MT Tura 11: Tompolo and National Assets

July 24, 2023
MT Tura 11

By Jerome-Mario Chijioke Utomi

The July 7, 2023, arrest of a vessel, MT Tura II (IMO number: 6620462), along Escravos River in Warri South West Local Government Area of Delta State, by Tompolos Tantita Security Services Nigeria Ltd, with about 150,000 metric tonnes of stolen crude oil valued at about $86.8 million has increasingly confirmed as true the words of Mele Kyari, Group Chief Executive Officer (GCEO) of NNPCL in August 2022 that the federal government made “the right decision contracting Tantita Security Ltd, a private security contractor to handle the multi-billion naira Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited’s oil pipeline surveillance contract.

The above feeling evidently comes flooding when one remembers that it was only a few stakeholders that supported the decision of the federal government on the N4 billion per month contract, which covers the Ijaw-speaking part of Bayelsa State (Southern Ijaw and Ekeremor local government areas), Delta, Ondo, Imo and Rivers states.

To this group, when a national asset is involved, there is nothing wrong with the federal government exploring the concept of a corporation in governance business, security, and infrastructure and resource development from private individuals needed to speed up good governance and promote development, noting that such design would assist maximize social returns while minimizing stress on the part of the government.

Others stoutly opposed and concluded but hastily that what the Muhammadu Buhari government has done in effect is to abdicate the government’s constitutional responsibility to mercenaries, even against its avowed policy not to engage mercenaries in fighting terrorism.

Given the above, recent reviews and empirical results coming from Tompolo’s Tantita operations have settled the debate as to whether a Public-Private Partnership (PPP) can assist in designing and implementing complex policies related to national asset management. Tantita’s efficiency in this given assignment of managing national assert has signalled a radical departure from the past, where government officials only made a pious commitment to rid the country of the menace of crude theft, which has not only inflicted significant economic losses on Nigeria and legitimate stakeholders in the oil industry and perpetuated a cycle of corruption, environmental devastation, and social instability.

Authors have equally put forward different qualitative reports that summarized the ongoing pipeline surveillance contract as decreasing crude oil theft in the country and increasing foreign earnings to the nation. Viewed from an applied prism, this piece holds the opinion that the ongoing surveillance mechanism suggests and proves beyond reasonable doubt that the nation Nigeria may actually not need gunboats to protect its national claims and solve its other problems, particularly in the oil-rich Niger Delta region, notorious for crude oil theft and pipeline vandalism. Rather, what the nation needs is sincere and selfless leadership, a politically and economically restructured polity.

For a better understanding of the piece, there are more key points that need to be emphasized on how the programme’s ultimate outcomes have so far attained the Federal Government anticipated goal while remaining attractive to critical stakeholders. However, like every new invention with its opportunities and challenges, there are also recorded operational issues and concerns arising from the programme that needs to be highlighted and brought to the fore where they can be seen and treated.

Beginning with attractive milestones,  media reports have it that barely two months after he was awarded the multi-billion naira oil security contract in the Niger Delta region, Government Ekpemupolo discovered over 58 illegal points in Delta and Bayelsa States where crude oil is being stolen. More specifically, there was a media report that Tantita Security Service Nigeria Limited, on Thursday, October 7, 2022, successfully arrested a crude oil tanker loaded with an unspecified quantity of crude oil at the Escravos River in Warri South West Local Government Area of Delta State.

Viewed broadly, if policymakers in the country could take time to study Tantita’s recruitment process, operational dynamics and environmental matrix, they(public office holders) will discover without labour that Tantita as a company and pipeline Surveillance project run on the wheels of state/Community policing templates. They share the same spirit, virtues and attributes.

Take, as an illustration, the majority of Tantita’s security personnel were recruited from and posted to the same community/environment where they hail from. They operate and watch over pipelines within their communities and environs. As a result of this security template/roadmap, efficiency is achieved.

Similar results and breakthroughs are precisely what state/community policing could achieve if allowed in the country.  The reason for the above assertion is not farfetched.

