From Femi Folaranmi, Yenagoa
Bayelsa State Governor Douye Diri has lamented the continued oil theft in the Niger Delta region, stating that it poses a serious threat to the survival of the region.
He has therefore called for urgent actions to end the ugly trend in the interest of the region and the country at large.
Governor Diri spoke at the Bayelsa State Government when he received a federal government delegation led by the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Chief Timipre Sylva and which included the Chief of Defence Staff, General Lucky Irabor and the Managing Director of the Nigeria National Petroleum Company Limited, Mele Kyari.
According to him, oil theft has seriously affected the environment of the Niger Delta region and its image negatively.
He also expressed worry that oil theft, which also affects government at all levels, has denied the locals their means of livelihood, stressing that if it is not stopped or reduced drastically, the implications would be grave.
While recalling how General Irabor had talks with governors on the same issue, Diri welcomed collaborative efforts between the states and the federal government to tackle the menace.
He assured the delegation that his administration will play its role in ensuring that it is tackled effectively.
“The federal and state governments largely depend on oil. So, oil theft does not affect only the federal government. It affects us as a state government and the local governments. We have spoken about this over and over and we will continue to say it.
“We are talking about our environment that has been brazenly polluted through oil bunkering activities. If you go to our communities, you will see oil floating on our rivers, and that has led to the locals not having a means of livelihood. It has led to unknown diseases and sicknesses.
“There is a spiral effect of oil theft that is going on in the Niger Delta and it affects the communities and the people. So, I welcome you and I assure you that we will collaborate to ensure that oil theft is brought to an end.”
Sylva in his remarks said the federal government delegation was in the state to seek collaboration to end oil theft in the Niger Delta and commended Diri for his willingness to collaborate.
He said the stealing of oil was going on at an alarming rate and should no longer be allowed given its negative effect on the economy of the country.
Chief Sylva lamented that production has been badly affected, which is also having a negative impact on foreign investments in the country.
Irabor said the military has heightened operational engagements to stop criminal activities in the region.
He noted that the activities of oil thieves were bleeding the nation and called on those involved in the act of sabotage to have a rethink, failing which the military will clamp down on them.