Former Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Ameachi, on Saturday, said that Nigeria loses an estimated $25 billion to illegal activities of oil thieves and bunkerers in the country.
Ameachi who spoke in Lagos at a reception organised in his honour by industry stakeholders stated that Nigeria’s illegal bunkerers are the 7th largest producers of oil in Africa.
He noted that although he no longer serves as minister, he was optimistic that the maritime security contract, if well executed, would help address security challenges on the nation’s maritime domain.
While thanking the stakeholders for recognising and celebrating his achievements as former minister of transportation, Ameachi tasks them to display strong will to ensure that the maritime security contract project succeeds.
“The illegal economy in our waters is about $25billion. The Americans spoke to me when I was Governor and said Nigerian bunkerers are the 7th largest producers of oil in Africa, that is illegal bunkering.
“We have also, those that escort vessels to the platforms, when you compute all these economies on the waters, it is within $20 and $25billion. If you put that money in Nigerian economy, the country will change.
“The solution is to ensure that whether we are sleeping or not, we are seeing our waters. It was difficult to get approval for the security contract from the President, and even after we got the approval, various interests began to fight it, they fought it for two years before the President finally decided that we should proceed.
“We have now proceeded, they have started training our security that would man the water, we hope that it would be successful, don’t forget I am speaking now as the former minister of Transportation, so if you are not strong, that security outfit will not fly. It is a $195 million contract and whether they deliver or not, the people will take their money.
“To the stakeholders, I thank you for celebrating me, but you must help Nigeria.
“I will not forget you the stakeholders. Believe you me that you owe me nothing, rather, I am the one that is owing you. Whatever I have done for you is my responsibility as a minister, the difference is just the style,” he said.
Heads of agencies in the sector including the Managing Director, Nigerian Port Authority, Bala Usman; Director General, Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency ( NIMASA), Dakuku Peterside; Executive Secretary, Nigerian Shippers’ Council, Hassan Bello; Chairman, Seaport Terminal Operators Association of Nigeria (STOAN), Princess Vicky Haastrup, praised the sterling leadership qualities of the former Minister even as they applaud his input to the growth of the sector.