A case for ex-militants, OPC and MASSOB
The current fuel scarcity being experienced nation-wide coupled with the scandalous drop in power generation has been blamed on the activities of some aggrieved Niger Delta ex-militants, OPC and MASSOB, who go about vandalising gas/fuel/crude oil pipelines. These regional groups are back to this nefarious activity to force the hand of President Buhari to return the contract of pipeline protection he took away from them on assuming the presidency. Apart from the problem of fuel scarcity or drop in power generation caused by the activities of these groups, their actions also resulted in a colossal cut in the country’s export of crude oil. In the words of the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Dr. Ibe Kachikwu, the recent disruption in production of crude oil as a result of the damaged pipe at the Forcados Export Terminal, will cause the nation $1billion or about N200 billion in lost revenue between February and May, which is the time expected to effect complete repairs on the damaged pipeline.
I must confess I was one of those who wrote to ask Buhari to annul the contract that put the monitoring of oil pipelines in the hands of Niger Delta ex-militants and co. In an article in The Guardian of March 22, 2015, titled “Waiting for the new government,” I had said to the new president: “The easy way these regional groups lent themselves out as tools in the hands of the outgoing government during the just concluded elections is a cause for concern…What made them sold out to government so cheaply, I assume, is the contract, running into billions, awarded them by the out-going government to secure oil pipelines across the country…
Now looking at the crippling effect of oil pipeline vandalisation on the economy vis-a-vis the relative peace that prevailed in the sector when the ex-militants and their likes were charged with keeping watch over the pipelines, I am forced to change my opinion on this issue. An Esan proverb has it that there is nothing as secure as money put in the custody of a thief. In other words, let the government give back the contract it took from these people so we can all have our peace. These guys are aggrieved. They feel the president is eating but can’t just understand why he does not want them also to eat. Truly, they are not happy. They are accusing Buhari of taking away the little food he met in their mouth, courtesy of Dr. Goodluck Ebele Jonathan.