The growing rate of crude oil bunkering, especially in the Niger-Delta region may persist unless the Federal Government develops the political will and encourages legislative intervention, industry experts said in Abuja.
Speaking on Wednesday at an advocacy seminar against crude oil theft organised by New Nigeria Foundation, the stakeholders attributed rising cases of bunkering to lack of political will, poor legislative policies and high unemployment rate.Stakeholders therefore called for formulation of inclusion policies, stronger political will and proper orientation of security operatives to tackle the menace.
The Director-General of NOSSRA National Oil Spill Detection and Response Agency (NOSDRA), Idris Musa said the menace has affected the monthly revenues shared by the three levels of government. Musa disclosed that about 61 per cent of reported cases of oil spill incidents from January 2016 to June 2019 were linked activities such as oil theft.
“In the last three to four years, there have been reduction in the overhead of government agencies due to the impact of crude oil theft and even the state and local government who do not feel concerned by the menace have been hit by financial crisis. Oil theft is a canker worm that has eaten deep into the fabric of the society and the onion is on Nigerians to speak out on those who engage in the illegal activity”, he added.
To tackle the menace, Musa while calling for an improved legal framework to punish offenders said government agencies, especially the security operatives must be empowered to improve surveillance in the host communities. Chief Executive Officer of the New Nigeria Foundation, Prof Obafemi Ajibola lamented that lack of political will to face the challenges contributed to the slow progress recorded in ending the criminal activity.
He said: “Nigeria is a developing country and with 200 million people, we are lacking in enough resources in developing properly. We recognize that Nigeria needs all the Money it can get for development. If from the bit we have we are now losing some of it that we can avoid losing it is extremely important for us to pay attention to such things. The oil sector is a major area we have leakages.
“From what we are seeing so far, if the political will is strong there would have been some progress. But because we do not see some progress now does not mean there they can’t be progress in future. What we need to do is to get people together so that we can advocate strongly for a solution. We know that the situation we are in is bad but we are being futuristic.
“Our goal is to change the situation by carrying out advocacy so that we can force government and those involved to deal with the government. That is why we are doing advocacy to ensure that we are able to block the hole that is taking money that should be used for infrastructural development.
The chairman, house committee on environment, Johnson Oghuma said vandalism and oil theft was prevalence due to the exclusion policies as spearheaded by greedy politicians. He called for the perfection of the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB).
According to him, “Nigeria must formulate policies to carry the youth along because the policy of exclusion will not take the country anywhere.”As the situation is going, in the two years, we may find ourselves importing refined crude oil from Ghana and we will start sending our people there for training. It is not that the other countries are more knowledgeable than us, just that our system is corrupt. That is why we are doing advocacy to ensure that we are able to block the hole that is taking Money that should be used for infrastructural development”.