Niger Delta oil piracy and the worm in the kolanut

By Bobson Gbinije

“If you shut up truth and bury it under the ground.  It will but grow, and gather to itself such explosive power that the day it bursts through. It will blow up everything in its way.”  Emile Zola (1840-1902).


Some Ijaw/Urhobo / Itsekiri adages runs thus, “the worm that eats the kola-nut is inside the kola-nut” and “how can a man be circumspect and careful with a witch in his own house” and “it is the rat  in the house that invites the ones outside into the house”. It is clear without a tincture of doubt that the petroleum industry is filled with all kinds of players and the oil pirates are from there and beyond. It is now clearly obvious, that pipeline vandalism, crude oil theft, and illegal oil bunkering and other horrendously fraudulent acts in the oil industry are carried out by Nigerians and their recruited surrogates in the NNPC, some of its subsidiaries and oil multinational companies etc.

As for refined product, barring the reckless action of desperate and psychotic thieves, it is only the Pipelines and Products Marketing Staff who know the kind of products being pumped down the pipelines at any point – in – time. It is they who know whether it is Premium Motor Spirit (PMS), Automotive Gas Oil (AGO), Dual Purpose Kerosene (DPK), and High Pour Quality Fuel Oil (HPFO), Low Pour Quality Fuel Oil (LPFO), JET A1 etc. They give the information to the criminal syndicates who now position the tankers and barges to siphon the products.

The NEITI report has also been befuddled by vortexes and counter- vortexes of denials, accusations and contradictions. In a joint meeting between NEITI and PPPRA at the instance of Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), the two agencies said that the missing fund has indeed been deposited in the Petroleum Support Fund (PSF) domiciled with the Central Bank of Nigeria.

The Joint Reconciliation Meeting also posited that the two organisations have devised strategies aimed at addressing other matters arising from the NEITI 2009-2011 audit report through the instrumentality of the Inter- Ministerial Task Team (IMTT) set up by the President to address remedial issues arising from the audit report. This belated accounts fence mending is seen by critics as a jigsaw puzzle calculated to bamboozle the Nigerian masses and launder the image of the Jonathan’s administration.

Virtually all the oil companies indicted by the NEITI REPORT have all denied the allegations made against them. The Acting Group General manager Group Public Affairs Division, NNPC, Abuja echoing the retort of the current Group Managing Director, Mr. Andrew Yakubu said “Under the current Group Managing Director, Mr. Andrew Yakubu, the NNPC recorded an all-high 2.7 million barrels of crude oil per day last year. But this evadable feat was short-lived because of Crude theft, oil bunkering and the incessant vandalisation of crude oil pipelines”.

He further posited that “in as much as the NNPC is not a perfect organisation just like any other, it should be objectively criticised and not vilified all the time. Efforts should be made to appreciate its challenges. Some of these negative publications and destructive criticisms have far-readily implications on the business relationship between the Corporation and its International Partners. They impact also on the nation’s ability to bring in investors”. But he was silent on whether the NNPC is guilty as charged or whether it will refund the money demanded by NEITI REPORT. SO THERE ARE NO OIL THIEVES AND THE NNPC IS NOT INVOLVED?

It is however clear from the politicisation of the report and the culture of gross impurity and defiance being played by the castigated oil companies that the sysiphyean albatross of oil bunkering, crude oil theft, pipeline vandalisation and corruption in the oil industry will linger on in the deepest recesses of our national and petroleum industry’s psyche for along time to come. The essayist Charles Spureon said “the door to the temple of wisdom is knowledge of our own ignorance”.

The oil theft and accoutrements of malfeasances in the Niger Delta will continue because the people of the Niger Delta continue to suffer ecosidal devastation, fauna despoliation, environmental pollution, seismic hazards and scorching poverty in the light of gas flaring, oil exploration and exploitation in their backyards.

The so-called Interventionist agencies have turned out to be Mephistophelean placeboes and conduits for politicians to feather their nests. The crude oil theft is a form of economic remonstration, existential militancy and protestation by the Niger Delta people and freedom fighters and it can only be stopped through the approval and granting of the long demanded 50% derivation formula, implementation of free education, free medical care at all levels, massive employment beyond the Amnesty programme initiative, massive industrialisation of oil producing communities, rehabilitation and compensation of displaced persons and communities as a result of oil exploitation and exploration. The Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) must be signed into law with soldierly brevity. The entry and exit points into Nigeria’s nautical and littoral contours must be manned by patriotic security apparatchiks.

