BY BRIGHT JACOB
The Governor of Imo State, Hope Uzodimma, has advised members of the Special Investigations Panel on oil theft/ losses in Nigeria to be courageous in discharging their assignment, describing the place of crude oil in the economy of Nigeria as ‘’the brain of the country.’’
He then wondered why the life wire of Nigeria should be left in the hands of few individuals to “open the body and remove the brain.”
The Governor spoke when he received the Chairman and members of the Special Investigation Panel on Oil Theft/ Losses in Nigeria, on a courtesy visit to him at the Government House Owerri on Monday.
Addressing the panel members led by their Chairman, Major Gen. Barry T. Ndiomu (rtd), Governor Uzodimma commended the wisdom of the Federal Government in setting up the Panel for the purpose of “reducing the dangerous crime of oil thieves who are determined to cripple the economy of the Nation.”
He said the Nigerian Governor’s Forum and other well-meaning persons had long suggested that a special committee be set-up to unravel the crude oil theft in Nigeria and expressed happiness that the body has eventually been established.
The Governor expressed joy that in recent times the crude oil production level has increased and expressed confidence over the calibre of members of the committee who he described as “men and women of impeccable pedigree.”
He then charged them to “find the courage to do the work and expose the thieves and even prosecute them.”
Governor Uzodimma said two factors have contributed to the successes of oil theft in the country – internal and external security.
Internally, he said the security appears compromised, not properly mobilized and equipped to fight the malady, while externally, the security needs to be properly coordinated or synergized.
He told the panel that in Imo State his administration is doing its best, in conjunction with the security agencies, to check oil theft, noting that “the result is that now things are getting better than the situation we met in 2020 when we assumed office.”
To achieve better results in taming oil theft in the country, Governor Uzodimma recommended that the fight must involve the local communities/vigilantes, the State and Federal Government security agencies.
He assured the panel of his administration’s support to salvage the Nigerian economy and improve the overall well-being of the people, expressing confidence that members of the panel will do the job assigned to them creditably despite the enormous responsibility that comes with it.
Earlier, the Chairman of the Panel, Major Gen. Barry T. Ndiomu (rtd) said they were in Imo State to “engage and have frank discussion with the Governor on finding lasting solution to oil theft in Nigeria, knowing full well that Imo State is one of the oil producing States badly affected by the menace of oil theft/losses.”
He assured the governor that going by the seriousness attached to the committee’s work, the final submission of its report will surely count “and in a very short while the problem will be solved.”
Ndiomu also acknowledged that they equally came to tap the technological know-how of the Governor which, he said; they hope to apply in their investigation to unravel the problem of pipeline vandalism.
On behalf of the panel, he requested for the governor’s support as they work to stop oil theft for the benefit of the Nigerian economy and people.
The chairman noted that his panel will not be afraid to identify and expose those involved in the dastardly act and promised to work with the Imo State Government to, not only identify, but prosecute the culprits.
He assured that members of the panel are working towards submitting their report by the end of February 2023.
Deputy Governor of Imo State, Placid Njoku, the Secretary to the State Government, Cosmas Iwu, the Chief of Staff, Nnamdi Anyaehie, members of the Imo State Expanded Executive Council and the Service Chiefs in Imo State attended the event.