TheNEWS Interview: Flawed Implementation Of Amnesty Programme Cause Of Oil Theft In The Niger Delta - Toyin Akinosho

Toyin Akinosho
By The News

Toyin Akinosho, geologist and former employee of an international oil company is the Publisher of the highly rated Africa Oil and Gas Report and is reputed for his deep knowledge of the Nigerian oil industry. In this interview with NKRUMAH BANKONG-OBI, he explains why oil companies are shutting down production in the Niger Delta and its implications for the Nigerian economy

What essentially is responsible for oil companies in the country closing shop?
There is the issue of vandalisation there. You have Agip closing down. Agip has always been one company we thought knew Nigerians well, you know they are Italians. We have always thought that they know how to go round communities, and I don’t want to say they bribe people. But they basically have a way of reaching out to the host communities. The fact that Agip is now complaining means there is a fundamental collapse. This is a company that knew how to work with government at all levels. At the grassroots they knew who to speak to in the communities. But now they can’t handle it any more.
Apart from the fact that you publish an oil and gas journal, you are an expert in this field. What does it cost the nation in real terms, given this gradual migration of oil companies?

It goes beyond just cost implications. You need to do the maths yourself. It’s not something that one can pull out of the air. If you want to calculate in terms of the 100,000 barrels that have been shut in by Agip for three months, or the fact that Shell plc is telling everybody that they are losing 50,000 barrels per day or more, and some people are saying 120,000 barrels per day is being lost, we don’t know the exact figure. That is why it is difficult at this level to put a cost tag. But beyond that, there is also the fact that when a company is planning to produce oil or is already producing oil, it becomes impossible in the Nigerian situation, to say this is how much this project will cost because there are too many uncertainties. You want to order for pipelines, you want to begin to factor in how many times those pipelines will be vandalised or cut in. This is different from a company that knows basically that there is enough security and nothing will happen to their installations, so you can say your project will cost 50 million dollars or 10 millions dollars.
But you can’t be planning for an uninterrupted robbery of your material. What that basically means is that when the investors that come here, when they are planning in The Hague, Paris, Houston, or California before they come and make their investments, they put on the slide, usually, there is the map of the world. And these guys tell you the number of fields they are producing in Netherlands or in the North Sea, what they are  exploring in Sierra Leone, what they are doing in Angola etc. This typically is what they do and they are ranking the countries. They will say “But there is a lot of oil in Nigeria but we can’t get there.” That is money that we are losing. How do you quantify that? This is the kind of thing that this oil insecurity creates. That is money that would have come in. Chevron, the company I work for, has not drilled a single well in swamp and shallow off-shore in the last two years. The only well it tried to do off-shore was the one that had a rig blow-out, that is not vandalism though. But you would have expected that when they sorted that out, they would have drilled again. No, they are not drilling because there is so much uncertainty – PIB issue, the nation itself is not sound. There hasn’t been any company in the world, apart from China that has voted to come and invest in Nigeria. Even the big international majors, none is coming. Only the Chinese who have so much money and are looking for where to invest it have come in. Look at  how Total plc is leaving. Up to the last three months we were thinking that the majors are running away from swamp and onshore, but we are beginning to find out that even people who were drilling deep water are leaving, because of what we have created – this Diezani Alison-Madueke mentality. And it’s going to run us down before anything else. The companies drilling in deep water are leaving, the oil companies like Total are not drilling there anymore.

There was a time government hired private companies to safeguard our coastal areas as well as provide security for the oil companies.

