…Amaechi Says Vested Interests Plan to Kill Maritime Security Contract
Former Minister of Transportation, Rt Hon Rotimi Amaechi has said that the illegal economy on Nigerian waters has hit a $25b yearly, adding that illegal bunkerers in Nigeria are the 7th largest producers of oil in Africa.
The minister also sounded a note of warning over the implementation of the $195m maritime security contract signed between the Federal Government and an Israeli firm, HSLi Global, saying that some vested interests were working against its successful implementation.
The former minister stated this at the weekend at a colloquium held in his honor maritime industry stakeholders under the aegis of ‘Team Maritime Nigeria’
He however warned that whether the Israelis deliver on the contract or not, they would get their money and Nigeria would still be on the losing end.
While explaining the rational behind the signing of the security contract, Amaechi said illegal bunkerers on Nigerian waters were generating as much as $7b annual, adding that cumulatively, the illegal activities on the waters is about $25billion annually.
Amaechi said that Nigerian bunkerers are the 7th largest producers of oil in Africa, so much so that the United States Marines visited his few years ago as Governor of Rivers States to offer Nigeria protection over its waters.
According to the Minister, global container line; Maersk Line was spending $18million dollars as security on their vessels on Nigerian waters.
He described this as ‘free money’ going into the pockets of some powerful Nigerians at the expense of the country.
Amaechi said it is worrisome that to import goods to Port Harcourt port, Warri and Calabar Ports, Nigerian Shippers are forced to pay War Risk Premiums.
“I don’t know who would be minister of transport next, but if you are not strong, that security outfit would not fly, it is a $195million dollars contract, whether they deliver or not, the people will get their money”
“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, the Americans were sent to me then by President Obama”
“They said we are sent by the president to see you before we see president Goodluck Jonathan, they sent their Marines that they want to come and protect our oil”
“And I gave a letter written by the former CBN governor who said that $49billion dollars was missing from NNPC, it was from my office that the controversy started”
“So I told them to forget the $7billion dollars, first recover the $49billion, our bunkerers are the 7th largest producers with $7billion”
“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 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 now that would mount the water, we hope that it would be successful, am speaking now as the former minister of Transportation”
Amaechi appreciated the maritime industry stakeholders for deeming it fit to hold a colloquium in his honor.
He said “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 only my responsibilities as a minister, the difference is just in the style”