‘Political, economic elites, Nigeria’s biggest oil thieves’ – Policy Expert 

Experts in public policy, under the aegis of Nextier SPD, have lamented the quantum of financial losses the country incurs as a result of crude oil theft, saying that the bigger culprits are the political and economic elites.

The experts have also said that the incessant award of pipeline protection contracts to non-State actors is a clear case of abdication of state responsibility

These were part of the result of the research by Dr. Iro Aghedo, an Associate Consultant at Nextier SPD and senior lecturer, Department of Political Science, University of Benin, Edo State, and a Managing Partner and Chief Executive at Nextier and an Honorary Research Fellow at the School Government and Society, University of Birmingham, UK, Dr. Ndu Nwokolo.

Recall that currently, Nigeria is faced with the stark reality of the existential threat. As it battles insurgency in the North-East, banditry in the North-West, farmer-herder conflict in the North-Central, and separatist agitations in the South-East and South-West, the phenomenon of crude oil theft has assumed unprecedented dimension in the South-South.

Apart from Abia and Imo States in the South-East and Ondo in the South-West, the remaining six oil-producing States in the country are in the South-South geo-political zone. They contended that despite the amnesty programme, oil theft has continued at an alarming rate in the region. According to the, “The bigger thieves are political and economic elites who use superior technology and experts to drain off about 80 percent of crude oil”.

The experts, however, warned that the Federal Government should not revoke the ₦48 billion for a year pipelines surveillance contract awarded to a company where a former militant leader, Government Ekpemupolo, popularly known as Tompolo, has significant interest.

Those in support of the contract emphasised Tompolo’s familiarity with the terrain, his popularity in the Niger Delta and his experience from the initial pipelines surveillance contract awarded to him by President Jonathan’s administration.

They also recommended that security organisations should be better trained, equipped and held accountable to ensure that they live up to their mandates, including abhorrence of corruption and collusion with criminals.

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