By Habiba Salihu
Members of the British House of Commons have suggested the use of surveillance aircraft as a better means of tackling incessant cases of oil theft and bunkering in Nigeria.
The members said this on Thursday in London during a presentation on “Security and Human Rights in the Niger Delta” by Rivers Gov. Rotimi Ameachi.
They said that better surveillance would ensure direct information gathering on what quantity of oil is being stolen and those involved in the crime.
They said that oil theft, insecurity and environmental degradation were big challenges which required rapid response and synergies between states and the Federal Government to be addressed.
The members also noted the increased level of piracy in the Gulf of Guinea, saying that the development had made it difficult for seafarers to go to West Africa.
Nigeria has sought assistance of the international community in tackling oil theft by calling for close monitoring and prosecution of companies and individuals involved in the illegal trade.
In his submission, Ameachi attributed oil theft and insecurity challenges in the country to poverty.
“We need a Nigerian president who will rule the country as a nation; for instance, the issues of Boko Haram, kidnapping and oil theft are poverty related.
“When people are not meaningfully engaged they become willing tools for destruction.
“Government has to create opportunities for people to be educated and engaged,” he said.
He also stressed the need for government to deal with the issue of impunity, saying “we are talking about oil theft and nobody has gone to jail”.
“If we deal with the issues of impunity and poverty, oil theft will reduce, kidnapping and other crimes will be on the decline; this we can do by collaborating with the local and international communities,” Ameachi said.
To this end, the governor said that his administration had put in place various initiatives and schemes in the areas of agriculture, health and education.
“We have built and equipped 500 primary schools with ICT facility” to empower our youths,” he said.
According to him, providing social security through basic amenities is vital to Nigeria’s development.