• Monday, May 20, 2024
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NDDC says vandalism of key economic assets biggest threat to Nigeria

Although oil theft and pipeline vandalism are not new phenomena in Nigeria, the twin menace has recently assumed a new dimension, depriving Nigeria of taking advantage of current favourable international oil prices.  In all of the turbulence, mostly in the eye of the storm

…calls on security agencies to stop vandals

The Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) has said that the biggest threat to Nigeria at the moment might be vandalism of economic assets, asking the security agencies to stop vandals and vandalism.

In the Niger Delta region, pipeline vandalism seems to be the order of the day as it has reduced Nigeria’s economic viability since the projected oil output of 2.4 million barrels per day has not gone above 1.5 million barrels per day even as low to 900,000 barrels per day sometime ago.

The NDDC has therefore called for urgent attention, urging the security agencies operating in the Niger Delta region to go after criminals destroying the economic assets and infrastructure in Nigeria’s oil-rich region.

Samuel Ogbuku, NDDC Managing Director, made the call during two separate courtesy visits by the Bayelsa State Commissioner of Police, Alonyenu Idu, and a Real Admiral John Okeke, the Commander of the Joint Task Force in South-South known as ‘Operation Delta Safe’ at the NDDC headquarters in Port Harcourt.

Ogbuku commended the Bayelsa State Police Command for deploying modern technology to fight crime, advising the security agencies to expand the scope of their operations to include protecting development projects being executed by the NDDC.

“In addition to guarding our economic assets, it is important to also protect NDDC projects in remote communities. The Commission is providing electricity in the communities and we need the protection of those facilities because some criminals are vandalizing our power infrastructure”, he said.

Ogbuku said that the NDDC appreciated the services of the Police to the society, adding that as an interventionist agency, the Commission has a responsibility to make sure that those protecting the lives and property of the people were given the necessary backing to enhance their capacity to maintain security in the Niger Delta region.

“Our core mandate is to bridge the developmental gaps in the Niger Delta region. We recognise the intrinsic link between security and development, which is why we have forged partnerships with security agencies. Peace is a prerequisite for development, and our collaboration with these agencies is crucial in achieving our goals.

“The ‘Operation Light Up Niger Delta’ through solar street lights has played a significant role in enhancing security in the oil region. The area has experienced a period of relative peace, thanks to the vigilance and intelligence efforts of the security agencies.

“The NDDC has always been at the fore in supporting the police. We have executed a lot of projects to support the police. Last year, we assisted the security agencies in Akwa Ibom and Rivers States in acquiring some security equipment.

“If the region is peaceful, development will be rapid. I cannot fail to attest to the fact that the crime rate in Bayelsa State has reduced. I want to commend you for using technology to tackle crime in the Niger Delta and we are willing to partner with you, to assist you fight crime in the region”, he noted.

Earlier, Real Admiral John Okeke, Operation Delta Safe Commander (Okeke), commended the NDDC for providing solar-powered streetlights in their operational base in Bayelsa State and appealed for more support in providing facilities to enhance their operations.

He thanked the NDDC for co-operating with security agencies working in the Niger Delta region to ensure peace, saying, “We will continue to protect the territorial integrity of the country and all its national assets.

“The NDDC plays a crucial role in mitigating militancy in the Niger Delta region, while the Joint Task Force (JTF) has been instrumental in ensuring the safety of oil-producing communities and collaborating with International Oil Companies to achieve this goal.”

Speaking in a similar vein, the Bayelsa State Commissioner of Police noted that the evolution of economic militancy in Bayelsa was a big challenge for the Command in that State.

“The terrain is also a challenge and the economics of law enforcement is what we are dealing with. We have been able to do some crime mapping but we are constrained by inadequate funds. We are using digital technology to fight crime, and we need resources to achieve our goals”, he said.

He appealed to the NDDC for assistance in acquiring more drones and upgrading some critical facilities at the Police Command.

The spate of vandalism is said to deter new investors because the budget needed to procure soldiers to protect an asset may be higher than the value of the asset. This too is said to increase cost of products made in the oil region and render them not competitive in the market.

Meanwhile, experts have urged Nigeria’s Government to think outside the box to tackle terror, insecurity, and vandalism to avoid losing the core of the nation.

They suggested a national summit that may draw a bottom-up security architecture where a national vigilance commission would be created to oversee vigilante units from communities, wards, LGAs, states to national level.