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What We’re Doing To End Crude Oil Theft –Wilson, ex-Niger Delta Agitator, Tantita Coordinator



By Enyeribe Ejiogu

Pastor Reuben Wilson is a chieftain of the All Progressives Congress (APC) and was the Coordinator, The Asiwaju Group, South-South during the 2023 general elections.

Wilson is a senior ex-Niger Delta agitator now crusading under the aegis of Tantita Nigeria Limited, a special purpose vehicle established by Government Oweizide Ekpemupolo (known by his nickname, Tompolo), and contracted to provide security for the petroleum pipelines.


In this interview, he speaks on the first year of President Tinubu in office as well as the recent tribunal judgement on the Bayelsa election.

You’re one of those who fought for President Bola Tinubu to come to power. He has done one year already. What do you think about his performance so far?

Yes. Mr. President has tried his best. As a president, he has done well in his one year in office, especially the roadmap. You will agree with me that even the East-West Road is really, really progressing very well. They are working day and night. I am always on the road and I am seeing what they are doing. I have seen what is going on from the Eleme axis, up to the refinery. They are working, even from Ahoada to the Yenagoa axis. Even in the Federal Capital Territory, some serious works are really going on. So, I give him kudos for the journey so far. The impact so far has been great and people can feel it.

But there is so much hunger in the land, people are complaining and crying?


You are right. I used to tell my people, a lot of people that suffered during the campaign and election that worked for Mr. President are there fighting on how to get appointment. But I used to tell them, getting an appointment is not the result, getting appointment is not the issue for now; if you are being appointed, all those that worked for Mr. President under you will be hoping to get something from you in return. But if you don’t have the resources to take care of those people, then why go there? Are you going there to have an appointment for your selfish reason or for the masses?

The most important thing right now that people are talking about is how Mr. President can stabilize things, especially the stomach infrastructure level. It is really, really hard that people cannot afford food to eat again.

I am saying this because I witnessed it live. I went to the market two weeks ago to buy things myself because my wife always complains that things are too expensive. I said let me go and witness things myself and I went to the market with N300,000. I could not get much from the market. My personal assistant said, ‘Oga the money has gone’. I said yes o, we have not got anything. So people are dying, people are suffering. So there is a serious need for Mr. President to look into this aspect because the cost of things in Nigeria has now increased 10 times.


I am a contractor to some oil companies. When I signed a contract with one of the oil companies in 2012, we were buying fuel for N40,000 a drum of 200 litres. Today, I am buying the same quantity of fuel N345,000 for our engine boats. The money added is about N300,000. So what are we talking about? Things are 10 times what they were before. So Mr. President should look into this thing. My wife is a caterer. Look at cartons of fish, things that she was buying with small money, now the price is 10 times higher. In fact, she complained that she could not carry out the services to people again because the contract value remains the same while the price of materials is ten times higher. So how are you going to cope.

Mr. President should look into this; he should see how he can stabilize the economy of this country so that the common people, the masses will not regret voting him into power. But for now, people are dying. Mr. President will not understand, the people in Abuja; the senators will not understand. The House of Reps members will not understand, those in the Villa will not understand what people are going through. You can only understand what is going on when you go to the market. Go to the market yourself, if you enter yourself then you know that khaki ‘no be leather.’

For those who worked for the president during the election, but who are still clamouring for appointments, I need to let them know that a true leader must fight for his people and not for himself. If you don’t fight for your people, then you are not a leader. So the most important thing here is how Mr. President can do something about the cost of things. If we continue this way, believe me, there are people that will sleep and they will not wake up because of hunger, they will sleep and won’t be able to stand up the next morning.


A friend of mine told me something the other day and I felt really sad, I nearly shed tears. He said he went out but when he returned home around 9 o’clock, someone was knocking at his door. When he opened the door, the person was saying ‘please I need garri if you have, even if it is two cups, let me manage with my family; I don’t have for my family to eat.’ He entered his house and asked his wife if there was garri in the house; the wife said yes, but very little. He told her to bring it. So, he gave the garri to the man and also gave him the sum of N5000 with him.

If I open my phone, you will see messages of people making various requests: ‘please can you help me with N2000 let me buy garri, people are asking for N1000, people are begging. That is what Nigerians are going through.

Mr. President is a good man, we believe in him and we know he can do it. Like me, Reuben C. Wilson, I believe in him. That was why I took up his cross on my head. The whole South South states, there is no state that I did not touch with my people, no state that I did not spend millions for his campaign and election. In fact, during the flood, we were soaked inside the flood waters from Ahoada to Yenagoa. My people were inside the water because of him. But today, I am not talking about appointment. The major thing that we want Mr. President to handle is the economy; the cost of things. We really need changes in that aspect so that people can feel his impact, if not, I am telling you, we don’t know where we are going and I know Mr. President is capable of fixing things so that Nigerians can smile again.


Let’s talk about the activities of Tantita. You are working in partnership with Tantita and Tompolo to secure the creeks and stop oil bunkering. Where are we now? Crude oil theft we understand is still on the high side?