Which private companies are you talking about?
I know for example, that Tompolo, the former militant has one such security firm
Yes! If you are handing over the thing to those kinds of people, what do you expect? It’s what goes round, comes round. You are basically telling them that “you are good guys, you have done well.” It’s all the same network.
That is what happens when you discover that it pays so much, if I can take on the government of Nigeria and be rewarded for it, why don’t we just do it?
The people who weren’t doing it before saw what was happening and they came in. There is also the matter that the amnesty basically has not worked and they know it. What it has created is layers of bureaucracies for a lot of characters who are middlemen between the militants, a lot of who can’t  read or write, and the people who pay the money. So, if for example we are about 20 of us and we are going to be earning 50,000 naira because we put down our arms as militants, that gives us something. But then if you say for example that Mr. Segun Oni is going to be collecting it on our behalf, because we can’t sign ourselves, and Mr. Oni collects 500,000 that about 20 of us are supposed to collect every month, but then gives each of us 20,000 naira and pockets the rest. Now if there is some guy who, because every of this situation requires foot soldiers, can arrange ammunition and lead the group, another crisis would have been born. If we stop the situation in which the foot soldiers have to turn to some other lords, we will solve this crisis.
Is the emergence or persistence of the foot soldiers a  failure of the Nigerian security system?

The amnesty programme sort of admitted that the Nigerian security system couldn’t handle militancy at that time. So, the Nigerian amnesty thing was conceived around ‘let’s pay the war-lords to settle their boys every month.’ But now they created a set of people who don’t pay the foot soldiers their full money, thus getting the boys frustrated. Those people are available for the new people who challenge the fact that the government has given the Tompolos of this world so much power. So, if I  can arrange ammunition and other things because I’m feeling that the Tompolos are making it big, if I don’t have people who are willing to work for me, I won’t go anywhere. But in the Niger Delta, there are lots of people who are ready because they thrive on the status quo, because they aren’t being fully paid for laying down arms. Why won’t they not go ahead and join me in my new crusade to steal oil? Let me tell you how this thing started. We had this criminalisation around 2000/2001, when it became an issue. And Shell plc started thinking about finger-printing Nigerian crude oil. When Shell said that, a lot of people were wondering what was happening. But former President Obasanjo sent  soldiers to the place. And they began to muscle in. He did so much but he made a single mistake. He grabbed Asari-Dokubo around the same time that he took on  Diepreye Alamieyeseigha. Those are big guys in Ijaw Kingdom. He grabbed the two and the struggle in the creeks morphed into something else and all kinds of characters were showing up because, as MEND claimed, they were a social group. But as far as I’m concerned, it was a decoy to oil theft. The boys began to bomb oil installations. Many of us were saying this is a Niger Delta emancipation and all that. President Yar’Adua who succeeded Obasanjo didn’t have the confidence to use the military to solve any problem like Obasanjo had. So the thing became kidnapping and after the amnesty they returned to vandalisation. This is the second phase of vandalisation. It started in 2001, morphed into militarisation with kidnapping. The poor workability of the amnesty programme has now ushered in this vandalisation again. And considering that other things are also happening in the country, government is not able to focus on vandalisation. When you are giving a thief a job, it doesn’t send the right signal out, it encourages brigandage. That’s why this is happening in the Niger Delta.

Do you see a loophole in the original conception of the amnesty programme and the subsequent  implementation of the programme?
Even the way it was going to be implemented by Yar’Adua, the amnesty thing was flawed. If you listened very well to Ledum Mitee, who was President of the Movement for the Survival of Ogoni People, MOSOP, he said categorically that the way the amnesty thing was being implemented was wrong. He said what a technical committee in which he was a member said was that there was a problem with the form the amnesty idea took. I think that all of those militants should have been allowed to get their pay in one central point, rather than creating some guy who reports to you and gives you some money behind the scene. That’s part of the crisis. I think part of the crisis is also that you can’t have an engagement of tens of thousands of people at the same time, a whole lot of people were going to be left behind anyway.

