A coalition of Northern Youths have said that insecurity doesn’t respect tribe or religion, endorsing the award of pipeline security contract to ex-Niger Delta militant, Government Ekpemupolo, popularly known as Tompolo, by the Nigerian National Petroleum Company (NNPC Ltd).
According to the Northern Youths, they were in support of the government’s efforts at securing oil infrastructures in the Niger Delta region of the Country.
The Coalition of Northern Youths during a press conference addressed by Muktar Adamu on Monday, said they were aware that the action of the NNPC was necessitated by the need for Nigeria to hire private contractors to man its oil pipelines nationwide due to massive oil theft.
“It must be stated that the NNPC is not dealing with Government Ekpemupolo as an individual but rather with a private company he has an interest in, which in our opinion, is not an aberration but a step in the right direction.
“Nigerians must realize that oil theft has drastically reduced our production capacity, thereby affecting oil revenue accrued to the country; the development has led to a drop in the government’s earnings, creating environmental pollution and other health hazards.
“It is also a fact that Nigeria loses millions of barrels of crude oil a year because of theft and vandalism, including the tapping of crude from a maze of pipelines owned by oil majors, underscoring how poor security causes vast financial losses for the country.
“We believe that every Nigerian should be concerned that Nigeria lost $1 billion in revenue during the first quarter of this year due to crude oil theft. This trend poses an existential threat to the oil and gas sector and, if not curbed, the Nigerian economy, ” the group said, adding that government’s efforts in addressing the trend were commendable and should give well-meaning Nigerians a sense of joy that mechanisms were being put in place to address the challenge.
“Most Nigerians might not be aware that the process that led to the award of the contract was well advertised and bided for by competent companies through a most transparent bidding process that saw over five firms participating in the bid process.
“It is a statement of the fact that there is no better time than now for the government to initiate steps to stop crude oil theft in the country in our quest for improved revenue to tackle the myriads of economic challenges in the country.
“The Coalition of Northern Youths commends the Honorable Minister of State for Petroleum and the leadership of the NNPC for this laudable initiative that would go a long way in improving the crude oil revenue for the country.
“The fact that due process was followed in the contract process is also a display of unalloyed commitment by the Honorable Minister of State for Petroleum to entrench a regime of transparency and accountability in Nigeria’s critical oil and gas sector.
“Nigerians must be circumspect in making hasty judgments on crucial government actions or policies such as this. In this case, blocking lope holes in revenue generation for the country should ordinarily elicit excitement across the country instead of referring to ethnicity and religion as a focus in the narrative.
“Securing critical national assets of the country knows no tribe or religion but competence. This is on the heels that the firm linked to Mr Tompolo has the capacity and required expertise to secure critical assets in the Oil and Gas industry in Nigeria.
“The fact that the country is looking inwards for solutions to our challenges is a plus for the government. As in the case of Mr Tompolo, the NNPC has indeed acted well in encouraging local content development in the Oil and Gas industry.
“We also wish to state that Mr Tompolo is not new to the task at hand as it is on record that he has successfully executed such contracts in times past in the country. Therefore the company’s competence to deliver is not in doubt, which remains a win for the country,” he added.