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Pipeline Politics: Rivers Governor Urges Shift in Focus from Delta Creeks to Abuja Cartels

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PORT HARCOURT, Nigeria — President Bola Tinubu is facing a new wave of criticism over his approach to tackling oil theft in the Niger Delta region.

Rivers State Governor, Sir Siminalayi Fubara, has strongly urged the President to redirect efforts towards the influential cartels in Abuja, the nation’s capital, who are allegedly exploiting their power to siphon off the country’s oil resources.

Governor Fubara revealed his concerns while addressing the Joint Presidential Committee on Crude Oil Theft, which toured Niger Delta facilities on  Saturday, August 26, 2023.

According to him, the Federal Government’s current strategy of allocating security and surveillance contracts for oil pipelines to a select few individuals is unlikely to yield desired results.

“Security of pipelines should not be placed in the hands of one man or a few individuals,” Governor Fubara asserted.

“You can’t say, for instance, that somebody from Kalabari should be asked to determine and control what is happening in Ogba-Egbema. It’s not workable.”

The Governor insisted that reducing oil theft would be futile unless the government focuses on the powerful cartels based in Abuja.

“Those people you are dealing with, you can engage on this other end, but key leaders and influential power brokers in other major host communities must be engaged,” he stated.

“Once you make them part of the process, the tide of economic sabotage through oil theft will go down.”

Governor Fubara further lamented that the poverty and unemployment in the region fuel such illegal activities.

“The big people in this business aren’t from here; they are those in Abuja with the license to operate. If they are not encouraging it, I don’t think it will thrive,” he added.

Moreover, the Governor highlighted the neglect of crucial infrastructure in Rivers State.

He cited the lackluster state of the East-West Road, a significant route for the country’s economic development, as evidence of the Federal Government’s oversight.

In response, the National Security Adviser, Nuhu Ribadu, thanked Governor Fubara for his input and expressed the Federal Government’s commitment to resolving security challenges in the Niger Delta.

Mohammed Badaru, the Minister of Defence, echoed this commitment, stating that the President has given them “marching orders” to visit facilities and work closely with states to ensure regional peace and security.

However, with Governor Fubara’s recent remarks, it remains to be seen if the Federal Government will heed these calls for a comprehensive review and redirection of its efforts against oil theft.

While the Joint Presidential Committee’s tour might signify a willingness to engage with local leaders, the real test will be if they are willing to focus their gaze on the powerful cartels residing within the corridors of Abuja.

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