During the January 2012 fuel subsidy protests, we had people protesting against the subsidy removal in parts of the country and we also had people in the Niger Delta protest in favour of  the president. Is this ethnic problem contributing to the problem in the oil sector?
Ethnicity has always been our problem. That is why I say if we don’t solve the problem of militancy and the people helping that trade, it will consume the oil sector. Why does Boko Haram thrive? It thrives because they find people to employ. If you can’t find workforce, if you are big man who sets up a company, that company won’t work. Those elites in the Niger Delta who are in this trade do not even live in those villages. They live in Port Harcourt and Warri. We say money  from  Niger Delta was used to develop Abuja. But shouldn’t the elites first develop their areas? These guys don’t even build houses there, they don’t care. So who is going to develop the place? So, it’s the Nigerian standard political tendency to allow ethnicity determine everything. And this time, they are in power, so they say “why not, it is our oil.” So, Diezani will always have the backing of people who are Ijaw like herself, they will look at characters like me and say those are Yoruba boys who are living in Lagos and writing things. That is why you have Achebe write a book and the people attacking him are Yoruba, so it became an Igbo versus Yoruba war. The Ijaw elite feel it is their time, so they don’t mind even if they spoil their environment. If you look at those images coming from there, you know, you can control Shell’s exploration or drilling activities but you can’t control it when every village turns their own land into polluted ponds. My problem as a geologist is that the water body in Ijaw will get round. You think it’s only going to affect the creeks in the Niger Delta? The creeks flow into the Atlantic and you know the Atlantic is what is down the road near where we speak here on Victoria Island. You think that the toxicity will not get here? And it is bad that we don’t do community health , we can just say somebody died without knowing  if it’s a result of that water.

In a general sense, what is the implication for a country that hangs only on oil for economic survival?
If we continue like this, we will not have an industry. I was very surprised when Petro Brass said they want to leave deep water. Deep water was supposed to be safe. Total sold a big deep water asset to the Chinese three months ago. We used to say that the major oil firms are running away from land, they are going to deep water. But it’s becoming different. I’m not seeing an industry. I’m publishing an oil and gas journal. I’m beginning to re-think my own strategy of publishing it. I probably might go for more culture material which is something I’m  strong in, so that if everything crashes, I will no longer have a magazine that nobody will buy.

How in your opinion do you think these issues can be addressed to keep  the sector afloat?
I really don’t know, except that the President should stop pretending that everything is okay. I will basically suggest that he removes the minister. I know that this is a person who refuses to see oil company managing directors. They are investors, even if they are lousy people, you will basically want to see them and forget their faces. What she does shows that she doesn’t even understand what we are talking about. She’s tied everything to personal fief and if it does not affect her, she is not interested. There have been other recommendations even before I grew to this stage. But nothing changed.

There is also the absence of education of the boys as to the danger of their activities. Isn’t it?
I agree. The Niger Delta people are not taking advantage of what is happening to invest in massive education, make everyone go to school like the west did many years ago. They should fund infrastructure, education especially. The only place you hear about massive infrastructure for education is Rivers State and you wish that there was more emphasis on getting more people educated than having schools you will spend much money on and have less people learning there. I agree that there have to be good schools but this idea that it has to be a great school with little  attendance does not follow. Let’s leave those who are doing something. What have you heard that Delta State has done? I don’t know. I have been to Warri three times between 1981 and 2011. And every time it’s the same. In fact, I prefer the Warri I saw in 1981 to what I saw in 2011. So I don’t know what the governor in Delta State has done.

21 comment(s)
Post a comment

I want to commend Saharanews

I want to commend Saharanews for a great job in exposing the ills of our country through the interviews and comments it generate. However, it will not will not bring any changes as the cabal that holds Nigeria by the jugular have succeeded in seizing the microphone (state apparatus) and only them use it to douse the cry of the wise, the knowlegdeable,the frustrated, the agents of positive change. each time I read great minds like this i weep for the next generation and how we have been and still are enslaving ourselves. For these thieves to be let loose on us with impunity means that we by ourselves agree its their time ; let them have fun . Our (my) time shall come - God willing....Foul!!! God does not work that way. we must wake up from our sleep...I must wake up from my sleep


Editor Ursulina hobbies and interests includes ヴィトン 財布 souvenirs, baseball. Finally she is enthralled by checking out and visiting different regions including Chiasso,Switzerland.


nice articles


thanks for share!

