded Tompolo yesterday, Chief Lori-Ogbebor lambasted the Federal Government for failing in its responsibility to manage oil resources in the Niger Delta and maintaining peace in the country.
Addressing newsmen in Abuja, she said: “I have called you because of the anarchy in our land. There is anarchy in Niger Delta. Some weeks ago, I was a guest at national television and they sought my position on insecurity in the country. ‘’What they asked was connected to the train tragedy. But I told him then that the instability in the country, which is in the Northern areas of the country is little compared to what was coming in Niger Delta.
“I said there will be anarchy and it will be very serious. I told the anchor people should be worried about what is happening in the Niger Delta for two reasons. One, the Niger Delta is where the food is produced, the food basket of the nation and is also what gives us foreign exchange.
Till today, people have been crying about foreign exchange and it keeps worsening every day.
“It is not only that our food basket will stop, our food production, even the foreign exchange of Nigeria will keep going down the drains. I told them, kidnapping is one thing but killing, bloodshed and kidnapping, alongside lack of foreign exchange will be double tragedy. At the time I said it, they said I did not understand the question posed to me.
‘’But I am sure now that they understand. It is not more than four weeks and everyone is running amok, with revelations coming out. When I talked about small and big thieves, they did not understand me. When I talked about vessels being used to take our oil to the high seas and oil bunkering, they did not understand me. I warned then that it is not the small thieves that they should worry about but the big thieves and since then, they have pursued vessels out of our waters.
“Mallam Kyari, GMD of NNPC agreed that everybody is involved in the stealing, that they even found pipelines in churches and mosques. That is how bad it is. I said then that the problem we have is FG, all they do, instead of tackling this problem, is to give few people money to go and give few boys in the communities.”
She noted that the award of the humongous contract sum to one individual in the Niger Delta is a clear demonstration of government abdicating its responsibilities to the people.
Chief Lori-Egbebor cautioned that both state and federal governments must demonstrate the needed political will to implement the NDDC Master Plan and avoid enriching few individuals to the detriment of the common good of the people of Niger Delta, insisting that failure to heed the advice could spell doom for the country.
“In fact, it is unable to manage oil in Niger Delta, take control of the country. They now went back to what we cried against some years ago, dumping money in the hands of some people, abdicating their responsibility to the people to take care of Niger Delta. This was why a week ago, they handed over pipeline surveillance to Tompolo and another man who is part of them, Dokubo has come out to say no, that Tompolo is nobody, and that he dared not come to his area.
“I am not to say who is right or who is wrong but the truth is that you dare not go to another man’s land to take care of what he laboured to plant. So, Dokubo has said it, that when they were fighting the Itsekiris, they knew that the oil in Delta State belong to Itsekiris but they all converged to fight the Itsekiris, that the main oil is in Ijaw land — Bayelsa, Rivers, Kalabari and other areas.
“Now, Dokubo has said Tompolo should not come to his area, whose area will Tompolo go with money being paid to him to look after? Because it is clear now that Itsekiri people have more oil in Delta State than anybody else? What is the Federal Government going to do? Now the house is divided against itself? The Federal Government is busy creating NNPC Limited to come and carry oil in the Niger Delta, and they want to do that very quickly, and talk unequivocally as if all is well but all is not well.
“Recently, Dokubo was brandishing assorted weapons and the Federal Government kept quiet. If this is allowed to continue, anarchy will consume the nation. The Federal Government must stand up to its responsibility against any form of lawlessness and do the needful, so that peace will return to Niger Delta and Nigeria in general. To achieve a lasting peace in the region, FG must withdraw the Tompolo pipeline contract award, constitute NDDC board properly and ensure a holistic implementation of the Petroleum Industry Act.”
Ignore Lori-Ogbebor’s call to revoke Tompolo contract
Tackling Lori-Ogbebor yesterday, the National president of IPDI, Austin Ozobo, said in a statement: “We have studied Chief Lori-Ogbebor’s statement and wish to state that it did not come as a surprise because she is on record to have opposed every effort to attract development and positive appointments to Warri area, Delta State and the Niger Delta region.
“The IPDI calls on the NNPC and FG to ignore Chief Lori-Ogbebor. She is neither a Niger Delta activist nor a leader in the region. Also, she does not live in the Niger Delta to feel the devastating effect of the activities of oil theft nor has any stake in the region through investments.
“All her investments are in Abuja and Lagos, from where she addressed press conferences from time to time to promote her selfish interests at the expense of the ordinary Itsekiri people that she claims to be fighting for. Let her invest in rural Itsekiri communities like Ogheye and Ebrohimi to develop the communities as Chief Tompolo did with Kurutie, if she loves her people.
“Niger Deltans from across the nine states of the region have wholeheartedly embraced the award of the surveillance contract to Tompolo and are ready to work with him. This is evident in the thousands of people that have paid solidarity and consultative visits to him at Oporoza, Delta State.
“The fact that Tompolo can deliver on this very sensitive national assignment is not in doubt and key stakeholders are all behind him to stop the environmental genocide in the Niger -Delta, increase the nation’s oil production and protect the environment.
“IPDI strongly believes that this contract would lead to the employment of thousands of youths and help in addressing youth restiveness in the region; hence well-meaning Niger Deltans support him.’’