Jonathan vows to clamp down on oil thievesGoodluck Jonathan (2010-present), Oil Politics, Presidency Tuesday, July 24th, 2012
President Goodluck Jonathan on Monday said that his administration would do everything legally possible to clamp down on crude oil thieves, pirates and other criminals operating along the nation’s waterways.
Jonathan made the remarks at a presidential maritime security retreat with the theme, ‘Harnessing the Potential of Nigeria’s Maritime Sector for Sustainable Economic Development,” held at the Banquet Hall of the Presidential Villa.
He said, “It is extremely embarrassing that it is only in Nigeria that crude oil is stolen, it is bad news and I believe that Nigerians and foreigners who indulge in that act need to throw their heads under the pillow.
“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.”
“We will be decisive in putting an end to this malaise. Our charge to all relevant agencies and departments of government is to work cooperatively with the required urgency this challenge deserves,” he added.
The President said the maritime sector was incorporated as a major component of his administration’s transformation agenda because of its importance to national growth.
He said the sector facilitated approximately 90 per cent of world trade, created millions of jobs and generated billions of dollars in economic output.
He said, “The sector, to say the least, is a major engine in our national growth strategy. Our maritime industry helped to enhance our position as a regional leader in several areas.
“Besides improved prospects in traditional sea-related activities such as fishing, shipping, ship-building and repairs, agriculture and tourism, the sector is a major hub in offshore oil exploration and production activities and will remain so in the foreseeable future.”
“Given its importance in the national economy, we have an uncompromising obligation to safeguard our territorial waters against all threats: poaching, piracy, pipeline vandalism, coastal insecurity, crude oil theft, illegal bunkering, non-payment of statutory levies and charges, illegal entry of ships into our territorial waters, illegal importation of arms and hard drugs, among other sundry crimes.
“Even though it is generally known that the West African coast has the richest fishery resources in Africa, our inability to take advantage of our endowment has been attributed to inadequate law enforcement and industry capacity.
He also said the cost of piracy to the nation’s economy was unacceptably high. “Pirates frustrate fishing activities and threaten investments in the West African Coast; higher insurance premiums and charges on ships sailing along the Gulf of Guinea impact negatively on our economy and image,” he added.
The President said, “Similarly, pipeline vandalism and crude oil theft result in serious loss of revenue to government even as maritime environmental degradation from such disasters affect our people and well-being.
“Government is determined to reverse this situation. We will protect our natural resources and ensure their sustainable use for the benefit of present and future generations.”
Jonathan also said the Maritime Operations Coordinating Committee, which comprised all maritime agencies, Ministries of Transport, Finance and Justice was already working to address all illegalities in the maritime domain.
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