Another look at Tinubu’s manifesto
Sir: Presidential candidate of All Progressives Congress (APC), Bola Ahmed Tinubu, released an 80-page policy document two weeks ago in a big ceremony at the State House, Abuja. There is scant attention to the issue of oil theft and how he would deal with this problem which has become the single biggest threat to the nation’s economy. Oil theft has grown in complexity and scope in the last 10 years, becoming the second largest organized crime in the world, second only to the narcotics enterprise.
Of the nation’s 1.8million barrels per day OPEC quota, we have only been producing just about half of that in the last six months due to persistent and sophisticated oil theft operations – a steady drop from 1.3million in the last two years. The economic loss to the nation is huge and calamitous.
Due to massive oil theft, Nigeria has been wracked by serious fiscal crisis, manifesting in its inability to generate enough revenues to fund the budget. The government has had to resort to huge borrowing with attendant debilitating debt-servicing. Tinubu’s manifesto promises to stop fuel subsidy, increase crude oil production to 2.6mbpd by 2027 and 4mbpd by 2030. Fuel subsidy will end automatically when Dangote Refinery begins production middle of next year, increasing crude oil production from 1.4mbpd to 4mbpd in seven years is near impossible. It requires huge investments but the IOCs that have the money are not investing. Rather, they’re divesting. Tinubu is also promising to “complete critical gas infrastructure projects, including pipeline infrastructure.’… Constructing gas pipelines without gas processing facilities is a waste of capital. The pipeline itself does not produce gas. It only transports gas. So, you need a producer to develop gas fields and deliver the gas to pipelines. The business case for the investment is gas price and guaranteed payment by the buyer, long-term gas sales and purchase agreement. The next administration must figure out how to cross this hurdle.
The document also pledges to “implement the Host Community Development Trust’’ which seeks to encourage oil companies’ assistance to host communities. I support all measures that will develop the oil communities, but from experience, offering communities money or oil is not the solution. The restiveness was created because government, both federal and state failed to invest in the communities. But what has the government been doing with the taxes and royalties it’s been earning from oil production? Has the NDDC been living up to expectation? The issue government needs to address is proper application of oil revenue, not handing communities money. It will only lead to further conflict.
Nigeria cannot survive further if it continues to be buffeted with corruption, oil theft and insecurity. For the nation to make progress, the next president should be single minded and fierce in fighting the monster.
• Etim Etim