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 Help stop oil theft, NDDC urges Rivers traditional rulers

Help stop oil theft, NDDC urges Rivers traditional rulers

The Niger Delta Development Commission has appealed to traditional rulers in the oil-rich region to help the Federal Government tackle oil theft.

It also asked the monarchs to collaborate with security agencies to curb pipeline vandalism.

This is contained in a statement on Wednesday by the commission’s Director, Corporate Affairs, Pius Ughakpoteni.

Ughakpoteni quoted the commission’s Executive Director, Finance and Administration, Alabo Iyaye, as appealing to an interactive session with members of the Rivers State Council of Traditional Rulers in Port Harcourt, the state capital.

The director stressed the significance of protecting the oil assets in the state, adding that bringing a stop to oil theft will consequently result in more revenue allocation to the oil-rich state.

Iyaye said, “We need the traditional institution to assist the government and the security agencies to protect our oil assets. Your majesties, you have very big roles to play to protect our oil assets and projects in the state.

“If there is no oil theft, there will be more allocation for the Niger Delta. I urge you all to try as much as you can to protect our resources and stop economic sabotage in our region.”

Iyaye acknowledged the importance of traditional institutions, stating, “We recognise the importance of the traditional rulers. Addressing this council today is a great privilege. It is like addressing the entire Rivers State through traditional rulers, representing the 23 Local Government Areas of the state.”

The director noted that Rivers State is a major oil-producing state and contributes about 33 per cent of the oil revenue of the country, adding that “no government can afford to disregard the state.”

Iyaye stated that the National Assembly has “approved over N300 billion in the budget for the Niger Delta and the NDDC board will deploy the money for development projects in the various states.

“I want to assure you that 2024 will be a better year for all of us. The NDDC Board will meet with you again at the appropriate time to exchange ideas. ”

In his address, the Rivers State representative of the NDDC Board, Tony Okocha, said, “The NDDC has had a negative trajectory over the years but we assure you that this new NDDC, through the initiatives of the current Board, will bring positive change.

“We have started the process of change which conforms with President Bola Ahmed Tinubu’s Renewed Hope Agenda. This interactive session is an indication that we have set the ball rolling.”

Okocha lamented that Rivers State had about 953 uncompleted projects, noting that the interaction would help to find out what happened.

He attributed the incomplete projects to the “frequent change in the NDDC leadership,” and partly, the “non-payments of contractors.”

He said that the NDDC would step up its efforts in developing human capital, even as it builds more infrastructure in the Niger Delta region

The Chairman, Rivers State Council of Traditional Rulers and Paramount Ruler of Emohua Kingdom, Nyeweli Awuse, noted that the interactive session was a welcome development from the NDDC. He noted that the gesture was a sign of respect for the traditional institution.

Awuse said, “We are elated and appreciative of the move to meet the leadership of traditional institutions in Rivers State.

“This is the first time that the NDDC is reaching out to the Rivers State Council of Traditional Rulers for an interactive session. We are not taking this gesture for granted and we will give them our support and pray they discharge their duties well for the Niger Delta region.”

PUNCH Online reports that no fewer than 157 incidents of crude oil theft were recorded in the Niger Delta between December 30, 2023, and January 5, 2024, as stated by the Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited.

The NNPCL noted that “32 illegal connections were uncovered in several parts of the Niger Delta,” including Bayelsa, Delta, and Rivers States.(PUNCH NEWSPAPER)

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