OF RECENT, there has been a hue and cry over the cash crunch the federal government is experiencing. Much of the problem has to do with the dwindling revenue from crude oil sales. The problem is made worse by the crude oil theft which has made some oil companies to declare a force majeure because of inability to sustain supply schedules. Apart from the alarm raised by oil companies, the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, actually alerted the nation early in the year that the revenue to the government would decline because of crude oil theft and its attendant pipeline vandalisation. When the government cash cow raised the alarm, many state governments did not react or bother to put heads together with the federal government to find a lasting solution to the problem. The problem was just ignored. But it reared its ugly head at the Federation Accounts Allocation Committee meeting recently, where representatives of the governors walked out on the federal government because they did not get much of the revenue they wanted. If only the continued revenue decline will end by just that sort of walk out, no one will be unduly worried.
But Realnews investigation has shown that the lackadaisical attitude of some of the governors might not be unrelated to their alleged involvement in oil bunkering which has assumed a criminal dimension now. Realnews wanted to get at the root of the crude oil theft in order to find out if the government and its agencies are really serious about tackling the problem. What the reporter who was detailed to investigate the story found, left him dumbfounded. When he recovered his composure, he placed a call to the editor to say “Nigeria is finished”. Why? His reason is the incriminating tale of the oil thieves which involved the high and mighty in the Nigerian political space. He also personally witnessed the collusion between the crude oil thieves and the security agents who are supposed to arrest and prosecute them. The security agents, armed and in uniform, were all at the river bank in a community in Delta State, watching while the crude oil thieves loaded their barges with stolen crude. When his reportorial instincts made him to capture the unfolding events with his camera, the security agents pounced on him and arrested him. He was detained for three hours and was subsequently allowed to go only after they forced him to delete all the pictures he took and the prompt intervention of a good “Samaritan”. But unknown to them, some of pictures were saved in the phone which he tactfully hid. In the cover story this week entitled: Confessions of Crude Oil Thieves Vincent Nzemeke, special correspondent, chronicled life story of some crude oil thieves in Nigeria like no one has ever done before. It is a compelling read. Enjoy it.
— Jul. 1, 2013 @ 01:00 GMT