The battle line between Governor Seriake Dickson of Bayelsa and some ex-militant figures in the state has been drawn over a multibillion-naira pipeline surveillance contract awarded by the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC).
Two of the ex-militants accused Governor Dickson of mobilizing numerous traditional rulers in oil producing areas by promising them a chunk of the juicy contract in order to sway them to his side.
Speaking at a meeting he convened on Friday to woo traditional rulers, Mr. Dickson threatened to deal decisively with the ex-militants.
In a statement credited to the governor’s spokesman, Daniel Iworiso-Markson, the state government vowed to deal with the ex-militants according to law.
“Bayelsa State governor, Hon. Seriake Dickson on Friday in Yenagoa had an interactive session with the Chiefs and leaders of Oil and Gas host and transit communities with a threat to deal with any person or group of persons under the guise of ex-militants or whatever names trying to form a parallel government under his leadership.
“Such persons will be dealt with according to the law, using the instruments of the government, adding that, his administration will never succumb to threats and intimidation from any group of persons because of NNPC pipeline surveillance contract,” the statement read in part.
Earlier this week, hundreds of ex-militants had staged a demonstration in Yenagoa, the state capital, to protest alleged moves by Mr. Dickson to hijack the contract meant for residents of oil-bearing communities.
One ex-militant was reportedly shot dead by riot police during the protest led by Paul Eris, aka Ogunboss.
The protesting ex-militants had warned the governor to restrict himself to state funds in administering Bayelsa State, dismissing the reasons the government had advanced to justify taking over the surveillance contract.
The militants also accused Mr. Dickson of diverting huge chunks of the oil derivation funds the state receives on some fancy projects that have little bearing on the development of oil-producing communities. They served the governor notice that they would resist any moves he makes to hijack the surveillance jobs coming from NNPC to oil communities.
The ex-militants declared that it was insensitive of the Dickson government to seize the surveillance contracts under the ruse that it was for the entire state.
“This sort of injustice is very bizarre, and Dickson thinks we are naïve. How has he been spending the derivation proceeds received?” one of the ex-militants asked.
On Thursday night, the Yenagoa residence of Ogunboss bombed by unknown men who hurled explosives, suspected to be dynamite. The assailants then escaped.
Ogunboss told newsmen on Friday that he was targeted in the attack for his stand that the pipeline surveillance job should remain with oil communities.