A House of Representatives delegation to the Niger Delta oil-producing creeks has raised the need for government to look into offshore oil theft, commending the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) Limited for seeking collaboration with non-state actors in securing oil facilities.
The delegation noted that the partnership between the navy and tompolo’s security service in the oil-producing region of the country has resulted in an increase in the volume of crude oil production.
Deputy Majority Leader in the House of Representatives, Peter Akpatason who led the delegation alongside the Chairman, House Committee on Petroleum Resources (Upstream), raised the observation during the 3-day oversight function to the Creeks/riverine areas of Delta State.
He advised the federal government to focus on whatever can be done to ensure improvement in the nation’s capacity to earn income and reduce borrowing which has become a thing of concern to many Nigerians.
He said: “Our mission is to evaluate the situation and also to be able to make a contribution in legislative terms towards ameliorating the situation and in this case the Niger Delta in particular towards enhancing the capacity of this nation to produce and sell oil. To be able to fund the budget and to promote the development of both human capital and infrastructure of this country.
“In the course of this journey, we have visited different sites, including oil production facilities, pipelines, well-heads and flow stations. As a result of the recent partnership between Tantita, your company and NNPC we have seen significant improvement in the ability of this country to produce hydrocarbon which basically is the major foreign earning for this country.
“As concerned citizens, we believe whatever that can be done to ensure improvement in the nation’s capacity to earn income for funding development, and reducing borrowing which has become a thing of concern to many Nigerians, that effort must be supported.
“And that is exactly what is happening just now and we felt in the cause of tour of the industry, we have to come here to appreciate you and urge you to step up and do even more. We have seen an improvement in the creeks, in the land areas.
“But there is still more to be done if we can achieve currently what we are experiencing in this area, also in offshore, Nigeria will have no reason to borrow money to fund budget and to borrow money to fund projects that we so dearly need as a nation.
“So, we appreciate you for that, and we have also seen how much work that is taking place in those areas that we have transverse in the cause of our journey to this place and our interactions with members of these communities, showed that they are currently enjoying a very reasonable amount of stability as a result of the improved security situation.
“Some of the community people told us how free they feel to go about their fishing activities. It tells us that when the local people are given the mandate to gather information and support the security forces, and also help combat crime in their locality, it goes a long way to solve the problem.
“Because of insecurity, a lot of people feel uncomfortable going about their business activities. The oil companies complained about spending so much money to fix pipelines when they are vandalized and all of this add to the cost of production and reduces what gets to the Federal Government for development.
“So, every effort that has been made and being made towards ensuring improved security to us, is a thing that must be appreciated and must be supported. So in any which way that we can achieve this, we will continue to support,” he assured.
Akpatason also tasked the stakeholders to desist from the destruction of boats and other seized items and proposed that such seized items be integrated into the government assets.
The delegation includes Mayowa Akinfolarin, Hon. Uzoma Nkem-Abonta, Hon. Julius Pondi, Hon. Sergius Ogun, Hon. Boma Goodhead among others.
In his brief remarks, the Chairman of Tantita security service Nigeria Ltd, High Chief Government Ekpemupolo, alias Tompolo who briefed the delegation on the ongoing efforts to ensure the security of oil facilities as well as harmony within the oil-producing communities, urged the lawmakers to come up with necessary legislative instruments and policies that will sustain the gains recorded so far.
He said, “The leader of the delegation and all the honourable members, I want to thank all of you very well for coming. I will not disappoint you. We will do our part and I still want all of you to do your own part over there,” he urged.
While giving insight to the oversight function, a member representing Burutu Federal Constituency of Delta State, Julius Pondi expressed satisfaction over the results achieved so far in the oil-producing communities across the Niger Delta region.
“For some of them who have not been to the creek before, it’s an eye opener for them. They saw the crisis that we are passing through and the peculiar terrain and what the people in the Niger Delta suffer and of course, you Journalists went along with us and you might have learnt and see some things new. That is the terrain that we come from as a people. I’m very very happy for this trip because the essence of the trip was to interface with the chairman of Tantita Security company, the positive antecedent since he was awarded the contract and I think from what he told us too, so much was learnt and there is hope for our country that we are going to move forward.