Toyin forvever


you have been there on Sahara for ages:

how now ?


Like To Meet Toyin Akinoso

My name is Victor Taiwo. I am a high class research writer and author. I read the interview of Mr. Toyin Akinoso with utmost interest and I think I need to meet the knowledgeable man for further research on a book I am currently working on.

I shall therefore be glad to be linked up with the man. 08055383733

Thanks very much.

dont give us dat crap about unity again its fake

we don't need each other biko. what is holding us together are the oil wells in the south south- If we are one then why should people from the SS be the only ones to go to jail while the maharajas are being entertained by our gals-why should my village be bombed and the boko haram enclaves left untouched-why should Alams be the only governor to go to jail while the remaining 31 governors are out there enjoying their loot--how many ijaws own oil blocks in 9ja--how many traditional rulers from the Niger delta own oil wells-how many civil activist have been jailed or hanged in Nigeria-and how many politicians assassinated the way the character of the president is being destroyed by the tripod--who are his advisers-are they ijaws or ibos-yorubas and fulanis-are the leaders of boko haram in jail--are they not being handed over to d sultan

united we stand divided we fall

those who think of spliting should
Better forget about that words.I
Just want to let every nigerian
Know that,we all need each other
To get something that we deeply
Need.we can fight,fight for our
Right but thy shall not split. One
9ja one love.( Biko no split)

Isues with this articles

Usually, I respect Toyin as an objective writer. but this article falls below par for 2 reasons.
1. Anyone that knows anything about oil theft in Nigeria knows it is very wide spread and up in high places. It knows no regions, there are folks from every region in Nigeria at various levels of the theft, including some level of international conivance. To blame Niger Delta alone for it is an uninformed opinion.
2. In general, we Nigeria need to get away from the regional / ethnic hatred and demeaning comments we throw at ourselves. I have never seen it move anyone forward. I read the comments here with the regional/ethinic slants, and I feel very ashamed for my country. We need to quit abusing each other, respect one another and our differences and forge a common path ahead. Many people talk of war and break away, but we should be praying it never happens, because we will all emerge from it as terrible losers, tha is if we do not die and lose our dearly loved ones. Let's be positive

the man is actually suffering

the man is actually suffering gbogbomor disorder syndrome


I wonder what makes a non-indigene of the Niger Delta think he is an authority on issues that affect the region? The Niger Delta is suffereing secondary colonisation of by Yorubas and Northerners, just like the British did to colonial Nigeria. If they were driven out then, why should these economic invaders from the South West and North not be driven out from the South South and South East. We have a right to fight to survive and protect our land and resources. The one and only solution to all these rubish, is for the country to split. Let every regions look after themselves with their God-given resources. Why should our young graduates remain unemployed after going to school? Utter rubbish and it must end.

@Yoyin Akinosho, how about leaving......

History reveals lots of stuffs; some accurate and some not so accurate. All that I know is that the bleeding hand feels the pain and money cannot buy poverty. How about leaving Niger delta oil for Niger deltans in that case, they can only blame themselves. As an Igbo man, I just have to work extra harder.


For those of us who were there, the genesis of the problem is the challenge of Isaac Adaka Boro of blessed memory. Not education.
Where there is no oil people own their land even today with the so-called "Land Decree"
Why must it be different in Niger-Delta?

What the heck

There is a limit to stupidity,embrace it.

What business does an alien Yoruba have with SS&SE oil?

