By Adebiyi Adedapo
Ex – Niger Delta militant, Ebikabowei Victor Ben, aka Boyloaf has explained reason behind the unending oil theft in the Niger Delta region, alleging that between 75 and 80 per cent of¬† cases of stolen crude, especially in Bayelsa State were perpetrated by the Joint Task Force (JTF.
He however justified the stealing of crude oil by indigenes of the Niger Delta region as according to him, they were merely taking resources that belonged to them.
Boyloaf said the amnesty granted to former militants by the federal government worked perfectly until the demise of late President Umaru Musa Yar‚ÄôAdua after, which the commitment made to ex-militants by the federal government had been stopped.
Boyloaf, in an interaction with journalists in Abuja, justified the ongoing crude oil theft in the region, as he said Niger-Delta indigenes involved in the ‘business’ were not thieves, but they have simple chosen to control their resources in their little capacity.
‚ÄúAll of a sudden, when Yar‚ÄôAdua died, after everything had been agreed upon, this government still turned around and stopped everything, I think they should ask the government how are they going about the peace process, how are they going with the Niger Delta people, because we told Yar‚ÄôAdua,¬† and we knew what they have achieved so far in the amnesty that oil production went down to 700-900 barrels per day , but when we accepted the amnesty, everything skyrocketed to about 2.7 million barrels per day,‚Äù he said.
The former Niger Delta warlord also advised the National Assembly against delving into the` controversy trailing OPL 245 oil well involving Shell Nigeria Ultra Deep Limited and Malabu Oil and Gas limited.
He said justice had been served in the matter¬†¬† and that the National Assembly should allow the sleeping dog lie, in the interest of peace.
According to Boyloaf, it was annoying that no Niger Delta indigene had significant oil blocks in the region, when retired military top brass, foreigners, including alleged sympathisers of Hizbolla¬† and al-Qaeda had stakes and oil block in the Niger Delta Region.
‚ÄúUp till today, the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria has the discretionary power to award oil blocks, except the stillborn Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) is passed into law and states otherwise, changes, amends or removes this prerogative powers from the president. But all Nigerians know that the PIB has met its waterloo at the National Assembly. So we are concerned whose interest the National Assembly is serving by reopening an already determined case and meddling into the terms of an out of court settlement between corporate entities.
Chief Dan Etete, whose name has been associated to OPL 245 is one of the leading lights in Niger Delta‚Äôs quests for resource control, and a true son of the Niger Delta, we stand one with him in his onerous task of mentoring young Niger Delta entrepreneurs in oil business,‚Äù he stated.
Boyloaf noted that the pipeline protection contract awarded to ex-militants had not been renewed since October 2012 and insisted that¬† the federal government and JTF should be blamed for unending crude oil theft in the region.
He stated that oil producing communities were used to secure the oil pipelines, adding that there was no complain in Bayesla when the contract lasted. He said that the government ought to have questioned those in charge in states where complains were recorded.
‚ÄúIf there were complains in Rivers state, why did the government not question the operation of Rivers state, than stopping the whole process, they know what they are doing, the politicians want to hijack everything in total,‚Äù he said.
Asked whether the ex-militants have the capacity to steal crude oil in large quantity, Boyloaf said¬† ‚ÄúYou are still using the word oil theft, to me, as a matter of fact, I will tell you that these people are controlling their resources with the capacity that they can do, that is my own, because it is on record, when we accepted the amnesty, we told the government that we would keep to our own part of the bargain, and that the government should keep to their own part, all of a sudden, everything was hijacked by the politicians, the amnesty going on now is not the amnesty we accepted during the Yar‚ÄôAdua regime, now as I am talking to you, the national House of Assembly are the stakeholders of the amnesty, the presidency are the stakeholder of the amnesty and the major stakeholders of the amnesty, that is the generals have now turned to become beggars, what they did to NDDC is what they are doing to the amnesty programme, what they are doing to the NDDC, I will call it a ‚Äòshow‚Äô, it is a serious ‚Äòshow‚Äô.‚Äù
He expressed dissatisfaction with the handling and implementation of the of the post amnesty for ex militants and noted that the process has been hijacked by politicians who were not integral part of the Niger-Delta emancipation struggle.
He accused those around the presidency of misleading President Goodluck Jonathan on the right direction, adding that the Special Adviser to the President on Niger-Delta Affairs Mr. Kingsley Kuku advised the president against renewal of pipeline protected contracts awarded to the ex-militants.
‚ÄúThose at the presidency are also the cause of this problem, misadvising the president, you can imagine where even the Adviser to the president Kinsley Kuku advised the President to stop jobs given to stakeholders, you can imagine that, then what else do you want, that is to tell you that the politicians are the major stakeholders, even the stakeholders have been sidelined in this business, so the government should be held responsible because they are not matured and the adviser to the president is not giving him the right advice,‚Äù he stated.
According to him, stakeholders in the Niger-Delta struggle had lost confidence in the post amnesty deal,¬† as he threatened that the next phase of the Niger-Delta struggle would be more brutal than initial the experience.
‚ÄúI must state without fear of contradiction that politicians and other interlopers have hijacked the well conceived amnesty programme in the Niger-Delta for selfish interest and I have not seen where politicians disarmed any riffle, they should show us. This is not the vision of the programme we agreed upon when we surrendered our arms and accepted amnesty for peace and development to strive in our rich Niger Delta region. I must state here that there is no vote of confidence in the process. The ideal of Niger Delta struggle must never be misconstrued with the amnesty programme, what we have today is the situation where those who did not partake or contribute in any way to the struggle now becomes policy makers and moulders of the struggle, the next phase of the struggle will be more disastrous,‚Äù he said.
Speaking on 2015 election and the assumed ambition of President Goodluck Jonathan, Boyloaf said no one should intimidate the President as he (Jonathan) reserves the right to contest or not to.
‚ÄúLet me say that I am not a politician, I have always been a freedom fighter, but nobody should intimidate Jonathan, he can decide to run, if he so wish,‚Äù he concluded.