Tantita as a security company has done credibly well. In fact, Tantita has brought back the Niger Delta face to shape now. If you want to talk about oil theft, the thing was really bad. But as I am talking to you we have a good result and kudos to Tantita, which is the only company that has that strength, the courage and the ability for the task. You know the chairman of the company is one person that doesn’t talk. People that go to the media everyday, it is very hard for such people to succeed when they are doing things. But this is a man that you hardly hear his voice in the media. He doesn’t talk but he is doing his work quietly and efficiently.

Tantita is working. Like in Bayelsa State, Joshua Maciver who is the coordinator has done credibly well under Tantita. We have seen results. Kojo in the Nembe axis has done credibly well, we have seen results. In Delta, same thing, we have seen results, they are working. All the sections are working and there are tangible results. In Omoku, they are working. In Imo State, my friend, Igwe is working well. In Rivers State, all the clusters too are working. I was sent down to Rivers State to also join hands with those who are working; I mean Tantita. Those coordinators in the clusters, I was sent to join them, and since I came too, work is going on smoothly.


What is your worst experience?

My worst experience was early last month when my people went to a place called Ker to destroy the illegal refinery there. Ker is in Akuku Toru. So, when my guys got there to destroy the illegal refineries, gunmen appeared and were firing shots at the military for almost two hours. There is an Army gun boat attached to me. I also have Civil Defense people. But thank God no one was injured because God knows that we were on a right movement, doing what will benefit Nigeria. Nobody got injured but the shooting was too much. I have the video clips, because my media people were capturing the event, when the thing was on. That was a bad one. If not for God we would have lost over 20 persons; but God in his mercy protected our people and no one was injured. I happen to be the coordinator of a special team in Rivers State. I don’t have boundaries. I go across the states.

I also have advice for the bunkerers; a serious advice. You see one thing, we are all law abiding citizens of this country and if Mr. President says let’s stop this thing, why can’t we have a break? If you have boys, it’s right for you to approach the Tantita office and say ‘see I was a bunkerer, but right now since Mr. President has given the order that we should stop, I want to stop; but please also engage me and my boys, we also want to work.’ The office will look into it. We are not happy destroying things, we are not happy burning boats, we are not happy destroying what they spent millions to build. This illegal refinery, some spent N10, 15, 20, 30, N50 million. We are not happy destroying those things, but this is an order from Mr. President; we need to carry out the directive and our people should understand and give peace a chance.


I was in the creeks when the former late President, Umaru Yar’Adua said he wanted us to accept amnesty and we listened, we obeyed. We came out. Today we are alive, we did not die, we have freedom. The most important thing in life that a man will seek to have is freedom. Freedom is the highest thing in life. So, I am pleading with my people to understand and give peace a chance and leave the business of illegal bunkering. When they said we should accept amnesty, all of us were thinking of how we were going to survive. But today, all of us are surviving. Even if we have no money, we are surviving. So they should give peace a chance. I am pleading with them, I am just begging for all the bunkerers in the Niger Delta region to give peace a chance. I am begging.

Tompolo is not a bad man. People should listen and stop doing these things. The worst thing is, you will destroy the illegal refinery today and the next day, they will go and buy plates again to weld and start another camp. Haba! Some of the illegal bunkerers have left the business and have joined Tantita to work and are being paid salaries. Even if they will not get what they were getting before, at least they have freedom. So there is a need for our people to understand. Tantita is ready to engage people, they are ready to engage the community leadership, women leaders, youth leaders, chiefs, like that.

A new administrator is now in place at the Presidential Amnesty Office. You played a major role in the removal of the man that was there. What do you think of the current administrator?


I will stand here to tell you today that Dennis Otuaro is doing very well. The man that was there, you will not believe that that man, after getting that appointment, he never called the people that fought to bring the amnesty office. He does not know us; he was there as a tyrant, as if he knew how that office came about; someone who was not in the struggle. Thank God, Mr. President listened to the cry of those that suffered for him and Otuaro was appointed.

Otuaro relates very well with the leaders. Most times he calls me as well as other leaders and we will cross fertilize ideas. Otuaro is doing very well because he was part of the struggle. He knows everything about the Niger Delta struggle. He was part of the struggle, from beginning to the end. I know he is going to set a new positive record.

So, are you saying that the dignity, the integrity, the original intent of the Amnesty Office have been restored?


I am telling you, it’s 100 percent. I have said it here, that he was also part of the jungle, he was in the struggle, not someone that stayed abroad. He was down in the creeks; so I am telling you, the Amnesty Programme is back in shape. Just give him a few months and you will see what will happen.

Can you set an agenda for Otuaro?

What I will want him to look into are those people that have not been trained. In each camp, we have followers. A lot of them have been trained and some have not been trained. I want him to look into that aspect very well. And again, we have a lot of lapses like in the second phase and third phase; they are complaining that they have made some changes. I will really want him too to look into the educational sector of the programme because our people need to go to school. He should really look at that aspect, how they can go to school. Those that want to go for other training programmes, he should make sure they go to those training sessions. Those are the main factors. I will also use this medium to plead that he should relate with the authorities; how we can bring out the pockets of bad elements that are still in the creeks. I think he has the power to discuss with the authorities on how we can still bring out these people, talk to them, and how they can allow peace to reign on the waterways. Those are the major things.


