Director General Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Commission (NIMASA), Mr. Ziakede Akpobolokemi today attributed the struggle for political power in Nigeria including insistence that power must be zoned to certain region to oil money which comes mainly from the Niger Delta area.
The NIMASA chief who spoke at a workshop on Oil Theft in the Niger Delta put together by office of the Special Adviser to the President on Niger Delta and Chairman Presidential Amnesty Programme, Hon. Kingsley Kuku said the discovery of oil in Nigeria has led to nothing but mental laziness.
“It is because of oil money that some people will sit down in Abuja and begin to talk about how to marry under aged children, it is because of oil money that people insist that power must be zoned to some areas”, he said adding that but for what the President is doing , he would have concluded that oil is nothing but a curse to Nigeria. He insisted that Nigerians must begin to think about what they can do outside oil money.
He explained that to suggest that oil theft takes place mainly in the Nigeria Delta is a far cry from reality adding that the small boys who cook oil in the creeks constitutes about five to seven percent of the 400,000 barrels per day (bpd) that is stolen from Nigeria. “Who are the owners of the tank farms”, he queried adding that Nigerians must begin to focus on the real oil thieves which he said are rarely mentioned each time the issue comes up for discussion.
While warning that danger looms as a result of the continued pretence he announced that the President would soon take the bull by the horn and make major decision that will shock many Nigerians.
Akpobolokemi said it is regrettable that people are only interested in discussing oil theft and amount of money the nation is losing to the menace without a corresponding focus on the environment which has been degraded and worsened daily due to the activities of oil exploration, adding that many close their eyes to what is happening because they are not from the Niger Delta.
While referring to the activities of the Joint Task Force, the NIMASA chief said he is averse to destruction of Premium Motor Spirits, Kerosene and Diesel found during JTF operation since they further add to the degradation of the environment. He said such consignment can be resettled in known tank farms.
He called on Shell, Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Chevron, Agip and other oil companies operating in Nigeria and the Niger Delta in particular not to consign themselves to using state of the arts technology to drill oil in the area but also to deplore modern technology to their pipelines to forestall oil theft, vandalisation and bunkering.
Speaking on the challenges in their operation, Commandant of the NSCDC, Dr. Ade Abolirin said that weak legislation has been a major obstacle in the fight against oil theft and canvassed for stronger legislation, moral suasion and community participating in the fight to make oil theft a thing of the past.