Elder statesman and leader of the Pan Niger Delta Forum, Chief Edwin Clark, has warned against interference in the pipeline surveillance contract given to the former militant leader, Government Ekpemepulo, popularly known as Tompolo.
Clark in a statement obtained by our reporter on Sunday night commended the Bayelsa State Governor, Senator Douye Diri, for summoning a peace meeting of stakeholders.
The statement reads,” I am pleased that the Governor of Bayelsa State, Senator Douye Diri, in his usual manner, summoned a peace meeting of stakeholders at Yenagoa, Bayelsa State, yesterday, primarily, to douse the tension generated by the divergent viewpoints of notable Ijaw sons over the pipeline surveillance contract awarded to High Chief Government Ekpemuplo, also known as, Tompolo.
“I warmly commend Governor Douye Diri, who, incidentally, is the “Governor General” of the Ijaw people, for his timely intervention and unfaltering commitment to the unity and peace of the Ijaw nation, the Niger Delta and by extension, the country. Likewise, I commend the zeal and patriotism of the President of the Ijaw National Congress, Professor Benjamin Okaba and the Ijaw leaders who were at the meeting.
“I also thank my sons, Alhaji Asari Dokubo, King Ateke Tom, High Chief Tompolo, and the other young people, for agreeing to bury the hatchet and work together in the interest of the Ijaw Nation, the region, and the nation at large.”
Continuing, Clark said, “I fully endorse the resolutions taken at the meeting and strongly advise that all the concerned stakeholders should adhere to and abide by the resolutions, and whatever further steps that would be taken to ensure that perceived differences are totally resolved and that our youths will now work together, in the spirit of brotherhood, to safeguard the relative peace in the region.
“We do not want further bickering and disorder in any part of the Niger Delta region.
“The region should not be distracted by these “soupcons”, let’s focus on the “big picture” of the sustainable development of the Niger Delta region.
“It has also become imperative to further warn other Nigerians, and fifth columnists, interfering in the matters of the Niger Delta.
“And trying to stoke crisis in the region, particularly, about the surveillance contract awarded to Tompolo, to desist forthwith. Noting that the beneficiaries of the contract are bonafide sons of the Niger Delta, who are committed to the peace and stability of the region and the country. And that the unpatriotic elements should realize that there is nothing wrong in awarding contracts to any capable Niger Deltan, especially, to protect oil and gas assets that are situated in their backyards. Similar contracts have been awarded in the past to individuals, I do not understand, therefore, why the Tompolo case is made to look as if it is the only one.
“Let me also recall that in 2007, on February 11, to be precise, I had a conversation with then President Olusegun Obasanjo over issues bordering on sustaining peace in the Niger Delta and he requested to know what could be done for the “boys” in the region, including Tompolo and others. And I advised him to consider giving them the pipeline protection contract. There are exchanges of letters between Obasanjo and myself on this issue. I wrote to him on the 11th of February 2007 and he responded on the 12th of February 2007.
“The sad story of the persistent, humongous stealing of our crude oil, by organized criminals and corrupt officials, is absurd and alarming. The ramifications are affecting not only the National Economy but all Nigerians.
“It is for these reasons that “Surveillance and Protection of Oil and Gas Infrastructure” was one of the items of the 16-Point Demand, which we presented to President Muhammadu Buhari on 1st November 2016 at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
“We had noted, at the time, that “the incessant breaching and vandalization of pipelines, and oil theft, have taken direct tolls on oil production and supplies, with corresponding adverse effects on the economy of our dear Country
“.Pipeline vandalism also damages the environment, health and the economic activity of inhabitants of affected areas, as well as complicates environmental cleanup efforts.
“Those who want to exploit our oil and gas resources alone should realize that such outlooks will not engender peace in the region and the country.
“We all have to work together as Nigerians, no one should think of excluding others. Nigeria belongs to all of us, ” Clark who is also the Chairman, Board Of Trustees, Ijaw National Congress stated.