“When you have bad governance, of course, resources are destroyed: The forests are deforested, there is illegal logging, and there is soil erosion. I got pulled deeper and deeper and saw how these issues become linked to governance, to corruption, to dictatorship” – Wangari Maathai
Taking a cue from Wangari’s apt saying above, Nigeria’s natural resources (crude oil) as well as human resources is seemingly lost as illegal crude oil refining, diesel cooking and other unregulated petroleum product refining hold sway in the country.
As the illegal refining of crude for petroleum products and unregulated production of oil lubricants continue to defy Federal Government efforts to curb the act, it has become pertinent to highlight the dangers of the business as well as the consequent hazardous effects of utilizing such products.
MMS Plus Investigations have shown that cooked diesel usually known as “rice and beans”, “lacasera” and other nick names are sold to hotels, ferry operators, private companies as well as government agencies operating in several parts of Lagos while Ajegunle, Apapa and Ijora represent the main market.
Most road side engine oil dealers in Lagos sell this adulterated oil as many generating sets and industrial engines have been destroyed as a result of impure engine oil utilization.
While the usage of these petroleum products destroy vehicular engines and other equipments that utilize them, these oil cartels also deprive the federal government of the necessary tax that would have been generated in a more transparent business environment.
Since their underground companies aren’t registered, they don’t pay Value Added Tax (VAT) for their products, they don’t pay “PAYE TAX” to government, yet they expose their host communities to environmental hazards as well as frequent fire outbreaks leading to loss of lives and properties in vicinities where they operate.
Nevertheless, at such a time in the nation’s history when there are scarcely jobs yet over 60% of the nation’s population fall into the productive vibrant category of 18-45 years, this illegal business thrives with dealers making sales of over N25 million everyday from adulterated diesel, and other oil lubricants.
The rank and file individuals, mostly unemployed youths get between N4,000 to N5,000 per day, making more than two times the much celebrated federal government N30,000 minimum wage in just two weeks.
We have a very good contact with major oil marketers who supply us with diesel and kerosene everyday for our business,” he stated.
While the government must tinker a way to minimize, if not completely eradicate the problem of illegal crude oil refining, major oil companies must be able to play its role in catering for their members of staff to discourage them from venturing into such business while oil marketers desist from supply these illicit dealers.
The security agencies would also have to overcome corruption and complacency to combat the crime, while oil companies develop a plan to prevent retirees and displaced workers from using their expertise in this illegal business.