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Zik Gbemre Criticizes Retired General Over Linking Insidence To Oil Bunkering

A Social Critic in the oil rich Niger Delta Region Zik Gbemre has blasted Rtd General Tajudeen Olanrewaju over his comment linking the killing of Soldiers in Okuama Community, Ughelli South Local Government Area of Delta State to oil bunkering and implored him to just shut up if he had nothing good to say about the Region.

According to the Social Critic, the ex-General must be hallucinating, describing his comment as diversionary, childish and bias and made it clear that Okuama Community has no oil and gas assets.

In a recent statement, Major-General Tajudeen Olanrewaju (retired) had come under fire for his comments on the need for enhanced military presence in the Niger-Delta region, particularly in Delta State, to protect crude oil and gas assets. He emphasized on military solutions and infrastructure development has been labeled as “childish bias” and “ignorance” by critics.

He advocated for the deployment of constitutionally recognized military institutions to safeguard the region’s resources, drawing parallels with models employed in countries like India and Venezuela and stressed the importance of protecting crude oil zones, platforms, and offshore assets through new strategic policies and laws.

But Zik Gbemre, has pointed out that Olanrewaju’s proposal lacks a crucial element of inclusivity and community engagement. He argued that the retired general focuses solely on resource protection without addressing the issue of empowering and involving the local communities in the management and operation of oil and gas assets.

He held out that of particular concern is the underrepresentation of natives from oil-producing communities in decision-making roles within oil companies and the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC).

The Social Critic questioned the ownership and operational control of oil and gas assets in Delta State, highlighting the need for greater inclusion of educated young natives in key positions within the industry.

Zik Gbemre called for a more comprehensive approach that not only focuses on security but also addresses the socioeconomic development and participation of indigenous people in the industry, adding that the failure to prioritize the employment and empowerment of local community members in the oil and gas sector has raised questions about the fairness and equity of resource management in the region.

“The question to Olanrewaju is, who owns most of oil and gas assets? Who operates the oil & gas assets in the Delta state? Agreed few violent militants are given multi-billion surveillance contracts to safe guard the oil and gas assets? Who are the illegal bunkerers?

“You, Tajudeen Olanrewaju, talked about military guarding assets without the security and welfare of the natives. All you are interested is the mining and production of the natural resources of the people. How many of our young educated locals/natives that are working in NNPCL and the oil companies apart from operations support jobs, surveillance jobs, gate keeping jobs, grass cutting and house keeping jobs?

“My experience regarding marginalisation of the natives of the land where these crude oil and gas are being produced in my home town of Iwhrekan community in Ughelli South is bad, very bad. The oil companies apply ‘divide and rule’.

“I know of a simple catering contract by a native of my community that was terminated because someone who is a stranger is interested in it. Most of the military officers they post to man oil installations are contractors of oil companies in collaboration with personnel to cheat on the locals. Who are the big illegal bunkerers? They are connected to the military officers and security operatives,” Gbemre said.

Zik Gbemre also raised serious allegations against the military, accusing them of aiding and abetting illegal bunkering activities instead of safeguarding oil and gas pipelines and facilities. The activist, who played a key role in combating illegal bunkering in the Utorogu Assets Right of Way Pipeline in Ughelli South LGA, described what goes on in the region as a culture of corruption and collaboration between security operatives, politicians, and oil companies in the region.

According to the Social Critic, efforts to combat illegal bunkering were met with resistance from some military officers stationed in Delta State, who allegedly sought to profit from illicit activities rather than uphold the law. He highlighted instances of intimidation and divide-and-rule tactics employed by certain entities to undermine his work in protecting oil assets and preventing environmental degradation.

He expressed pride in his voluntary efforts to safeguard the environment and oil resources in Delta State, emphasizing the need for sincerity and transparency in addressing the root causes of illegal bunkering. He pointed to a lack of inclusive employment practices in the oil and gas sector, with key decision-making roles often filled by individuals from outside the local communities.

Zik Gbemre also directed his criticism at the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) and oil and gas regulators based in Lagos and Abuja for overlooking the employment of local natives in the industry and instead favoring the relocation of personnel from other regions. He questioned the fairness of such practices and warned that attempts to deploy military forces to suppress dissent and secure oil assets through force would only exacerbate tensions and lead to further conflict.

“As debates over the role of the military in the Niger-Delta region intensify, concerns have been raised about the need for genuine dialogue, community engagement, and sustainable solutions to address the socioeconomic challenges and environmental degradation plaguing the area. Calls for accountability and inclusive practices in the oil and gas sector continue to resonate among local residents and activists seeking lasting peace and prosperity in the region”, he said.

“If Major-General Olanrewaju has nothing to say then he should keep silent. He should advise his brother President Bola Ahmed Tinubu to withdraw his army of occupation from Okuama community in Ughelli South LGA of Delta. Burning down of the Okuama community will further heat up the already tensed environment.

“You can’t use petrol to quench fire rather than it will increase the fire. Killing of Okuama Community locals should stop and let them build peace in Okuama community. No person is talking of the illegal invitation of the soldiers to Okuama that were killed? No person is talking of the burnt down community houses of Okuama by Soldiers.

“No one is talking of Okuama people that are being killed. No person is talking of displacement of Okuama locals. No one is talking of those who invited soldiers to Okuama. No person is talking how to provide relief materials, medicines and shelters to the innocent locals who are displaced from their home village.

“What peace mission are the military referring to? What peace mission is Major- General Tajudeen Olanrewaju referring to?

“As narrated by Michael Egi in online statement,” The Nigerian Army are available for rent at the right price for wealthy individuals. They go on these private missions on the cover or uniform of their service. One of the military officers killed in Okuama Major Obi is the Platoon Commander in Utorogu Gas Plant, sent there to guard the plant, but rented himself and some members of his platoon out on an illegal private mission to Okuama community of Ughelli South LGA.

“These soldiers were not on officially assignment at Okuama. Their official assignment was Utorogu Gas Plant”.

“The military shouldn’t mixed up the killings in Okuama to illegal bunkering. Okuama has no oil and gas assets. It is embarrassing that President Tinubu has not visited Okuama community to see for self the level of destruction by the soldiers in Okuama community in Ughelli South LGA of Delta State.

“Major-General Tajudeen Olanrewaju (retired) statement is a ploy to divert from the burning issues at Okuama community in Ughelli South. It is aimed to twist the killings in Okuama community to illegal bunkering. What has illegal bunkering got to do with the killings and burning down entire village of Okuama?

“This propaganda of connecting Illegal bunkering to the killings of soldiers, killing of Okuama community locals and burning down of the entire community must stop”, Zik Gbemre stated further.

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