By Debo Akinbami
That Nigeria is exceptionally blessed is a tale twice told; a verity not in the realm of question. On the several fronts, her natural and human deposits beat common dipsticks and princely position her in the comity of states. Her evident human strength, vis-à-vis mental and intellectual wherewithal, is in global acclaim; the same way the country’s profuse earthly endowment makes a faultless fact.
Weirdly, material opulence has often put the most populous African state on contentious mode; among her other natural gifts, oil deposit has particularly left her barraged with varied issues since the country found its first oil spring at Oloibiri, a suburb in Ogbia Council part of Bayelsa State. The oil theme, some ideologues argued, have translated more to curses than blessings, given the way its proceeds and receipts have been managed by the Nigerian State since the oilfield was identified in 15 January 1956.
While oil has put Nigeria on the plane of the world’s petro-states, it has, more often than not, strangely afflicted her with sore worries, some of which have refused to heal up to now. Ordinarily, one would expect that a nation in the class of Nigeria with a tortuous passage to nationhood, one that has since managed to meander through riotous routes in her strive to evolve and barely beat turbulent turns in her march toward tangible growth would be more prudent.
At its peak of boom, the country’s oil affair became the big men’s booty, when Nigeria ought to have saved for hard times; oil wells were shared among czars and their cronies. The putative common patrimony found itself helplessly at the jaw of mortal gods. Oil became synonymous with corruption and attracted all sorts of illicit dealings. Government actors and host communities strove to outdo themselves in sharp practices around it.
Ecological troubles cum governmental neglect of the Niger Delta region resulted in restiveness as serial bloody upheaval took the stage. Worse still, the managing institutions could not account for the harvests. The ugly tide persisted; it birthed a surge of dissidents and sundry rebellious acts within the region. Oil pipelines were freely vandalised, crude oil stolen at will, staff of oil companies abducted, among other acts of malfeasance; these resultantly depleted the size of oil harvest from the creeks and the depth of exchequer; an economy that relies mainly on the pump of oil became badly bruised.
At this rate, the government chose several options, including brutal military interventions with a view to restoring order to the zone, but it appeared none of the strategies was exactly effectual. Successive administrations tried various means; while some yielded tenuous outcomes, others were outright naught. Nearly at government’s wit end, former President Muhammadu Buhari-led Federal government of Nigeria found the political will to entrust the Tantita Security Services with the business of securing the pipelines against vandalism, oil theft and related challenges.
Without prejudice, the narrative has changed since August 2022, when government contracted the surveillance of pipelines; the decision has since checked the usual massive oil theft in the region. Putting Tantita in charge has proven to be evidently resultful. Since the security organisation took over, stories about troubles with oil lines that hitherto headlined national and international news outlets have literarily taken a flight. Instead, success stories have thenceforth emanated from the creeks.
Tantita has since recorded towering leaps; it has unearthed several illegal pipelines in the country and repeatedly captured vessels barring barrels of stolen crude oil. But for Tantita presence, the countless conduits that previously existed as thieving avenues for enriching corrupt individuals in the country would have been preserved to the detriment of the country. Since the new sheriff took charge of the oil lines, meeting up with the 1.8 million barrels crude oil quota per day has been happening with relative ease.
As though possessing a sort of magic, Tantita has clinically exposed hundreds of delibrate oil leakages on major pipelines. It has unwrapped, through diligent surveillance, major fraudulent pipelines linked to deep seas as operated by oil thieves for ages. Tantita discovered a 4-kilometer illicit pipeline along the Trans Escravos line to the chagrin and plaudits of the country. Its interception of vessel transporting stolen crude oil on the sea within the Niger Delta region continues to wow citizens.
By these incredible exploits, Tantita has earned the confidence of Nigerians and the government of Nigeria. That is not to suppose that there are no pockets of criticisms, most of which expectedly emanate from disgruntled persons who have since lost the battle of oil thieving to Tantita’s rare skills. Those who say the Tantita Security Services deserves a national honor for what it is contributing to Nigeria’s economic growth may not be in error, after all. Really, the security organisation should, on the basis of merit, be lauded for its many wins.
Now, the Niger Delta region, the government and citizens have since enjoyed evident calm; illegal pipelines that used to constitute headaches for the country and hurts her economy have become history as a result of the strides of Tantita Security Services. Oil production has since palpably soared and revenue upped for the benefits of all. It is on the strength of its evident performance that President Tinubu should sustain the contract for the organisation whose magic wand has made the bold difference deserves maximum support, so that Nigeria’s economy soars unhitched.
*Debo Akinbami, a Communication teacher, writes from Igboegunrin, Ilaje Local Government area of Ondo State.