Oluwarotimi Akeredolu, the governor of Ondo State, has criticised the Federal Government on Wednesday, August 31, 2022 for the contentious pipeline surveillance contract that was given to private security companies and persons.
Equally important, Akeredolu said it was alarming that a private company was given a contract of this size; adding that the beneficiary companies and individuals were allowed to carry assault weapons; even at the expense of the states that had been asking for them to protect the populace.
However, officials of the Nigerian government have defended the development.
It was not the first time individuals from the Niger Delta region had been given a contract for pipeline surveillance; according to Mele Kyari, the Chief Executive Officer of the Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited (NNPCL).
Also, Kyari noted that the contract was in the general interest of the populace.
Government Ekpemupolo, commonly known as Tompolo, a former Niger Delta agitator, was awarded the contract, according to Kyari; which he said would necessitate the participation of commercial organisations and community stakeholders. Security agencies are also contributing, he added.
Akeredolu said that the action meant that the Federal Government had allowed non-state actors to carry heavy assault weapons; while refusing the same privilege to the states.
He made this known in a statement personally signed and made accessible to newsmen through his Chief Press Secretary, Richard Olatunde.
In the statement entitled “Who Actually Needs Weapons”; the governor berated the FG’s decision. He added that the engagement of private organisations to handle serious security challenges is a misnomer; adding that it reinforces the belief that the whole defence architecture in the country needs an urgent overhaul.
Specifically, he said, “The Federal Government, through the Office of the National Security Adviser, has been consistent in its refusal to accede to the request by some States in the Federation to strengthen the complementary initiatives adopted to protect lives and property.
“This is done in spite of the knowledge that the very issues which necessitated the creation of these outfits support providing adequate weaponry. 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 raises fundamental questions on the sincerity of the advisers of the Government on security issues.
“The engagement of private organisations to handle serious security challenges reinforces the belief that the whole defence architecture in the country needs an urgent overhaul. The Federal Government cannot be seen to be playing the ostrich in this regard.”