I have heard some of the dumbest statements about crude oil theft from some top social critics who have never taken the time to read up or understand oil theft in the Niger Delta of Nigeria or globally. I do not know if maybe because there is little material available that deeply explains the goings-on
I have found that like me when I watch football and my team is losing, even if it is to a much better-prepared, organized and financially savvy team, I scream at my team's coach who is not even the goalkeeper that allowed in a goal my late grandma would have caught with her arthritis. NO! I still scream "he no sabi coach. the coach yeye. sack am". So also have many Nigerians been at daggers-drawn with the administration of Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, many accusing him of either being indolent in the fight to stop oil theft, complicity in or in fact being the very thief of the crude. The only thing I have not heard is that the President's black colour/complexion is the crude that poured on him on one of the crude oil stealing missions
The most popular accusation is that he is letting "his people" of the Niger Delta steal the crude as a form of "settlement"
This article sets to give an insight into the oil theft business....what has never been in print (yes yes, I feel the coming applause...after all e no easy to carry una enter the creeks and dangerous yet lucrative business of oil theft.)
Now to avoid a case of slander and libel, most of the things I will say of people, please add "alleged" as I cannot prove anyone's involvement. What I here write, it is your choice to accept it or throw it away as baseless.
The brilliant ones amongst us will see the plausibility of the points and realize that even if it is unable to stand up in court, yet this is the true happening in the oil-rich Niger Delta and the new millionaires it spouts daily while the environment and peoples suffer.
Okay, we begin.
Oil, arms and cocaine are the three biggest international businesses of questionable nature. Blood diamond is a distant fourth.
The moneys that derive from these ventures make ending these businesses a very daunting if not impossible task.
Let us take a look at America, they spend the most money on securing their borders. They have the Coast Guards, Marines, FBI, CIA, and the police. Coca plants, from which you process cocaine do not grow in America. Yet if you stand back at many metro stations and street corners, and watch well, I am sure you will find someone you can buy cocaine or crack or at the ;least, marijuana from.
Now even if cocaine comes in small parcels, marijuana is very bulky and yet all of them find their way through the security apparatuses to even high schools and colleges...without fail.
Now why is this so? Why is almighty America that is able to detect those who try to harm the country, that spies on all the presidents of the world, that knows what you ate for dinner and if you were with your girlfriend while your wife was pregnant, why are they losing the "war on drugs"?
The same reason Nigeria will almost always be unable to stop oil theft....THE STAKES ARE TOO HIGH. TOO MUCH MONEY TO BE MADE. TYPE OF MONEY YOU SHOOT YOUR MOTHER OVER AND FEEL NO REGRET... AS YOU DO A HUGE BURIAL FOR HER....WITH THE PROCEEDS FROM THE DEALS.
Okay, a very zealous president decides to fight the oil theft. He gets some solid no-nonsense policemen and soldiers from the North and sends them to the Niger Delta with the instructions "torpedo any vessel with stolen oil"
. The Hausa man is determined to do just that as he waves his three wives and ten children goodbye, asking Allah to watch over them for him.
He arrives Warri and gets on the boat with fellow officers as they patrol the waters.
He finds however that firstly, the creeks are not mapped as the country's leaders never envisaged they would ever develop that area. It was only good for draining the oil and not mapping it so as to get medical help or food etc to the denizens of the creeks. So even the soldiers rely on the Ijaw Private to navigate the boat for them.
He also finds that all eyes are on him as they patrol and the conversations...many of which is in Hausa as his townsman interprets what the Yoruba superior officer is saying to him. They are asking him about his family and if he wants the best life for them and he of course says he does.
And then they see the big vessel in the distance and they approach with speed. He gets his rifle ready and prays to Allah to protect him as he serves his country. Their patrol boat stops the vessel and he expects gunfire as he sees a very well armed boat of locals with leaves and red pieces of cloth around their arms, obviously voodoo as they clutch AK47s and SMGs ....superior guns to his.
He is somewhat afraid and wonders if they can win this battle should these people refuse to surrender. His thoughts immediately go to his 3 wives and even the fourth he is preparing to marry.
And then what happens next amazes him. The superior officer boards the vessel, returns with a huge suitcase and some expensive cigars and he is all smiles as the locals scream "officer! All correct sir" and let a few gunshots into the air as they and the oil vessel recede into the distance approaching international waters.
