Apparently rattled by the fact that a startling N995 billion was lost last year to large-scale oil theft in the Niger Delta, Nigeria’s main oil and gas region, a prominent Ogoni king in the Rivers State axis of Southern Nigeria says security chiefs should be held responsible for the huge rip-off.
A report commissioned by the Nigeria Natural Resource Charter (NNRC), a non-governmental organisation which provides policy options to guide governments and societies in their use of natural resources for maximum and sustained returns for citizens says that huge amount ended up in private pockets.
The report indicates that the value of total losses suffered by Nigeria through the various methods by which oil is stolen from the region is higher than the current combined allocations for health and education in the 2018 budget.
The combined allocations for health and education amounts to N894 billion, which translates to a mere 8.4 per cent of the estimated value of losses from oil theft two years ago.
Shocked, the Chairman of the Ogoni Council of Paramount Rulers, High Chief Barisi Kpaama said, ‘’If the DPO and JTF Commander are in support of the boys carrying out the theft, who are you to go against them?”.
He was speaking after the Zonal Director, National Oil Spill Detection and Response Agency (NOSDRA) in Port Harcourt, Cyrus Nkangwung, blamed the rise in oil bunkering in the region on the unavailability of petroleum products at the rural communities.
The Ogoni king and NOSDRA were at a roundtable organised by the National Coalition on Gas Flaring and Oil Spills (NAGGOND) to seek sustainable alternatives to oil theft and the so called illegal refining further noted that corruption among security agencies was also energising the menace in the Niger Delta.
‘’The heads of security agencies in the communities involved in the illegal refining have compromised and are abetting the culprits, therefore, they should be disciplined to serve as a deterrent to the locals’’, the Ogoni king said.
But for Nkangwung, ‘’Investigations shows that there is no presence of government or access to the products in the rural communities, they do not even have where to get kerosene or diesel from, whereas the illegally refined products are accessible and cheaper.
‘’Security agencies should not destroy the illegally refined products alongside the environment. It is a good thing that the government is now building tank farms to store the recovered products rather than burning them and further polluting the environment’’.