The Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) last Monday responded to the claims of Governor Ibikunle Amosun of Ogun State that the corporation had consistently displayed absolute negligence in the security of its System 2B pipeline network located in Arepo barely a month after it was fixed.
The NNPC general manager, governmental relations, Tumini Green, said: "It is sad that the governor of Ogun State who should know the importance of national assets like pipelines and do everything in his power to protect them is engaging in a blame game when every responsible Nigerian citizen is wondering why Arepo which is in his domain has become such an attractive spot for oil thieves and pipeline vandals."
The pipeline was destroyed in August, last year, following a fire caused by the thieves. The repairs of the line suffered a major setback then as three NNPC engineers trying to fix it were murdered by the criminals. The facility was again broken by vandals stealing petrol penultimate weekend leading to a fire outbreak that killed about 30 people.
Ogun State is not alone in this bizarre fire-blazing barbarism. Another ruptured point of the pipeline at Ijeododo in neighbouring Lagos State had suffered similar fate in the last one month. Too frequently in recent times, there have been cases of pipeline vandalism which have led to the death of thousands of Nigerians. In order to forestall a recurrence, the National Assembly has been tasked to introduce necessary legislations to compel state governments to protect petroleum pipelines as national assets.
But that is beyond the point. Shouldn't the NNPC take responsibility for securing its pipelines throughout the country? What kind of micro-management is the diatribe in ceding the consideration to state governments? Was NNPC justifying why it uses canoes to checkmate pipeline and oil stealing that has gone digital lately?
In October, minister of trade and investment Dr. Olusegun Aganga, in a letter to the president, said 24 million barrels of oil worth $1.6bn (N252bn) was stolen between July and September.
The United Press International (UPI) also noted that "the Nigerian treasury, which should be raking in record revenues, has been squeezed at both ends of the oil trade -- upstream, by one of the biggest frauds in Nigerian history related to a fuel subsidy bill worth upward of $16 billion in 2011, and downstream, by the theft of oil of an industrial scale at source".
It is unthinkable that NNPC would not consider this colossal waste as well as the carnage and loss of lives that vandalism and corruption have caused the nation and instead engage in blame game over a patently callous act of its management.
What has happened to our sense of propriety and modernity if NNPC would commute its group managing director, Andrew Yakubu, in a helicopter to the theft-prone Arepo and mandate the officers and men of the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) to patrol the pipelines, using archaic canoe in this technologically advanced century?
Are we inured to the infrared technology where camera configurations cover all the regions of the infrared spectrum - Shortwave Infrared (SWIR), Midwave Infrared (MWIR), Longwave Infrared (LWIR) and Very Longwave Infrared (VLWIR) - which would expose things normally hidden from the human eyes?
If that is too complex, what are the legion of engineers in the safety and regulation rooms of NNPC and our security outfits doing not to deploy other intrusion detection-based control-loop and other digital signal processing to real-time network surveillance systems?
It all shows the poverty of ideas and laziness going on in the money-spinning corporation. The blame game only accentuates the incompetence, irresponsibility and inhumanity of those in charge of our commonwealth.