By Aluta News
Nov. 22, 2023
The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Mr Tajudeen Abbas, has inaugurated Special Committee on Oil Theft to tackle one of the largest threats to Nigeria’s economy.
Abbas said during the ceremony on Wednesday in Abuja, that Nigeria was losing estimated 300,000 barrels of crude oil per day due to theft, vandalism and other criminal activities.
According to him, 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 speaker said that the nation was reported to be incurring losses of oil revenues estimated at N1.29 trillion annually due to industrial-scale theft .
He explained that the committee’s primary objective was to determine the proximate and remote causes of oil theft and recommend remedial measures to the parliament.
“We set up this special committee to underscore our unwavering commitment to protect the nation’s resources for the good of all our citizens and to punish the perpetrators of these dreadful crimes.
“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, sense of urgency and patriotism.
“The findings and recommendations from your work will also 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.
“I call upon all stakeholders, including government agencies, industry players, security agencies, civil society organizations, and the general public, to extend their full cooperation to this special committee for it to deliver on its mandate,” he said.
Abbas said that Nigeria was facing significant financial challenges due to a combination of rising expenditures and falling revenues.
He recalled that the proposed revenue and expenditure for 2023 stood at N9.73 trillion and N20.51 trillion, respectively.
The speaker added that there was a fiscal deficit of N10.78 trillion, about 4.78 per cent of the GDP.
According to him, this deficit is the largest in Nigeria’s history, and with a budget more than double the proposed revenue, the country is faced with the challenge of borrowing to cover the gap.
“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 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.
“In addition to this, 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,” Abbas said.
Earlier, the Chairman of the committee, Rep. Ado Doguwa (APC-Kano state), said record from National Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (NEITI) report 2021, indicated that the oil and gas sector accounted for 72.26 per cent of Nigeria’s total export and government foreign exchange.
He said the sector accounted for 40.55 per cent of government revenue and provided 19,171 jobs.
Doguwa said in spite of the seemingly robust contribution of the oil and gas sector to national economy, the country was yet to derive maximum benefits from its abundant hydrocarbon resources.
According to him, this is due to oil theft and losses through pipeline vandalism, pipeline integrity issues, compromises, measurement inaccuracies, outright sabotage and general insecurity in the oil producing communities.
Doguwa stressed that issues of oil theft and pipeline vandalism were not new but remained persistent threats to Nigeria’s economy, environment and national security.
“The urgency of addressing these challenges and bolstering our regulations, technology and security measures cannot be overstated.
“Oil theft is large scale illegal business estimated to be worth $133 billion per year globally.
“This makes it the world’s biggest theft of a natural resource and is also considered to be the number one most smuggled natural resource globally.
“From the 2021 NEITI, it is estimated that between 2019 – 2021, Nigeria lost 643 million barrels of crude amounting to $48 billion from thefts.
“A recent report by a presidential investigative panel affirms the apparent micro-economic impact of crude oil theft.
“The report states that with oil theft and illegal bunkering taking as much as 200,000 to 400,000 barrels per day of the country’s oil production at the onset of these illegalities to now more than 800,000 barrels per day, the country’s fiscal stability is therefore threatened.
“The report further painted a frightening scenario where losses to oil thieves and official leakages could overtake official receipts of all oil revenues into the Nigerian treasury,” he said.
Doguwa said that challenges might appear enormous but with the political will of the house leadership, members and the committee, they could be surmountable, saying that the tales of woe could be rewritten to that of blossoming prosperity.
The chairman said he was optimistic that with the inauguration and the support of the house leadership, the committee would dust off all existing recommendations and re-evaluate them.
He said the committee would do this in line with current realities and ensure monitoring the implementation of relevant recommendations in collaboration with relevant agencies of government.