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Masterminds Behind Oil Theft In Niger Delta Revealed By Ex Bayelsa Gov on Inside Sources

Seriake Dickson, the immediate paat Governor of Bayelsa State and current Senator representing Bayelsa West, in the National Assembly, has noted that oil theft is…

Seriake Dickson, the immediate paat Governor of Bayelsa State and current Senator representing Bayelsa West, in the National Assembly, has noted that oil theft is being perpetrated deliberately in the country alleging that bigwigs from Lagos and the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja, are masterminds of the criminal act on Niger Delta soil.

The lawmaker, who has been in the red chamber since 2020, was a guest on Inside Sources with Laolu Akande, a socio-political programme which was aired on Channels Television on Friday.

According to Senator Dickson, 58, who was formerly the National Legal Adviser of the defunct Alliance for Democracy, even the oil companies are beneficiaries of oil theft in the Niger Delta.

He also lamented the absence of national values which makes people to use the nation’s resources for personal aggrandizement.

Dickson said, “Why should a country like Nigeria that has been producing oil, exporting oil for the past 70 years not have a scientific way of metering, recording what leaves, what is pumped, what is sold and what is not sold? And it’s deliberate.

“It’s not a Niger Delta thing; it’s just happening there and it is unfortunate that it has destroyed communities because there is too much illegal money, illegal arms, illicit drugs and it has fueled cultism because people want to get the loyalties of young people to be able to hold territories where hold facilities are. They need weapons and young men that are always high on drugs. You think a man who slaughters and cuts off a man’s head and dismember him is normal? So, those are people who are actively on drugs.

“People from Abuja and Lagos are the masterminds and the official system is not ignorant and not innocent. The official security system, the official oil system, the official federal system, all of it in its entirety. It’s a criminal, powerful system.”

He said just as the world formed a consensus against stolen blood diamond, a global consensus should be formed that makes the international community reject stolen crude oil from Nigeria.

Dickson called for strong political will on the part of leaders at all levels to stop the menacing trend of oil theft.

‘A Malignant Cancer’

Oil theft has become a malignant cancer in Nigeria for years with unimaginable volumes of oil being lifted by some cabals in the oil sector. In 2022, the Nigerian National Petroleum Company (NNPC) Limited had said it uncovered an illegal oil connection operated for nine years with about 600,000 barrels per day of oil lost in the same period.

About 108,000 barrels of crude are reportedly stolen daily in Nigeria. The Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries which Nigeria is a member estimates that the country lost 2.3 million barrels monthly, amounting to over $1 billion every three months.

Security agents had made some arrests and destroyed vessels used for crude oil theft off the Niger Delta creeks but experts believed that the menace which have both robbed the nation financially and environmentally would become a thing of the past when the government stamp out official complicity and bunkering, ensure transparency and accountability.

Commenting on the need for a new constitution, the Senator agreed that there is insufficient mechanism for accountability in the 1999 Constitution.

According to Dickson, the 1999 constitution created emperors as President and governors because the drafters of the document omitted accountability in terms of the use of power by public office holders.

Asked why some governors have been obstructing financial autonomy for local governments, the ex-Bayelsa governor said, “If you look at the framework of our constitution, the biggest emperor that the Nigerian Constitution has created is the President, that’s the biggest emperor but there are also 36 and now 37 (a Minister of the FCT). There are 37 emperors because of the insufficient mechanism for accountability built into the constitution which is what we must address. Accountability in terms of the use of power.”

‘I Never Tampered With LG Funds’

Dickson, who was Bayelsa State governor from February 2012 to February 2020, said he never tampered with local government (LG) funds as governor for eight years.

“For eight years as governor, I never tampered with one naira of local government fund. I was rather giving them a percentage of IGR (Internally Generated Revenue) to support them but I am told that there are state governors who literally commandeer all their (LG) allocations and even given them piece of paper to sign,” he said.

“I now introduced a transparency law by which as governor I gave myself legal obligation to announce what was coming to the state and how it was spent every month. That same law directed the local government chairmen to do the same in their local governments. And I said the punishment for not doing that consecutively amounts to gross misconduct.”

‘Tinubu Should Convoke National Dialogue’

There have been calls for Nigeria to birth a new constitution with many elder statesmen and socio-political groups like the Afenifere, Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Pan Niger Delta Forum, the Middle Belt Form, amongst others demanding a sovereign national conference for the various ethnic nationalities in the country to discuss and agree on the terms of peace co-existence and governance including the subjects of state police, fiscal federalism, restructuring, amongst others.

In February, the House of Representatives formed a constitution review committee to address contentious issues and revamp the document handed over to the civilian government by the military in 1999.

Dickson, who is a member of a similar committee in the Senate, expressed his desire for the country to have “a comprehensive review of the constitution”.

“The underbelly of the constitutional inadequacies has come to the fore that those who are even opposing state police for example are now some of those who are now on their own advocating for it, which is very good,” he stated.

“The National Assembly (I am also a member of the Constitutional Review Committee), we have not been far-reaching enough; it’s always been piecemeal because of the difficulty of building consensus over the years about building consensus. But in the last Assembly, the 9th Assembly, I think we achieved some of it – railways, airports, electricity, prisons, they can now go to the concurrent list because what we are calling restructuring which people claim they don’t understand. They know what we mean; what we are saying is: address the constitutional foundation of the country. Let’s go back to the earliest constitutions.”

The lawmaker opined that President Bola Tinubu should convoke a national dialogue to address major existential issues in the country.

“I think we should have a robust national dialogue. It would be nice if the President convokes it but it is more than mounting a convocation of another jamboree, it’s about selecting a team and consulting on areas of broad national consensus like state police or even the judiciary,” Dickson stated.

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