Ondo State Governor, Arakunrin Rotimi Akeredolu has condemned the pipeline protection contract award to private organisations linked to former leader of the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND) leader, Government Ekpemupolo (better known as Tompolo).
Recently, the Federal Government renewed a multi-million dollars pipeline surveillance contract to ex-militant Tompolo. The deal is said to worth over N4 billion monthly.
Akeredolu stated that the engagement of private organisations to handle serious security challenges reinforced the belief that Nigeria’s defence architecture needs an urgent overhaul.
In a statement he personally signed, the Governor wondered why the Federal Government, through the Office of the National Security Adviser (NSA), has been consistent in its refusal to accede to the request by some states to strengthen the complementary initiatives adopted to protect lives and property.
Akeredolu said it was safe to conclude that the Federal Government has, impliedly, permitted non-state actors to bear heavy assault weapons while denying same privilege to the states, which are the federating units.
He insisted that the NSA would not advise the President to approve the award of a contract of such magnitude if the operators had not displayed sufficient capacity to checkmate the criminal activities of equally powerful groups.
According to him: “The news concerning the purported award of pipeline contracts to some individuals and private organisations by the Federal Government has been unsettling. More disquieting is the barely disguised hostility displayed against either the idea or the actual establishment of security outfits by some State Governments to fill the widening gaps in the scope of security coverage noticeable nationally.
“All attempts to persuade the Federal Government to look, critically, into the current security architecture have been rebuffed despite the manifest fundamental defects engendered by over-centralisation.
“The award of contract to private organisations to protect vandalisation of pipelines raise fundamental questions on the sincerity of the advisers of the Government on security issues. The open and seeming enthusiastic embrace of this oddity, despite the constant and consistent avowal of the readiness by the security agencies in particular the Navy to contain the pervasive and deepening crises of breaches and threats to lives and property, attracts the charge of insincerity bordering, deplorably, on dubiety.
“If the state governments, which are keenly desirous of protecting their citizens, establish ancillary security outfits and there has been pronounced reluctance, if not outright refusal, to consider permitting them to bear arms for the sole purpose of defence, granting private individuals and or Organisations unfettered access to assault weapons suggests, curiously, deep-seated suspicion and distrust between the Federal Government and the presumed federating units.
“The Federal Government cannot be seen to be playing the osstrich in this regard”.