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Buhari’s Legacy Project: Navy in crude oil theft and its compendium of deception

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a group that is supposed to be the watchdog/police to the unwholesome activities of the government and oil producing companies in the nation’s oil and gas sector.
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By Ifeanyi Izeze

In his paid damage control effort, the Consultant and Coordinator of President Buhari Legacy Projects, Mr. Patriot Ata Ikiddeh ended up muddling the issue of the successes achieved by the Nigerian navy in government fight against crude oil theft in the nation’s oil region – onshore Niger Delta and offshore arenas.

The Legacy Project Consultant in his recently released compendium had declared that the General Muhammadu Buhari-led Federal Government has arrested over 50 vessels on account of illegal oil bunkering.

If it was an image laundering effort for the Nigerian Navy, then it came out doing more damage than good for the service in that it raised more questions than the answers it was supposed to provide.

Also read: Nigeria loses $150m daily to crude oil theft – NNPC

Giving a blanket clean bill of  service conduct to the navy raises more questions as to how the navy has lived up to its constitutional mandate in surveillance and protection of our territorial waters. Everything about this crude oil theft issue is happening within the space ascribed to the navy as its primary constituency and so to exonerate them of complicity or outright incompetence to me is blind patriotism at best and at worst, a mere coloured sycophancy.

So what was Ikhidde trying to say in his compendium-  portray the NNPC as an ingrate to the efforts of the navy by awarding a whopping 48 billion per annum contract to Tompolo and his company instead of giving the money to the navy to support its efforts in making our waters free from criminal activities (crude oil theft particularly)?

Also read: Nigeria loses 700,000 barrels of crude daily to theft- Sylva

Why is Ikhidde’s Legacy Project compendium of praise singing to the navy coming out now that Tompolo and his gang are revealing obvious collaboration between oil thieves and naval personnel?

Our navy is so excellent in leaving up to their constitutional mandate in safeguarding our waterways and we are being told of series of illegal oil pipelines connected to two of the nation’s main export trunklines: Trans Niger and Trans Forcados running over 4 kilometres into the sea connecting illegal crude oil loading bays?

Our navy is so efficient in discharging their duties and oil thieves had over 100 tapping points/breaches on the two main trunklines that run from the marine to swamp areas and nobody was ever caught drilling or tapping from those holes despite the fact that pipeline welding and drilling goes with heavy noise whether during the day or at night?

How the Buhari Legacy Project Consultant arrived at the conclusion that “President Buhari emerged the first Nigerian Head of State and Petroleum Oil Minister to have secured the most arrests, prosecutions and convictions on illegal oil bunkering since 1960, by the Nigerian Navy,” is at best blurred and at worst another sycophantic declaration.

Hear the Buhari Consultant: “Contrary to the stories making the rounds about a corrupt and highly compromised military, boot deep in the stifling corruption in the creeks, the incontrovertible fact on ground speaks to the contrary.

“And one wonders if it isn’t the corruption of the greasy mangrove swamps fighting back in order to destroy the reputation of this government and our Patriotic gallant Naval Officers.

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“The number of arrests and prosecutions collated here is but a fraction of what has been achieved by the Nigerian Navy. The numbers are simply unbelievable.

“Yet some of you without proper research have vilified the very best of us. These are loyal dedicated and committed patriots!”

“I have never for once doubted the commitment of our military under Nigeria’s incorruptible Commander -in – Chief. You take it or leave it, the man is squeaky clean”

As the consultant recalled, The Chief of Naval Staff, Admiral Awwal Gambo,  while speaking during an interview on Channels TV, said that “the figures about the amount of crude oil being stolen daily is outrageous and unrealistic,”

“The phenomenon of crude oil theft and crude losses must be properly de-conflicted in order to proffer lasting solutions to the menace which is currently bedevilling our economic resources.

“We need to understand the difference between oil theft and oil loss. In this case, while oil theft is siphoning crude oil from vandalised pipes into badges, oil losses occur when there is no production, especially during short- ins and force majeure, as the Federal Government does not earn the desired revenue it should. Losses also occur as a result of metering errors on the operating platforms as read.

“But however, the volume of crude all shot in from ‘no production’ are often added to figures for oil theft instead of declaring them as oil losses which should not be.”

Is it not clear that the consultant was engaged to rubbish Tompolo, the NNPC and the operating companies and polish the battered image of the Navy and the Joint Military Taskforce (JTF) in the Niger Delta/offshore?

So if Tompolo, justifying his pipeline surveillance contract, did not openly accuse the Nigerian Navy of collaborating with oil thieves, the military (navy) wouldn’t have published the number of oil theft vessels and barges arrested since 2015?

The Buhari Legacy Project should kindly tell us who to believe now in the Buhari government on the actual loss in terms of volume of stolen crude oil: the NNPC/oil companies or the Navy?

The nation’s apex oil concern and the International Operating Companies (IOCs) have been dangling figures ranging from 400, 000 barrels to as much as even 800,000 barrels as volumes stolen everyday from the nation’s facilities by oil thieves.

Agreed as a technical person, that most of the figures dangled are more of loss productions/short-ins and spills into the environment as a result of punched pipelines than actual lifting by oil thieves, the navy and their legacy consultant failed to give us the figure they established as the actual quantity of crude oil being stolen and shipped from the nation’s territorial waters.

If the legacy project was the presidency’s idea and not the navy’s couldn’t it have been tidier for the navy and the NNPC (all part of Buhari’s government) to agree on the lies to dish to Nigerians on this crude oil theft absurdity?

The question the Buhari or rather Navy Legacy Project should answer is: even if it’s one barrel a day, is crude oil being stolen from Nigeria and shipped abroad by sea where the navy works to protect? Failure is failure and there is no way you can polish it to look like success.

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Also, why did the navy or rather Buhari legacy Project deliberately dodged to tell us the total volume of crude oil seized from oil thieves during the period under review?

Did the navy believe that Nigerians can trust them enough to believe they handed over everything recovered?

How was the seized crude oil managed; was it handed back to the NNPC or given to the EFCC as evidence for the prosecution of the financial crimes? And if it was given to the NNPC, did the company account for the proceeds of the crude or it just took it as a bounty? The ones that ended up with the EFCC how was it disposed and where is the proceed?

Whether anybody wants to hear this or not, the legacy project of lies and image laundering can never change the truth with bare that crude oil stealing has been taken up to a fetish height under this Buhari government. The Presidency, the Navy, JTF, and NNPC on our side and the foreign operators on the other side are all neck deep in this conscienceless crime against the peoples of this country.

Do we need anybody to tell us that this government is the worst thus far in the history of the administration of this country in terms of transparency, corruption, conceited impunity, and nepotic arrogance? Legacy of lies or of truth in service, abeg! God dey!

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