The Federal Government has not issued any directive for the cancellation or re-award of the N48bn oil pipeline surveillance contract in the Niger Delta, contrary to speculations in some quarters.

It was, however, gathered that the Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited was awaiting the presidential directive on the future of the contract.

In August last 2022, it was reported that the government awarded the pipeline contract to a security firm of the former leader of the Movement for the Emancipation of Niger Delta, Government Ekpemupolo, popularly known as Tompolo.

The surveillance contract, reportedly worth N48bn per year (N4bn per month), elicited diverse reactions, as some stakeholders commended the move, while others kicked against it, leading to recent claims that it might be cancelled or awarded to another firm.

This came as oil sector operators and analysts advised the Federal Government to analyse the Key Performance Indicators of the contract before re-awarding or terminating it.

However, sources from the Federal Ministry of Petroleum Resources and the Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited stated in Abuja that there was no directive yet on whether to cancel or re-award the contract.

“The contracts are being implemented in strict compliance with all terms and conditions therein,” a senior official at the FMPR, the parent ministry of the NNPCL, who pleaded not to be named due to lack of authorisation, stated.

The source added, “There is no any directive from any quarter to cancel the contract and re-award to another set of contractors.”

Based on the contract, the Tompolo-owned firm, Tantita Security Services Limited, was expected to protect all oil pipelines criss-crossing nearly all the states in the Niger Delta, in collaboration with other major stakeholders in the oil bearing communities in the region.

Specifically, Tompolo was expected to carry out the N4bn monthly contract that covered Delta, Ondo, Imo, Rivers and some parts of Bayelsa State in collaboration with major tribes along the communities that host the oil pipelines.

Recall that the Senate through its Committee on Ethics, Privileges and Public Petitions, in January, summoned the Group Chief Executive Officer, NNPCL, Mele Kyari, over the pipeline contract, following a petition by the Isoko Community, alleging that their young men were not carried along in the multi-billion naira project.

The Isoko people under the auspices of Interested Isoko Youth Groups, through a petition sent to the Senate on their behalf by Stanley Okonmah, had alleged that they were completely marginalised in the contract award.

The lsoko Ethnic Nationality had requested the Senate to probe the award of the contract and prevail on the NNPCL management to award a fresh contract to a company owned by an Isoko person.

But sources at the NNPCL stated on Friday that though there had been speculations recently that the contract could be re-awarded, no directive had been issued on that.

When asked whether the NNPCL would cancel or re-award the contract, an official of the national oil firm replied, “This question should be directed at the Presidency/National Security Adviser. It’s not a decision NNPC can make.”

When probed further on whether it was not the NNPCL that engaged the security firm, the official replied, “with presidential approval.”

Kyari had defended the contract around the time it was awarded, as he explained that 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.

He said, “The security agencies are doing their part, end-to-end pipeline surveillance would require the involvement of private entities and community stakeholders.

“We need private contractors to man the right of way to these pipelines. So we put up a framework for contractors to come and bid and they were selected through a tender process. And we believe we made the right decision,” the NNPCL boss had stated.

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