Ex-militants from Akwa Ibom who accepted the federal government’s amnesty have protested their exclusion from the NNPC surveillance contracts awarded to ex-militant groups led by Tompolo, Boyloaf, Ateke Tom and Asari Dokubo.
The group under the aegis of “Ex-militants Forum of Akwa Ibom State” in a petition to the minister of petroleum resources, Mrs. Diezani Alison-Madueke, questioned the rationale for excluding the state from the contracts.
The Wall Street Journal reported recently that the administration of President Goodluck Jonathan doles out almost $40 million annually to four of Niger Delta’s top former warlords as protection fee for oil pipelines they used to attack in the region.
According to the report tagged “Nigeria’s Former Oil Bandits Now Collect Government Cash”, the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) pays the warlords a total of $39.5 million annually.
The payment includes the contract awarded to former warlord Government “Tompolo” Ekpumopolo to protect oil pipelines by Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA). Dokubo Asari who confirmed receiving $9 million a year to pay his 4,000 “foot soldiers” to guard oil pipelines.
Two other former warlords, “Gen” Ebikabowei “Boyloaf” Victor Ben and “Gen” Ateke Tom, get $3.8 million each under the arrangement.
The petition entitled “Letter of Stern Complaint: Exclusion of Akwa Ibom state From NNPC Pipeline Surveillance Contract” and signed by Mr. Ubong Utin and Ex-Gen. Kingsley Umoh on behalf of the group observes that the NNPC had been implementing a pipeline surveillance contract which offers reasonable employment opportunities to oil and gas producing states: “Under the programme, Bayelsa State is offered 3,000, Rivers State 4,000 and Delta 5,000 slots respectively while Akwa Ibom with the highest oil production quantum is deliberately left out.”
“We make bold to state here that the effect of this lopsided decision and deliberate neglect of our people will result in anarchy and revolt,” the group warned, pointing out that they had employed measures to douse rising tension from the ex-militants who were agitating for employment under the NNPC scheme and called on the corporation to address the alleged marginalisation.
The group maintained that their knowledge of the state waterways, estuaries and deep water territories should be of immense advantage to the surveillance contract and argued that their inclusion would discourage a return to criminality.
The forum expressed its readiness not to support oil and gas production and exploration activities in the state because they are excluded from the surveillance contract.
It added that the services of its members would complement the efforts of the security agencies in protecting oil installations in the Niger Delta and that it hoped that their concerns would be addressed within two weeks.