With the winding down of the administration of Muhammadu Buhari, Nigerians will not in a hurry forget the several pangs of pains which the appointees of Mr. President have inflicted on the lives of ordinary Nigerians.
For the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, this is not the best of time as a he contends with his conscience and hash verdict of history over several deliberate designs that have caused dark spots in the score sheet of the Buhari administration.
This is ranging from the provocative statements emanating from him in justifying the harrowing experience people go through over the increase in prices of petroleum products, the criminal importation of adulterated PMS under his direct supervision and the return of the dark days of long queues at filling stations, with the untold consequences of high cost of living and transportation beyond the reach of ordinary Nigerians.
In the area of oil theft, in spite of billions of naira sunk into providing private security for the upstream and downstream sectors of the oil industry in the name of surveillance service, the frightening and unbaiting increase in statistics of oil theft under the watch of the defacto Minister of Petroleum Resources Chief Timipre Sylva is not only a worrisome legacy of President Muhammadu Buhari government but will remain a nightmare in the lives of Nigerians .
In the political arena, the Bayelsa born politician, (Chief Timipre Sylva) is contending with political forces within and outside his party as he superintends over what has become the dubious revocation and re-allocation of the only prized asset of his own state to a company that was incorporated in 2019 with no technical and financial capabilities , despite having several others at his disposal.
It is a common saying that, a property kept in the custody of a thief is safe as he will not do away with it but jealousy guard it. In this case the Bayelsa born politician spared all other oil blocs in the presidential order to reverse all planned revocation of ten oil blocs , except the one he is supposed to guard jealously, which belongs to his state , the OML-46 also known as Atala Oil Field.
A source confided in this author and journalist that, “Timipre Sylva’s role was like that of the hand of Esau, the voice of Jacob”, who had a vested interest right from the stage of incorporation of HALKIN E & P in September 2019, by laying the foundation for Halkin to take over OML 46 to the revocation of the oil bloc.
To effect the revocation of OML 46, Timipre Sylva through his then Technical Assistant (Legal) at the defunct Directorate of Petroleum Resources (DPR), Dr Kelechi Ofoegbu , who was allegedly inspired by his paymaster to author a letter to one Mr. Olaowei Indiamaowei who at no time was the Managing Director of Bayelsa Oil Company intimating him of the DPR intention to revoke OML 46 at a time the COVID-19 Pandemic was ravaging the entire globe with, deaths locked down economies and movements restrictions.
The letter with reference MPR/TA/010/VOL1/010 dated 6th May 2020 and signed by one Engr. Auwalu Sarki, a Director/ CEO at the DPR on behalf of the Honourable Minister of State Petroleum Resources at the peak of the pandemic to an unknown identity was obviously part of the grand orchestration directly supervised by a man who ordinarily out of patriotism should protect an asset and patrimony of his home state. Curious persons who are within the Ministry of Petroleum resources had cause to doubt Chief Timipre Sylva’s statehood.
A man who can do such a thing to his home state can do anything for money they postulated.
Knowing fully well that Mr. Olaowei Ndiamaowei does not have the authority to respond to such a letter, the same syndicate authored another letter dated 28 February, 2021 to Chief Timipre Sylva recommending the re-award of OML 46 to Halkin E& P thus throwing due process into the air.
The said application with Ref No. DPR/1160/A/Vol.11/144 which was received on the 8th of March in the Office of the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources and Chief Timipre Sylva curiously approved paragraph 6 recommending HE&P Nigeria Limited expressly.
The justification was that Halkin E & P with RC 1611389 and registered on the 5th of September, 2019 has invested the sum of Sixty Million Dollars $60,000,000.00 as well as satisfied all relevant condition precedent for re-allocation.
Also, in that letter, both Chief Timipre Sylva and his Technical Assistant (Legal), Dr. OFOEGBU claimed to be acting on Presidential directive leading to the revocation of the Atala Marginal Field was not only discovered to be false but a criminal claim from the pit of hell. As God would make it they could not even cover their criminal track.
When pressed by the Senate Committee on Ethics, Privileges and Public Petitions during their public hearing which was witnessed by this author , a visibly troubled Dr Ofoegbu knowing the consequences of perjury as a lawyer became aggressive to the committee and promised to provide evidence to that effect.
The question begging for answer is, Where is the so called evidence of Dr Kelechi Ofoegbu and Sylva ? According to impecable source close to the Ministry of PetroleumResources, it took Sylva less than an hour to sign the approval while the DPR envoy waited like the hangman in his office to receive it for immediate execution.
Discreet investigation also showed and let me restate for the purpose of application that:-
the letter written and signed by Dr Kelechi Ofoegbu to Engr. Olaowei Indiamaowei was not only faulty but a deliberate ploy to achieve their sinister agenda, as Mr. Indiamaowei was never a Managing Director of Bayelsa Oil Company Limited.
Interestingly, President Muhammadu Buhari had earlier issued a directive to reverse all actions leading to the revocation of the ten oil blocs.
The Minister of State for Petroleum Resources and his men at the NUPRC (former DPR) complied with the presidential directive except that of the Atala Marginal Field owned by his state government.
The Senate Committee on Public Petitions, Ethics and Privileges unequivocally asserted their recommendation as they presented their report in the red chambers over the revocation of OML 46 without due process and in breach of the presidential directive.
During the public hearing, Dr Kelechi Ofoegbu who represented his boss, this time as an Executive Commissioner tried to no avail to defend the indefensible.
When he was confronted by the Senate Committee to provide evidence of alleged directives by Mr. President who is the substantive Minister of Petroleum, Dr Ofoegbu rather took to his heels as the naked truth was dawn on them that they have no evidence to substantiate their hollow claims.
Dr. Ofoegbu and his team representing the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources was given ample opportunity running into weeks to show the Senate Committee the document where Mr President directed the re-allocation of Atala (OML 46) to Hakin E & P, which they are until now unable to provide.
The senate in plenary, upon submission of report by the Senate Committee on Public Petitions, Ethics and Privileges totally condemned in unison, the criminal act of the NUPRC (DPR) and the Minister of state for Petroleum Resources, Chief Timipre Sylva and directed the compliance with the presidential directive to return Atala Oilfield to their original owners, which is the Bayelsa State government.
Our investigations further gathered that, a meeting of critical Ijaw men and women of concern was held on Tuesday 3rd January, 2023 Yenagoa, the Bayelsa State capital, in respect of the Atala Oil field.
An inside source disclosed in confidence that an action plan is being drawn by the host communities (Azagbene Federated Communities) and other critical stakeholders to deal with the revocation of Atala oil field ranging from mass protest to blocking the ever-busy East-West Road, to shutting down of oil installations as well as banning Chief Timipre Sylva from visiting his home state, Bayelsa . If no action is taken within the next few days to comply with the presidential directive.
The stakeholders had vowed to tackle Sylva and any other persons involved in what they described as criminal conspiracy against a state that has been the epic centre of agitations against years of marginalisation of oil producing communities.
Therefore, this obvious act of broad day robbery of their property will not go unchallenged through every available means at their disposal.
This is an avoidable danger signal particularly at this critical moment of the forthcoming general election which any public officer in his right senses should do everything possible to avert instead of compounding a nationwide security challenge.
Any further delay in implementing the presidential directive will not only amount to official abuse of public trust but also uncharitable disservice to the country’s quest for good governance and fair deal.
Atala will not go away until the right thing is done.