President Goodluck Jonathan has vowed to intensify the Federal Government’s efforts to stamp out crude oil theft in the Niger Delta region, promising to deal decisively with anyone caught in the criminal activity.
The president, who spoke at a presidential retreat on the maritime sector with the theme, ‘Harnessing the Potential of Nigeria’s Maritime Sector for Sustainable Economic Development’, at the Presidential Villa in Abuja yesterday, said that the rising incidents of illegal oil bunkering had decelerated economic development and was causing embarrassment to the nation in the eyes of the global community.
Jonathan’s threat came in the wake of revelations that the country loses over N2 trillion annually to foreign countries through capital flight, as a result of the inability of indigenous ship owners to fully participate in lifting over 150 million tons of cargo from the country, including crude oil exports.
Jonathan, who lashed out at both Nigerians and foreigners crude oil thieves, added that they will have no place to hide as his administration was determined to fish them out and bring them to justice.
According to the president, oil thieves should “throw their heads under the pillow” in shame, for their nefarious activities.
“It is embarrassing that it is only in Nigeria that crude oil is stolen. It is very bad news and I believe that Nigerians and foreigners who indulge in the act need to throw their heads under the pillow because all over the world it is only in Nigeria that crude oil is stolen.
“We are not the only oil producing country why is it that it is only in Nigeria that people steal crude oil? This must stop and we will be decisive in putting an end to this malaise.
Turning to the maritime sector, Jonathan said: “The sector without doubt, facilitates approximately 90 per cent of world trade with Nigeria, creates millions of jobs and generates billions of dollars in economic output. The sector, to say the least, is a major engine in our national growth strategy.