Stakeholders from the numerous oil producing communities of Edo State have asked a former militant leader and Commander of the defunct Movement for Emancipation of Niger Delta (MEND), Government Ekpemupolo, better known as Tompolo, who was awarded a N48bn pipeline surveillance contract by the Federal Government to reach out to them for collaboration in the surveillance and protection of the oil pipelines across the Niger Delta in general, and Edo State in particular.
The stakeholders who called out to Tompolo, also said it is very crucial that either he or the Federal government reaches out to them, if they want to ensure that their is smooth operations in the territories with the pipelines.
Speaking through Chief Dr Patrick Osagie Eholor, better known as Ultimate Equals, they argued that violence, theft or pipeline destruction could happen in any part of Niger Delta, and disrupt the flow of crude and affect the economy.
Eholor, who is the Observer-General of the Federal Republic of Nigeria in his argument, stated that stakeholders in Edo State in particular would work in harmony with the FG and Tompolo in order to secure the pipelines.
In his statement, made available to journalists, the President of One Love Foundation stated “I am surprised that the whole security apparati of this country has failed us. Be it army, navy, air force, police or civil defence, they have not been patriotic to this country, they have failed us woefully, abysmally.
“Without trying to use an offensive word for my brother Tompolo, who is also from the old Bendel like me, I am surprised that because the whole system has failed, they have to revert back to a man they were fighting. He has to be the one providing the security to checkmate the pipelines, at N4billion per month and N48billion per year.
“Now the question is, is it only in Delta State they have petroleum and other crude oil products? We have oil in Akwa Ibom, Cross River, Bayelsa, Rivers, Abia, Imo, even Anambra and our own Edo State.
“In Edo State here, we have in Orhionwhon, Ologbo, Gelegele just to mention a few. As a matter of fact, the one at Gelegele area was discovered the year I was born, 1964.
“Fortunately or unfortunately, that was the year the oil was discovered and we the people have been suffering since, despite the presence of oil on our land.
“They are flaring gas there, our children are suffering disabilities, older ones are suffering diseases like cataract and others caused by reactions from the crude.
“Bitter enough, those who don’t know where the oil is located, the Fulani cabals are the ones enjoying the wealth from it.
“That’s why this fight is difficult, to fight my own brother Tompolo whom they recognised and gave him that contract, to manage, control and supervise to reduce cases of oil theft.
“While I commend the Federal Government because they understood that they lack the strenght to manage the security and gave it to Tompolo, and while I congratulate Tompolo for getting the contract, he should know that Edo State also have pipelines. He needs to carry everybody along.
“I have tried to reach him, I am sure he is too busy to acknowledge what I have sent to his office through his CSOs, but I am using this medium to tell him that he has to reach out to us, to me and my people.
“Nobody has the monopoly of violence. We are not violent people, we are very educated people, we are very smart, we are very courageous people.
“We are ready to work with him, to also make sure that we protect the pipelines that run through Edo State and all through the Niger Delta region.
“But if Tompolo refuses to reach out to us, then the Federal Government have to reach out to us, because I see this thing as a welfare system where you know that some ethnic groups have suffered a lot, you know they are unemployed, you want to release money so that each and every one of them can enjoy the national cake, and stop destruction.
“So we are also appealing to the Federal Government to also reach out to us, to our people so that we can also protect the oil wells and the oil pipelines. It is going to create jobs for our teeming youths whom the government have neglected, unemployed, and who have been suffering to earn a living and care for their aged parents, and care for their families.
“But I do not support violence, I do not support destruction, but I won’t hesitate to tell the government that we cannot be discriminated against, one section will not be encouraged and the others neglected.
“You cannot sit there and believe that we cannot also be violent and bear weapons and get destructive too. Nobody has a monopoly of violence. We want to be patriotic, we want to respect the rule of law. That doesn’t mean we are collectively stupid in Edo State.
“So I urge Tompolo to use his wisdom and reach out to us as quickly as possible. I am very known and I am a major stakeholder when it comes to the issue of Nigerian and Niger Delta affairs.
“So I look forward to Tompolo to reach out, and I will also look forward to the Federal Government reaching out to us in Edo State.
“We are part of the oil producing areas.
“We are confident that if we work together, the pipelines will be better protected, and oil theft will end, and our naira will gain strength, and our economy will bounce back. Inflation will disappear and everybody will enjoy Nigeria”, Eholor stated.