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Stakeholders urge action as oil theft claims N995b

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President Muhammadu Buhari (middle) with former Group Managing Director (GMD) of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Maikanti Baru (left), and his successor, Mele Kyari, during a visit to the State House, Abuja…yesterday. Photo/Twitter/AsRock

Stakeholders comprising oil and gas experts, civil society organisations and Niger Delta leaders yesterday sought immediate action on crude theft, stating that the country had lost $12 billion to the menace.

They accused security agencies, politicians and host communities of aiding the illicit business with its accompanying negative effects on the national economy, environment and health of the people.

The experts, who met at a workshop in Abuja to offer solution to the problem, decried weak regulations and the seeming apathy of the Federal Government towards doing the right thing by deploying technology to effectively monitor oil facilities as obtained in other climes.

They stated that except the poor governance of the industry, weaknesses of the oil companies, poverty and unemployment were conscientiously addressed, all efforts at combating the economic crime would yield nothing.

Consultant to the Nigeria Natural Resource Charter (NNRC), Niyi Awodeyi, who put the losses at N995.2 billion, lamented that the sum was big enough to build and equip over 5,934 world class hospitals or 6,898 standard schools nationwide.

He noted that the development was leading to decline in school enrollment, health risk, consumption of contaminated food and water, worsening child malnutrition, unrest and increased security votes by the nation and the oil firms among other disturbing challenges.

Confirming that oil theft rose sharply during the general elections, indicative that its proceeds were used to fund political activities, Awodeyi, who spoke at the event organised by New Nigeria Foundations (NNF), claimed that the funds were equally used to finance militancy and other criminal acts across the federation.

He maintained that the country had no comprehensive policy on oil theft, especially with regards to pipeline security, as several overlapping roles of the agencies in the sector remained a major barrier to the thoughtful execution of the fight.

NNF’s Managing Director, Prof. Obafemi Ajibola, regretted that the national malaise had festered for too long.

General Secretary, Association of Niger Delta Monarchs of Nigeria and Eze Gbakagbaka of Evo Kingdom in Rivers State, Leslie Eke, blamed the illegal trade on lax regulation of the industry.

He insisted that the integrity of the oil facilities being operated by Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) and other companies was questionable, adding that they should be held responsible for some of the fire outbreaks.

A Commandant of the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC), Obafaiye Shem, stated that his organisation had not been allowed to operate freely.

Director General, National Oil Spill Detection and Response Agency (NOSDRA), Idris Musa, said the act was being encouraged by the teeming unemployed youths, armed ethnic militias as well as ineffective and corrupt law enforcement, low conviction rates, international networks and retrenched oil workers with considerable knowledge of pipeline operations.

Meanwhile, the new Group Managing Director (GMD) of NNPC, Mele Kyari, has met with President Muhammadu Buhari, promising to work with anti-graft agencies to tame the menace in the national oil agency.

He replaced Dr. Maikanti Baru who clocked 60 years.

Addressing State House correspondents yesterday after being led by his predecessor to symbolically hand over the new NNPC team to the president at the State House, Kyari said he had worked with the outgone GMD and his squad and clearly understood what should be done to make the corporation a global company, especially in a contemporary oil and gas sector.

On his planned collaboration with the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and other anti-graft agencies using automation to check infractions in the system, Kyari said the decision was in tandem with the president’s disposition to end the menace in the country.

“We are going to work with EFCC and other institutions that are involved in controlling and contending any form of corruption in our system,” he asserted.

Earlier, Baru described the new NNPC lineup as ‘jet factor fellows’ who are poised to “zoom up, dive, come back and steady the corporation and make sure it becomes definitely the largest in Africa and make serious contribution to Nigeria’s economy.”


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