By Godspower Oshodin, Fortworth TX
It was the Nigerian Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (NEITI) who revealed that Nigeria lost 619.7 million barrels of crude oil valued at N16.25 trillion ($46.16 billion) to crude oil theft between 2009 and 2020, and between January and August 2022, Nigeria lost over $2bn to oil-theft with consequent loss of revenue that would have supported the country’s fiscal deficits and budget implementation.
For most economies globally, it is a landmark loss. Thus, we can easily attribute it to be the entire size of most nations economy. Loosing over 3trn in oil-theft in the first eight months was alarming, knowing fully well that it is more than the total allocation to health in the proposed 2023 budget. Nigeria failed to take full advantage of higher oil prices in 2022 because of its inability to rapidly expand production, and the persistent problem of the theft of part of what was produced.
The negative impact of oil-theft cannot be over-emphasized. Oil-theft not only deprives Governments of internal revenue but it also has direct and indirect impacts on the economic development of neighbouring countries. Oil-theft erodes regional business confidence, investment and domestic development.
To keep the country’s most reliable economic source safe and intact, the Nigerian Government employed the services of Tompolo through his company, Tattitan Limited, and for many who know Government Ekpemupolo a.k.a Tompolo, we reckon that he was in command of thousands of militants and was very successful in attacking the insensitivity of the Government and the multinational oil companies concerning the exploitation and degradation of the people and environments of the Niger Delta. It is easy to say he has fought for the cause for decades, and has traversed many miles in supporting the progress of the Nigerian Economy.
We can recall that in 2012, the President Goodluck Jonathan-led administration was determined to curb the loss of over 500,000 barrels per day of crude oil to illegal bunkering, hence the Federal Government awarded a multi-million Dollar pipeline surveillance contract to Tompolo, through his company, Global West Specialist Agency. The contract was immediately stopped when President Muhammadu Buhari first came to power in 2015. The former MEND commander, known for his knowledge of the creeks, is meant to monitor and oversee other surveillance contracts, contractors and their activities in the entire Niger Delta. Before the cancellation of the contract, the arrangements he put in place had tackled illegal bunkering and increased Nigeria’s production to over two million barrels per day.
The oil-rich country appeared to have lost track of the number of pipeline sabotage incidents as it had become the norm from 2015 down to mid-2022 hence Nigeria lost billions of Dollars. With Tompolo in the helms of affairs since late-2022, the country seemed to have recorded significant progress in terms of pipeline protection. He is tagged as a ‘fearless leader’ by many who witnessed how he picked himself up and rose to prominence in the entire oil-rich South-South region.
The criticality of his surveillance contract to secure the pipelines has brought a lot of significant achievements over the recent-past months to the Nigerian Government. Although his appointment was met with so much frown from different stakeholders, it was generally considered profitable by the Presidency of the Nation. Speaking at the 49th session of the State House briefing at the Presidential Villa, Abuja in October 2022, Mele Kyari, the Chief Executive Officer of Nigeria National Petroleum Company Limited, said the decision was necessitated by the need for Nigeria to hire private contractors to man its oil pipeline network nationwide due to massive oil theft.
“Tompolo is a phenomenal leader. He has spent most of his time thinking about his people. He is so concerned about their well-being. I admire some of the things he has done for the people of Niger Delta for many years. He understands his onions and has helped the Nigerian Government in finding proper sanity in all the oil region. This administration has enjoyed the dividends of bringing him on board. He is starting a project titled #OneChildOneEducation across the Niger Delta. He is so keen about the education of the youth in our region. He is one guy who likes a highly motivated and educated populace to spur high-tech boom and bring rapid economic development to the country. He is one guy every administration would need in protecting our economic splendour,” TEJERE JOLOMI THOMAS, an Industrialist, asserted.
“I think Nigeria is at that level where the oil and gas industry is supposed to be leveraging on the tendencies we have. We are supposed to be competing on the global stage. The leadership of Mr. Mele Kyari at the NNPC has been enthralling. He understands the direction the NNPC should go as a corporation. The NNPC is supposed to be in the stock exchange globally. We may not be operating at the level the likes of Saudi Aramco are yet, but he is fast changing the narratives towards that glorious direction. He is activating some plausible reforms, and with operational possibilities for some of our refineries, I believe the future holds a lot for this country. We should also thank God we have a pragmatist leader in President Bola Tinubu; he knows his onions. You can see his actionable moves thus far, his appointments are emphatic, and he his assuming some admirable partnerships across board,” Tejere concluded.
With the trail of potentials enveloping the President Tinubu’s administration, Tompolo and Tattitan seem to have all their duck in a roll. Discovering over a hundred illegal pipelines across the Niger Delta regions over the recent-past months is an economic achievement for the Nigerian Government. One would easily say Mr. Tompolo is ticking all the boxes on the checklist when it comes to deliverables. Nonetheless, his score-cards may have not been well analyzed on the media space in Nigeria, but he is not faltering in sustaining the guard-rails of protecting the Nigerian economy.