Delta State Governor, Dr Ifeanyi Okowa has commended the Federal Government over the pipeline surveillance contract awarded to former militant leader, Government Ekpemukpolo (a.k.a Tompolo).
He said, “The Federal Government for once has demonstrated listening, they have demonstrated admitting good counsel.”
Addressing journalists at the Government House Press Center, Asaba, Okowa also urged agitators against the contract to sheath their swords and work together as one, adding that the contract was not just a win for Tompolo but the entire Niger Delta.
Okowa spoke through his Chief Press Secretary, Olise Ifeajika, said, although the protest by some groups was understandable, it does not represent the position of the Niger Deltans.
“The protest didn’t represent the position of the Niger Deltans, it was their own, maybe they felt that the contract ought to have been shared amongst them. You saw that there was wide applause from Niger Deltans, they felt happy about it and that is where we are. There are other areas, even in the oil companies, there are more things to be done to give a sense of belonging to the communities.
“There are many other things that could be done, giving bigger contracts, giving oil blocks to Niger Deltans that have the know-how to do it, not just giving to the IOCs, no, there are other Niger Deltans that are good engineers in petroleum, that have companies, they can look their way by way of such contracts. But like we have said, it is the beginning, we have seen a sign of being responsive but they need to strengthen it.
“If you remember, some few days ago, a federal government’s delegation led by the Minister of State for Petroleum, Timipre Sylva, the Group Managing Director of NNPC, Mallam Mele Kyari, the Chief of Defence Staff, General Lucky Irabor was here, and their mission was to seek the support of stakeholders to curb, if not end the oil theft in the region.
“And if you recall, our governor, his input, the star of what he said was that, to check the rising oil theft cases, that the Federal Government should involve host communities, that is communities where the oil exploration is done, that they should involve them and to involve them, the surveillance contract on oil facilities in the area should be reviewed, that was his Excellency’s contention, that the Federal Government should review surveillance of all oil facilities in the area.
“In other words make them to own it, make them to have a partnership. If they make them part of it, they will police it, they will guide it and they will protect it and they will see it as their own and do everything to make sure that nothing happens to those facilities including the pipelines. Because if you alienate them from it they will see it as, is not our own even when it is in the front of their homes, in their farms they will leave it.
“But the happiness here is that a few days after, that injunction by his Excellency, it was adopted immediately, and I am sure it was through the instrumentality of that delegation that came. Incidentally, apart from the GMD of NNPC, the other two officers of that delegation are Niger Deltans and I am sure that they pass the message well, that it is canel to Community policing to protect those facilities.
“So the instruction here is that the Federal Government for once demonstrated listening, they demonstrated admitting good counsel. That the governor said this is what I think is affecting us and they didn’t waste days, they hit the ground running by giving the contract to a son of the Niger Delta. So we are commending the Federal Government for taking that position because that has been the agitation of our people, make us part of this thing, this thing is gotten from our area, even if we cannot own the oil blocks, those things we can do, let us be part of the process.”