Arewa Youths Opposition to Tompolo’s Surveillance Contract Condemned

Sylvester Idowu in Warri

A Niger Delta based oil and gas sector operator, Mr. Erefoluwa Keka, has slammed the Arewa Youths Assembly (AYA) over its opposition to the award of surveillance contracts to ex-agitators in the region.

The young businessman, who is based in Warri, was particularly angry that the Arewa youths mentioned that repented ex-agitators, Mr. Government Ekpemupolo alias “Tompolo” and Mr. Ayiri Emami should not be recommended for the proposed surveillance contract.

He recalled that a statement signed by the Leader of AYA, Mr. Abdulsalam Mohammed-Kazeem, on Thursday in Kaduna, warned against the moves to award the contract to Tompolo and other critical leaders of the Niger Delta including APC chieftain, Mr. Ayirimi Emami.

Keka, in an interview with newsmen in Warri yesterday, described the call to NNPC not to award pipelines’ surveillance contracts to competent indigenous investors from the Niger Delta region as economic sabotage.

He said that the Mohammed-Kazeem-led AYA, should be thoroughly investigated “because it makes no sense to call on the management of NNPC to stop the award of pipelines surveillance contract to community leaders in the riverine and rural areas of Delta State, that have handled such project in the past with huge positive result.

He said: “I am particularly shocked by the statement of Abdulsalami Mohammed- Kazeem, considering the fact that the country’s daily production of crude oil has plummeted to an abysmally low 1.417 million barrels (short of OPEC production quota) due to pipeline vandalism/crude oil theft.”

 He queried the rationale behind AYA seething attack against Tompolo saying, “what really is the interest of Arewa Youths Assembly as regards competent locals keeping close watch on oil and gas pipelines that pass through their communities, when the same group had not offered the necessary intelligence to the Nigerian military, to stop banditry and terrorism in the northern part of the country?”

Keka advised the CEO of NNPC, Mr. Mele Kolo Kyari, to ignore the distractive rant by Mohammed-Kazeem’s group and go ahead with the award of the pipeline’s surveillance contract to Tompolo.

“I strongly believe with the support of Mr. Ayirimi Emami, who has been a consistent voice against crude oil theft and pipeline vandalism, with the requisite competence and experience,  pipeline vandalism and crude oil theft, would be brought to ground zero,” he said.

In a related development, a pro-Niger Delta group, Egbesu Brotherhood, in a statement signed by its Deputy Leader, Mr. Ellington Bakumor, called on NNPC to ignore AYA and go ahead with the award of the pipeline surveillance contract to Tompolo and others.

Bakumor described the AYA statement as the handiwork of sponsored elements and conflict merchants and stated that Tompolo was the best man to handle the job, saying that the Niger Delta was the most peaceful region in the country in recent times owing to the peacemaking efforts by Tompolo and other leaders in the region.

The Chief Executive Officer of NNPC, Mele Kyari, while making the presentation before the House of Representatives Committee on Petroleum (Upstream), on Thursday, lamented the negative impact of the activities of pipeline vandals and illegal refineries, saying that the country has been losing $1.5 billion worth of crude from January till date.

Kyari said: “When you lose about 200,000 barrels per day, even at an average price of 65 dollars per barrel, we lost close to $1 billion between January and March. From January to date, we lost an average of 250,000 barrels per day and at the current price of about 100 dollars to the barrel, even within this short period, we have lost close to $1.5 billion.

“This situation deteriorated to the extent that by March 7, 2022, it came to zero and so, we shut down the line and declared force majeure. Even on our most reliable pipeline which is the Forcados pipeline, we still lose about 7000 barrels per day.”

He, however, assured the lawmakers that massive joint security operations among agencies were currently ongoing to address the situation.

“Many of these illegal refineries are being taken down and also the insertions are being constantly removed and we believe that these interventions will pay off. And we will be able to restore production. And this is centrally coordinated. There is a coordinated action now because we are using a number of strategies including community-based security outfits,” he said.

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