By Omoh Gabriel:

WARRI—DELTA State Governor, Dr. Emmanuel Uduaghan, has said that not a few industries outside the Niger Delta region were encouraging illegal bunkering that has resulted in increased pipeline vandalization usually linked to the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta, MEND.

He stressed that such industries have resorted to the use of crude oil in powering their plants and machines since they cannot get fuel easily.

The governor said that in the past, bursting of pipelines to steal crude was for export, noting that this has now become very difficult for those who engaged in it as they have now found local market for their illegally-sourced crude.

Reasons for rise in pipeline bursting

Uduaghan, in an interactive session with journalists before the unveiling of Warri Industrial Park, said: “As I have said in the last few months, there has been increase of bursting of pipelines. I tell you why, many industries outside the Niger Delta now decide to use crude to power their plants and machines since they cannot get fuel. The fuel scarcity has led to increase in the bursting of pipelines.

“The bursting of these pipelines before was for the export of crude, it has become very difficult for them to export stolen crude now. But, unfortunately, many Nigerian industries have resorted to the use of crude to power their plants and other machines.

“So, they are now encouraging bunkering in this area. We, as government, are putting together measures to stop illegal bunkering. So, assist us in appealing to industries that are outside the Niger Delta  that are encouraging this kind of illegal bunkering to stop encouraging those involved in it.

MEND, a media creation

”I know that once a pipeline is burst open by illegal bunkerers, you get an e-mail that MEND has attacked an oil facility. Tell me who MEND members are and let us engage ourselves.”

Dismissing the impression that MEND still poses a threat in the region, the governor said: “Let me tell you this, when media people talk about MEND, some of us get a little bit irritated because MEND is a media creation.

“Tell me who is MEND and I will tell you that there is nothing like MEND existing as of today. We had youths who were agitating and some people took advantage of it and started talking about MEND. We have gotten beyond that stage and I want to appeal to Nigerians that for us to be able to move forward as a Niger Delta region, we must play down on trying to popularise MEND and that kind of thing.

Insecurity worldwide

”Mr. President, that is President Yar’Adua, when he was around had given amnesty to the youths of the Niger Delta and all of them; I mean all of them accepted the amnesty. There are still issues that have to be dealt with, post-amnesty issues; they are challenges which are still there.

“The Niger Delta is not worse than any other region in this world in terms of security. As you are going out of this country as you come down at any airport around the world, any airport, you see armed men, armed police, sometimes soldiers, whether in America or the United Kingdom, this implies that there is insecurity in those places. But that has not stopped investments in these other places.

”In Iraq today, people are still rushing there. South Africa is worse in terms of insecurity, but it is hosting the World Cup. Until the African Nations Cup was hosted by Angola and the Togolese team was attacked, nobody knew there was that level of insecurity.

Nigeria hosted the World Youth Tournament was anybody attacked? So, what are we talking about? In terms of investment, what the Central Bank of Nigeria Governor, Mr.  Lamido Sanusi, said is good corporate governance.

Absence of good governance

”Insecurity does not stop investment but lack of good governance can. What we require not just in the Niger Delta region but the entire nation is to ensure we have good governance. If we have good governance, investors will come.

”The American World Trade Centre was attacked and burnt, what insecurity can be higher than that? And, have foreign investors stopped going to America to invest? Having said that, as far as youths in the Niger Delta are concerned, many of them have embraced peace and are ready to work.

“We have criminals that have taken over the agitation. This is why I said we should de-emphasise the MEND issue. What is happening and it is what happens everywhere after a war situation, is that you have criminals, as in Somalia today where they take over 15 or 16 ships at a time, so we still have criminals who go to burst pipelines.”

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