The leader of the Pan-Niger Delta Forum, Chief Edwin Clark, has defended the pipeline surveillance contract awarded to the former militant leader, Government Ekpemepulo, popularly known as Tompolo, saying there is nothing wrong with it.
Last month, the Federal Government announced the award of a N48 billion contract to the ex-militant to monitor pipelines, to check the menace of oil theft in the Niger Delta region.
The situation had received mixed reactions among Nigerians.
In a statement on Sunday, Clark warned Nigerians against interfering in the activities of the oil-rich region, saying there should be no further bickering and disorder in any part of the Niger Delta to enable the people to focus on the big picture of sustainable development.
“The unpatriotic elements should realize that there is nothing wrong in awarding contracts to any capable Niger Deltan, especially to protect oil and gas assets that are situated in their backyards,” he said.
“Similar contracts have been awarded in the past to individuals, I do not understand, therefore, why the Tompolo case is made to look as if it is the only one.”
“The beneficiaries of the contract are bonafide sons of the Niger Delta, who are committed to the peace and stability of the region and the country.”
The elder statesman also expressed satisfaction with the Bayelsa State Governor, Douye Diri, in the manner he handled the tension generated over the awarded pipeline surveillance contract to Tompolo.
Meanwhile, Governor Diri and the leadership of the Ijaw National Congress jointly resolved the disagreement among Ijaw sons over the oil pipeline surveillance contract.
A peace meeting to settle the feuding parties was convened at the instance of Diri, who presided over the parley alongside the President of the INC, Prof Benjamin Okaba, in Yenagoa at the weekend.
The meeting also constituted a five-member monitoring committee to follow up on the successes of the parley in the interest of peace, unity and stability of the Ijaw nation and indeed the Niger Delta.