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Imo State Governor Hope Uzodinma, on Friday implored the federal government to identify the brains behind crude oil theft in Nigeria and bring them to justice.
The Governor has also appealed to President Muhammadu Buhari to authorise the change of the Federal Medical Center, FMC, Owerri to the University Teaching Hospital for the Federal University of Technology, FUTO, that the National University Commission, NUC, authorized its Medical department.
After speaking with President Buhari at the Presidential Villa in Abuja, he answered questions from reporters and described crude oil theft as economic cancer that needs to be eradicated.
He emphasised that everyone engaged in the practice must be brought to justice regardless of their place in society and cautioned against treating the culprits as sacred cows.
The governor, who aimed to divert attention away from the drama surrounding the single-faith presidential ticket of the All Progressives Congress (APC), pointed out that the country actually experiences a greater threat from its inability to produce enough crude after capacity fell in the last few years as a result of theft straining the economy.
He contends that it is time to cease the debate between Muslim presidential candidates and let the electorate decide who will win.
He noted that: ‘First, the mood of the country today is not about who the candidates are. The mood of the country is that two years ago or three years ago, we were producing 2.1 million barrels of crude oil every day, for over 12 years that has been our main source of foreign exchange.’
‘Suddenly, because of the activities of those who are our anti-national interest we’ve lost over a million barrels and barely managing to produce 1 million.’
‘I think we should arise in unison to condemn the activities of crude oil theft by anti-Nigerian interest groups and bring back the economy of the country. Because you have to have a country first before you have a president.’
‘Look at the quantum of banditry going on in Nigeria today.’
‘To the extent that bandits are courageously even coming into the capital city. We should you rise in unison and condemned these activities.’
‘We should make emphasis on things that will unite the country. And please do by the grace of God abandon those things that are capable of dismembering the country. Our national interest is important. Our national unity is important. Our ability to live together as brothers and sisters also important.’
‘The primary purpose of government is for the security of lives and property and the welfare of our citizens. To what extent have we supported federal government in achieving this primary purpose? Those are things that should occupy our minds now.’
‘But if you throw Nigeria into a situation where religious dichotomy, ethnic jingoism will be at the front burner, it means you are working against Nigeria. So, let us allow political parties who have chosen their candidates, no matter the religion where they come from, to go out their campaigns. It is left for the electorate to reject the ticket by not voting for them. Or accept the ticket by voting for them.’
‘But if we continue to make these things headlines, you are hitting up our polity unnecessarily. I want to beg you in the name of God, let us serve our country.’
According to a recent World Bank assessment, Nigeria’s perilous financial state poses an existential threat. ‘Even 25 years ago, before 1999, World Bank has always said Nigeria will break into pieces and today Nigeria has not been broken into a half piece. This country is loved by God and our faith in God has been keeping this country.’