Some pipeline security and surveillance contractors under President Goodluck Jonathan have written an open letter to President Muhammadu Buhari on the need to settle the debt the past government was owing them.
The letter made available to NewsDay on Monday was signed by the contractors who included the company names under which they secured the jobs.
They are Dr. Fredrick Faseun – New Age NIG. Ltd; Otunba Gani Adams – Donyx Global Concept Ltd; Alhaji Asari Dokubo – ATEF Nig. Ltd; High Chief Bibo Pere Ajube – Galery Security Services Ltd; Chief Joshua Machiever – Bajeros NIG Ltd; High Chief Omo O. – Close Body Protection Ltd and Izon Ibe Security Ltd
On assumption of office on May 29, Buhari kicked against the award of pipeline security to groups by Jonathan administration, insisting that the development undermines the duties of the Nigerian Navy.
Buhari, expectantly cancelled the contract few days after he assumed office.
But the contractors in the statement argued that they were in possession of valid and duly signed contract agreements with the management of the NNPC to protect the pipelines for a period of three months.
“Up on till now, the public perception of the NNPC Pipeline Security and Surveillance job was that former President, Goodluck Jonathan gave the job to the contractors on the platter of politics,” they noted.
The letter reads in full: “For the purpose of clarity, it should be noted that the contract was signed between the contractors and the management of the NNPC, an agency of government, as a way of finding lasting solutions to the incessant problem of pipeline vandalisation across the country.
“The terms and agreements of the contract were formulated and drafted by the management of the NNPC and was duly signed by all the parties, including the contractors and the legal department of the NNPC after several meetings and consultations.
“It is also necessary for the public to know that, against widely held belief that the contract was terminated by the Federal Government, it should be noted that the contract indeed ran its course, which was a period of three months, starting from March 15, 2015 and ended June 15, 2015.
“It is our belief that the contract agreement between the NNPC and the contractors is a public document and therefore can always be accessed by any member of public.
“At the same time, what we are demanding from the NNPC is for it to redeem its own part of the contract agreement and should not be seen as a favour and handout to any individual.
“By this, we have resolved that by the end of this month, if the NNPC fails to redeem its contractual obligation and refuse to pay us, we would be left with no choice but to take them to court , an action which we think may not do the credibility of the government any good because it is a case based on contractual agreement that was legally signed by a parastatal of government.
“It is also important to know that within the period of the contract, all the contractors experienced one form of loss or the other, either financially, death, physical injuries, or in most cases all the losses.
“It is on record that in the South West and South South, more than eight staff were killed by the vandals in their desperate bids to gain access to the pipelines, while more than 60 of our men received various degrees of injuries.
“Even as we speak, the bodies of one or two of our men killed by vandals are still lying cold in the morgue.
“As part of the efforts to monitor the activities and effectiveness of our men, each of the contractors submitted a weekly report to the NNPC and every month had a meeting with the management of NNPC at the Mosinmi Depot to evaluate events around the pipeline sites and take proper action where they are necessary.
“While we are determined to explore all peaceful and diplomatic avenues to get our dues from the NNPC, we once again want to plead with the management of the NNPC, the Federal Government and indeed President Muhamadu Buhari to ensure that all the contractors get paid for the services rendered to an agency of the Federal Government.
“Going by his promise to serve Nigerians irrespective of ethnic or religious inclination, we believe that President Muhamadu Buhari would use his good office to intervene in this matter in order to ensure that justice is done.
“As an important and foremost parastatal of the Nigerian government, we appeal to all those behind this obvious injustice being meted to us for answering a national call to serve father land.
“Your Excellency, we decided to toe this line of action because of our firm belief in your promise during your inauguration ‘to belong to everybody and belong to nobody’.
“Sir, we continue to believe in this highly spiritual promise made by you despite insinuations in some quarters that the delay in the payment by the NNPC may be politically motivated.
“However, we would like to repeat and let it be known and understood that failure by the NNPC to pay its debt to us, we would be left with no other choice but to seek legal redress in court.
“It is not in doubt that since our men left the sites after the expiration of the contract period, the pipelines have become porous and unsafe, leading to an increase in the activities of the vandals, who for obvious reasons are now having field days in their dastardly activities.
“While it disturbing that the price of oil has continued to fall in the global oil market, making rubbish of government’s budgets, but it is even more disturbing that vandals are allowed to steal what ordinarily would have made up for the shortfall as a result of the fall in price.
“Perhaps, the most unfortunate thing in all of this is the attitude of some of our political leaders who do not believe that anything good can come out of our people. Or how do you explain the public condemnation in some quarters when the job was given to the contractors to protect the pipelines.
“But the good thing is that all the contractors executed the job like a call to service and made sure that the activities of the vandals were curtailed significantly during the period of the contract.
“You will agree with us that in a country governed by the rule of law, failure to abide by a contractual agreement is deemed to be an offence which ordinarily should attract the attention of anti- corruption agencies like the EFCC and ICPC.
“We hope that Mr. President and the NNPC will do justice to this letter.”