By Jimitota ONOYUME
PORT HARCOURT: FEDERAL government has been told to set target for the Joint Task Force on the crusade against illegal bunkering operations in the Niger Delta region.
National Industrial Relations Officer of PENGASSAN Comrade Chika Onuegbu who spoke in Port Harcourt at a workshop organized by a non-governmental organization, Space for Change said there was need for government to set timeline to reduce oil theft for the JTF in the region.
According to him, the security body could be told to achieve seventy percent reduction in crude oil theft as a way to assessing its performance. Onuogbu who spoke on the topic, “Escalating crude theft and the petroleum industry bill: examining the operability of community surveillance of oil installations,” said it was not enough to just fund the security body without setting measures to assess its performance.
Chika who said the nation loses about 250 thousand barrels of oil per day said the ugly situation was already a threat to the nation’s economy and national security. He further urged the federal government to act fast to reduce illegal bunkering operations in the region.
“This level of oil theft is a very serious threat to our national security and our democracy as people who are making such humongous amount of money can destabilize both our democracy and our National security. The experience of Columbia, Afghanistan and other countries where criminal gangs have established organizations should prompt the federal and state governments to act very fast before the situation gets out of hand. Also the painful damage to the environment due to crude oil vandalisation and oil theft cannot be overemphasized. The eco-system of the Niger Delta has been greatly violated and unfortunately this aspect of the cost of crude oil theft has not been given sufficient attention.”