Ex-agitators have vowed to go on the rampage in the Niger Delta region if the Nigeria National Petroleum Company (NNPCL) fails to include indigenous companies in the region in its recent award of pipeline maintenance contracts.
The ex-militants under the auspices of the Coalition of Ex-agitators of Niger Delta (CEND) described the decision of NNPCL to award pipeline maintenance to only four northern companies as insensitive, provocative and disobedience to local content provisions.
The stakeholders said that any attempts by NNPCL to insist on awarding such contracts to companies owned by northern cabals alone would be a recipe for a fresh violent crisis in the region.
CEND in a statement signed at the weekend by its Coordinator, Gen. Gershom Gbobo; Spokesperson, Chief Dr David Tonye Banigo; National Secretary Gen Johnson Akpobari and National Director mobilization, Gen. Goodluck Warikere, said youths in the area would not allow any company of northern extraction to execute maintenance of pipelines located in their backyards.
They averred that the right thing to do in the interest of peace was to give Niger Delta companies the job of maintaining pipelines located in the region while the northern firms should be given contracts for such facilities in the north.
They said: “We will never allow such cheating, marginalisation, injustice and insensitivity to occur in this new administration of President Bola Ahmed Tinubu, whose mantra remains justice, equity and fairness. NNPCL should know that its actions and conduct would determine the level of peace in the oil-bearing communities of the Niger Delta.
“We will not allow this provocative action of awarding pipeline maintenance contracts only to companies owned by northern cabals. What happens to all the Niger Delta indigenous companies? No northern company would be allowed to carry out routine maintenance on pipelines located in our territory.
“Companies in our region must be engaged for such contracts to create jobs for the youths and keep all stakeholders busy. Northern companies should also be given such jobs in the north. We warn that there will be unrest and crisis if NNPCL fails to review this gross injustice.”
The ex-militant leaders said the youths were ready to resist the development with all their strength, adding that they prepared to lay down their lives to fight against such injustice.
They said: “We are sure that international communities will understand that we are fighting for our rights. We must be involved in this. This is one contract that can be used to discourage pipeline vandalism in the Niger Delta. Why will they give such contracts to people who are not from the region? Have they awarded any contract in the north to those of us from the Niger Delta?
“Is it feasible for us to go to the north and agitate for contracts? We call on Mr. President, the National Security Adviser, Secretary to the Federation, and the Chief of Staff to intervene in this and stop this disrespect to our region. It looks as if we do not have capable hands in the region to maintain our pipelines.
“We are not saying that they should not award contracts to some of those northern companies. What we are saying is that they should award contracts to them in their domains and award contracts to us in our domains. You cannot be taking everything from our environment through pipelines and still deny us the opportunity to maintain those pipelines.”
They maintained that such contracts should be designed with the motive of calming frayed nerves in the region and providing livelihood to persons who had returned from the creeks.
They lamented that the NNPCL was taking the region for granted, adding that the youths would stage a mother of all protests if the company failed to do the right thing. [The Punch]