The Nigerian Government has said that the menace of oil theft in the country is undermining efforts to deliver transformation programmes. The Vice President, Mohammed Namadi Sambo stated this on Wednesday December 11, 2013 when he received a delegation from the United States Government led by the Assistant Secretary of Defence, Sharon Burke.
The Vice President, who described oil theft as a gross criminal act against the people and the State explained that resources have been lost annually to this menace; saying these could have easily gone into the development of schools, energy and other transformation programmes to impact positively on Nigerian people.
He however, expressed optimism that with the support and partnership of the United States and other members of the international community, the menace would soon be brought to an end.
Mohammed Namadi Sambo further indicated that the Nigerian Government is not taking oil theft lightly as it has put in place stringent measures to bring the menace to an end. Adding, the Federal Executive Council has on Wednesday December 11, 2013 approved the development of a special laboratory for forensics on oil products in Nigeria which will assist in tackling the problem squarely.
Namadi Sambo expressed deep appreciation for the support which Nigeria has received from President Barack Obama and the US Government. He stated that Nigeria is a strong believer in the democracy which the US stands for. “Nigeria is committed to the entrenchment of democracy in not only the West African sub-region, but Africa as a whole,” he expressed.
Speaking earlier, the Minister of Petroleum Resources, Diezani Alison-Madueke revealed that the high-powered delegation was an outcome of the meeting between President Goodluck Jonathan and President Barack Obama in September 2013.
She further disclosed that the delegation has met with several stakeholders ranging from the Governors of the Niger Delta States, the communities, international oil companies and relevant government establishments which has availed them the opportunity to understand the extent of the problem.
In his remarks, the United States Ambassador to Nigeria, James Entwistle noted that the delegation was in Nigeria to look at areas where the US could assist in tackling the scourge, particularly the intentional and local dimension of the menace. He expressed delight for with the warm reception which the delegation received since their arrival in the country.
The leader of the delegation, Sharon Burke said that through their interactions with several stakeholders, the delegation understood that everyone in Nigeria is very concerned, adding that the need to tackle the problem has become urgent considering the revenue loss by government. Present at the event was the Group Managing director of NNPC, Andrew Yakubu and other top government functionaries.