By Vincent Kalu
President of Arewa Consultative Youth Movement and Convener Association of Northern Youth Groups, Mallam Kabiru Yusuf, has warned of the dangers of politicising the recent wellhead blowout and spillage incident involving the OML 29 Well 1 platform, Nembe, Bayelsa State, which is operated by Nigeria’s largest indigenous oil firm, Aiteo Exploration and Production Company Limited (AEEPCO), a Joint Ventures project with the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC).
According to Yusuf, when on November 5, AEEPCO reported a major oil leak from its well, which was spewing oil into the immediate water bodies and contiguous communities and fumes in the air, Aiteo activated technical containment measures and quickly invited highly competent foreign based technical experts with experience of managing emergencies of this nature to help arrest the situation. The firm, he said, “has since mobilised to ground zero and has fully deployed measures to contain the leak including an effective fast-track spill recovery programme.
“In addition to this, has been high level, community targeted measures that has been providing provide relief and health related support to those immediately affected.” Yusuf noted that for some incomprehensible reasons, several forces have equally deployed their armaments to smear and damage not only the image of Aiteo, but also its quite considerable efforts. “From peddling specious information that the spill has led to losses in excess off two million barrels, some have alleged that over 500,000 barrels were spilled, while some have suggested stupendous loss of some 200,000 barrels daily.”
He pointed out that the Director General/Chief Executive Officer, National Oil Spill Detection and Response Agency (NOSDRA), Idris Musa, who spoke last week on a national TV show, said, “it is absolutely wrong and preposterous for people to make false speculations over the oil spillage in Nembe communities of Bayelsa State.”
According to Yusuf, this attack is “a disgracefully organised conspiracy to put down Aiteo. Despite efforts by Aiteo to professionally contain the spill in Nembe, some see this incident as an opportunity to attack the company. Some interests are even, curiously, putting out old spill videos to create a negative false impression of the extent incident. “It certainly cannot be overstressed that what is playing out appears like well-choreographed intrigue at work to undermine Aiteo and besmirch ongoing efforts to contain the leak and mitigate the impact on communities around the location of the well.”
He accused the Bayelsa State governor Douye Diri of demonstrating a disturbing disposition towards this issue.