He is taken aback. He looks and sees eyes now furtively turned away from him. There and then the officer hands each of the JTF (joint task force) members a stack of money and hands him his.
This goes against everything he was taught in the mosque and in the army. But as he refuses to stretch out his hand, he hears a gun cock behind him and there and then he knows the choices before him....become rich or die poor...right here right now.
He reluctantly stretches forth his hands and takes the money, his survival instincts taking over....undesirous of a death in the slick waters of thee Niger Delta.
He looks at the money and his heart skips a beat...the stack is in clean hundred dollar bills. Adamu his 14 years old son can marry his first wife and he his fourth with this. He almost says "Allah Akbar, but stops himself as he knew this was against the teachings of the prophet. But what other choice does he have?
And as he comes ashore and visits his brothers at Hausa Quarters in Warri, as he hands in the dollars and gets 300 thousand naira in exchange at the black market, he realizes it is not a bad first day at the job. The Hausa people rush their complimentary cards to him and ask him to bring the dollars to them next time for better exchange rate....next time? Wow, what has he been wasting his time in the North for ever since?
The above is the everyday scenario of the JTF and attempts to stop oil theft. What government can pay its security 300 grand a trip? How do you compete with these businessmen?
America with its social security net, better society, insurance, etc etc are unable to convince their officers not to collect "egunje" (bribe) how then do you really expect the Nigerian soldier or police who are used to collecting twenty naira as bribe in broad daylight with kids watching, to refuse 300 thousand?
Now make no mistake, this is not a new development. It is only getting attention now because this administration has gone on to speak endlessly about it and are "clueful" enough to know there is only one way to fight it.....we will get to that shortly.
WHY DOES ASARI DOKUBOH AND MANY MILITANT AND EX MILITANT LEADERS MUSLIMS?
BECAUSE ALL THOSE WHO STOLE CRUDE OIL USED TO BE HAUSA MUSLIMS. Yes, Ijaws and all in the creeks were mere serfs/boyboy to these Hausas prior to Ken Saro Wiwa's wake up call. For "Alhaji" to trust and love you, you had to convert to Islam and trust the brilliant Dokuboh whose village has no mosque and who cannot explain how he became Muslim in the creeks to anyone except of course now you know.
These theft are why the word ALHAJI came to mean "oga", Millionaire" "master" to the average Niger Deltan.
Then came Ken Saro Wiwa, who knew these Hausas were not more intelligent than he and knew it was HIS OIL as in OGONI PEOPLE OIL that these Hausa/Fulani were using their own people as slaves while they made all the money....from his oil.
So he began the struggles against the oppression and theft. In fact to him, NIGERIA WAS STEALING HIS OIL AS NOTHING CAME BACK TO HIS PEOPLE.
Yes, Hausa with Yoruba support in following Ahmahdu Bello's script of saying "We must treat the Niger-Delta people as conquered territories" never bothered to give back to nor feed the goose that lay the golden egg. Lagos, then Abuja was developed while Oloibiri that brought the oil died...I mean DIED...yes Oloibiri where oil was first found is a dead town. The blood was pumped from its veins, its heart and liver harvested so Lagos can be healthy.
Same thing was done to Abuja as Ogidigbe, Kpokpo, Ugborodo and Gbodoro etc continue to be wastelands with no government presence as its resources are drained through the pipelines.
ENTER IBORI, ALAMIESEIGHA AND ODILI, THE GOVERNORS OF THE NIGER-DELTA STATES
These young governors immediately see the potentials of the wake up call by Ken Saro Wiwa. The Ijaws and other tribes in the creek, beholden no more to their Hausa slave-masters are now mentored by the Iboris and Odilis and Alamieseighas who it is rumoured armed them even better and became the ones who now market the stolen crude...and why not? Is the oil in Arab lands not owned by the sheikhs? It is rumoured other governors started calling Ibori the Sheikh as we heard he even attempted to own refineries in South Africa.
The wealth from the oil theft got into Alams and Ibori's head and they started asking for 50 percent derivation which pitched them against then president Obasanjo who then ensured Alamieseigha got arrested in the UK and then began the famous "Ibori is an ex convict" court case which brought Ibori to his knees as he would have been removed from office as he is an exconvict twice over during his time in the UK.
