By Levinus Nwabughiogu-Abuja
A 24 man high-powered delegation of the House of Representatives has commended the new efforts of the federal government to stem the menace of oil theft in the Nigeria.
The delegation led by the Deputy Majority Leader, Hon. Peter Akpatason specifically commended the partnership between the Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited NNPCL and the Chairman of Tantita security service Nigeria Ltd, High Chief Government Ekpemupolo, alias Tompolo on the security of major oil pipelines and other installations in the Niger Delta.
The delegation which carried out a tour of the Creeks and the riverine areas of Delta State on a 3-day oversight function also expressed gratitude to the Nigerian Navy for their untiring efforts at wrestling with oil thieves.
The 24 man delegation included the Chairman, House Committee on petroleum Resources (Upstream), Hon. Musa Sarkin Ader; Hon. Mayowa Akinfolarin, Hon. Uzoma Nkem-Abonta, Hon. Julius Pondi, Hon. Sergius Ogun, Hon. Boma Goodhead among others
Speaking at the end of the exercise, Akpatason said that with the unity of purpose shown so far by the public and private security outfits, the country will win the war against oil theft, resulting to more outputs of crude oil and generation of more revenue to fund the national budget instead of borrowing.
He said: “Our mission is to evaluate the situation and also to be able to make contribution in legislative terms towards ameliorating the situation and in this case the Niger Delta in particular towards enhancing the capacity of this nation to produce and sell oil. To be able to fund the budget and to promote development of both human capital and infrastructure of this country.
“In the course of this journey, we have visited different sites, including oil production facilities, pipelines, well-heads and flow stations. As a result of the recent partnership between Tantita, your company and NNPC we have seen significant improvement in the ability of this country to produce hydrocarbon which basically is the major foreign earning for this country.
“As concerned citizens, we believe whatever that can be done to ensure improvement in the nation’s capacity to earn income for funding development, and reducing borrowing which has become a thing of concerns to many Nigerians, that effort must be supported.
“And that is exactly what is happening just now and we felt in the cause of tour of the industry, we have to come here to appreciate you and urge you to step up and do even more. We have seen the improvement in the Creeks, in the land areas.
“But there is still more to be done if we can achieve currently what we are experiencing in this area, also in the offshore, Nigeria will have no reason to borrow money to fund budget and to borrow money to fund projects that we so dearly need as a nation.
“So, we appreciate you for that, and we have also seen how much work that is taking place in those areas that we have transverse in the cause of our journey to this place and our interactions with members of these communities, showed that they are currently enjoying a very reasonable amount of stability as a result of the improved security situation.
“Some of the community people told us how free they feel to go about their fishing activities. It tells us that when the local people are given the mandate to gather information and support the security forces, and also help combat crime in their locality, it goes a long way to solve the problem.
“Because of insecurity, a lot of people feel uncomfortable to go about their business activities. The oil companies complained about spending so much money to fix pipelines when they are vandalized and all of this add to the cost of production and reduces what gets to the Federal Government for development.
“So, every effort that has been made and being made towards ensuring improved security to us, is a thing that must be appreciated and must be supported. So in any which way that we can achieve this, we will continue to support,” he assured.
While applauding the efforts of the Nigerian Navy and other security agencies in the bid to safeguard oil facilities in the area, Akpatason also encouraged the stakeholders not to destroy boats and other seized items but propose that such seized items should be integrated into the government assets.
In his brief remarks, Chairman of Tantita security service Nigeria Ltd, Tompolo who lauded the ongoing efforts to ensure security of oil facilities as well as harmony within the oil producing communities, urged the lawmakers to evolve necessary legislative instruments and policies to sustain the gains so far recorded.
He said: “The leader of the delegation and all the honourable members, I want to thank all of you very well for coming. I will not disappoint you. We will do our part and I still want all of you to do your own part over there,” he said.
While giving insight to the oversight function, the member representing Burutu Federal Constituency of Delta State, Hon. Julius Pondi expressed satisfaction with the results achieved so far in the oil producing communities across the Niger Delta region.
“For some of them who have not been to creek before, it’s an eye opener for them. They saw the crisis that we are passing through and the peculiar terrain and what the people in the Niger Delta suffer and of course you Journalists went along with us and you might have learnt and see some things new. That is the terrain that we come from as a people. I’m very very happy for this trip because the essence of the trip was to interface with the chairman of Tantita Security company, the positive antecedent since he was awarded the contract and I think from what he told us too, so much was learnt and there is hope for our country that we are going to move forward.
“I am a riverine boy. If you have been here some two months or three months ago, prior to Tantita coming to play, you will know what I’m about to say. the degradation that we suffer, the spill, the aquatic damage, no farming, no fishing but just within three months we’ve seen a clean environment. That shows it’s a departure from what it used to be. So, we are making progress.
“But what is more important is sustaining this progress and I want also to first commend the NNPC Limited led by Mele Kyari for partnering with a non-State Actor to achieve result and if you ask me, wherever he is and whoever that is willing to know will agree, that improvement has been made, production has increased, we can now confidently say that we are meeting the OPEC quota. And then it will continue to rise as long as the full cooperation exist.
“But I must also mention that it’s a business of partners in progress. Nigerian Navy must also be commended too as well as other security agencies, but particularly the Nigerian Navy for their contributions. I also want them to know that it’s not that they are not doing their work very well that Tompolo was contracted, No.
“It’s just like people that are agitating for State Police. The essence is that the people know the terrain more. If I give the State police to the people, they will know the terrain more, so they know how to tackle it. It’s the same similar case, because if you bring the Nigerian Military and Navy to guard pipelines, where are they coming from? Many of them are from the North so how can they know where to go? That is why perhaps the NNPC might have look and said let’s employ the people that are very familiar with the terrain and result is being achieved.
“So, the Nigerian Navy, the NNPC, Tantita people, National Assembly, we are all working together. We have gone on oversight and see by ourselves what improvements have been made. The overall goal is that we ensure that Nigerian crude improve by way of production, so we are happy that that has been achieved. And if you ask me again, we are making progress,” the lawmaker stressed.
In his remarks, the Chairman, House Committee on Petroleum Resources (Upstream), Hon. Musa Sarkin-Adar affirmed that the existing cooperation will help in overcoming various challenge of oil theft in the oil industry especially in the part of the country.
“And most especially the way he spoke to us by enumerating the challenges he’s been facing which we have all listed and we are going to work with it and come up with some solutions on how to improve what he has started.
“And I will like to use this opportunity to call on him, to sustain what he has started recording success”, he said.
The lawmaker also urged Tompolo to justify the confidence reposed in him by authorities of NNPCL which awarded the contract for security of oil pipelines across the Niger Delta region.
“This is a challenge that has been militating against this sector over the time, and despite all the efforts and attempts by the previous and successive administrations it is only now that at least we have seen some success. And I want to urge you not to relent in his efforts by carrying along all the people in this area, especially the youths whom he’s providing jobs to.
“And also call on the youths to realize the importance of this assignment that they are being provided jobs in order to be gainfully employed and also to appease this area and at the same time the development of this country. It is only when we are living peacefully and when we are secured that any development that we are yearning for, both federal and state governments can be achieved.
“We as members of Parliament of the 9th Assembly I want to assure you we are going to cooperate with you, we are going to give you all necessary support to all the government agencies that are involved to secure these facilities,” Ader said.