Oil was discovered in commercial quantities in Nigerian in 1956 at Oloibiri, in the Niger Delta region. Since then Nigeria has been substantially dependent on the black gold, as it is famously called. The cocoa farms, groundnut pyramids, oil palm plantations and rubber plantations disappeared from the South West, North, South East and Midwest respectively. Instead of the regional capitals of Ibadan, Enugu, Kaduna and Benin City being the dispensing centres of wealth and opportunities, Abuja became the new bride and all the grooms abandoned the old capital cities. How has Nigeria fared as an oil producing country?
Section 16(1) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended) provides that “The State shall, within the context of the ideals and objectives for which provisions are made in this Constitution (a) harness the resources of the nation, and promote national prosperity and an efficient, a dynamic and self-reliant economy; every citizen on the basis of social justice and equality of status and opportunity (b) control the national economy in such manner as to secure the maximum welfare, freedom and happiness of every citizen on the basis of social justice and equal of status and opportunity (c) without prejudice to its right to operate or participate in areas of the economy, other than the major sectors of the economy, manage and operate the major sectors of the economy”
It is a notorious fact that Nigeria has been a big disappointment in the management of its natural resources. Recently, illegal tapping points on a flow-line directly linked to a “secret” export terminal were discovered by a private security firm contracted by the Federal Government. We are informed that these illegal tapings and looting have been going on for more than 10 years, with the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (now Ltd), the Nigerian Navy, the Nigerian Air Force, the Nigerian Army and the State Security Service claiming lack of knowledge about it. This is a cock-and-bull story. I do not buy it. Nigerians are not fools to know who the thieves are.
With modern technology, no vessel can enter and leave the Nigerian territorial waters without the security agencies, the Nigerian Ports and the Nigerian Customs being alerted within minutes of its arrival. The illegal pipelines discovered, the huge vessels and the sophistication of the loading facilities are not hidden and can only be done by big thieves known to the monitoring agencies. Few days ago, another illegal pipeline was also discovered and there is a promise that more discoveries will be made in the coming days. It has been estimated that the cost of crude oil stolen for the past ten years will not be less than Five Trillion Dollars. Convert this sum to naira; many will be ready to curse those that have been looting our commonwealth. For the past few years, Nigeria has not been able to meet up with its OPEC daily quota of about 2 BPD, which was never the case before. Infact, Nigeria always had more than enough to export. Nigerian economy is in shambles.
The Niger Delta communities are polluted and their natural habitat destroyed. In sane countries, the Service Chiefs, the Chairman and Managing Director of the Nigerian Ports, the Comptroller General of the Customs, the Group Managing Director and Board members of the NNPC Ltd would have been sacked immediately. Many arrests would have been made, not leaving out the IOCs who were also fully aware of the looting. Sadly, nothing has happened and as usual, this sabotage will pass on and we would move to the next story line. It will be difficult to convince a Nigerian that Government does not have knowledge of the oil thieves. The only thing President Buhari can do, if he truly loves this country, is to expose the oil thieves and prosecute them. No friend, no foe, where the interest of Nigeria is at stake. Nigeria is bleeding from corruption. PANDEF led by Chief E.K. Clarke has also condemned the looting but it should go beyond that. The poverty level of the Niger Delta people is terrible, whereas, their wealth is being looted without any commensurate investment in the people and their environment.
We must stop the looting by the gatekeepers of our commonwealth. Was late Fela Anikulapo-Kuti, the great Nigerian of global fame, not probably right when he titled one of his hit songs, Authority Stealing?
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