[BLOG] Oil Theft Still Rages in Niger Delta
Despite the amnesty that was agreed with over 25,000 Niger Delta militants barely three years ago, oil thievery still plagues the region and even seems to be on the rise. Sounds can still be heard in the swampy enclaves – alarming sounds that spell trouble for the environment.
Illegal refiners constitute a small portion of this theft, but their damage is extensive – damage not only to the economy and the environment, but to their person as well. They are exposed to considerable health hazards in their attempts to “claim what is theirs” because they go in without the right protective gears to ensure their safety. But personal risk is not what is paramount in their minds at the time. Gasoline, kerosene and diesel theft is their objective. And apparently they achieve this objective. According to Nigeria’s biggest oil operator, Shell, approximately 150,000 barrels per day is stolen from the Nation.
In 2009, the Nigerian government agreed an amnesty with the militants, who agreed to lay down their arms in return for training programs and a 65,000 naira-a-month (USD 400) stipend. Although this has gone a long way to constructively occupy the youths, it has not managed to mitigate the situation. Thousands remain untrained and unengaged, with too much time on their hands and too little productive activity. To make matters worse, a lot of the militants complain that a generous portion of their stipend is impounded by other parties and they only receive a small part of it.
Rage and discontent is still rife in the Niger Delta Region of Nigeria. The militants threaten worse calamities to come if nothing changes. “We will return to guns,” declares an oil thief.
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