President Goodluck Jonathan has vowed to check crude oil theft and pipeline vandalism in the nation’s oil and gas sector, noting that if past administrations had taken decisive actions against the crime, it would have been checked.
The president, who made the claim during the presidential media chat on Sunday in Abuja, also said the issue of corruption in Nigeria is exaggerated. Jonathan said: “The problem of oil theft has started long ago, if governments at that time had done something to check it, it wouldn’t have developed into the level it is now. Today, people within and outside the country are involved in the crime. Crude oil stealing is not done by the poor because you need a vessel to do it and to sell outside the country, you need connections. So, it is not done by the poor. But I assure Nigerians that we are doing everything to check it.”
Reacting to question on allegation of massive corruption in the country, Jonathan said the issue of corruption in the country is more of perception than real. According to him, “When you talk about corruption or when the Transparency International speaks about corruption in Nigeria, but I like the way they put it, corruption perception, it means, it is all about perception. The way corruption is being talked about is not actually the case. I am not saying there is no corruption, but it is blown out of proportion. Corruption does not even come third among the factors that foreign business people see as the major problem in Nigeria.”
The president, who pooh-poohed the allegation that there is duplicity of appointments in the country and that cost of governance is high, explained that Nigeria was even charitable when it comes to the issue of cutting cost in government.
“You see, those who talk about cost of governance, they do not have their facts, they do not compare notes. Sometimes, people complain so much about too many political appointees, but I tell you that if you calculate the salaries of the appointees, how much is it? For instance, if you are a minister, you need people who are competent to work with you. Sometimes, when I travel outside the country, when I see the number of people that come with my counterparts from even smaller countries, we don’t go with as much.”
He also explained that there is so much noise about the petroleum industry because of so many interests in the sector.
The president said even though there may be cases of corruption in the oil sector, it is not enough to write off those presiding over the industry, as according to him, those in charge of the sector deserve the commendation of every Nigerian.