The Nigerian constitution states that every mineral resource in Nigerian soil belongs to the federal government. Oil, being a mineral resource in Nigerian soil, then belongs to the federal government. Therefore, taking it, in whatever form, from Nigerian soil without the permission of the federal government is oil theft. Whoever does it is stealing oil from the federal government.Information Guide Nigeria
What is Oil Bunkering?
En.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bunkering defines bunkering as “The supplying of fuel for use by ships.” It states, “A person dealing in the trade of bunker fuel is called a Bunker Trader.”
In its modern-day usage, the term bunkering generally applies to the storage of petroleum products in tanks. Thus, bunkering operations are legal operations when they are done according to the requirements of the law. They only become illegal when the law does not back them.Oil Theft and Illegal Bunkering
Because the term illegal oil bunkering also involves all manner of oil theft including petroleum products smuggling and diversion, we shall concentrate on illegal bunkering in Nigeria rather than oil theft in Nigeria. Therefore, we shall take a closer look at the problems of illegal bunkering in Nigeria.
Illegal bunkering is a great problem in Nigeria. The problems of illegal bunkering in Nigeria worsen every day because so many high calibres of people are involved in the business.
Since oil was discovered in Nigerian soil, the federal government shifted from other areas of revenue generation to oil as its major revenue. Oil yields a lot of money to Nigeria.
As a result, many people see it as an opportunity to share in the national cake. They see illegal bunkering as a lucrative business that can yield them a lot of money also. They undermine whatever problems it causes to the nation as well as the individuals in the nation.
Notable cases of illegal bunkering abound in the Niger Delta areas where the federal government majorly drills oil. Illegal bunkering in the Niger Delta areas takes so many forms from stealing crude oil from pipelines to diverting refined petroleum products to other destinations. The type of people who are involved in the business makes it difficult for the federal government to tackle.10 Effects of Secession Agitation in Nigeria
Causes of Illegal Bunkering in Nigeria
Many things cause illegal bunkering in Nigeria. They include:
The poor must eat. They want money at all costs. They then see this avenue as their source of income. As such, they have no alternative to doing the only thing that seems to be available to them.
The federal government neglects the people who live where oil is drilled. Many people in the Niger Delta areas where oil is got have died fighting for their people’s rights. To show their grievances, they have kidnapped many oil workers demanding a high ransom. Yet, the federal government continues to neglect them.
To them, the federal government is cheating them. By the constitution, the oil belongs to the federal government. However, the land belongs to them by nature. Therefore, equity demands that the owners of the land should be compensated. Where the federal government fails to compensate them, they resort to taking it by force and trick hence the illegal bunkers.Multiple Taxations in Nigeria; problems, causes, effects, possible solutions
So many people who are involved in illegal bunkering are not poor. They work in reputable offices. They are well paid. Yet, they involve themselves in the business. They are only greedy. They are not satisfied with whatever they have.Npower recruitment
4. Lack of Monitoring
The federal government does not provide effective monitoring of the oil pipelines. They are left for nobody. Some of the pipelines rust for lack of care. Some of them burst on their own due to old age. Some people are then lured into scooping the oil for their use as they deem fit.
Some highly placed politicians use illegal bunkering to sabotage the efforts of the federal government. They cry foul against the federal government saying that it is not doing enough. This they do just to sabotage the government’s effort.dollar to naira rate
Effects of Illegal Bunkering on the Nigerian Economy
Nigerian economy depends heavily on petroleum products. Anything that hampers the oil sector hampers the Nigerian economy as well.
It is for this reason that the problems of illegal bunkering in Nigeria are multifarious. The federal government increases the price of petroleum products from time to time. When the federal government increases the price of petroleum products, the illegal bunkering operators also increase their operations thereby reducing the income of the federal government.
Sometimes, petroleum products will not be available in the filling stations but they abound in the black market. This is so because the illegal bunkers supply the black market.
Illegal bunkering has cost Nigeria billions of naira in the past. How much Nigeria loses due to illegal bunkering is unquantifiable.
Possible Solutions to the Problems of Illegal Bunkering in Nigeria
No matter the nature of the problems of illegal bunkering in Nigeria, there are possible solutions. The possible solutions include:
The federal government should take responsibility and keep surveillance wherever oil pipelines are. One major problem of the federal government is that it does not take care of its properties. The federal government spends money in laying the oil pipelines only to leave them to thieves. Nobody takes care of them. The government should take care of them.
Those who live around the pipelines should be employed to work near them. They will easily know when the pipes burst or when they are tampered with. They can then take remedy for whatever should be done.
The federal government should build refineries close to oil wells. There are crude oil pipes that run from Warri to Kaduna. Imagine the distance! Anything can happen to them in such a distance.WAEC result
If the oil can be refined in the locality where it is, the possibility of stealing the crude oil will be reduced to the barest minimum. The diversion of petroleum products can then be easily taken care of.
One major reason the problem of illegal bunkering is difficult to deal with is the type of people who are involved. High-ranking security officers are in the business. High-ranking members of oil companies are involved. It is only when all these people cooperate with the federal government and the oil companies that the problem can be solved.JAMB form
Anybody caught in illegal bunkering crime should face the full wrath of the law. People are still in the business because nothing happens to them. The moment the crime is taken seriously, people will leave it.JAMB Result