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FG stopped Rivers' $30m helicopters from coming into the country – Amaechi

By The Rainbow

Governor Rotimi Amaechi of Rivers State on Friday in London insinuated that the Federal Government obstructed his government from giving effective fight against oil theft by preventing entry into the country two surveillance helicopters the state ordered for $30 million.

The governor placed all the woes plaguing the Nigerian state on the door steps of deepening corruption and bad politics.

'Two years ago, Rivers State Government got approval to purchase surveillance helicopters to fly around our territorial waters to provide real time monitoring of oil theft. We paid $30 million for those helicopters; up till today they have been prevented from coming into Nigeria. What could be their reasons? We are now paying taxes on the equipment and the sellers are worried too.'

Amaechi, elected governor under the canopy of  Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), has for recent months been more critical of the President Goodluck Jonthan administration than members of the opposition. He cross carpeted to the opposition All Progressive Congress earlier this week.

Amaechi said these two social problems of corruption and bad politics are responsible for the worsening security and human rights situation in Nigeria.

The governor  spoke in London at a Special High Level Panel on Security and Human Rights Challenges in the Niger Delta Region at the United Kingdom House of Commons on Friday.

He treid to paint a picture of how  many of the problems currently bedevilling the nation can be linked to corruption.

While decrying the  problem of oil theft and how it has impacted negatively on the revenue of the state, he said:  'Nigeria is currently losing colossal amounts of revenue to oil theft. As a state governor, I am very concerned because in the last few months, the monthly allocation to Rivers State has dropped from about N20 billion monthly to about N13 billion.

'One of the reasons given is the problem of oil theft. Today our state has a short of aboutN 7 billion  monthly which we should have committed to build more schools, more health centres, and complete several road and infrastructural projects that we have embarked upon already.

'Security of oil installations and protecting our territorial waters, fall into the responsibility of the federal government. However as those who are directly affected by any action or inaction in this regard, we are concerned.

'The systematic haemorrhage on our economy and the direct impact on the poor citizens can no longer be ignored. The Nigerian government has asked the international community to provide them support to fight oil theft. However I must say that this intention must be demonstrated through political will.'

Amaechi further stated,  'If we must get the support we desire to stop this economic sabotage that is now threatening our economy, we must demonstrate clear political will before all stakeholders. On your part as an international community, you must scale up your partnership, not as bystanders but as stakeholders.

'Oil does not just develop legs and walk into the international community. I must confess that I do not understand the details but however like in every trade, there must be buyers and sellers to complete the chain and you have a role to break that chain.'

Another panellist at the event Martin Ewence lamented about how Nigerian oil thieves have become the twelfth largest producers of crude oil in Africa and underscored the relationship between improved security and flow of foreign direct investment.