The Federal Government must build floating stations in the Riverine Areas and endeavour to create an all-embracing enabling environment for socio-economic progress in the Niger Delta and all Oil producing states in Nigeria.

Apart from Conventional Security Agencies, the Federal Government and the NNPC should award surveillance contracts to specific communities on land and water where the pipelines passes to guard and protect the pipelines and the traditional rulers, chiefs and youth groups should be given roles to play in this regard. They should also furnish the Nigerian Navy and Marine Police with Sea – going Security vessels, marine technology for tracking ships and there should be the erection of nautical barricades on the river to check ships, barges, boats and other water craft vessels etc for bunkering clearance etc.

The NNPC must establish product measurement, calibration, oil metering and product deep mechanisms to know the quantity of product and capacity of the loaded tanker/vessel to enable us keep record of products been loaded within and outside Nigeria. The theft will continue with reckless abandon if there is no metering system to forestall oil theft. The National Assembly must legislatively discourage oil theft through legal provisions and laws, specifically ‘Death Penalty’ for crude oil theft, petroleum bunkering and corruption. The cardinal economic power of Nigeria as a country straddles between its Oil and expansive geographical make-up. If we lose or fall out of our inability to manage our success it will be ‘Boom turned to Doom’. We must visit oil thieves and oil bunkerers with the uttermost capital punishment.

A special surveillance group of fifth columnists must be set up to monitor the oligarchical collectivity, politicians, oil multinationals, the NNPC its subsidiaries and their criminal syndicates. The brutal truth and consistent with an Okpe proverb is that it is the worm in the kola nut that eats the kola nut’ (Owhore rorhie evwro, evu evwro oha wo). Oil theft cannot take place without some of these oil-allied corporate persons and their cabaliscally clandestine surrogates.

It must be emphasized that the machinery of honesty and patriotism in the NNPC subsidiaries of Pipelines and Products Marketing Company Ltd. (PPMC) and the Directorate of Petroleum Resources (DPR), that are statutorily mandated to act as watchdogs and distributor of products must be revamped, returbisled and implosively surgeonised not only from grassroot levels but from root hairs base to tree top height. They must come out to carry out the upstream and downstream responsibilities with pertinacious exactitude, accountability and transparency.

The crude and refined petroleum syndicate organogram is a pot-purri of politicians, NNPC Subsidiaries’ Executives, Tank Owners, Barge owners, Ship owners, Tug Boat Owners, Product Monitoring (Upstream and Downstream) Task Forces, Oil Producing Communities, Illegal Refinery owners, Militants, frustrated and unemployed Youths  in a state of poverty, Product and Petroleum Sales 419ers, etc. It is such a power full syndicate that stopping them could be likened to a cow passing through the eye of a needle. The syndicate is so interwoven and committed. It runs from crude oil production Company Executives and Staffers to refined product sales of distributing company executives and now that the political parties have joined, it is virtually finish with the Nigeria economy. Every body wants their share before the oil dries up and depreciates in value. There is the scramble for oil in Nigeria before “Shale Oil” take over. It is must be stated with unequivocal clarity and it is a platitudinous truism, that the Nigerian nation has earned quintillions of dollars/ pounds/ naira right from 1958( the year of oil commercialization) till date. But 90% of Nigerians have nothing to show for it. There is ludibrastic and scandalous poverty in Nigeria. This has precipitated armed robbery, kidnapping, 419, assassinations, political thuggery, Youth Restiveness, Burglary and Militancy.

The earnings from oil and gas have found their way into the hands of the leadership cartels, desperate politicians, political parties and warlords etc.  In the Niger Delta and nay Nigeria we have no qualitative free education at all levels, no water, no shelter, no roads, no hospitals, no food security, no employment etc. In desperacy fuelled by poverty, vengeful spirit and frustration, Nigerians resort to criminality in the oil industry and beyond.

As always, the “NEITI REPORT “will only be in the news for a short while, because the ‘syndicate’ will dismember and manacle all its salient recommendations and findings in the cesspit of bravura crudity and parenthetical placidity. The silent revolution is incubating in the womb of time. Euripides observed in “FRAGMENTS” that “time will reveal everything. It is a babbler and speaks even when not asked “and Julia Fletcher Carney said “little drops of water, little grains of sand, make the mighty ocean and the pleasant land. So the little minutes, humble though they be, make the mighty ages of eternity”.

Bobson Gbinije, a social critic, wrote from Warri, Delta State. 

Copyright Ships & Ports Ltd. Permission to use quotations from this article is granted subject to appropriate credit given to as the source.