The recent claim by the Minister of Petroleum Resources, Diezani Alison-Madueke, that oil theft in Nigeria is supported by international syndicates in what appears to be another form of terrorism against the country has added a new dimension to the unrelenting stealing of the nation’s oil resources. By her estimates, Nigeria loses about N400 billion to oil thieves in the Niger Delta area annually.
The minister, at an event in London, submitted that the evil being
perpetrated in Nigeria’s oil sector is highly technical,
international-level crime, aided and abetted by syndicates outside
Africa who are the patrons and merchant-partners of oil thieves.
The minister’s estimation of Nigeria’s loss to oil theft appears even
conservative. It came on the heels of claims by the Co-ordinating
Minister for the Economy and Minister of Finance, Dr.Ngozi
Okonjo-Iweala, that Nigeria loses about 400,000 barrels of crude per day
which amounts to N6 billion or $1.2 billion per month, representing
about 17 percent of Nigeria’s daily production. The Minister of State
for Finance, Dr. Yerima Ngama, said the amount earned in July was
N365.04 billion lower than the budgeted income of N863.026 billion in
the month of June. The Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff
Association of Nigeria (PENGASSAN), on its part, says the country loses
over N1 trillion annually to oil theft, while a recent audit report by
the Nigeria Extractive Industry Transparency Initiative (NEITI) says
Nigeria lost a whopping N17.62 trillion to oil thieves between 2009 and
2011.This represents 7.7 percent of total revenue projected by the
Federal Government within the two-year period in review.
From the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), the
information is that about $2.23 billion (N191 billion) revenue that
should have accrued to the Federal Government from oil proceeds was lost
to the activities of crude oil thieves in the first quarter of 2013,
while an estimated $6 billion is lost annually.
According to a report released two months ago by Chatham House, a
UK-based policy think-tank, oil theft in Nigeria has moved to an
industrial scale. In the report, Chatham House said the country lost at
least 100,000 barrels of oil per day, which is about five per cent of
Nigeria’s total output in the first quarter of 2013, to theft from its
onshore and swamp operations alone.
This massive oil theft is already affecting the Federal Government’s
finances, with government reportedly forced to withdraw from the Excess
Crude Account (ECA) to make up for the shortfalls in monthly revenue
allocations to the three tiers of government for October.
This unbridled stealing of the nation’s crude oil has gone on for too
long. It is not enough for government officials that should tackle the
problem to continue wringing their hands in frustration and throwing
around figures on how much we are losing, or lost, within a certain
period. Oil is the mainstay of Nigeria’s economy. It is time we moved
from lamentation to action. We cannot continue to brandish figures in
the face of this monstrous challenge. The government needs to wake up
and do whatever is necessary to stop the stealing.
Every time an agency of government comes out to tell the nation how
much is being lost to oil theft, this administration admits that it
knows the problem but just does not know what to do about it. And, a
government admitting that it cannot protect national resources is
admitting it is not worthy of the powers of state at its disposal. That
is shameful and disheartening.
What is worse, the different figures released by these agencies do
not always add up. It seems as if we do not even know how much oil is
produced in the country. If we do not know with utmost certainty how
many barrels of crude oil we produce daily or annually, how can we know
how many of these barrels are stolen? If we do not know how many barrels
are stolen, how can we believe the figures being thrown around? Yet,
this is the nation’s major source of livelihood. Do these statistics not
suggest that the government is being economical with the truth on this
Certainly, oil thieves are not ghosts. We also know for a fact that
the full powers of the nation’s armed forces are at the disposal of the
Federal Government to deploy and destroy this menace. Why the government
is allowing this cancer to steadily eat up Nigeria’s finances is
incomprehensible. The devastating effects of the problem on our economy
are staring us in the face. For our largely mono-product nation,
trifling with this monster can only destroy our economy. This is a
prospect that is terrifying, but the situation can be remedied. The time
The Federal Government must pull out all the stops and fight oil
thieves. We have had enough of the depressing figures and statistics. We
need a new dawn in the fight against this menace that is threatening
our economic security. This steady decline in crude oil income must be
halted. Continuous expression of helplessness is an admission of failure
by the government. It is totally unacceptable.
Source: Sun News