Tompolo, Ebipade Kari, as true ambassadors of a new Niger Delta region By JEROME-MARIO UTOMI

Former Niger Delta militant leader, Government Ekpemupolo, popularly known as Tompolo
Former Niger Delta militant leader, Government Ekpemupolo, popularly known as Tompolo

There are recorded events in the recent past that have proved beyond reasonable doubt that the nation Nigeria may not need gun boats to solve its problems particularly, in the oil rich Niger Delta region, notorious for crude oil theft and pipeline vandalism.

Essentially, evidence has emerged and points to the fact that what the nation needs is a sincere and selfless leadership, a politically and economically restructured polity brought by the national consciousness that can unleash the social, economic and political transformation of the country via sustainable Public-Private sectors partnership while rejecting the present socio-economic system that has bred corruption, inefficiency, primitive capital accumulation that socially excluded the vast majority of our people.

A telling example is the result that a few weeks ago trailed the crude oil pipeline surveillance contract recently awarded by the Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited (NNPCL), to Tantita Security Services Nigeria Limited, a company owned by High Chief Government Ekpemupolo (A.K.A. Tompolo), the ‘Ibe-Ebidouwei of Ijaw Nation’.-and Global Ambassador of the Ijaw people.

According to media reports, barely two months after he was awarded the multi-billion naira oil security contract in the Niger Delta region, Government Ekpemupolo has discovered over 58 illegal points in Delta and Bayelsa States where crude oil is being stolen. More specifically, there was a media report that Tantita Security Service Nigeria Limited, on Thursday, October 7, 2022 successfully arrested a crude oil tanker, loaded with an unspecified quantity of crude oil at the Escravos River in Warri South West Local Government Area of Delta state.

Aside from the fact that Tompolo’s revelations in this direction have again rekindled the hope that despite Nigerians long romance with, and love for corruption, there exists some of her citizens that cannot be corrupted, the development has also deeply sparked consciousness about challenges facing Niger Delta region before the human right and other advocates for oppressed communities, while bringing to the fore a renewed call for legislative and policy reforms that will permanently curb crude oil theft in the region and ensure that the process of decision making on issues that concern oil and gas sector and the living environment of the people of the region are opened up.

As the nation and of course the people of Niger Delta region celebrate the ongoing process of liberating the region from economic hardship and environmental pollution, it is however, important to recognize that Tompolo’s contributions towards restoration of peace and sustainable development in the region is long standing, noticed across the globe and deeply qualifies him as a catalyst for a new order and Niger Delta region’s ambassador for peace and development.

This piece may not be alone in this line of belief.

The British Broadcasting Corporation(BBC), in a recent report titled ‘ Nigeria’s Stolen Oil, The Military And A Man Named Government’ , specifically noted as follows;’ Tompolo’s motivation for the crackdown on crude-oil theft has left many bewildered. He is getting paid for it, and has spoken glowingly of his love for Nigeria and the Niger Delta environment’.

Again, Like the generality of right thinking Nigerian, the Guardian Newspaper in a well considered commentary, agreed that High Chief Government Ekpemupolo (A.K.A. Tompolo) of Oporoza Town, Gbaramotu Kingdom, Warri South West Local Government Area of Delta State, is a reputable community leader that holds one of the highest traditional titles in Ijaw nation known as the ‘Ibe-Ebidouwei of Ijaw Nation. The Newspaper further stated that as the Global Ambassador of the Ijaw people, High Chief Tompolo displayed honesty, truthfulness and sincerity in all his dealings. Most importantly, the Newspaper admitted and recognized chief Tompolo as a leader of the Niger Delta fighting for the control of the region’s resources and a reversal of the environmental degradation in the Niger Delta.

This piece believed and still believes that Guardian Newspaper’s editorial board cannot be wrong in this latest description.

Away from Guardian’s objective analysis to another sincere x-ray of Chief Tompolo’s personality, by Nnamdi Obasi, Nigeria researcher for the International Crisis Group (ICG).

Obasi in that report said; Tompolo’s acceptance of a presidential amnesty program offered by the Nigerian government in 2009 was “highly significant, some would say decisive, in ending the violence at the time,” and that the former militant still commands a strong following in the Niger Delta region”.

Separate from the above observations, Chief Tompolo himself while speaking on his burning desire to achieve results in this respect made comments which suggest that he placed his life at risk for this national duty.

Take for instance, while noting that he is 100 percent committed to eradicating this menace of illegal oil theft and refining from the Niger Delta, warning those who have operated unhindered for years to detach and leave the area or face dire consequences from the surveillance team as it would not be business as usual, High Chief Tompolo said; we are not too scared of our people. We are more scared of people with guns that are involved in these activities than people without guns. We are more scared of the GSAs that are accomplices in this, and the oil multinationals than we are afraid of our people’.

Even as High Chief Tompolo is celebrated, this piece holds the opinion that another personality that has through the ongoing surveillance emerged a new face of Niger Delta region is Chief Ebipade Kari, the Operational Head of Tantita Security Services Limited and the Chief Security Officer (CSO) to High Chief Government Oweizide Ekpemupolo aka Tompolo, who was reportedly offered a bribe of Twenty Five Million Naira (N25m) to let the ship (MT Deinmo, with International Maritime Organisation (IMO) number 7210525, ) go but he turned down the offer.

For me, this is commendable!!!

Thus, this piece holds the opinion that Chief Tompolo and Ebipade Kari, are in the interim, the real ambassadors of the new Niger Delta region!!!

Utomi Jerome-Mario is the Programme Coordinator (Media and Public Policy), Social and Economic Justice Advocacy (SEJA), A Lagos-Based Non Governmental Organization (NGO).And could be reached via [email protected] /08032725374.

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