.YAR"ADUA AND GEJ
Now you must understand that OBJ in refusing for Odili and or Ibori to be president or vice, knew that these two individuals had too much power and money and so chose the powerless, docile GEJ to be Yar"Adua's vice.
Yar'Adua knew he had to stop this militancy which had gotten out of hand as both Abacha a military man and OBJ an ex military man's aggressive policies of engagement and killing was counter-productive. Yar"Adua saw that the country was losing billions from its reduced oil production and theft and knew he could not kill all the militants as Obasanjo tried to do in Odi which backfired both in oil production and in the eyes of the international community. So Yar"Adua proposed the perspicacious "amnesty program" which is a simple strategy to remove the majority of the youths of the Niger Delta and then he can go on to kill those who refuse to stop the militancy.
The strategy involved giving a pittance to these youths as payment and then going on to drain the oil. It worked and works still as it has led to companies returning to the creeks and oil production going back up.
Now he needed someone to broker the peace (same thing GEJ is asking of Buhari with the Boko Haram which Buhari refuses to do) GEJ went to the militants and there began his fight with Ibori.
Ibori was the only one militants listened to. People who are kidnapped even in Port Harcourt and Akwa Ibom are returned to him at Asaba. Thus Ibori was the most powerful man from the Niger-Delta, the feeders of Nigeria. Thus he wanted and indeed showed OBJ and Yar'Adua that GEJ was a neophyte and a stranger to how militancy works. He Ibori and Alamieseigha, GEJ's benefactor were the shot-callers and not this nonentity called GEJ...Vice President or not.
GEJ upon going to the militants was body-searched...told to hands up as they patted his body for guns and or wire taps. GEJ was said to have cried as he spoke Ijaw to the militants asking why they are humiliating him their own tribesman. That is he rambo that will shoot all of them?
Thus when YarAdua took the decision to bomb CAMP 5, GEJ remembering his humiliation said nothing.
Indeed, from Asari Dokubo's earlier speeches about GEJ, you will see a lack of respect that he would not dare with Ibori.
It is only now that GEJ has used the power of presidency to curtail Asari's excesses and Asari now knows to watch his statements to GEJ.
However successful the "amnesty program" has been, it has only succeeded to stop attack on oil installations and not to stop the boys from the creeks from making money. They have been exposed to the big business that oil is and really, who stops making money when he still can?
HOW THE DEALS ARE DONE
Okay, how then are these crude oil sales done? Okay check this scenario; I Ena Ofugara find Chinese here in America wanting to buy crude. I get all four of them and we arrive Warri or Yenagoa. The Chinese do not trust me as I am a Nigerian. So they never pay upfront. They keep their vessel in international waters.
Now I locate these oil sellers who have gathered enough crude from illegal refineries in Burutu, Patani and elsewhere or have cut a pipe and have drained enough to fill a vessel. I tell them I have buyers. They too do not trust me so they ask one of the four Chinese to enter their vessel and if having loaded the vessel they refuse to pay and or run off, they murder the Chinese. This is human security/collateral for their oil. They get the vessel, pulled sometimes by tugboat to international waters where the Chinese vessel is waiting and then when payment is made, the Chinese is released to them. I get my cut or I am killed...as greed and double-cross are ever present where these huge monies exchange hands.
GEJ'S CALL FOR INTERNATIONAL HELP
Where you one of the mumus that laughed at GEJ when he called for international help to stop oil theft? Did you join the media and facebook critics who insulted our president and called him "olodo" and "clueless" for asking their help? Slap yourself twice. Done? Good!!!
America knew they would never be able to stop security operatives from allowing drugs in. The knew the simple economic truism "WHERE THERE IS DEMAND, THERE WILL ALWAYS BE SUPPLY". This was true in the PROHIBITION and it will be true forevermore. And so they devised "follow the money". They passed laws and got International cooperation to declare drug trade an international crime and any moneys gotten/laundered through it was to be confiscated and shared between America and the host/domicile country. Switzerland and Luxembourg, the choice location for such moneys had to agree and that way the Escobars and and Griselda Blancos lost huge moneys to America and Switzerland and many druglords are no longer able to stay in business for long as it has become really hard to stash the cash.