Toyin Akinosho should take this as the last warning! What business does he have with the oil of the United Rep of the SS&SE? Why not concentrate on Olumo Rock or the cocoa farms? Why not concentrate on the Okitipupa oil. Oil is oil whether crude or palm....Leave my oil alone. When MKO abiola stole my oil money in ITT you pple called him "Business Mogul" or "Business Tycoon" Really? So why did his business crumble immediately he was no longer able to get oil subsidy contracts? Nonsense. MKO, adenuga, IBB etc have long been stealing my oil via oil subsidy payments for v long time. But it is only now that the rest of the continent started doing it that the West is shouting. Keep shouting. When you 'tire' you will shut up. D other day, it was reiterated that d North cornered the SS&SE oil wells but the West came out in numbers to defend their ally. The suffering has just begun 4u pple.nLong live United SS&SE


good to hear from TOYIN!

he 'is in the know'

so says

Prof Penkele

The South west was able to

The South west was able to pursue education because she was not made to feed the 6 zones of the federation with her money from cocoa-out of the 55 trillion that accrued to 9ja-from oil revenue only 1.7 trillion got to the SS-whereas when Awo was in charge of the SW, he only helped the North pay her lazy civil servants once in a while-building of schools in the SS, that lay the golden should have been given priority attention by the various govts in 9ja-look at the number of commissions that has been set up to care for the needs of the SS -from shagari era to only God knows what-yet no head no tail-so why not secede-again is Warri the capital of delta state-u think IBB was mumu to have made asaba the capital of delta state instead of warri-think of the level of development which would have greeted warri if that area had been made the capital-


The writer has actually spoken on the ills of the problem with the oil sector and the so called amnesty program that is shrouded in mystery and an avenue for some criminals within the ~Niger delta to be compensated for crimes against Nigeria. GEJ is on a fast track to destroy whatever is left of Nigeria, and the danger of this all that because he is clueless and ill prepared for the mantle of leadership, he does not give a damn and is ready to sacrifice the country as long as he continues to head the country come 2015. GEJ professed and vowed to fight corruption, but we all know that to be untrue with his so many actions.

"Those whom the gods wish to destroy they first make mad". GEJ is mad and on the path to self destruction, everyone can see this, but he is being deceived by the those around him. LET US WATCH AS SEE.

IBB knows why he made asaba d capital of delta state

The South west was able to pursue education because she was not made to feed the 6 zones of the federation-out of the 55 trillion that accrued to 9ja-from oil revenue only 1.7 trillion got to the south south--whereas when Awo was in charge of the SW, she only helped the North pay her lazy civil servants once in a while-building of schools in the SS, that lay the golden should have been given priority attention by the various 9ja govts of 9ja-look at the number of commissions that has been set up to care for the needs of the SS -from shagari era to only God knows who-yet no head no tail-so why not secede-again is Warri the capital of delta state-u think IBB was mumu to have made asaba as the capital of delta state instead of warri-think of the level of development which would have greeted warri if that area had been made the capital-

Delta State

Delta State Governor, did you read the last part of this article? Where are all the commissioners in Delta State, did any of you read this article? Please, read this part "So I don’t know what the governor in Delta State has done" to the Delta State Governor, he might not have time to read the article.

D guy is simply insane--what has come out of d 55t stolen by 9ja

Even a rat will never take such an empty brain serious. Very unthinking in his watery analysis of issues in the oil industry-Is tompolo not a graduate? What makes Emeke Offor a former Julius Berger truck driver who was given (Turn Around Maintenance) contracts worth over 300b-by OBJ-better than Tompolo? I remember a shell consultant once alleged that youths in d ND protest because there are no more fishes in the creeks-unaware dat the world is now a global village. Niger Deltans were locked up in the creeks yesterday-with no where to go except d river-today they know-how much oil is being sold by the FGN-their educated youths are just roaming about in d creeks--while less educated settlers take up their jobs in d oil industry-Why allow this hungry looking mumu deceive us? If Tompolo is not good-was it because kensarowiwa had no brains that was why buhari ati abacha hanged him? Who stole our 55 trillion-oil revenue-since 58-biko let us split

Post a comment

The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly.
Comments are limited to a maximum of 1000 characters.
  • Allowed HTML tags: <a> <em> <p> <strong> <cite> <code> <ul> <ol> <li> <dl> <dt> <dd>
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.

More information about formatting options

This question is for testing whether you are a human visitor and to prevent automated spam submissions.