Separate from the new awareness that globally, the provision of security can no longer be viewed in a unitary way as such thinking is out-fashioned, if an objective analysis can replace emotional discussion regarding state/community police, it is glaring that there are no federal police or state police models, but there are fundamental differences between the two.

While cultural and geographical homogeneity, which are strong factors and advantages of state policing, are lost in federal policing, state police depend on these factors and more, such as history and friendship, to keep society orderly and without anarchy. This value no doubt makes productive policing without the disorder. And state governments have the capacity to fulfil this obligation.

Simply put, the Nigerian government urgently needs to study and possibly adopt or adapt aspects of the Tompolo security model/architecture as it entails the cultivation of stronger local intelligence and networking with communities, traditional rulers and adequate training. This, in specific terms, will include recruiting more police officers from their local government areas, where they would then be stationed in the best traditions of policing worldwide.

Another potentially interesting finding arising from the pipeline surveillance contract has to do with the volume of youth employment it has so far created. In fact, unconfirmed sources close to the organization have it that the project has created over 17,000 direct and indirect employment opportunities for the youths in the Niger Delta region.

Aside from creatively curbing youth restiveness in the region within the period under review, another important reason why the ongoing surveillance contract needs to be applauded is that globally, youths are considered a major national asset that will respond to the future leadership of the country and any transformation agenda that does not have job creation for the youth at its centre will take the nation nowhere.”

The seamless cooperation between Tantita security personnel and Federal Government security operatives- the Nigeria Army, Navy, Department of State Security (DSS) Police, and other security apparatus, is another inherent virtue associated with the contract that is worth mentioning.

On the other side of the ‘ledger’, this piece is not comfortable with the way the Federal Government is managing the successes that flow from the pipeline surveillance programme. This particular displeasure is Federal Government-specific.

The ‘culture’ of burning a whole ship with about 150,000 metric tonnes of stolen crude oil valued at about $86.8 million cannot in any way scale as a good leadership judgement. The narrative becomes even more painful when one remembers that a similar step was taken in October 2022 when Tompolo’s men successfully arrested a crude oil tanker loaded with an unspecified quantity of crude oil at the Escravos River in Warri South West Local Government Area of Delta State.

Such action, in my view, amounts to throwing away the baby with bath water and roundly qualifies as economic waste. Most dangerously, burning such a volume of crude translates to first-class environmental pollution. We must as a nation learn how to manage our success by not killing through pollution the people we are meant to protect. Both the people are national assets that must be protected.

This piece, therefore,  holds the opinion that going forward, there should be other polite, civil, advanced and creative options to handle the confiscated vessel and its content without endangering the lives of the people of the region.

Finally, the ongoing surveillance job by Tompolo has deeply sparked consciousness about challenges facing the Niger Delta region before the human right and other advocates for oppressed communities while bringing to the fore a renewed call for legislative and policy reforms that will permanently curb crude oil theft in the region and ensure that the process of decision making on issues that concern oil and gas sector and the living environment of the people of the region are opened up.

Therefore, as the nation and the people of the Niger Delta region celebrate Tompolo Tantita’s interception of MT Tura and other efforts geared towards securitizing the nation’s high-priced assets in the region, it is also important to recognise that Tompolo’s contributions towards restoration of peace and sustainable development in the region is long-standing, noticed across the globe and deeply qualifies him as a catalyst for a new order and Niger Delta region’s ambassador for peace and development.

Utomi is the Programme Coordinator (Media and Policy) at Social and Economic Justice Advocacy (SEJA), Lagos. He can be reached via [email protected]/08032725374

Dipo Olowookere

Dipo Olowookere is a journalist based in Nigeria that has passion for reporting business news stories. At his leisure time, he watches football and supports 3SC of Ibadan.

Mr Olowookere can be reached via [email protected]

Leave a Reply

Mzuvukile Maqetuka Russia and BRICS
Previous Story

South Africa Values its Relations with Russia and BRICS

BitMart Exchange
Next Story

BitMart Exchange | Strengths, Weaknesses, And Trading Conditions

Latest from Feature/OPED

Don't Miss