Rivers State Governor and Chairman of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum, Mr. Rotimi Amaechi, has called on the Federal Government to fight oil theft and financial diversion in the country.
Amaechi made this call on Tuesday when the British Minister for Africa and Member of Parliament, Mr. Mark Simmonds, visited him in Port Harcourt.
The governor, who recalled that his administration had procured two surveillance helicopters to assist to fight oil theft, lamented the refusal of the Federal Government to ensure the arrival of the special helicopters to the state.
He stated that the reason for the refusal of the Federal Government to allow the surveillance helicopters into the country might be political.
“I don’t know how much you have seen about oil theft and I don’t know if the Federal Government is serious about combating oil theft. Why I say this is that for two years now, the Federal Government has refused entry into the country, two surveillance helicopters paid for by the Rivers State Government.
“These helicopters have cameras and their job is to fly all over (the state) and whoever that is stealing oil, you will see. The helicopter will have a monitor with the Army, Police, Air Force and with the Department of State Security.
“I suspect the refusal may be for political reasons. The helicopters have been packed in America for two years now and the Rivers State Government is paying demurrage. But if you see how much oil we are losing, we hear it is about $7 billion annually. Then you will see that we need the helicopters.
“If they (Federal Government) say they need help, why not bring in the helicopters rather than run to the British Government.
“These are questions you should ask them. I said same thing to the American delegation. Our problem is not just oil theft, which is causing this country to lose about $7 billion a year, but financial diversion also,” Amaechi said.
The governor recalled that the last letter written by the suspended Governor of Central Bank of Nigeria, Mallam Lamido Sanusi, was the diversion of $49.8 billion.
“Now, they have been able to manage the crisis to reach $20 billion. But $49.8 billion was spent outside the appropriation law. So, it is all about diversion,” Amaechi said.
The governor also condemned the high level of corruption in the country, adding that the situation has prevented some state governors from paying salaries effectively.