You Owe Nigerians Explanation For Allowing Massive Oil Theft Under Your Watch As Petroleum Minister – Expert Tells Buhari

President Muhammadu Buhari

Eze Onyekpere, an expert and Executive Director, Centre for Social Justice (CSJ), has slammed Nigeria's number one man, President Muhammadu Buhari.

He knocked President Buhari over the alarming oil theft going on under his watch as Minister of Petroleum Resources and the Commander-In-Chief of Armed Forces.

He said the President had questions to answer and must explain to Nigerians those behind the ignoble act as Chief security officer of the country.

Onyekpere who is also an economist disclosed this while speaking to SaharaReporters on the alleged seizure of a 3-million-barrel-capacity oil tanker in Equatorial Guinea suspected to be carrying stolen Nigerian crude.

He described the incident as ridiculous, absurd and unacceptable under a government which claimed to have been elected under democratic rule.

He said that it was a fiscal tragedy which ought not to have happened in a sane and decent society.

He also attributed the high level stealing of crude oil in the country to criminal conspiracy by a few greedy individuals who had continued to milk the country dry.

Onyekpere wondered how oil theft cases were still on the increase with breaches of oil installations in various parts of the country despite the huge budgetary allocation for real online monitoring of petroleum and gas pipelines.

He said, “It is a fiscal tragedy; it is something that is not expected to happen in a decent society where there is a democracy, so to say a regime that claims to have been elected in a democratic regime. It’s a very sad situation.

"President Muhammadu Buhari is the Minister of Petroleum Resources responsible for everything happening in the oil sector and in that sector, oil theft is happening right under his nose. He should tell us what is happening.

"Either it is gross negligence or criminal negligence, he knows what is happening. When you hear about stealing of crude oil; we are not discussing small players carrying the jerry can or drums. This is high-level stealing. You have ships in the high sea and you have people coming with smaller vessels meeting them and loading.

"That shows you the high level of criminal conspiracy. The challenge we have in Nigeria is that we are not a people with good memories. It is only recently that the media and some civil society organisations started following the budget and its implications but some of us have been working in this area for 15 to 20 years.”

Onyekpere chided the Buhari-led government following a statement issued by a Presidential spokesperson, Garba Shehu, threatening that the federal government would soon reveal the identities of high-profile individuals behind crude oil theft in the country.

The economic expert however said that the statement was a confirmation that the All Progressives Congress’ failure to protect the nation's resources from vandals and thieves.

He maintained that the government knew those perpetrating the illegal act but refused to take action.

While commenting on the award of N4billion pipeline surveillance contract to repentant Niger Delta militant, Mr Government Ekpemupolo, popularly known as Tompolo, Onyekpere said he had no objection to the award of contract if it was in accordance with due process

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