Akeredolu questions the Buhari administration about the pipeline contract with Tompolo
Concerns have been raised by Governor Rotimi Akeredolu of Ondo State regarding the Federal Government’s plan to grant contracts for pipeline monitoring to Government Ekpemupolo, a former Niger Delta agitator better known by his stage name Tompolo, among others.
Akeredolu’s worries followed the Nigerian government’s defense of the N4 billion contract with Tompolo and other for-profit businesses.
The governor of Ondo state stated in an open letter on Wednesday that the Federal Government’s decision only serves to further the notion that a complete rebuild of the nation’s defense infrastructure is urgently required.
In order to combat insecurity, the Southern Governors’ Forum Chairman claimed that the FG’s action meant that it was okay for private security companies to “carry heavy assault weapons while denying the same permission to the states, the federating units.”
Recall that on Tuesday, the Federal Government declared that it thought it had made the proper choice in hiring independent contractors to staff the nation’s oil pipeline network.
The Nigeria National Petroleum Company’s Group Chief Executive Officer, Mr. Mele Kyari, claimed that while the security authorities are doing their bit, private organizations and community stakeholders would also need to be involved in end-to-end pipeline surveillance.
The CEO of NNPC also confirmed that Tompolo’s company, not his personal name, received the deal.
Unsettling news has emerged regarding the alleged awarding of pipeline contracts by the federal government to some people and private businesses. More unsettling is the open antagonism shown by some State Governments for the concept or real creation of security organizations to bridge the growing gaps in the extent of security coverage apparent nationwide.
The Office of the National Security Adviser, on behalf of the Federal Government, has consistently declined to grant requests from various States in the Federation to reinforce complementing measures taken to protect lives and property. This is done despite the fact that the very problems that lead to the development of these groupings encourage the provision of adequate weapons. Despite the obvious basic flaws caused by over-centralization, all attempts to urge the Federal Government to critically examine the current security architecture have been met with resistance.
It is distressing to learn that the Federal Government has kept the contract with the private companies to “guard” the nation’s pipeline from vandals. If true, this anecdote leaves a bad aftertaste. Naturally, the NSA won’t advise the President to approve the award of a contract of this size if the operators haven’t shown they’re capable of thwarting the criminal schemes of equally potent organizations. Therefore, it is safe to assume that the Federal Government has, in effect, allowed nonstate actors to possess heavy assault weapons while denying the States, the federating entities, the same privilege.
The use of private companies to guard against pipeline vandalism raises serious concerns about the integrity of the government’s security advisers. Although the Security Agencies, particularly the Navy, have consistently claimed their readiness to contain the pervasive and worsening crises of breaches and threats to lives and property, their open and apparent enthusiastic embrace of this oddity raises suspicions of insincerity that regrettably border on doubt.
Giving private individuals and or Organizations unrestricted access to assault weapons suggests, curiously, a deep-seated mistrust between the Federal Government and the presumed federating units, especially if the State Governments, which are keenly interested in 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 defense.
The use of private organizations to address significant security issues confirms the urgent necessity for a complete overhaul of the nation’s defense system. In this case, the Federal Government cannot be considered as playing the ostrich.