LAGOS-Aare Ona Kakanfo of Yorubaland, Iba Gani Adams on Friday said the issue of crude oil theft in the country would have been significantly reduced if the Federal government had not terminated the pipeline surveillance contract it had with the Oodua Peoples Congress (OPC) and some security outfits.
He also said efforts by the OPC to secure the pipelines were frustrated by officials of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) who were unhappy that their agents were being prevented from stealing oil and vandalising pipelines.
Speaking in an exclusive interview with Saturday INDEPENDENT, Adams also blamed Alhaji Lai Mohammed, the Minister of Information for using propaganda to rubbish the genuine efforts of the OPC to secure the pipelines.
According to him, Lai Mohammed claimed that the OPC received N12 billion to secure the pipelines, whereas it was just a N1.9 billion contract.
In his words “Presently, 30 percent of our oil are being stolen by the cabals. In 2015, we were given a contract by the federal government which was initiated by the NNPC. They called me to come and get the contract for the surveillance security of the pipelines, I never lobbied for it.
“NNPC agreed that the organisation that can prevent their oil from being stolen and also secure their facilities is the OPC. They then shared the contract between me and Dr. Frederick Fasehun. We were given less than N2billion for the job. Out of the N1.9b that we got; we paid workers N1.6billion within three months.
“They gave us the standards of NNPC which we must use in paying our workers and they monitor our invoices every month. Despite the fact that we did a great job in securing the pipelines, some Yoruba people and politicians frustrated our efforts. The North and Niger Delta did not sabotage our efforts, it is our people.”
Speaking on the challenges faced by the OPC then in carrying out its job, he said “Let me tell you exactly what happened then. Some of the NNPC officials were unhappy with our operations then because we didn’t allow their agents who usually steal the oil to operate. Within one month, we apprehended over 80 vandals”.
“About 60 or 70 vehicles were parked at Mosimi, which is a virgin land for the security job. However, the NNPC officials then said we shouldn’t bring vehicles to their station again; that they won’t allow us to park our vehicles there. So, we have a case that people that contracted us to help them fight vandals were even against our operation.
“I was not Aare Ona Kakanfo then. When we arrested a suspect and tried to bring it to these NNPC officials, they called me and said ‘Otunba, we don’t want them, don’t bring them to us’. We were shocked. There was a time we arrested a kingpin and our boys were bringing them to Mosimi. About seven policemen waylaid them, shot the OPC members and freed the suspects. We lost a member in the process.
“We were facing the vandals, risking our lives to secure the pipelines, yet the politicians were sponsoring a lot of propaganda against us. Lai Mohammed even lied that the contract given to OPC was N12 billion when it was just N1.9 billion. The contract was given to about six companies but Lai claimed it was only the company managed by OPC that got the N12 billion.
“All he wanted was that the Yoruba person should not be empowered. Do you know that about 5,000 persons got empowered with that pipeline contract? We have about 5,000 workers and they were earning N120,000 monthly. Some earned N70,000 depending on their role. We still give allowances to those who succeeded in apprehending bandits in order to encourage them.
“So, when we are talking about restructuring, Nigerian leaders know the drug that will cure their ailment but they refuse to make use of it because of the selfish interests of few individuals in this country.”
The Federal government recently awarded a N4 billion pipelines surveillance contract to a private security outfit owned by a former Niger Delta agitator, Government Ekpemupolo also known as Tompolo.
While justifying the contract to Tompolo, Group Chief Executive Officer of NNPC Limited, Mallam Mele Kyari said Nigeria loses about $1.9 billion monthly to the activities of oil vandals.
Also, the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Dr. Timipre Sylva said that the country loses 400,000