Eromosele Abiodun and Nume Ekeghe
Following the increase in pipeline vandalism, crude oil theft and the consequent revenue loss for the country, environmental activist and former National Secretary, Ijaw Youth Council, Bristol-Alagbariya Emmanuel, has accused officials of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), the military and politician of complicity.
He explained that reports blaming host communities solely for these ugly acts were not accurate; alleging that incidents of pipeline sabotage increased anytime the NNPC was asked to account or make public the actual figure of the volume of crude oil Nigeria produces.
He further alleged that attacks were being instigated so that the actual figure would not be ascertained, adding that people in the local communities do not have the expertise to steal oil en masse and sell.
Emmanuel stated this yesterday while featuring on The Morning Show, a breakfast programme on Arise Television, the sister broadcast arm of THISDAY Newspapers.
“We have various issues that we are dealing with. We have the act of criminality; we have the act of corruption. NNPC has not been able to declare the accurate amount of oil that is being sold out of the country and also the one that is drilled. They should be held responsible because most of those attacks are instigated by people from NNPC to justify the unaccounted crude Nigerians have been asking them to declare.
“Since they can’t declare appropriately the crude that is being exported, they create justification by masterminding some of the sabotage so they would now tie it to the community and the people and that it is a result in these sabotages,” he alleged.
He described the exclusion of the local communities in oil operations as a major problem to the continuous theft.
According to him, “The non-integration of the local communities to the oil operations and the huge poverty in these communities have been a major challenge. People from outside come in and work with the locals, remember people from outside do not have the expertise to open these pipelines. People from the oil companies are working with these locals and the military men are massively involved. You can imagine the chain of people involved in oil theft. This is the fact.
“It is a multi-dimension situation we are dealing with. You cannot excuse the community from it, NNPC is equally part of it, the military are part of it and the politicians from Abuja are part of it. They own must of those vessels that come to buy these oils from the communities,” Emmanuel further alleged.
He added that the only way to curb this sabotage was to allow the local communities to participate and protect the pipeline, because when there are spillages, it affects the community directly.
Emmanuel explained that as a member of the New Age Initiative, he’s advocating a joint security task force for Niger Delta states to protect the pipelines.
“We are proposing a Niger Delta coastal guard which would employ thousands of people and get local communities involved,” he said.