Nigeria loses $25bn yearly to illegal bunkering, others —Amaechi

Nigeria loses about $25bn yearly to illegal oil bunkering, piracy and other illegal businesses on Nigerian waters, a former Minister of Transportation, Mr Rotimi Amaechi, has said.

Amaechi said perpetrators of illegal oil bunkering in Nigeria could be called the seventh largest oil producers in Africa because of the volume of oil they deal in.

The former minister spoke on Saturday at a reception and book launch held in his honour by a group from the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency, Nigerian Shippers’ Council, the Nigerian Ports Authority and other stakeholders in the Nigerian maritime industry.

He said, “Illegal economy in the (Nigerian) waters is about $25bn. The Americans spoke to me; they said Nigerian illegal bunkering merchants are the seventh largest producers of oil in Africa.

“One place I will leave with you is the security outfit we are pushing. I don’t know who will be the minister of transport; you have to be strong.  That security outfit is a $195m contract.  Whether they deliver or not, the people will take their money.

“They (contractors) are training our security that will handle the waters and we hope that it will be successful.”

Amaechi pointed out that if the money lost to illegal business on the water as well as the one spent on escort services to secure vessels calling at Nigerian shores was put back into the economy every year, Nigeria would be rich.

The minister expressed worries that shipping firms in the country were spending millions of dollars on security, saying this informed the maritime security contract of $195m, which was awarded to HSLI,  an Israeli firm in 2018  by the Federal Government.

“I told Dakuku Peterside that the solution to the security issue is to make sure that whether we are sleeping or not, we are seeing our waters,” he said.

Despite efforts on the part of government to contain the menace, Nigeria continues to top the list of countries with frequency of piracy attacks in Africa.

This in part informed the recent signing of the piracy bill into law by President Muhammadu Buhari.  Stakeholders are hopeful that it will go a long way to aid the fight against piracy.

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