…wants surveillance deals given to host communities
By Michael Eboh
Oil-bearing communities, under the aegis of Host Communities of Nigeria, Producing Oil and Gas, HOSCON, yesterday, accused contractors handling the surveillance of oil pipeline installations across the country of fueling crisis in the Niger Delta.
Speaking to Vanguard in Abuja, National Chairman of HOSCON, Dr. Mike Emuh, also accused the government of violating the provisions of the local content initiative by awarding Nigeria’s waterways’ surveillance contract to an Israeli firm.
He said: “Some of the existing contractors have constituted themselves into cabal and principalities; they are the problems of the Niger Delta. They rank among the most corrupt entities. How can you pay over $20 million to a contractor every month in the name of pipeline surveillance, along numerous oil mining leases as far as to the Trans Forcados Pipeline, TFP.
“This is just only one or two individuals making this huge amount of money every month, while the masses, especially the youths, are suffering. This was what made us to engage 10 persons each from oil-bearing and impacted communities, to make up the 10,000 youths we are advocating should be given the contracts. It is crucial to inject new blood and new vigour into the system.
“Another government agency has a security arrangement whereby it pays about $20 million monthly to an Israeli firm. Why not follow the Nigerian Content Act by giving that contract to Nigerian firms. The contract is seemingly to guard against piracy in the Gulf of Guinea.
“The Minister of Transportation needs to look into this issue to know why we are paying this huge sum of money to an Israeli firm. HOSCON is drawing the attention of the Minister of Transport to that contract.
“We are also asking the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources to make sure that pipeline surveillance contracts are awarded to host communities. He should not be seen to be collaborating with the contractors, who have formed themselves into a cabal, and who are destroying the system through the surveillance contracts.
“The government should give pipeline surveillance contracts to the host communities so that the 10,000 youths that had been engaged and trained in readiness for this duty would resume work.
“The government should give at least 40 per cent of the pipeline surveillance contracts to the host communities; leave 40 per cent for existing contractors and 20 per cent for new contractors.
“Host communities know the contractors in charge of pipeline surveillance and maintenance; we know those involved in bush loading, oil theft; owners of shuttling vessels and the brains behind illegal refineries.”
He called on the Federal Government to implement the four-point demand of HOSCON, adding that the ceasefire agreement reached with the Reformed Niger Delta Avengers, RNDA, militants and youths of the Niger Delta should be respected.
He commended President Muhammadu Buhari, Mr. Godswill Akpabio and Senator Ita Enang for their commitment to the development of the Niger Delta, while he pleaded with youths in the region not to resume hostilities, as destruction of lives and properties would negatively impact economic growth and development.