Governor Oluwarotimi Akeredolu of ondo state on Wednesday said it is shocking that the Federal Government awarded the controversial pipelines surveillance contract to a private security outfit owned by a former Niger Delta agitator, Government Ekpemupolo also known as Tompolo.
According to Akeredolu “Consequently, it is safe to conclude that the Federal Government has, impliedly, permitted non state actors to bear heavy assault weapons while denying same privilege to the States, the federating units.”
Akeredolu stated this in a statement he personally signed and made available to newsmen through his Chief press secretary, Richard Olatunde.
The NNPC has explained why the Federal Government awarded the controversial pipelines surveillance contract to a former Niger Delta agitator, Government Ekpemupolo also known as Tompolo.
The Chief Executive Officer of the Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited (NNPCL) Mele Kyari explained that it was not the first time that individuals within the Niger Delta region were awarded a contract for pipeline surveillance, noting that the contract was for the interest of the people.
He said it was his belief that the Federal Government has taken the right decision to hire private contractors to man its oil pipeline network nationwide.
Kyari argued that although the security agencies are doing their part, end-to-end pipeline surveillance would require the involvement of private entities and community stakeholders.
“What we did is to do three things. First, to ensure the government’s security agencies play their part, we have our Navy, the Army and are doing an excellent job of containing this, but as you do this sustenance is everything and therefore we also decided that we need private contractors to man the right of way and also operate outside the right of way so that they can also join us to manage members of the community.”
However, Akeredolu in a statement titled WHO ACTUALLY NEEDS WEAPON? said: “The Federal Government, through the Office of the National Security Adviser, has been consistent in its refusal to accede to the request by some States in the Federation to strengthen the complementary initiatives adopted to protect lives and property.
“This is done in spite of the knowledge that the very issues which necessitated the creation of these outfits support providing adequate weaponry. All attempts to persuade the Federal Government to look, critically, into the current security architecture have been rebuffed despite the manifest fundamental defects engendered by over-centralisation.
“It is, therefore, shocking to read that the Federal Government has maintained the award of the contract to “protect” the country’s pipeline from vandals to private organisations.
“This story, if true, leaves a sour taste in the mouth. The NSA will, obviously, not advise the President to approve the award of a contract of such magnitude if the operators have not displayed sufficient capacity to checkmate the criminal activities of equally powerful groups.
“Consequently, it is safe to conclude that the Federal Government has, impliedly, permitted non state actors to bear heavy assault weapons while denying same privilege to the States, the federating units.
“The award of contract to private organisations to protect vandalisation of pipelines raise fundamental questions on the sincerity of the advisers of the Government on security issues.
“The open and seeming enthusiastic embrace of this oddity, despite the constant and consistent avowal of the readiness by the Security Agencies in particular the Navy to contain the pervasive and deepening crises of breaches and threats to lives and property, attracts the charge of insincerity bordering, deplorably, on dubiety.
“If the State Governments, which are keenly desirous of protecting their citizens, establish ancillary security outfits and there has been pronounced reluctance, if not outright refusal, to consider permitting them to bear arms for the sole purpose of defence, granting private individuals and or Organisations unfettered access to assault weapons suggests, curiously, deep-seated suspicion and distrust between the Federal Government and the presumed federating units.
“The engagement of private organisations to handle serious security challenges reinforces the belief that the whole defence architecture in the country needs an urgent overhaul. The Federal Government cannot be seen to be playing the Ostrich in this regard.”