“I am a riverine boy. If you have been here some two months or three months ago, prior to Tantita coming to play, you will know what I’m about to say. the degradation that we suffer, the spill, the aquatic damage, no farming, no fishing but just within three months we’ve seen a clean environment. That shows it’s a departure from what it used to be. So, we are making progress.
“But what is more important is sustaining this progress and I want also to first commend the NNPC Limited led by Mele Kyari for partnering with a non-State Actor to achieve results and if you ask me, wherever he is and whoever that is willing to know will agree, that improvement has been made, production has increased, we can now confidently say that we are meeting the OPEC quota. And then it will continue to rise as long as full cooperation exists.
“But I must also mention that it’s a business of partners in progress. Nigerian Navy must also be commended too as well as other security agencies, but particularly the Nigerian Navy for their contributions. I also want them to know that it’s not that they are not doing their work very well that Tompolo was contracted, No.
“It’s just like people that are agitating for State Police. The essence is that the people know the terrain more. If I give the State police to the people, they will know the terrain more, so they know how to tackle it. It’s the same similar case, because if you bring the Nigerian Military and Navy to guard pipelines, where are they coming from? Many of them are from the North so how can they know where to go? That is why perhaps the NNPC might have look and said let’s employ the people that are very familiar with the terrain and the result is being achieved.
“So, the Nigerian Navy, the NNPC, Tantita people, National Assembly, we are all working together. We have gone on oversight and see by ourselves what improvements have been made. The overall goal is that we ensure that Nigerian crude improves by way of production, so we are happy that that has been achieved. And if you ask me again, we are making progress,” the lawmaker stressed.
On the cost of living in the oil-producing communities, Hon. Pondi said: “I can tell you that for free because in my constituency is still among the few, maybe one or two that are yet to be linked by road. If you want to go to my Constituency now, you’ll still go to enter Boat from here, one hour to my place before you get there.
“The cost of living is almost times three. But thank God we saw some local boats heavily loaded with some building materials. Now let me just give you an analogy. If you have a site in Warri and you get a granite for instance, it will just take it to your site and you dig there and you build.
“But in my case, first you will bring the granite to the waterfront here, keep it here, then I will now pay people that will sack it, they will sack it, they will now bring the Boat, hire a boat and load it. you pay for Loaders, those that will load it into the Boat to whichever community you are from the riverine, and you will pay to people that will offload it from the jetty. You will pay for people that will take it from the Jetty to the site. So, it’s almost three times or four times of the amount that will be used.
“Then, it’s equivalent to construction projects of the government. If you are building roads, you are building anything, everything is times three times the amount you are building in the urban areas,” Hon. Pondi noted.
In his remarks, Chairman, House Committee on Petroleum Resources (Upstream), Hon. Musa Sarkin-Adar affirmed that the existing “cooperation will help in overcoming various challenges of oil theft in the oil industry, especially in the part of the country.
“And most especially the way he spoke to us by enumerating the challenges he’s been facing which we have all listed and we are going to work with it and come up with some solutions on how to improve what he has started.
“And I will like to use this opportunity to call on him, to sustain what he has started recording success.”
To this end, he urged him to justify the confidence reposed in him by authorities of Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) Limited who awarded the contract for the security of oil pipelines across the Niger Delta region.
“This is a challenge that has been militating against this sector over time, and despite all the efforts and attempts by the previous and successive administrations, it is only now that at least we have seen some success. And I want to urge you not to relent in his efforts by carrying along all the people in this area, especially the youths whom he’s providing jobs to.
“And also call on the youths to realize the importance of this assignment that they are being provided jobs in order to be gainfully employed and also to appease this area and at the same time the development of this country. It is only when we are living peacefully and when we are secured that any development that we are yearning for, both federal and state governments can be achieved.
“We as members of Parliament of the 9th Assembly want to assure you we are going to cooperate with you, we are going to give you all necessary support to all the government agencies that are involved to secure these facilities,” he assured.