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FP surveillance: Promoting national interest over personal angst

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Eraskorp Nigeria Limited

I read the publication of Eraskorp Nigeria Limited (“Eraskorp”) in the media titled: “Trans Forcados Pipeline Surveillance Contract and Ocean Marine’s macabre dance” and I felt inclined, as a son of the Niger Delta region, to lend my voice to the issue in the interest of peace and stability in the region.

My decision is personal and has nothing to do with the All Progressives Congress (APC) Grassroots Youth for Change, a movement, over which I preside as national coordinator.  

The proposed award of the Trans Forcados Pipeline (TFP) surveillance contract by the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) to Ocean Marine Solutions (OMS) is in the national interest and quite significant; and, I have noted that Eraskorp, which lost the contract to ineptitude that resulted in serious breaches on the TFP in 2018, has raised issues over the proposed contract.

That Eraskorp decided to raise issues over NNPC’s decision to terminate the contract is understandable. Any entity would be disposed to do so to save face.

But in exercising its rights to ventilate its displeasure, Eraskorp should not have resorted to unconscionable insinuations and smear campaigns targeted at damaging the reputations of the NNPC and OMS.

It is important to situate the angst of Eraskorp in the context of the validation provided by the NNPC for terminating the TFP contract.

The NNPC had said that under the watch of Eraskorp, there were security breaches on the TFP, which culminated in the loss of 11 million barrels of crude, which was equivalent to $800 million.

The NNPC and other stakeholders in the matrix, namely the Joint Venture Partners and the Federal Government of Nigeria bore the huge loss.  

In a December 3, 2018 statement issued by the NNPC, the Corporation said stakeholders had to cough out a whopping $32 million to embark on repair and clean up of the damaged pipelines while Eraskorp was exempted from concomitant liability due to the nature of the contract.

Consequently, the NNPC had approached the OMS, which had successfully secured the Escravos-Warri and Bonny-Port Harcourt pipelines on a proof of concept basis, involving utilitarian engagement of community participation model, to help it protect the TFP by replicating its success story on the pipelines where no losses have been incurred. That is the validation that Eraskorp has tried, unsuccessfully, to pooh-pooh.

The deliberate action of trying to damage the process of re-awarding the TFP surveillance contract to OMS is unpatriotic. 

Smear campaign to blackmail the NNPC into maintaining the status quo over the TFP surveillance contract so that stakeholders in the matrix would continue to pay for its (Eraskorp’s) inefficiency and the attendant revenue losses is condemnable.

Clear responses had been issued by the NNPC and OMS in self justification. First, the Corporation had explained that, contrary to Eraskorp’s claim, due process was adhered to in the proposed re-award of the TFP surveillance contract to OMS. 

The NNPC had said that the same steps and procedures that were followed in the award of all pipeline security contracts, including the award of the TFP surveillance contract to the old contractor (Eraskorp), were adhered to.

The insinuation by Eraskorp that the proposed TFP surveillance contract is “a deal widely perceived as a serious dent on President Muhammadu Buhari’s anti-corruption war,” is therefore an irresponsible and jejune attempt at fickle and feeble blackmail of the NNPC and OMS.  

Second, the OMS does not like to hug the limelight. But, it has had to embark on this necessary media action to alert Nigerians to the smear campaign as well as deliberate misconception, misconstruction and misrepresentation of its identity, mission and vision by Eraskorp.

Therefore, I consider the current attempts by the Chairman of OMS, Captain (Dr) Idahosa Wells Okunbo, to tell OMS’ success story and to defend its reputation and integrity as necessary in order to put a lie to the orchestrated falsehoods that Eraskorp is concocting on a daily basis about the company and his person.

Indeed, I cannot see any desperation, as alleged by Eraskorp, on the part of OMS to enter into a contractual relationship with the NNPC on the TFP surveillance.

What I see, however, is circumspection by OMS to ensure that prevailing concerns are addressed before it signs the proposed TFP surveillance contract with the NNPC. And part of the necessary steps to take in the intervening period is to put the records straight and clear the rash of misconceptions with which Eraskorp had populated the media space.

How that responsible and responsive counter action has become “cheap blackmail”, as claimed by Eraskorp, is ludicrous If NNPC’s claim that 11 million barrels of crude oil (equivalent of $800 million) were lost in 2018 under Eraskorp’s watch of the TFP is what Eraskorp referred to as cheap blackmail, I wish to disagree with it on that score.

The loss is a serious matter and I call on the Federal Government to direct the relevant agencies to investigate the circumstances in which the loss was recorded under Eraskorp’s watch.

The investigation will serve to prove or disprove widely-held perceptions that the huge losses were due to oil theft and illegal bunkering. And to that extent, the degree of Eraskorp’s complicity in the breaches to the TFP and perceived unholy collusions with close or distant allies in the perpetration of the acts of economic sabotage in the matrix will have to be resolved either in favour or disfavour of Eraskorp.

It is not just enough for Eraskorp to say that OMS is clutching at straws by repeating NNPC’s perceived redundant falsehood that it (Eraskorp) was responsible for the loss of the 11 million barrels of crude oil.

Eraskorp would have done well to provide facts and figures in terms of numbers and financial implications to counter the NNPC narrative.

In the absence of that, the onus is on Eraskorp to prove that 11 million barrels, equivalent of $800 million, were not lost and that the stakeholders did not spend $32 million to repair the damaged pipeline and do a clean-up.

To be continued tomorrow

• Prince Orlu, is youth leader and political activist, wrote from Port-Harcourt


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