Hon. Kingsley Kuku
By Ndubuisi Francis
The Special Adviser to the President on Niger Delta and Chairman of the Presidential Amnesty Programme (PAP), Hon. Kingsley Kuku, has accused the international oil companies (IOCs) in the Niger Delta of not showing enough transparency in the process of award of their pipeline surveillance contracts.
Kuku said such contracts tended to emasculate the communities and the Niger Delta people from the process of securing critical infrastructure in the region.
He argued that there was the need for the communities and the Niger Delta people to be commensurably involved in the process of securing the oil pipelines.
“The IOCs also have to show more transparency in the process of awarding such contracts. I’m not referring to the NNPC pipeline surveillance contracts, which have been suspended. We know those behind these contracts before they were suspended. But can we say the same for the contracts awarded by the oil firms to secure their pipelines? Who are the organisations and individuals handling such contracts?” Kuku queried in a statement issued by PAP's Head, Media and Communications, Mr. Dan Alabrah.
He recalled that Shell had last year declared that it spent $1 billion on securing its facilities globally; 40 per cent (about $400 million) of which it claimed was spent in the Niger Delta.
“Where was such a huge amount spent when the company had greatly divested its investment onshore and offshore? When converted to naira, $400 million is more than the annual budget for the amnesty programme. So, who are the companies or individuals handling their security contracts? These are questions the oil workers should ask their employers rather than disingenuously pointing accusing fingers at the amnesty beneficiaries,” he said.
“What is happening is a conspiracy between international buyers of the crude and some highly-placed individuals in tandem with those with the technical know-how in the oil firms to siphon crude through ruptured pipelines and large vessels. When you consider that the theft is also carried out in the deep sea oil locations, you will agree that the ordinary Niger Delta people do not have the sophistication and technical expertise to rupture those pipelines nor the high-grade vessels to cart away the stolen crude,” he added.
Kuku said the federal government, working with some of the states in the region, had commenced security, legal and other steps to address the ugly trend, even as he expressed the hope that very soon, “the gaping hole through which the Nigerian economy is being bled daily by economic saboteurs will be plugged.”
On the allegation by oil workers that beneficiaries of the Presidential Amnesty Programme for ex-agitators in the Niger Delta were involved in the crude oil theft, Kuku stated that having been properly disarmed, demobilised and currently undergoing reintegration through various training programmes, the former agitators lacked the capacity to embark on the scale of oil theft in the region where the country currently loses about 400,000 barrels of crude per day.
“...The incidence of oil theft is actually a setback to the amnesty programme, which had succeeded in ensuring the stabilisation of security in the region,” he said while commending the security agencies in the Niger Delta, particularly the Nigerian Navy, “for almost wiping out cases of illegal refineries in the region.”
The statement said Kuku did not raise a false alarm nor was his recent call on the oil companies to look inward in their search for the culprits misplaced, as claimed by some of the oil workers’ unions in their reaction to his indictment.
Kuku maintained that with the steps taken so far, President Goodluck Jonathan had shown that he has the capacity and will to address the issues affecting the Niger Delta.
“What I said in Washington about Mr. President remains a fact as he has shown time and again that he is the best person to address the Niger Delta situation being someone from the region. I have no apologies for this position because I’m convinced that he means well for the region and our nation. He only needs the support of well-meaning Nigerians.”