Our mothers, our wives that do trading and ply the waterways are really going through a lot because of all these pockets of criminals, the sea pirates. Tantita has helped a lot in that area though. Because of Tantita, sea piracy is reducing because we are always patrolling with the military men. But I want him to look at this aspect seriously too.

He should also think about the welfare of the leaders. Yes we have him and we know he will do it. He can talk to the authorities, talk to Mr. President about the leaders under this programme.

We have been getting this same N65,000. You know, as a commander, as a leader of the group, it is not okay again, under this economy.


The election petition tribunal recently dismissed the petition of Chief Timipre Sylva of the APC, your party, for lack of merit. How did that get to you?

It was sad news, it was very sad, but I want to tell you one thing today; I don’t talk much. I am a party man, I was in PDP before I left the party for APC. When I joined APC, I was coordinator Southern Ijaw for David Lyon’s election in 2019 and in Sylva’s election, I was still coordinator, Southern Ijaw for the election, which we did well and we won that election.

During the Bayelsa State last governorship election, APC won that election, but God knows how it happened and they announced Diri’s name as governor-elect of Bayelsa State. I am not condemning someone’s government, but I believe that Sylva would have done more than Diri. The APC government would have done better than what PDP is doing, Yes. Bayelsa State is a small state, I mean the state capital, it’s very small. Go and see, compare it with other states that are doing roads everywhere. Go and see Bayelsa State.


During the campaign and election period, they tried as if they wanted to fix some roads. After everything, the roads are there as they were. Nothing is happening. Even my street, my own street too, nothing is happening, Ken-Kaiama Street nothing is happening. But they did as they wanted to work on the road. They said they have awarded a contract for the road, but after the election everything died down.

The N20,000 they were paying to people at the unit level and ward level, where is the money? I told them, I said this money is for the election; after election, you won’t see it again. Today, it has happened. After the election, no money, they are not paying anything to anybody. Some of my people will call for assistance and I will say ‘ah ah what about the N20,000 they were paying you nah? They said ‘oga nothing after the election.’

So that election, we won it and by the grace of God, we will still get our mandate back at the Appeal Court. We will get it. What the tribunal did, I don’t want to say anything about that but they know what they did. But I have that belief that we will get it right. Sylva will be the governor and Maciver will be the deputy governor of Bayelsa State because we won that election and we must take it back by the grace of God. I know that.


Douye Diri is not a bad man. I don’t have any issues with him but I am saying the right thing. I am a party man and we won that election. So the court should know what to do. They are aware that we won it; that election was won by APC, they should give us our mandate.

I am not happy going to Yenagoa, I am not happy because I don’t see any reason to go there because nothing is going on.The PDP members are the ones even crying, that they are hungry, they want to die, no food. The PDP people are crying more than even the APC people. Diri is not a bad man but the problem is, what is he really doing? We have not seen his impact but he is a good man. It’s better for those that understand the business to take over. Sylva understands governance. Sylva is someone that plays with everybody. A good man must go to the street to play with the street boys. If you don’t go out to play with street boys, you won’t know what is going on.

But the former President, Goodluck Jonathan after that election said he would have relocated his mother from Bayelsa State to Abuja if Sylva had won?


Yes, he said it and I condemned it then. I said it was wrong for a statesman to make such a statement. We have so much respect for him. The world has so much respect for Goodluck Jonathan but when that statement came out, a lot of people were wondering if it really came from the former president? He is very educated, a very sound good man that was not supposed to come out with such a thing but he did, and I asked a question then; while he was president, a lot of things happened under his watch. Did anybody remove their relatives from Abuja? As a president, Abuja was attacked, was he responsible for that attack? The answer is no. Who ran away from Abuja? Nobody. People were still there. Under his watch, a lot of things happened. People can come out and say it; destruction, bombing here and there, he was not the one that did those things, even though he was the president. I don’t know what Sylva did that the former president could not forgive Sylva. He fought Sylva till he removed him as a governor. He brought in Seriake Dickson. Dickson even insulted him. Oh yes, as a governor, Dickson insulted Goodluck. But this man that he removed as a governor never did that; he kept respecting him till date and he said he wanted to fight the man till the day he dies. Well, power belongs to God and it’s God that gives power not human beings.

But were you shocked when you heard that judgment on Monday?

I was not because I knew that would happen, I even told my people. I said I am not expecting any good thing from this tribunal. But we will get it, I am telling you, we will get judgement from the Supreme Court.


Do you have faith in the Court of Appeal?

Court of Appeal too I don’t really know. But everything is in the hands of God. But at the Supreme Court, we will get it right. I also know that even the Appeal Court will do the right thing. And if they don’t. the Supreme Court will; but I believe that the Appeal Court will do the right thing.

(This interview was originally published by Daily Sun)

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