- The Nigerian government has calculated that the persistent crisis since 1999 in the oil producing Niger-Delta region has cost the country at least US$ 6.8 billon in lost revenue. A new programme to tackle the region's problems was said to be announced within short.
Dr Edmund Daukoru, Nigerian Special Adviser on Petroleum and Energy, yesterday disclosed that the country had lost this amount in oil and gas revenue since 1999 "as a result of the persistent crisis in the Niger-Delta region," the Nigerian government says in a statement.
Dr Daukoru made the disclosure when the National Executive of National Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers (NUPENG), led by the union's President Peter Akpatason, called on him in his office. The analyst pointed out that this amount did not include oil bunkering and other related criminal activities in the region.
He lamented that oil bunkering alone could provide a source of fund for criminally-minded persons to set up private armies in the region thus perpetrating a state of insecurity which in turn could lead to investor loss of confidence which the country could ill-afford.
Dr Daukoru further assured that the Nigerian government would "soon unveil a comprehensive programme aimed at tackling the problems of the region once and for all."
Providing some insight into what he called "a balanced and comprehensive programme," the government's Special Adviser said creation and provision of befitting jobs for the people, adequate social projects, public enlightenment at all levels of the society should help in containing the problem - "with perhaps a little bit of coercion."
He pointed out, that as an international industry, trade unions in the oil and gas sector should conduct themselves as an enlightened group and commended the leadership of NUPENG for its dynamism.
Earlier, Mr Akpatason, the NUPENG President, had assured the Special Adviser, that his trade union was committed to ensuring industrial peace in the industry. Nigerian union only yesterday called off a strike over increased fuel prices after the government withdrew a petroleum tax that had been termed "unconstitutional" by unions.
Mr Akpatason said NUPENG called for "a permanent and lasting solution to the Niger-Delta crisis," which he said, was negating whatever efforts being made to better the oil and gas industry.
The Niger-Delta crisis mainly has been fuelled by the lack of local investments and environmental destructions by oil companies operating in the region. While great wealth has been produced in the area, the local population in many cases only has slipped further into poverty. This has caused both peaceful and violent protests.
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