Edo Governor, Mr. Godwin Obaseki, has bemoaned the loss of about 22 million barrels of crude oil estimated at $1.35 billion to thieves in the Niger Delta in the first quarter of 2019.
He disclosed this when he received a delegation of National Executive Committee of the Pan Niger-Delta Forum (PANDEF), who were in the Government House, Benin City, on a visit.
Obaseki wondered how, in spite of militarisation in the region, such huge volume of crude oil could be stolen to the detriment of the development of the area and country.
“What is really worrisome for me, having chaired the NEC committee on stolen crude oil is the extent of militarisation in our region. About 22 million barrels of crude oil cannot be accounted for in the first half of this year with an estimated cost of almost $1.35 billion, which is going to non-state actors that are operating in the region.”
He said some people claim to have spent a lot of money in the last decade to develop the region but there was no evidence on ground to show for it.
“There is need to use the region’s assets for economic growth to prevent people of the Niger-Delta from being shortchanged and its resources used as slush funds.
“Edo is an integral part of the Niger Delta, we are so strategically positioned as we are the entry point to the Niger Delta. As a state, we have tried to advance some of the issues in the 16-point agenda presented to President Muhammad Buhari on the 1st of November 2016, by over 100 senior persons of the region in a bid to find peace.”
Earlier, PANDEF National Chairman, Retired Air Commodore, Idongesit Nkanga (retd) appealed to the governor to lend his voice to the clamour for fiscal federalism to bring progress to the Niger Delta, while urging politicians to close ranks for the good of the region. Former Inspector General of Police, Dr. Solomon Arase, who is the Edo State chairman of PANDEF, said it was necessary to brief the governor on pending issues affecting the region.