24 July 2012, Sweetcrude, ABUJA – PRESIDENT Goodluck Jonathan has set up a 14- member committee to review the operations of the Nigerian maritime sector operations, vowing to end the spate of crude oil theft in the nation.
The committee is chaired by the Minister of Transport, Senator Idris Umar while Olisa Agbakoba will serve as Vice Chairman.
Speaking at the opening of the Maritime Sector Presidential retreat in Abuja on Monday, Jonathan described as embarrassing the fact that it is only Nigeria, out of all the oil producing countries in the world, that continues to record a high level of crude oil theft.
His words: “It is embarrassing that it is only in Nigeria that crude oil is stolen. It is very bad news and I believe that Nigerians and foreigners who indulge in the act need to put their heads under the pillow.
“We are not the only oil producing country. Why is it that it is only in Nigeria that people steal crude oil? This must stop. We will be decisive in putting an end to this malaise.
“Our charge to all relevant agencies and departments of government is to work with the required urgency this challenge deserves.”
The President said the maritime sector is a critical component in the economic development of a modern state.
“Given its importance in the national economy, we have an uncompromising obligation to safeguard our territorial waters against all threats: poaching, piracy, pipeline vandalism, coastal insecurity, crude oil theft, bunkering, non-payment of statutory levies and charges, illegal entry of ships into our territorial waters, illegal importation of arms and hard drugs, among other sundry crimes.
“Even though it is generally known that the West African coast has the richest fishery resources in Africa, our inability to take advantage of our endowment has been attributed to inadequate law enforcement and industry capacity.”
President Jonathan also said at the retreat which had as theme, “Harnessing the Potential of Nigeria’s Maritime Sector for Sustainable Economic Development,” that, given the importance of the sector to the national economy, the nation had “an uncompromising obligation” to safeguard its territorial waters against all threats.
The president lamented the inability of the nation to harness its maritime potentials, saying: “Even though it is generally known that the West African coast has the richest fishery resources in Africa, our inability to take advantage of our endowment has been attributed to inadequate law enforcement and industry capacity.”
Other members of the new committee include Senior Special Adviser to the President on Maritime, Special Adviser to the President on Project Monitoring and Evaluation, the director general of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency, managing director, Nigerian Ports Authority, Minister of Petroleum Resources, representative of Chief of Naval Staff, representatives of the Minister of Finance and the Secretary to the Governemnt of the Federation.
Also included are Comptroller General of Customs, Jim Ovia, Mrs Vicky Hastrup and the Director-General, Bureau for Publice Enterprise (BPE) Ms Bola Onagoruwa.