Niger Delta stakeholders have advised President Bola Tinubu to calm down, study, and discern the real issues before churning out orders concerning oil theft.
Recall that last week, President Bola Tinubu, in Abuja, had directed Service Chiefs, Heads of Security, and Intelligence Agencies to “crush” oil thieves.
According to the stakeholders, this is not the first time a Nigerian President would be giving such a directive, but the worry is how he expects service chiefs to stop oil thieves when top military officers are among the oil cabal sponsoring illegal oil refining and crude oil theft.
The stakeholders said if Tinubu truly wants to confront oil theft, he must decide to step on powerful toes.
If Mr. President’s answer is confirmatory, they advised him to identify, expose, and penalize top military officers, including Army, Police, Airforce, DSS, Navy, etc (both serving and retired); Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPCL; International Oil Companies, IOCs; and politicians involved in crude oil theft.
After exposing and punishing the rotten eggs, the President should rejig the security architecture, the stakeholders added.
They also hinted that some highly placed government officials from the Villa where Tinubu governs from colluded with the oil cabal in the past governments.
They said oil thieves use technology to steal crude oil; therefore, the country must apply technology to prevent oil theft, not repairing pipelines after they had breached.
Former General Secretary of the Nigeria Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers, NUPENG, Chief Frank Kokori, said: “The President is the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces, but Nigeria presidents have not been serious, they handle security issues with kid gloves.
“There are many corrupt elements in the security agencies; we only have less than 20 to 25 percent of good Nigerians in the security agencies that are patriotic.
“Tinubu is going to face them, and like the oil cartel and subsidy that have been wasting our money; he should be able to tackle them.
“There is a cabal, I am not a security man, the security people know who the cabals are; they know them. The cartel is powerful, and the government knows them. It is just that people like former President Muhammadu Buhari did not have the will to pursue them. He just allowed everything to go haywire in the country.
“If Tinubu gets the cooperation of the whole Nigeria, he will win the fight against oil theft, and let him punish some persons.
“Big men in Nigeria hardly go to prison, do you not see what happens abroad? They lock up former presidents.
“There are no big men in Nigerian prisons, only petty thieves. They only detain them for some weeks, and then they buy their way through with their big lawyers.”
A retired Brigadier-General of the Nigerian Army, Sam Oviawe (retd.) told Saturday Vanguard in Benin City: “I do not think President Tinubu needed to give any order because the sole responsibility of the military is to ensure the safety of the people and the land of Nigeria.
“I think he was playing political games, and he tried to shift the blame, I did not expect him to declare that in public, he could have written an order to them, which they cannot deny, but talking to please the crowd does not help matters.
”However, he has said that, but for the actual actions, it will surprise me if he gives them the support they will require.
“I do not know what the challenges are now, but I have a feeling that it is the political will to do what is right that has been lacking. Let us take, for example, Boko Haram and Sambisa forest; I am ashamed as an army officer that for 10 years in a land that we call our own, we cannot dissipate a gang of rascals.
“Sambisa Forest is in Nigeria, so we have all the maps to find out what is happening and we should be able to generate enough intelligence from the people, from using electronic gadgets to locate the people where they are exactly, and above that, we can completely isolate that place.
“The people will die of hunger, but we did not do it because the political people wanted it to persist. I believe some people were making money from it, therefore, the longer the thing stays, the more they will make.
“It is not surprising that the former Head of State found it challenging to give an order for their dissipation. Just like I said, you can come to the public and make pronouncements, but when it is time for action, and out in black and white, they will shy away, all because his folks were involved.
“It is the same thing with the South-South, those terrorizing people our people are people who live amongst us. Therefore, we know them but because of political reasons, our governors and our traditional rulers do not take the actions they are supposed to take.
“If, for instance, the military gets the support they require, it will not take over two weeks to clear Sambisa Forest with the military we have.”
On the connivance of security personnel, Oviawe stated that: “It is very possible because a tanker cannot come to a point to steal oil, and military people around there will not know. Even bunkering, before someone can go to the high sea to deliver oil to a ship, people around will know.
“But they are afraid to act because they have not been given specific instructions, at other times, some of them might do under-the-table business and they close their eyes. The lack of proper education seems to have fuelled the attitude.
“The British, when they came here, taught us how and what, but they did not tell us the why. Why did they do that, they wanted to block our thinking capacity, they told us if we press this switch, this light will come on, but why the light should come on, they did not teach us.
“Therefore, if you press the switch, and the light did not come on, we do not know what to do. In school, they taught us to memorize things, but we did not know the practical details of what we have learned.
“Even in religion, they teach us what they say is in the Bible, but they do not go further to tell us why that is in the bible. The day our government agrees that education is our problem, and we restructure our education system and teach our people who we are; why we are what we are, Nigeria will change, and it will happen.”