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News Analysis: Time to smash Tompolo and gang

Published on July 27, 2015 by   ·   No Comments

Bayo Onanuga

Tompolo: should be a relic of the Jonathan past

Tompolo: should be a relic of the Jonathan past

The oil bandit who calls himself Government Ekpemupolo, alias Tompolo, should by now have realized that the game has changed in Niger Delta and that the state pampering enjoyed for his villainy and that of other members of his gang, during the Jonathan years, is over.

If Tompolo does not yet know: this was the message delivered resoundingly in the 28 March presidential election that ousted Goodluck Jonathan from Aso Rock: a message that our much abused nation has had enough of rubbish and was casting its lot with a 72 year old war veteran to turn the page of history.

There is no nation, worth its name that would have tolerated the affront that Tompolo and co were about to inflict on it by their much advertised meeting in Izon House in Yenagoa on Saturday. One expected nothing but a crackdown, which came with truckloads of soldiers from the Joint Task Force, taking over the venue and by so doing, sounding the unmistakable warning that it would not be business as usual.

It should never be any way, as the Nigeria we hope to rebuild under Muhammadu Buhari cannot allow outlaws such as Tompolo co-exist.

Former president Goodluck Jonathan ceded so much space and latitude to the banditry of a few of his Ijaw kinsmen while in power, and in the process emasculated the apparati of the state, such as the Navy and the Army. He unconscionably gave Nigeria’s maritime security to Tompolo and in his last months gave out the security of the nation’s oil pipelines to the militants and the Yoruba group, Oodua Peoples Congress, when Nigeria had security structures on ground to perform such roles. Instead of strengthening the institutions, the former leader, often derided for his naivety, was empowering outlaws. I had never seen anything so anomic in my entire 59 years living in Nigeria.

The ex-militants were so much empowered that they were emboldened in dabbling in the affairs of state. Incumbent Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers had to lobby them in Rivers to support him into power, not surprising the record violence that marred the elections in the state. In Delta state, Tompolo nominated the deputy governor. And in the same Delta, Tompolo and gang demonstrated who was more ‘government ‘ than Jonathan’s presidency, by unilaterally scaring Jonathan from commissioning a multi-billion oil company over location wrangling.

There must be a time for everything. The age of militant licentiousness had ended with Jonathan. It’s time to re-establish the sovereignty of Nigeria over all its territory, from Niger Delta to the Sahelian northeast area where Boko Haram is on rampage.

I am certain, many Nigerians are supportive of Buhari’s plans to regenerate Nigeria, to imbue it with its old values, make it a strong nation all over again.

One was thus worried by the reaction of the Ijaw Youth Council to the JTF response to the illegal, treasonable meeting, dubbing the action as an infraction of the people’s right to assemble and a throwback to ‘military dictatorship’.

There must be a time for everything. The age of militant licentiousness had ended with Jonathan. It’s time to re-establish the sovereignty of Nigeria over all its territory, from Niger Delta to the Sahelian northeast area where Boko Haram is on rampage.

IYC clearly missed the point. Tompolo and co. was not in the class of Adaka Boro or the illustrious writer, Ken Saro Wiwa, the true champions of a better deal to the Niger Delta people. Tompolo and co. are simply oil bandits? And the meeting he had convened was not going to be an ordinary assembly of law-abiding citizens, but a meeting of warlords, who had once earned amnesty from the Nigerian state, and who now wanted to regroup under their old banner. This is nothing but treason.
In my view, President Buhari’s response was apt and appropriate. I even expected the military to have done more, by arresting the gang for having the effrontery to call the meeting, when Nigeria is being steered away from being a lawless Republic.

Tompolo (left) with former Governor Emmanuel Uduaghan of Delta State: an oil bandits wielding too much power and influence

Tompolo (left) with former Governor Emmanuel Uduaghan of Delta State: an oil bandits wielding too much power and influence

The Niger Delta ought by now have realized that Tompolo and co. are only champions for their deep pockets. If previous experience is anything to go by, we have all seen how the oil gangsters used the generous government amnesty to enrich themselves. Tompolo and several other warlords acquired private jets and amassed billions of dollars in government contracts and patronage. We have also seen how illogical was government’s belief that oil theft would be reduced by outsourcing maritime security to a company founded by the warlord. From about 100,000 barrels a day, the theft rose phenomenally to 400,000 barrels, about a quarter of Nigeria’s daily production. At the moment, Nigeria is said to have over 200 cargoes of crude oil stranded on the Asian waters waiting for buyers. Most of the cargoes were said to be proceeds of massive theft. Under Tompolo’s watch, it was not uncommon that fully loaded ships with refined products would suddenly disappear from our waters, giving Nigeria, a bad name in sea piracy.

A sign that Nigeria is marching towards change was that significantly, in the month of June, there was no single case of piracy in the Gulf of Guinea, according to new statistics by the International Maritime Bureau. This could have happened because the Niger Delta pirates knew that their tolerant, protective father, Goodluck Jonathan was out of power. It could be because they knew the game has changed, that Nigeria is in the hands of people who genuinely want to create a wide departure from the past of state condoned brigandage on the oil fields and the high seas.

* Onanuga is the editor-in-chief of www.thenewsnigeria.com.ng

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Posted by on July 27, 2015, 1:14 am. Filed under Opinions, Politics.
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