Nigeria And Its Oil Vandalism Industry
Oxford online dictionary defines vandalism as an action involving deliberate destruction of or damage to public or private property. Over the years, Nigeria has recorded various degrees of vandalism across major sectors, the wilful destruction of electricity transformers and cables, telecommunication masts and base stations, water pipes, bridge railings, and railway trackers and slippers, to mention a few.
A look at two most recent cases are the aftermath of the alleged shooting of EndSARS protesters in October 2021 and vandalism of railway tracks along Agyaragu Tofa in Lafia LGA and Angwan Alago of Kadarko District in Keana LGA of Nasarawa State.
The ‘shocker’ of all reports of vandalism was announced recently at a town hall meeting held in Abuja on protecting oil and gas infrastructure, organised by the Ministry of Information and Culture. Panellists at the symposium made startling revelations on the figures of barrels of oil the nation has lost to vandalism in recent times, the numbers of vandalised pipelines and the amount the federal government is spending yearly to fix them.
Recently, the Minister of Environment, Mr Mohammed Abubakar revealed that the nation is the most notorious in the world for oil theft, having lost 400,000 barrels of oil daily to theft. With Mexico, coming second losing between 5,000 and 10,000 barrels of oil per day to theft, a difference of 3,900 percent.
The Minister also cited a report by Nigeria Natural Resources Charter, which estimated that approximately N4.75 trillion was lost by the nation to oil theft between 2015 and 2018. He added that the report equated the federal government to have lost approximately three per cent of its revenue to oil theft.
Meanwhile, the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed said about N60 billion was being spent yearly by the federal government to repair vandalised pipelines. He added that between January 2019 and September 2020, 1,161 pipeline points nationwide were vandalised.
The Group Managing Director, National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Mr Mele Kyari, who was represented by the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Mr. Timipre Sylva said since 2014, an average of about 38 million barrels of crude oil were deferred annually due to incessant pipeline vandalism, while in 2020 about $1.538 billion in revenue was deferred due to 94 incidents. He added that from January-May 2021, the NNPC pipeline segments have suffered 203 breaks with system 2B having 80pipeline breaks and System 2E, a total of 114 pipeline breaks and a total cumulative loss of 39 million litres amounting to N.59 billion. He also said that pipeline vandals and criminals operating along system 2B axis have stolen about 307,994 million litres of petrol valued at N41.049 billion.
With these revelations, the effect of vandalism on oil facilities has not only caused the nation loss of oil revenue but also the money lost and used for repair could have been used to develop other sectors like education, health, housing and road, among others. Aside from causing huge revenue losses to the government, pipeline vandalism can also cause environmental pollution and degradation. Poverty, unemployment and the get-rich-quick syndrome may be attributed to this unpatriotic act, but some also indulge in it for political reasons.
Also, oil pipeline vandalism is a pointer to the weakness and failure of the nation’s security architecture. One would wonder how on earth would vandals who are non-state actors be running rings around security agents over the years if there is no act of complicity between the lawbreakers and the law enforcers? With the federal government in possession of these reports couple with its military might and arsenal, what steps have they taken to fish out the scoundrels plundering the resources of the nation? What policy or law has been enacted to curtail the heinous act? Spending N60billion annually to repair vandalised pipelines is alarming considering the current harsh economy and the dwindling revenue.
For any reasonable Nigerian, it’s either those awarding contracts for the repairs of the vandalised public properties and the contractors are working in cahoots with the perpetrators and security agents to keep them in business or as Akpabio stated pipeline vandalism has become an industry.
This unfortunate trend has to be curbed speedily.