The presidency has ordered the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) to discontinue payment for the provision of platforms for security of the nation’s waterways to Global West Vessel Specialists Nigeria Limited (GWVSNL), New Telegraph has learnt. The move is meant to channel the money paid to the private firm to strengthen the Navy and marine police to secure the nation’s waterways.
A source at the Federal Ministry of Transport (FMOT), who does not want his name in print, disclosed this to our correspondent in Lagos yesterday. The $103 million (N21 billion) maritime security contract was approved by former President Goodluck Jonathan and awarded by NIMASA in 2011, shortly after the Director General of NIMASA, Patrick Akpobolokemi, was appointed to head the agency.
A former Niger Delta militant, Government Ekpomupolo aka Tompolo allegedly owns the company. New Telegraph learnt that the payment had been stopped since June. He said that the Permanent Secretary of the FMOT, Mohammed Bashir, had directed Akpobolokemi to halt payments for the controversial maritime security contract until further notice.
The source noted: “It is difficult to believe that former President Goodluck Jonathan would hand out the security of the nation’s entire maritime domain to his kinsman under the guise of public-privatepartnership (PPP).
“It was certain that such a contract would not stand the test of time. It was a matter of time and like the pipeline security contracts awarded by the same regime, its time is over.” Former Senior Special Assistant to the President on Maritime, Mr. Leke Oyewole, said he was not aware of this development. He said: “Honestly I have not heard anything like that.”
Oyewole, however, advised the Federal Government not to go back the old ways when NIMASA was handling the water security. He noted that ever since GWVSNL was in charge of providing platforms for security on the nation’s waters, there had been an improvement.
The All Progressives Congress (APC) had before it came to power kicked against the contract. Last month, pioneer Chairman of the Board of NIMASA, Alhaji Tijjani Ramalan, alleged that GWVSNL was paid N1.5 billion monthly by NIMASA to execute the contract. He lamented that despite the huge payment, the country is still losing more than 400,000 barrels of crude oil daily to oil thieves.
The former NIMASA Chairman called on President Muhammadu Buhari to cancel the contract. Ramalan said: “Over 400, 000 barrels of crude oil are being stolen daily from our shores under President Jonathan yet we had a government that had the Navy, the Army and the Air Force, and the government of Jonathan decided to handover the security of our maritime waters to the company at a very exorbitant amount of money.
“And these same people that were given the job of our maritime security are the ones that are collaborating with the international shipping companies to steal our oil.” The former chairman of NIMASA said that one of the ways to help the country’s economy bounce back was to revoke the contract.
“And if Buhari does not do so, we will be the first to start attacking him. There is no basis to give that kind of billion naira job to ex-militants,” he had declared. Contacted for his response, NIMASA’s Deputy Director, Public Relations, Mr. Isichei Osamgbi, failed to respond to enquiries sent to him via the Short Messaging System (SMS) and e-mail.
He also failed to respond to calls made to him by phone. Last month, the Federal Government had also cancelled pipeline protection contracts awarded by former President Jonathan to the Oodua People’s Congress (OPC) and Niger Delta militia group. The Federal Government ordered the Nigerian Army and Navy to take over the pipeline protection from the ethnic militiamen.