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Regional News of Saturday, 12 March 2022


Wike donates ballistic gunboats to armed forces, says governors not pocketing security votes

Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike

Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike, has dismissed insinuations that governors were putting security votes in their private pockets instead of using the money to fight crimes within their domains.

Wike said this on Saturday when he donated 14 ballistic gunboats to the Navy, Army, Police and the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) at the NNS Pathfinder, Naval Base, Rumuolumeni in Obio/Akpor Local Government Area.

He said the donation including the provisions of other equipment and logistics was a demonstration of how governors deployed their security votes to strengthen the capacity of security agencies to fight crimes.

Wike insisted that the army, navy, police and others were involved in illegal oil bunkering lamenting that the country’s economy would remain vulnerable if such criminal activities including artisanal refining of crude oil continued unabated.

He charged security agencies to restrict the illegal deployment of the gunboats in Rivers to tackle the menace of sea piracy and illegal oil bunkering activities.

The governor said the frustration in the fight against refining crude oil illegally was caused by security personnel providing cover for the criminals.

He said: “Most of the problem we have with illegal oil bunkering is that security agencies are fully involved in this illegal oil bunkering. That’s the truth. Civil defence is involved. The army is involved. The Police are involved. Navy is involved. Let us tell ourselves the simple truth.

“The oil and gas sector remained the mainstay of the nation’s economy and that the people owed it as a duty to protect the sector.

“All of us we owe it a duty to see how we can salvage this country. 80 per cent of the revenue of this country comes from oil and if we cannot reduce or stop this illegal oil bunkering, this country is in for a problem. And so, we must all work together to help this country.

My administration remains committed to the fight against illegal bunkering adding that it achieved tremendous results following the reduction of soot and oil theft.

“The Managing Director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) should show appreciation to Rivers Government by discharging corporate social responsibility to Rivers similar to what NNPC was doing elsewhere.” He said.

Inaugurating the 14 ballistic gunboats, the Chief of Naval Staff, Vice-Admiral Awwal Zubairu Gambo said maritime terrorism, oil theft, and piracy were major challenges that the Navy had continued to confront.

Gambo, who said Nigeria exited the International Maritime Bureau global list of countries prone to piracy, thanked Wike for the donation, and the initiative taken in waging war against artisanal refining activities, which he said gave more impetus to security agencies.

He said there was a need to emulate Wike, who had mustered the political will to wage the war against operators of illegal refineries, with the support of local government chairmen.

He observed that the chairmen were identifying and destroying illegal bunkering sites and arresting perpetrators.

On his part, the Flag Officer Commanding Eastern Naval Command, Rear Admiral I.A. Dewu lauded Wike for the donation of the boats saying the gesture would complement the Navy’s efforts to eradicate illegal oil bunkering and refining in the state and the entire Niger Delta.

The Managing Director of Abitto Global Services, Richard Akinaka, whose firm built the gunboats, thanked the Rivers State government for awarding an indigenous firm the contract for the project.