Former Federal Commissioner of Information and Ijaw leader, Chief Edwin Clark yesterday asked the Federal Government to revoke the multi-billion naira pipeline and maritime protection contracts awarded to two former leaders of the Niger Delta militants, Government Ekpemukpolo (Tompolo) and Asari Dokubo.
The Ijaw leader, who said this while contributing to a debate on the report of the National Conference Committee on Public Finance and Revenue, said government should revoke the contracts because it has not contributed to reducing oil theft as desired by government.
“I want to advise the government to withdraw the contracts awarded to Tomplolo and Asari Dokubo because they have failed to stop oil thefts in the country. Instead, youths from areas where oil facilities are located should be given the job,” said Clark.
The Octogenarian said the militants were sabotaging the efforts of government to stop oil theft because they want to retain their pipeline contracts.
While noting that oil theft has increased since the pipeline protection and maritime contracts were awarded to the two former Niger Delta warlords, Clark noted that youths of the community where there are oil assets will do better job of protecting them.
“If we allow youths from host communities to protect oil installations, it will be difficult for anybody to break the pipeline and steal our oil,” Clark added.
Other delegates who contributed to the report condemned the lack of transparency in the management of Nigeria’s oil revenue by the Federal Government and the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC.
Delegates were sharply divided over the recommendation of the Committee that the Federal Government should stop subsidising petrol yesterday.
In his own contribution to the debate, Professor Femi Mimiko, a delegate from Ondo State, asked the Federal Government to remove fuel subsidy.
He added that savings made from the stoppage of fuel subsidy can be deployed for other uses that will be more beneficial to the poor.
“On this, I find it difficult to understand the argument of those who want subsidy to be sustained. It is evident that fuel subsidy in this country is a huge infrastructure of corruption.
“I then wonder why those who in one breadth decry corruption would at another, defend or argue for the retention of a clear infrastructure of corruption.
“As things are now, it is evident that the fuel subsidy regime has failed. It does not favour the poor; constraints development of our oil refining capacity; and promotes corruption. It should be removed and the savings put on the proposed social security regime that one of the Committees has recommended.
“Such can also be deployed to support free education at both primary and secondary levels; and a scholarship fund for students of tertiary educational institutions who cannot afford to pay their way through school,” Mimiko, who is the Vice Chancellor of Ondo State University, Akingba-Akoko said.
Maritime Security News Note:
It’s hard to argue that Tompolo’s company, Global West Vessel Specialists, has done a great job of curbing oil theft and piracy in the region. Although his private jet does look rather spiffy. If the figures provided recently by the Nigerian Navy are anything to go by (509 illegal refineries destroyed and 492 arrests in the first quarter of this year alone), then the problem is widespread and extremely lucrative.
Providing jobs for locals by paying them to guard the pipes may well be a more productive system than the current one, although the black market for oil and the returns are so large that it’s unlikely it will ever be stopped.