Surveillance Contract: Ijaws Should Queue Behind Tompolo, Stop Divisive Sentiments — Wenebokefe Esq.



Within the past few weeks, the media space has been pervaded with the news of the pipeline surveillance contract awarded to High Chief Government Ekpemupolo by the Nigerian Federal Government.

The award of this contract is a landmark feat that will usher in a new era of indigenous participation in the security and protection of strategic national assets as well as control indiscriminate emission of green house gases occasioned by unsafe refining of petroleum products in the creeks of the Niger Delta.

Even more significant is the fact that High Chief Government Ekpemupolo has the experience, expertise, skill and managerial wherewithal in delicate security matters of such magnitude. No one can be said to be more qualified than him to execute this project.

It is however ridiculous that some of our brothers are being used to raise dust where there is none to malign Chief Government over the award of this project. While I am neither his spokesman nor his lawful attorney, I am pained that we as Ijaw people have made serial blackmailing and unwholesome rivalry as our pastime.

Our forebears in the struggle agitated for the development of our region which culminated into the establishment of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC). We threw away the philosophical orientation of the Niger Delta struggle and assumed the commission as a farmland for self aggrandizement. Our unhealthy and repulsive battles over who steers the ship of the commission, no doubt, landed it where it is today. The ship is adrift, tossed hither thither by winds from the northen pole while the crew keeps fighting over who sits on the captain’s chair.

Over a decade ago, the Nigerian Federal Government offered Amnesty to agitators in the Niger Delta which ended up benefitting those who never knew how the erstwhile nationalistic camps looked like. An idea of a few nationalists ended up serving the social and intellectual needs of those who once referred to the nationalists as criminals. We fought one another not on the basis of competency but on the egotistic altar of community and political interest till the wand fell off our palms.

The Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) under the management of Chief Patrick Akpoboloukemi was unfairly defamed over its approach of indigenous engagement. For the very first and only time, countless youths of Ijaw ethnic extraction were offered scholarships to undergo maritime based professional courses to prepare them for lucrative careers in the Blue Economy sector, an area the world has turned its major attention to. Yet, Chief Patrick was persecuted physically, mentally and spiritually, a major part of the torture role played by our own brothers. These brothers of ours that put forth destructive and pernicious misrepresentation of the NIMASA under Chief Patrick are now living with utter regret and remorse.

Must we keep playing the movie of unhealthy infighting, scripted by those who do not mean well for our region and her people?

What moves have we (the Ijaws) made to take back the NDDC from those who hijacked and zipped it inside their suit case?

How many contracts have been offered by the current NIMASA administration to our people?

Are the Ijaw people not competent enough to execute NIMASA projects?

If the answer is in the affirmative, how many petitions have the Ijaws written over their non inclusion in the affairs of the NIMASA under the current administration?

Where were these blackmailers when sons of our sister tribes were offered this same pipeline surveillance project in times past?

Is this the maiden regime of pipeline surveillance contract from the Federal Government?

It is disgustingly disenchanting that these brothers of ours who could neither say a word concerning the previous regime of pipeline surveillance nor bid for the job during the tender period have turned to petition writing commandos for reasons that will benefit neither the region nor our people.

The Nigerian Government should, as a matter of fact, applaud High Chief Government Ekpemupolo for the transparent and inclusive approach he employed during the past one week sensitising all community leaders and stakeholders on this project wherein he stressed the urgent and cogent need for a collective synergy to curb crude oil theft and illegal refinery operations.

Never had it been heard in the Niger Delta that a vendor who was awarded a project as this, called for public hearing and involvement of the local people cutting across all the ethnicities in the Niger Delta in the execution of the project. It is indeed a new era of local content value for the people of Niger Delta.

All divisive sentiments must be buried. The common monster is the continuous degradation of our environment sequel to pipeline sabotage and illegal refinery operations. We must therefore queue behind our living Hero, High Chief Government Ekpemupolo, to overcome this villainous monster threatening our ecology.

W. J. Obiri Esq.

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