This is what GEJ asks for stolen crude. It will reduce it....not end it even....just like drugs.
GEJ is pushing for crude oil theft to be added to piracy and drug trade as international crimes and so Nigeria can close down refineries in France, South Africa, China etc wherein stolen crude from Nigeria are refined. This is most "clueful" and deserving of support and applause.
Nigeria can never pay police 300 thousand per trip. WE CANNOT COMPETE, so stupid speeches that blame the remuneration of the police and army as reasons for oil theft is just silly.
EX-MILITANTS AS SECURITY
The militants employed as security can only minimize and not eliminate it. What it does is get fewer youths not to need to be crude thieves themselves and also for them to catch a bunkerer here or there...as in...stop the smaller fishes.
But like as happens with the MAFIA and arms and cocaine dealer and barons, the big fishes, the sharks, the really organized criminals will continue to do this business as crime is a step ahead of detection
ASARI, TOMPOLO AND THEIR WEALTH
If you think Asari and the Tompolos get their money from pittance paid to them as amnesty, if you have criticised this admnistration based on this, neeldown, hands up and close your eyes. You deserve to be punished.
Asari Dokuboh is a brilliant man as are Atake Tom etc. These people have young brilliant people by their side as advisers...lawyers, doctors, professors too.
These ex-militants like old MAFIA bosses have legitimized. They have started doing legitimate businesses with these oil companies.
This is the part that is killing the Hausa/Fulani who owned this racket. Their companies can no longer assure Mobil, nor Chevron, nor Shell of security and safe passage of goods...especially during the peak of militancy. Now these companies need this oil and will continue to do business even if rockets and bombs land daily. All they will do is align with those that can ensure their business goes on as their society is run by this oil.
Thus when Ken saro Wiwa opened the eyes of these Ijaws and other tribes in the creeks, Asari no longer needed his "Alhaji" and thus became his own boss and suddenly his "alhaji" was calling him sir. Man Friday has taken over from Robinson Crusoe
These companies thus deal directly with these militants/ex-militants on security....no different from how the MAFIA operates....create a security need and fill that need.
But that is not all. These oil companies like Mobil only drill. Al other inchoate businesees like House Boats, hospitality, iron fashioning, pipe-laying, diesel supply etc are contracted out. Foreign companies seeking to do business now offeer the militants as much as forty percent of profits and make them partners.
Do I hear you hiss? Was this not how Awolowo got shares in Coca Cola, or Rewane Flour Mill and so on? Does Coca Cola need Awolowo to sell their products? NO. Global companies partner with locals ad offer them equities. These equities used to be given to the "Alhajis". Now it is given to the Tom Atekes and this is ingratiating to those who have been dislodged from this opportunity.
So if you see Tom Ateke with a private jet, he may own 30 percent equity of Bloomberg Drillers, and may be the labour supplier to Anderson Glass, and is chief security officer to Mobil.
Did you say something about the security? Did you just insult the Nigerian Government's inability to provide security? Again, give yourself a knock on your head. Security is provided in main by private establishments in capitalist societies. When a Nigerian arrives in the US, the first available job to him is as security man in a private establishment. Thus Atake et al are only following global trends.
QUESTIONS TO PONDER
1. Why was Asari Dokuboh the first person Al-Mustapha went to meet having been released from jail? What business do they have together? Should they not be enemies considering Hamza Al Mustapha was Chief Security Officer during the regime of Abacha and was Asari not public enemy number one? What business I ask again did they transact together?
2. If GEJ is involved in oil theft, why is his government through Ngozi Oonjo-Iweala the first to scream about it? Why is GEJ going round trying to lobby oil theft to be declared an international crime?
3. How will you end it if you were president? Can you stop your JTF from collecting bribe in the high seas and oceans of the Niger Delta? How will you monitor them?
4. Is it not time to build the bridges that the Forcados and escravos communities need to link them together by land as was done in Lagos that has contributed little to Nigeria's commonwealth in comparison?
5. If we stop the stipend to ex-militants, can Nigeria withstand the upsurge in jobless youths in the creeks?
Tell me how you intend to end oil theft and I will call you MASTER!!!