Oil theft serious threat to Niger Delta, Diri warns
• Receives, assures FG team of Bayelsa’s collaboration
Governor Douye Diri has assured of Bayelsa State’s collaboration to tackle oil theft, which he stressed, poses a serious threat to the Niger Delta region.
Speaking in Government House, Yenagoa, when he received a Federal Government delegation, led by Minister of State for Petroleum, Chief Timipre Sylva, the governor regretted that the menace had negatively affected the environment and image of the oil-rich area.
He canvassed urgent actions against the economic crime in the interest of the region and the nation at large.
Diri lamented that oil theft, which also affects government at all levels, has denied the locals their means of livelihood, stressing that if it is not stopped or reduced drastically, the implications would be grave.
Recalling how the Chief of Defence Staff (CDS), Gen. Lucky Irabor, had talks with governors on the same issue, the Bayelsa helmsman welcomed collaborative efforts between the states and the Federal Government to tackle the menace.
He promised the team that his administration would play its role in ensuring that the problem is effectively tackled.
Diri said: “The Federal and state governments largely depend on oil. So, oil theft does not affect only the Federal Government. It affects us as a state government and the local governments. We have spoken about this over and over, and we will continue to say it.
“We are talking about our environment that has been brazenly polluted through oil bunkering activities. If you go to our communities, you will see oil floating on our rivers, and that has led to the locals not having a means of livelihood. It has led to unknown diseases and sicknesses.
“There is a spiral effect of oil theft that is going on in the Niger Delta, and it affects the communities and the people. So, I welcome you and I assure you that we will collaborate to ensure that oil theft is brought to an end.”
In his remarks, Sylva said the delegation was in the state to seek partnership to end oil theft in the Niger Delta.
He noted that stealing of the black gold was going on at an alarming rate, and should no longer be allowed, given its negative effect on Nigeria’s economy.
The minister decried that production has been badly affected, which is also having a negative impact on foreign investments in the country.
Also speaking, the CDS explained that he military had heightened operational engagements to end criminal activities in the region.
He acknowledged that the activities of oil thieves were bleeding the nation, warning the perpetrators to halt the sabotage or face military clampdown.
Group Chief Executive Officer of Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited (NNPC), Mele Kyari, said the country was facing a dire situation that is not just affecting the economy, but also the environment.
He stated that the importance of collaboration to address the challenge cannot be overemphasised, adding that only one tier of government could do it alone.