Oil theft, too expensive, technical for Niger Deltans – Kuku

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Kingsley-KukuAs the country’s revenue continues to dwindle due the activities of oil thieves, the Special Adviser to the President on Niger Delta and Chairman of the Presidential Amnesty Programme (PAP), Hon. Kingsley Kuku, Tuesday declared that the sophistication and financial wherewithal needed by its perpetrators in the Niger Delta were beyond the capacity of the people from the region.

The Coordinating Minister for the Economy and Minister of Finance, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, had recently disclosed that due to oil theft, daily oil production had nosedived to between 2.1 and 2.2 million barrels per day as against 2.5 million barrels projection in this year’s budget. Kuku stated that the technical know-how and financial muscle involved in oil theft were provided by very wealthy and highly placed Nigerians outside the region and their international collaborators.

Kuku, who spoke at a press conference in Abuja, to mark four years of federal government’s proclamation of amnesty for ex-militants and three years of actual implementation of the programme, said illegal refining of crude, which had already been effectively tackled, was what some people from the oil-rich region had the capacity to do.

He said oil theft was a function of supply and demand, adding that it was because the international community was interested in buying the stolen crude that emboldens its perpetrators. He added that no Niger Deltan had the wherewithal to bring in the kind of vessels used in perpetrating the act and position such in international waters with the attendant technicalities involved in the theft as well as demurrage.

“No Niger Deltan has the money to pay for vessels to berth and wait… Currently, no Niger Deltan has the technical know-how and financial muscle to be involved in oil theft,” he said, pointing out that it was due to the realisation that the vice has global colouration that President Goodluck Jonathan had decided to seek the support of the international community in tackling it. The presidential aide lamented that it was disturbing that as much as over 300,000 barrels of crude are lost to the thieves daily, adding that some countries needed just that much to run their entire economy .

He noted that President Jonathan had challenged the Nigerian Navy to rise to the occasion to arrest the trend, adding that the international community and the countries within the Gulf of Guinea must rise up against the vice. Kuku pointed out that if the countries within the Gulf of Guinea which harbour illegal refineries rise up against the theft, the problem would be solved. He also noted beyond checking the theft, the most potent way of nipping negative incidences associated with oil exploration and exploitation in the bud was the active involvement of the people, and called on the international oil companies to do so. Kuku disclosed that the Amnesty Programme had recorded resounding successes in all sphere, adding that the programme which started three years ago already has 30,000 youths under its umbrella.

Kuku disclosed that the programme which terminates in 2015 has already trained over 11,000 youths from Niger Delta in different fields and vocations, regretting that many of them had remained unemployed after their training. The presidential aide, who showcased 22 pilots who had completed their training as full pilots and bagged their Private Pilot Licences (PPLs) and Commercial Pilot Licences (CPL) from the African Union Aviation Academy in South Africa, said they would go to Lufthansa in Germany and other world class airlines for their type-rating.

He also disclosed that 25 others had completed their Masters’ degree programmes from Ivy League universities in the United Kingdom even as he noted that some others in various vocational trainings had been employed and no longer receiving allowances from the Amnesty Office. Earlier, the Technical Assistant to Kuku and Head of the Reintegration department of the Amnesty Office, Mr. Lawrence Pepple, who gave the synopsis of the programme from proclamation till date, described the Amnesty Programme as the sincerest, boldest and most profound effort by the federal government since 1960, to address the age-long agitations in the Niger Delta.

Information from ThisDay was used in this report.