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Oil Theft Greatest Threat To Nigeria’s Economy, Says House Speaker Abbas 

He lamented that Nigeria loses over 300,000 barrels of crude oil per day to criminal activities.

The Speaker of Nigeria’s House of Representatives, Hon. Tajudeen Abbas, on Wednesday, inaugurated a Special Ad Hoc Committee on oil theft to investigate the growing spate of pipeline vandalism as well as illegal oil bunkering and theft in thd country.

The Speaker, in his address at the inauguration ceremony, stated the resolve of the 10th House to tackle the problem headlong, noting that oil theft and other oil-related criminalities remain the greatest economic sabotage, leaving the country with dwindling revenue.

 Abbas lamented that Nigeria loses over 300,000 barrels of crude oil per day due to theft, vandalism, and other criminal activities.

“Some of the severe consequences of this include revenue loss, environmental disaster, threats to regional peace and security, proliferation of arms, and a poor investment climate.

“The nation is reported to have incurred losses of oil revenues estimated at N1.29 trillion annually due to industrial-scale theft,” he stated.

He stated that the committee’s primary objective was to determine the proximate and remote causes of oil theft and recommend remedial measures to the House.

“Nigeria is facing significant financial challenges due to a combination of rising expenditures and falling revenues. You may recall that the proposed revenue and expenditure for 2023 stand at N9.73 trillion and N20.51 trillion, respectively.

“This means a fiscal deficit of N10.78 trillion, which is about 4.78 per cent of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP). This deficit is the largest in Nigeria’s history, and with a budget more than double the proposed revenue, we are faced with the challenge of borrowing to cover the gap,” he added.

“Abass stated that it is for this reason that the House will significantly raise the targets for all government revenue-generating agencies.

“I am convinced these agencies can generate much more than they currently do. In our recent engagement with MDAs on the 2024-2026 MTEF, we have made it clear that a lot more will be required of our key revenue-generating agencies in 2024.

“We expect them to double their total annual revenue profile. However, to achieve this, these agencies must reduce wastage and improve efficiency, especially in collection,” he added.

The speaker further said revenue-generating agencies must ensure transparency in the management of generated revenues.

“Let me state clearly that the House will not tolerate low performance by agencies or failure to show evidence of required remittances to the Federation Account. We shall also closely monitor and undertake strict oversight of the activities of all revenue-generating agencies to ensure compliance.

“I charge you, therefore, to investigate all dimensions of oil theft, focusing on the actions of all actors, including criminal gangs, militia groups, the local populace, company employees and security agencies.

“I urge the members of this committee to approach your mandate with diligence, objectivity, a sense of urgency and patriotism. The findings and recommendations from your work will serve as a foundation for sustainable solutions rather than ad-hoc measures.

“I also expect your efforts to contribute significantly to enhancing the integrity of our oil sector and promoting sustainable development,” he stated.

The speaker further called on all stakeholders, including government agencies, industry players, security agencies, civil society organizations, and the general public to extend their full cooperation to the special committee.

He noted that by effectively addressing the challenge, Nigeria can enhance revenue, investment and overall socio-economic progress.

The Chairman of the Committee, Hon. Alhassan Doguwa, earlier during his remarks described oil theft as an issue of national importance, lauding the House for taking an important and bold step to check the crime.

“The issues of oil theft and pipeline vandalism are not new to us, nor are they exclusive to Nigeria as a nation. However, they remain persistent threats to our economy, ecology and national security,” he stressed.

Meanwhile, the Nigerian National Petroleum Company (NNPC) has reiterated its unflinching commitment to winning the ongoing war against crude oil theft in the country.

The Group Chief Executive Officer of the company, Mele Kyari, gave the commitment while making a presentation on the operations of the company under the Petroleum Industry Act (PIA) 2021 at the Federation Account Allocation Committee (FAAC) retreat in Asaba, Delta State.

The GCEO, who was represented by the company’s Chief Financial Officer, Umar Ajiya, said NNPC has zero tolerance for crimes that impact negatively on the nation’s energy security.

A statement by the Chief Corporate Communications Officer, NNPC, Femi Soneye, quoted him as stressing that the industry-wide security collaboration to tackle the menace had helped to avert many illegal operations on crude oil and products pipelines with many of the perpetrators arrested.

He said the security operation was aimed at stemming the twin evils of crude oil theft and pipeline vandalism with a view to increasing the nation’s crude oil production, boosting revenues, enhancing energy security, and bolstering economic prosperity.

On the PIA, he said it presented a significant opportunity to reposition NNPC for sustainable business success, adding that the company is now operating in line with global best practices.

He disclosed that financial integrity was the fulcrum of NNPC’s current operations, and that its contribution to total national tax revenue was over 40 per cent.

He said the NNPC would continue to collaborate with the Nigeria Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (NEITI) and all relevant stakeholders to strengthen the industry.

“Our book remains open to all our stakeholders as we remain committed to delivering value to Nigerians with the height of financial integrity which is deeply rooted in our principles,” he said.

The retreat, with the theme: “Creating Resilient Economy through Diversification of the Nation’s Revenue,” was organized by the Federal Ministry of Finance in collaboration with the Delta State Government.

Emmanuel Addeh and Juliet Akoje

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