Second Term for Tompolo

Second Term for Tompolo

I recall now that moment of frenzy in the year 2015 when General Muhammadu Buhari returned to power, this time, as a civilian head of government. The wild jubilation, the pump and the bravado by party men and women as well as supporters across the land that the saviour had come. The man many expected would solve the problems of insecurity and corruption, so other things could follow. That year even some of the people who did not support his choice for the office of president were expectant, believing that there would be some tough time for the array of corrupt people in and out of government. There were stories that some of the people who feared that they might be called to question over their past activities relocated offshore. Even civil and public servants, unsure of what the new sheriff would do, initially were in a state of suspended animation. The result was that some aides and associates of the president went to town with the narration about the magic of body language.

What happened to our armed forces whose jobs were handed over to some individual who is a kinsman of the then president believed to be unduly enriching cronies? Click To Tweet

Truly, some people surely saw the stars. Ask Olisa Mettuh, former publicity secretary of the Peoples’ Democratic Party, PDP, Patience Jonathan, wife of former president Goodluck Jonathan and Sambo Dasuki, former National Security Adviser to President Jonathan among others. There were also people in the private sector, some of who got ‘pepper sprayed’ for alleged corruption. The problem is that this step [of taking on people not based on facts but because they are related or believed to be close to some politically exposed persons] ended up hampering businesses, as some of these persons were later cleared by the court of the alleged corruption charges. One of them is Government Ekpomupolo, otherwise known as Tompolo, commander of the defunct Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta, MEND. He was declared wanted by the new president and the security agencies given the mandate to fish him out. Tompolo went underground [or do we say under the water, so as many times as the presidential goons went in search of him in the creeks what they saw were reflections of themselves from the polluted water in the creeks]. Had he been apprehended then he would have been tried for economic sabotage. In his absence, his company Global West Vessels Specialist Nigeria Limited, GWVSNL was put in the dock until the court said that the authorities failed to establish a prima facie case against the company. By which time some damages had been done, businesses negatively impacted and Tompolo was seen as an enemy of the state or, to put it in another way, one of the parasites latching on the life of the nation. But he probably would be glad that at least his own case had been decided, where scores of others are still pending and the personalities still seen in the image of the corrupt and economic saboteurs. With the freedom of GWVSNL Tompolo, a major shareholder in the company is also deemed to be free, even if there was no official declaration to that effect. Then officials of the government that advertised Tompolo as an economic saboteur, somewhat of a felon, and a crony of Jonathan who allegedly defrauded Nigeria, started to court the former militant. The icing on the cake came in the last days of August (about seven years and two months after he was declared wanted), when the administration handed back to him the contract for marine security it cancelled then claiming it was fishy. The view sold to the public then was that Jonathan gave Tompolo, his kinsman, a contract that the Navy, the Army and the Air Force were capable of doing. So, the ₦1.5 billion (as against the 4 billion now being offered) monthly allowance that was to be paid to Tompolo to secure the oil installations in the peculiar environment of the Niger Delta, according to those in government, would be spent to procure the necessary facilities to enable the armed forces to do their jobs. That sounds like a patriotic argument, except that the expected gains did not materialise. So, over seven years later when the losses of the crude kept mounting, the government ate the humble pie, and gave the contract back to Tompolo. There were no open apologies to Jonathan for playing the ethnic card, nor was there a public explanation prior to the capitulation by the government. The fact remains that in the intervening period Nigeria was unable to meet her quota from the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, OPEC of 1.8 million barrels of oil per day. The peak of what the country got was 1.2 million. Though the authorities say that the country losses 400,000 barrels per day, the belief is that our losses may be higher.

Did they just realise in 2022 that there was an error of judgement in their action in 2015 or pride had stood in the way of good thinking for years? Click To Tweet

Clearly the government must have discovered that it committed an error in 2015, when it cancelled that contract and reinforced its popular campaign refrain that Jonathan, being a kindergarten president, according to Lai Mohammed, APC’s chief publicist, was incapable of taking rational decisions in the interest of all of us. What one can deduce from this action is that the administration of Muhammadu Buhari took that decision in 2015 irrationally, perhaps jumping to conclusion that whatever the former administration did was not to be relied on and since its lampoon of that administration was cheered all through the campaigns, it felt safe to continue to rule on propaganda. The victim of that arrogance is Nigeria.

Mele Kyari, Group managing director of the Nigeria National Petroleum Company Limited said GWVSNL went through due process and that the authorities are satisfied that it was the company, along with some others, that is capable of providing the needed service. What happened to our armed forces whose jobs were handed over to some individual who is a kinsman of the then president believed to be unduly enriching cronies? Were the necessary security facilities bought for the armed forces to operate? Is it that the authorities discovered later that the creeks are rather too dangerous for our security personnel to navigate? Where did the fund that we freed then from the sacking of GWVSNL go to? Has anybody been sanctioned for leading President Muhammadu Buhari to take a wrong decision? Or was the decision taken in spite of glaring evidence that the first contract was awarded in good faith?

This is a classic case of decisions taken without looking at facts dispassionately in public interest. It is similar to the ostrich approach employed by the Buhari government on the oil subsidy issue. It is therefore proper to conclude that the Buhari administration threw away the wisdom of national interest in 2015 because of the disdain for Jonathan. Did they just realise in 2022 that there was an error of judgement in their action in 2015 or pride had stood in the way of good thinking for years? How many of this kind of decision is the country suffering from? How much have we lost in national revenue from the error of judgement done out of sheer personal vendetta?

The former leader is having the last laugh, but the country is weeping from the damage caused by that decision in 2015, which has taken seven years to redress. The economy has been the worst for it. Click To Tweet

It would have been unimaginable that any outfit remotely connected to Tompolo would be considered for any job by this administration, least of all the same contract that was cancelled with pomp and pageantry, in fact one of the first decisions taken by the administration on assumption of power. The former leader is having the last laugh, but the country is weeping from the damage caused by that decision in 2015, which has taken seven years to redress. The economy has been the worst for it.

Were Tompolo to be a chief executive elected by the people, this reinstatement would be like returning to office for a second term. But his first name is “Government”, and so the gods must have seen something in his stars before giving him that name thus making him return to “power” as it were for a second term. Perhaps the event of 2015 would be regarded as an impeachment, and that is often the political weapon of the opposition to which the government turned itself. The difference here is that we are not told if this is a tenured job, and we do not know how long Tompolo will reign.

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