President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan has legalised oil bunkering, which has for some years now been a major encumbrance to the nation’s drive to meet its revenue targets from hydrocarbon resources.
In that regard, the president has approved the issuance of licences to bunkerers, hoping that such a policy summersault could create more employment opportunities for citizens, and enhance the growth of the Nigerian economy.
Director, Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR), George Osahon, who disclosed the new development through a press statement issued late on Wednesday, said: “President Goodluck Jonathan has approved the issuance of licenses to bunkers as part of his economic agenda”.
According to the head of the DPR, which is the regulator of the upstream sector of the nation’s oil industry, “This (policy shift) will help create employment activities for Nigerians as well as act as a stimulus for growth in other sectors of the economy, including inland ports and waterways.”
Osahon said the agency would roll out the guidelines for the regulation of the activities “in accordance with the provision of the Petroleum Act 1969.”
The DPR said prospective operators would be required to submit an application to the Nigerian Navy detailing the vessel to be used, the location of the bunkering operation or discharge point, the quantity of fuel and the duration of the operation, in order to secure the bunkering permit.
The regulatory body said further that the policy summersault was intended to check large scale theft of Nigeria’s crude and petroleum products as well as shore up its oil revenue.
The Nigerian government banned bunkering in the 1980s, following large-scale abuse of permits, but the business has since festered illegally, with thieves tapping into pipelines to steal crude and oil products, costing Nigeria about $6 billion (about N954 billion) in potential oil revenue.
Nigeria’s special military unit in the Niger Delta, the Joint Task Force, said last month it had seized a total of 46 vessels of various sizes involved in illegal oil bunkering in 2013, while 81 barges, 1,117 Cotonou boats, 82 tanker trucks and 1,873 surface tanks were destroyed.
Meanwhile, in another development, President Jonathan said yesterday that those criticising him as being anti-North were ignorant and seeking cheap political points.
The president stated this when he received a delegation of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) stakeholders from the North-west geo-political zone led by former Minister of Defence, Dr. Bello Haliru Mohammed.
“All these (allegations) are blackmail, political blackmail”, he said.
Jonathan reiterated that it was incorrect for anyone to say that his administration neglected the Northern Nigeria in terms of infrastructure and physical development.
The president said of the 12 federal universities established by his administration, nine were located in the North and were already functioning.
Jonathan stressed that three additional federal universities recently approved by the administration were also to be cited in three northern states.
According to him, because of his interest in liberating the region from crisis occasioned by gross illiteracy, he launched the Almajiri system of education “which is already in operation”.
“The issue of Almajiri education, if I am against the North would I have encouraged that we work with the governors to provide quite a number of children who are out of school?”, he said.
He added that the administration had resuscitated and fixed the moribund rail system which cuts across the country and in particular the North.
The president said that his government was committed to doing more in fixing the rail system across the country to reduce the pressure on the road network.
Jonathan thanked the delegation for the visit, which he described as “unique”, and charged the North-west PDP stakeholders to work together to protect the interest of the party.
He said that the opposition was heating up the polity with all forms of tactics and lies to discredit the ruling party.
“There is so much noise in the media whether is electronic and newspapers or even social media, sometimes it seems as if the world is coming to an end.
“Some people call themselves the progressives, they have done that before. Did they change the system?
“Today if you can abuse Jonathan you are a progressive; if you can attack the federal government you are progressive, even if nothing is happening in your state you are progressive.
But just like the Vice President (Namadi Sambo) said, PDP is still the number one party and it will continue to be the number one party.
“Yes people may have access to the media and use it robustly to their own advantage or disadvantage.
“But as long as we are united, which we will do everything possible to keep the party together”, he said.
The president advised the delegation against being deceived to quit the PDP for the opposition party.
He assured that they would continue to work together to strengthen the party to remain the number one choice.
Jonathan said that the transformation agenda of his administration was on course and he would continue to deliver the dividends of democracy to the people.