The Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) is set to confer a national merit award on the former militant commander in the Niger Delta, Chief Government Ekpemupolo, alias Tompolo.
According to the national leadership of the NUJ, the honour is in recognition of Tomplo’s contributions to the prevailing peace in the Niger Delta and the success recorded in the war against crude oil theft and pipelines vandalism being spare headed by the ex-commander of the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND).
National President of NUJ, Chief Chris Isiguzo, made these revelations, during a visit to Tompolo at Oporoza Community, Warri South West LGA, Delta State, during the weekend.
He said the formal presentation of the award to Tompolo would take place during the forthcoming annual conference of the association in Abuja, in February.
Isiguzo led some national leaders of the association , including National Secretary, Mr. Shuaibu Usman Leman, as well as state and local chapter leaders of NUJ to the meeting.
Isiguzo, while briefing Tompolo and his aides, said in arriving at the decision, the NUJ profiled the activities of the former militia, especially his involvement in the restoration of a lasting peace in the region.
Isiguzo said Tompolo contributed largely to the relative peace in the hitherto war-ravaged oil-rich region.
Also, Isiguzo hailed Tompolo for his relentless commitment to put an end to the menace of crude oil theft, pipeline vandalism and other sharp practices associated with exploration of crude oil and production as well as transportation of petroleum products.
According to the NUJ president, Tompolo, through the instrumentality of his pipelines surveillance company, Tantita Security Services Limited (TSSL), the nation’s waterways have become a nightmare for criminal elements and economic saboteurs.
Isiguzo recalled some giant strides recorded by TSSL under the leadership of Tompolo in the manhunt for the oil buccaneers and illicit oil barons along the nation’s waterways especially the recent arrest of MT Kali, illegally siphoining crude oil from Pennington Oil field of the Anglo-Dutch energy giant, Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC) in Bayelsa State.
Isiguzo admitted that with the patriotic zeal of TSSL in the pursuit of the oil thieves, the nation’s crude oil production was on steady rise, adding that this development “is ultimately pushing the nation on the path of sustainable economic recovery and prosperity.”
Isiguzo said the NUJ aligned with other stakeholders within and outside the country, who have poured ecomiums and accolades on TSSL and its operators for satisfactorily performing its oversight functions over the surveillance and protection of the nation’s economic assets.
He said, “Chief Government Ekpemupolo, alias Tompolo, the NUJ has profiled your activities and we are impressed by your patriotic zeal to ensure that Nigeria works again by your pursuit of those pilfering the nation’s oil wealth. The NUJ is glad to note that crude oil production is gradually on the rise and we can meet the OPEC quota with ease. With more revenue from additional crude oil production, we can have more money to run our money.”
“The NUJ also acknowledges the prevailing peace in the Niger Delta for which you have played pivotal roles. For these significant contributions you have made towards the nation’s growth and development, the NUJ has decided to honour you with one of our prestigious awards.”
“We are here to formally intimate you about the decision by the NUJ to accord you this well-deserved honour. To demonstrate the seriousness attached to this engagement, I have with me the National Secretary, Mr. Shuaibu Usman Leman as well other leaders of the NUJ from the state council and Warri chapter of the association .”
“We seize this opportunity to also formally invite you to the investiture and presentation of the awards during our national conference in Abuja in February,” Isiguzo added.
Responding, Tompolo, who was joined to receive the NUJ delegation by a former member of Bayelsa State House Assembly, representing Southern Ijaw Constituency 4, Chief Macdonald Igbadiwei and his Media Adviser, Dr. Paul Bebenimibo, expressed gratitude to the NUJ for the honour accorded.
The ex-militant leader said he was elated that a strategic stakeholders in the Nigeria project such as NUJ has recognised and appreciated his contributions to national development and singled him out for the award.
Tompolo assured the NUJ and Nigerians that the award would spur and trigger him to do more for the country.
Members of the NUJ in the entourage of the national President include the immediate past Chairman of Delta State Council, Comrade Michael Ikeogwu, a Senior Journalist, Asiwaju Sola Adebayo and Chairman of Warri Correspondent Chapel of NUJ, Mr. Okies Vicky-Okpomor, one of his predecessors and Vanguard’s correspondent, Chief Akpokona Omafuaire, ThisDay newspaper Senior Correspondent, Mr. Sylvester Idowu and Mr. Gbenga Ahmed of Independent Television (ITV), Benin-city, among others.