Archive for September, 2013

UNGUIDED UTTERANCE from unbridled mouth.

September 8, 2013
Atiku and Cohorts

Atiku and Cohorts

Former leaders of militant groups in the Niger Delta region have ordered former Vice President, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar to tender an apology to President Goodluck Jonathan for tearing the ruling PDP apart.

The former fighters also declared Abubakar a persona non-grata in the region, saying that they would not watch the same man who had benefited a lot from the resources of the region, take others along for his personal interest.

The group, under the aegis of Leadership, Peace and Cultural Development Initiative made these assertions in Yenagoa, Bayelsa State capital on Saturday during a meeting to review political developments in the country.

Addressing reporters in Port Harcourt after the meeting, president of the group, General Reuben Wilson, said the former Vice President was now an enemy of the Niger Delta people since he had decided to lead other members of the PDP to organise what he called a political coup against Jonathan.

Wilson said, “It is unfortunate that Atiku who has benefitted so much from the Niger Delta oil is leading dissidents in a political coup against the first South Southerner to ever occupy the seat of president of Nigeria.

“We are aware of his vast business interests in the Niger Delta and we are warning him in his own interest to stay off the region. He cannot be enjoying our oil money and at the same time use the same money to fight against the owners of the oil”

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MILITANCY PAYS AFTERALL

September 8, 2013

or those who haven’t heard, 43 year old ex-militant, High Chief Government Oweizide Ekpemupolo (aka Tompolo) on Monday 26th August 2013 received his Bombardier SE60 LearJet. The Jet according to aviation sources cost a whopping sum of $13.3 million (N2.12 billion).

The aim of this article is not to rubbish the person of Tompolo, [what is there to rubbish anyway] but to address inter alia; the scenarios that continue to play out in favour of his ilk, institutions and systems that perpetually endeavour to make his likes overnight celebrities. I would also analyse the opportunity cost of his latest toy.

The Man Tompolo

Tompolo was born Government Oweizide Ekpumopolo in 1970 into the family of Chief Thomas Osei Ekpempulo and Mrs Sologha Ekpemupol of Okorenkoko in Gbaramatu kingdom in Warri South-West Local Government Area of present Delta State. He attended Edah Primary School, Madagho and Kunpa Primary School, Kunukunuma before later proceeding to National Comprehensive College, Warri where he completed the SSCE in 1993.

After a brief stint as Managing Director of his father’s family business, Tompolo Nigeria Limited, his militancy career began in 1997, during the struggle to ‘liberate’ the Ijaws from the dominance of its neighbours — the Itsekiris. General Sani Abacha had then relocated Warri South Local Government headquarters from Ogbe-Ijoh to Itsekiri’s Ogidiben and thus, an Ijaw ‘Soldier’ was born.

After the struggle, he relocated to Oporoza due to threats to his life and there, he started the struggle against the oil majors and the federal government for what he perceived as injustice against ‘their land’–usually the rhetoric for Niger Delta militants.

True to his name, Government Ekpumopolo was an authority of some sort. Traditional rulers, local council men, lawmakers, governors differ to him. To show the power Tompolo wields, during the visit of then Vice President Dr. Goodluck Jonathan to his terrorist headquarters at the notorious Camp 5, he instructed all the Vice President’s entourage, security details, and other officials to stay outside the camp, allowing only Dr. Goodluck Jonathan in for ‘consultation’ (I wonder what they must have agreed in secret).

He led several ‘successful’ guerrilla attacks against Shell, almost crippling their production capacity in the Niger Delta. The company had no choice but to start paying some sort of ‘security fees’ to the warlord.

Tompolo started consulting in security matters for the oil companies, the Federal Government and the Joint Task Force to maintain some level of peace. Things got out of hand after his men beheaded 11 military men comprising of 1 officer and 10 rank and file of the Nigerian Army. That development forced the Chairman of the Joint Task Force in the Niger Delta, Brig. Gen. Sarkin Yaki Bello to declare him wanted, dead or alive.

His Entrance Into The Nigerian Billionaires Club
When the late President Musa Yar’adua took oath of Office in May 2007, he promised to bring an end to the Niger Delta insurgency, offering them a state pardon for all their criminal atrocities.

In June 2009 when the implementation of the amnesty programme started, thousands of youth surrendered their arms and ammunitions, with a report stating that Tompolo along with 1,500 militants handed in a cache of weapons that included general purpose machine guns, grenades, rocket propelled grenade launchers, explosives and a large number of assorted weapons.

Unfortunately, President Yar’adua who originated the idea died of some ailment and Dr. Goodluck Jonathan, the Vice President as it then was, took the reins of power.

In what seemed like an opportunity-comes-but-once-so-lets-seize-it-and-settle-the-boys-bigtime-kind-of-contract, the Goodluck administration through NIMASA, headed by Ziadeke Akpobolokemi (said to be Tompolo’s candidate for the NIMASA job), awarded a contract worth $103.4million (N15billion) maritime surveillance contract to Tompolo’s company–Global West Vessel Specialist Limited (GWVSL). The contract stated that GWVSL will provide security for oil pipelines, repel pirates and oil thieves, guard the nation waterways and also (wait for this), COLLECT LEVIES ON BEHALF OF NIMASA. The agency said about N124billion is expected to be generated by GWVSL for the federal government.

