Following a resurgence in the destruction of pipelines and oil facilities in the Niger Delta, a former Chairman of Ukwa West Local Government Area of Abia State, Chief Sylvanus Nwaji, has accused security agencies of complicity in bunkering in the state.
Nwaji made this allegation while speaking with The Point in his office in Aba, the state capital.
The former council boss of the oil-producing Ukwa West claimed that he had it on good authority that some members of the security agencies had been providing cover for those involved in the illegal bunkering business.
He therefore appealed to the agencies to fish out the black legs amongst them.
Nwaji also alleged that the operators of the illegal business had been responsible for the oil spillages and the environmental degradation in the oil-producing communities in the area, saying that severe punishment should be meted out to them.
Noting that taking stern measures against the culprits would serve as a deterrent to the others, the ex-LG boss accused both past and present administrations in the state of failure to address the ever-increasing challenges of the communities. Nwaji, who is also a former adviser on Petroleum Matters to a former governor of the state, Dr. Orji Uzor Kalu, accused the government of “neglecting the hen that lays the golden egg.”
According to him, the communities had been in dire need of quality education, health care delivery, health facilities, road net-work, security and employment opportunities for their youth.
He argued that merely appointing the indigenes of the oil-producing communities as commissioner for Petroleum Resources should not be seen as doing the people of the area favours.
Nwaji wondered why the current administration in the state had not deemed it fit to consider any indigene of the area for other political appointments such as the Secretary to the State Government, Commissioner for Health, Works, Education or Finance.
Speaking on the one-year anniversary of the current administration in the state, the former council boss said the communities had yet to feel its impact.
He therefore appealed to Governor Okezie Ikpeazu to set in motion machineries to address the challenges facing the oil-producing communities.
“If not for any other reason, he should do so because of their immense contributions to the revenue base of the state. The state is an oil-producing state mainly because of the resources found in these communities,” he said.
Nwaji described the recent decision by the Federal Government to remove the subsidy on Premium Motor Spirit, popularly called petrol, as a double-edged sword, which must be handled with care.
The former council chairman, who is also an oil marketer, noted that the sharp rise in the cost of living, which trailed the removal of the oil subsidy and the increase in the pump price of fuel, was natural and appealed to the people to bear with the government.
Nwaji, however, called on the Federal Government to put the withdrawn subsidy into optimum use to justify its removal and to provide the people with enough succor to cushion its effects on the economy.