Nigeria, as presently constituted, qualifies to be named a crime scene. From state-sanctioned insecurity to massive corruption, down to outright abuse of state power. It appears as though Nigeria is fast becoming a banana republic of some sort. With every passing day, a new development occurs, cementing the notion that Nigeria is a criminal state where only crime and criminality thrive.
The anomalies are endless and the situation is rotten and sour.
With no big shot at redemption, Nigeria has continued to crumble, and may very soon become irredeemable.
Ironically, it took recent revelations about the grand schemes of oil theft for many Nigerians to come to the new realisation.
About a month ago, the Chief Executive Officer of the Nigeria National Petroleum Company Limited, Mele Kyari dropped a bombshell when he announced that the government of the day just discovered a loading port somewhere in Niger Delta that had been in operation for over nine years undetected. This loading port had a 4 km illegal pipeline connected to it that ran from Forcados in Delta State down to the sea where the cycle of economic sabotage against Nigeria is rounded up.
The recent discoveries of the magnitude of oil theft going on in Nigeria clearly underscore the fact that Nigeria is a criminal state. How can a country be so blessed yet appear so cursed? A country blessed with huge deposits of crude under its soil yet it remains home to the highest number of the poorest people. Terrible!
Given the magnitude and sophistication of the ongoing crude oil theft going on in the country, it is safe to posit that it is the biggest organised crime in the history of Nigeria as a country. This is a scheme that is perpetrated by people who fully understand that their ugly scheme is not only causing life-threatening environmental pollution, but also causing the government a massive loss in revenue at a time when every dollar is needed to keep the country’s economy above the waters. Oil companies are divesting from the country in the face of revenue losses and the country’s oil industry is now looking like a shadow of itself.
Over the past six years, Nigeria has consistently failed to meet its quota in the global oil market as capped by the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), for reasons ranging from vandalism to a gargantuan scale oil theft. This has impacted government revenues in very debilitating ways. More throbbing is the fact that, at a period when many oil producing countries around the world have been reaping billions of dollars and Euros from the Russia-Ukraine windfall, Nigeria is severely handicapped.
According to industry experts, the quantity of oil stolen in the country daily is well over 100,000 barrels. With a barrel of oil selling for an average of $100 for a better part of the year, it meant an income of $10 million was being donated to oil thieves. The question on the lips of Nigerians in the face of all this is, who are those committing this economic sabotage against Nigeria?
One thing that has been severally reiterated is that oil theft at that scale cannot take place without active connivance with people who control instruments of the state, the protection of regulators in the industry, and funding by the elites. Of course, there is no way a 10,000-tonne barge will move from a point of loading in the creeks down to the sea without being detected. There is surely no way big ocean liners which are deployed to lift stolen crude oil move freely within the territorial waters of Nigeria without being noticed by the Nigerian security team who are paid using taxpayers money to keep Nigeria’s security system safe.
It is important to point out that contrary to popular misconceptions, oil theft did not start recently. Interestingly, prior to becoming President, Buhari had accused Jonathan of not doing enough to end oil theft. Buhari alleged that about 400,000 barrels of crude were stolen daily under Jonathan’s nose. Of course, he vowed to end it if Nigerians elect him as their next President, and sadly, seven years later, rather than end it, he institutionalised it and this time, Nigerians are paying a heavier price for his ineptitude as the Commander-in-Chief of the armed forces and Minister of Petroleum. That Nigeria is still insolvent despite the scale of theft and abuse it has continued to experience should be the 8th wonder of the world.
The failure of successive governments to check this situation clearly provides an idea as to how poor governance in Nigeria has been. The reality is that currently, oil thieves have grown so powerful that they now hold the Nigerian state to ransome. The whole situation clearly underscores the embarrassing failure of the security architecture in Nigeria and how useless they have proven to be. It is curious to believe that after over two decades of disruptions in the oil and gas sector in the Nigeria Delta, the Nigerian Navy is yet to come up with a single specialised capacity to protect a sector that is primarily the source of blood to the Nigerian body. The truth remains that if this madness is allowed to continue unabated, it will bring Nigeria to its knees financially, politically and economically.
The present situation in Nigeria is not only embarrassing, but is also suffocating and stifling the hopes of over 200 million citizens who have now been turned into paupers even in the midst of plenty.
These things surely raise questions about the whole essence and existence of Nigeria because anomalies and illegalities are fast becoming the norm in the country. While the economy is on a fast lane to absolute destruction, those saddled with the responsibility of sailing the ship to safety are abdicating their responsibilities not minding the fact that the economy is gradually caving in.
What Nigerians must know right now is that their oil wealth is being stolen by a syndicate that has sworn to keep them on the ground. The group of people stealing Nigeria’s oil comprise the military, oil companies, the navy, and government officials, which is why they seem unstoppable.
The list isn’t complete without mentioning current and former governors, ministers, and members of the Fulani oligarchy. Interestingly, one of them is even running for President in 2023!
Oil theft is threatening the corporate existence of Nigeria, and Nigerians should better start speaking before it is too late.