In a memo dated 9 November, 2011 with reference number PRES/99/MT/61 and titled Award Of Contract For The Strategic Concessioning Partnership With NIMASA To Provide Platforms For Tracking Ships And Cargoes, Enforce Regulatory Compliance And Surveillance Of The Entire Nigerian Maritime Domain, President Jonathan approved the contract and it was rubber stamped by the Federal Executive council in one of its weekly contract awarding bazaars on 5 January, 2012.

The contract will run for 10 years, though President Jonathan through NIMASA has promised not to renew the contract after the expiration of its present term. But to show how desperate Jonathan was in securing the contract for his friend and personal confidant – Tompolo – he wrote to the National Assembly, withdrawing an earlier similar proposal submitted by his predecessor which sought to create a coast guard comprising of all the security agencies to man the country’s maritime domain. But why should he not, when NIMASA presently pays Tompolo’s GWVSL N49m weekly for vessel hired by the agency?

The Nigerian Debacle

We have heard over and over how the Nigerian system rewards honest labour with hardship and award criminal endeavours with the juicy contracts and patronage which only feather the nest of cronies.

Fellow militants who didn’t labour (killed) as much as Tompolo weren’t rewarded as much. I pity men of the Nigerian Military who daily sacrifice their lives for nothing. I hope Abubakar Shekau will not be given the same ‘heroic’ welcome whenever he leads his comrades-at-arms to accept the amnesty proposals of the Jonathan-administration.

Nigerians must realize that voting for Jonathan come 2015 is a vote for more money in the hands of those who have wronged and robbed Nigerians of our God-given resources.

Despite the huge amount being paid to Tompolo, Nigeria’s Maritime Domain has been less secure. Crude oil theft has reached an all-time high, threatening Nigeria’s income. Coordinating minister of the economy last July, lamented the alarming rate at which Nigeria’s income from oil was being depleted due to oil theft and bunkering. Tompolo’s militant colleague, Asari Dokubo has threatened to destroy Nigeria and march his opponents’ bullet for bullet, bomb for bomb, and missile for missile if Dr. Goodluck Jonathan isn’t re-elected in 2015, because only his stay in office will guarantee Tompolo’s business which will in turn guarantee continued oil bunkering and theft in the Niger-Delta.

RUMBLES OF WAR

September 6, 2013

ST. PETERSBURG, Russia (AP) — President Barack Obama is using his last day in Europe to renew his quest for foreign support for a U.S. military strike in Syria. But three days after he left Washington, it’s unclear whether the global coalition the president has been seeking is any closer to becoming a reality.

China’s a firm no. The European Union is skeptical about whether any military action can be effective. Even Pope Francis weighed in, urging leaders gathered here to abandon what he called a “futile mission.”

Still, Obama was undeterred. As the president pressed his case on the world stage, he was dispatching his U.N. ambassador, Samantha Power, to a Washington think tank to argue that the global community cannot afford the precedent of letting chemical weapons use go unpunished.

A key status update was to come Friday when Obama, his diplomatic dexterity pushed to the max, will be quizzed by reporters in the waning hours of the Group of 20 economic summit in this Russian port city. Meanwhile, the White House was assuring allies it was seeking diplomatic and political support for a Syria strike — not necessarily direct military involvement.

A jobs-and-growth agenda awaiting world leaders gathering at the ornate Constantine Palace quickly gave way to intense posturing over Syria — at least on the surface. The leaders served up Syria as dinner conversation Thursday at the suggestion of the summit’s host, Russian President Vladimir Putin.

A fleeting interaction between Obama and Putin became the high-drama moment of the summit, underscoring the labored state of relations between the two leaders who stand on opposing sides of the Syrian conflict. Russia has steadfastly backed Syrian President Bashar Assad — militarily, economically and diplomatically — and disputes claims that Assad’s regime was behind chemical attacks that the U.S. says killed more than 1,400 Syrians. Other estimates are lower.

In public, at least, the Russian and the American were all smiles Thursday, making small talk in front of news cameras for a few seconds as Obama arrived at the summit. But the welcoming handshake may have been where the pleasantries ended.

Putin’s spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, said a U.S. strike would “drive another nail into the coffin of international law.” Meanwhile, the Kremlin said Russia was boosting its naval presence in the Mediterranean Sea, moving in warships “primarily” for a possible evacuation of Russians from Syria.

Before his scheduled return to Washington late Friday, Obama was to meet with French President Francois Hollande, his strongest ally when it comes to Syria, and Chinese President Xi Jinping. He also planned to meet with Russian lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender activists, calling attention to another area of disagreement with Moscow.

Even at home, there was far from a consensus that an American strike on Syria was the best course of action. Awaiting Obama upon his return was an equally fractious debate in Congress over whether to authorize the limited military action he was proposing.

Pulling out all the stops, Obama was working the phones from Europe and appealing for support from leery lawmakers, Democratic and Republican alike. And he called off a planned trip to California next week, opting to stay in Washington to keep up the pressure on Congress to say yes.

As top national security officials continued to brief Congress on the accusation against Assad and the proposed response, a measure authorizing Obama to act was advancing tenuously through the Senate, winning approval from a foreign relations panel Wednesday and heading to the Senate floor. The measure’s prospects were dicier in the Republican-controlled House.

“We’re very pleased with the trend lines,” Ben Rhodes, Obama’s deputy national security adviser, said.

The fierce domestic debate over a Syria strike offered a prelude to grueling days ahead as Obama and Congress brace for major clashes over the nation’s finances, immigration and other pressing issues. When lawmakers return next week from their annual summer recess, Syria will compete with critical, looming deadlines to raise the nation’s borrowing limit and approve spending to avoid a government shutdown.