By Suleiman Shehu
The Chief of Army Staff (COAS), Maj.-Gen. Taoreed Lagbaja, says Nigerian Army under his watch will stamp out oil theft and pipeline vandalism in the country’s Niger-Delta region.
Lagbaja gave this assurance during an interactive session with media executives on Wednesday in Ibadan as part of activities marking the 2023 Nigerian Army Day Celebration (NADCEL).
“The Army will focus on the situation in the Niger-Delta region, just as it will not also lose focus on what is happening in other parts of the country in line with the mandate of the current government,” he said.
Lagbaja said this was necessary since most of the country’s oil and gas infrastructure are in the South-South region, pointing out that 90 percent of Nigeria’s revenue are from the sector.
He expressed concern that pipelines’ vandalisation and oil theft in the Niger-Delta region have affected the country’s revenue generation, stating that urgent steps must be taken to curb the situation.
“The President has said that the nation is bleeding from all these. The money is not just there to do what we used to do in the past.
“This has led to the removal of oil subsidy and the floated exchange rate, while other reforms have also been put in place.
“Riding on the ‘Renewed Hope’ agenda of the President, the Nigerian Army under my watch will stamp out oil theft and pipeline vandalism in the Niger-Delta,” Lagbaja said.
The COAS further said that he would also not lose focus on banditry in the North-West.
”I know that people desired to go back to their farms and live normally as law-abiding Nigerians.
“We will work to defeat banditry and kidnapping which are being operated freely in some communities.
”We will therefore entrench there in the North-West the stability we have achieved in the North-East region.
“We want a situation where people can wake up by 2 a.m. and be confident to engage in their legitimate business.
“In those days, truck owners/drivers transport fish from Baga to Onisha and leave Baga by 2 a.m. without any fear of insecurity.
“So, we want to return to that era where people live peacefully in Plateau and parts of Southern Kaduna and other places where we are currently experiencing security challenges,” he said.
The COAS also said it was gratifying to note that the Nigerian Army was frequently called upon to address various security challenges confronting Nigeria.
”This is because the Army has been found to be reliable and meeting Nigerians’ expectations.
“We are not complaining about the frequent calls, because we are the people’s Army.”
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that activities of the 2023 Nigerian Army Day Celebration (NADCEL) are going on alongside the 160th Anniversary of the Nigerian Army.(NAN)
(Edited by Olawale Alabi)