Tonye Cole, the All Progressives Congress (APC) candidate in the March 18 Rivers State governorship election and co-founder of Sahara Group, has come to the defence of Asari Dokubo, insisting that some of his allegations about the extent of oil theft in the region are true.
Cole, who has insider knowledge of the workings of the billion-dollar crude oil industry in Nigeria, disclosed in a Channels Television Sunday Politics programme that most of what Dokubo, the ex-Niger Delta militant, said on Friday was true, though exaggerated in some cases.
He, however, argued that oil bunkering began more than 20 years ago and has so many collaborators.
He added that oil bunkering wasn’t peculiar to Nigeria alone, and that most affected countries had worked out plans to discourage the trade.
“It’s multi-dimensional,” Cole said of the multi-hydra problems limiting the industry from growing. “He has spoken about one part of the problem, and if you listen to him carefully, he said that you will find installations that are meant to guide the facilities, and right next to the facilities you will see bunkering operations going on. And that’s a fact; it is something that we see and something that we know occurs.”
Cole also presented a picture of how bold these thieves were as they created huge boats to transport stolen crude oil to mother vessels.
“We also see along the creeks where they are building certain types of boats—huge boats that only carry stolen crude—and we see them building them in the open, in the public, so we know where it’s been done.
“So one part of this is that it is open for everybody to see, and the other part of it is that it can be stopped,” he said.
He advised that the government should look beyond the problems and focus more on how to find solutions to this problem that has cost the country more than $1 trillion in revenue.