The Delta State Governor, Dr. Emmanuel Uduaghan, has said the international community cannot be exonerated from the criminality of crude oil theft in Nigeria.
Speaking on Tuesday at the commissioning of 30 gunboats procured by the Defence Headquarters for the Joint Task Force (Operation Pulo Shield) in Yenegoa, Bayelsa State, Uduaghan observed that 80 per cent of Nigeria’s stolen crude are exported for use by refineries outside Nigeria.
He said: “Over 80 per cent of the stolen crude is exported and refined outside Nigeria.
“The international community needs to cooperate with Nigeria to wipe out crude oil theft.”
Uduaghan said the military cannot do the job alone.
The Governor, who was the special guest of honour at the event, said the international community must join in the collective efforts to check the increasing menace of oil theft in the country.
He said that President Goodluck Jonathan was committed to wiping out crude oil theft, pipeline vandalization and other criminal acts bedeviling the nation’s economy, urging everyone to join hands to solve the problem.
He said: “This crude oil theft requires the participation of all of us.
“Some of the people who are involved in the crude oil theft and pipeline vandalism are our brothers, our friends and in some cases, our heroes.
“We must be involved in the engagement of the people involved in these activities for them to desist from the criminal acts.”
Uduaghan said the vandalization of pipelines was impacting negatively on gas supply to power plants, which in turn has reduced available power supply in the country.
He stated: “President Jonathan has done a lot in the power sector.
“More power plants have been completed during his administration more than any other administration.
“But the challenge we have now is sabotage to our gas pipelines.”
Uduaghan commended the military for its fight against crude oil theft and pipeline vandalism, reiterating that the gunboats would boost the operations of the JTF in the Niger Delta.
Also, he thanked the military for its commitment to checking insurgency in the North East part of the country, noting that President Jonathan was committed to making Nigeria safe, peaceful and devoid of criminal activities.
The Governor used the occasion to call for the re-election of the President Jonathan in the Saturday’s elections, saying that he means well and will continue to work in the interest of Nigeria as an indivisible country.
In his address, Governor Seriake Dickson of Bayelsa State thanked President Jonathan for equipping the military, which has made it to be more proactive in carrying out its functions.
Apart from the warships recently given to the Nigerian Navy, Dickson said: “With these gunboats, the capacity of members of JTF to check the activities of criminals will be enhanced.”
Earlier, the Chief of Defence Staff, Air Chief Marshal Alex Badeh, thanked President Jonathan for his support for the Nigerian Armed Forces, stating that the boats would be deployed for the economic interest of the country.
“We want peace to prevail, so trouble-makers should be warned, criminals should desist from their unpatriotic acts,” Badeh said, adding that the fight against insurgency and criminal activities was yielding the desired results.
The Commander, JTF, Operation Pulo Shield, Major-General Emmanuel Atewe, stated that the JTF through cooperation from the riverine communities was winning the war against crude oil thieves.