Hon. Moshood Mustapha
Vice Chairman, House of Representatives Committee on Downstream Oil Sector, Hon. Moshood Mustapha, who represents Ilorin West/Asa Federal Constituency of Kwara State spoke with newsmen in Ilorin on state of the nation, among other issues. Hammed Shittu was there
As the Vice Chairman of Downstream Oil Sector Committee in the House, are you satisfied with the trial of the oil culprits so far?
We have not yet concluded on the issue of illegal bunkering as we do call it in the oil sector. It's a big menace. Nigeria loses about 150, 000 barrels per day. The country should be more serious about it. If you go to the oil rigs, you ‘ll see the activities of these people. And the unfortunate aspect of it is that it is not just stealing of the oil alone that is causing problem for Nigeria but there are so many problems associated with oil theft. We have the problem of oil wastage as they burst the pipe. Whenever they take what they want from the burst pipe, they left the oil running and you find out that we waste huge sums of oil money until the system of the particular oil company shows there's a drop in the pressure of oil before they get to know what is happening.
Nigeria must have lost a lot before they close the tap and then go into repairs. And we have a quota of 248 million barrels per day as approved by (Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries) OPEC. So, if we are unable to meet up, it means we would have a shortfall that will affect revenue that goes into federation account. Also, the issue of environment is another one. When the oil drips into the environment, it kills the aquatic life and people in the area. As a result, people have health problem and drinking water becomes hazardous to them. It is only in Nigeria that we don't take environment matter as anything serious. It's our major problem when we can't breathe in fresh air. All these are problems associated with the issue of oil theft.
Now, we have asked players in the sector some questions about oil thieves. They say they don't know. Who are the buyers? Because somebody must be the buyer of illegal oil, blood oil. But we know some countries are behind this. I don't want to mention names. If we can identify these buyers, we would be able to trace our stashed money. Number two, there are outlets. Our security should block the water way outlets through which they steal. We have challenged (Nigeria Maritime Administration and Safety Agency) NIMASA and oil companies on the need for synergy. Air force too should be brought in. The ship they use in stealing oil cannot come to our shores. They stay on the high seas. They use barges to steal. They can view the entire Nigeria's territorial water from their office with latest technology. So, when we see a particular movement on the high seas, we should be able to go after such movement. Normally, it takes approximately two days to load a ship. So, to use barges to fill a ship will take a week or thereabout. So, we should be able to detect oil thieves movement by upgrading our own system to track and arrest them as they were recently caught by NIMASA. And by the time we come up with the report of our findings on the public hearing on illegal oil bunkering, we will not only have the report but we would be able to have solution to the problem.
With the level of insecurity in the country, don't you think it may lead to national disintegration?
Basically, Nigeria as a nation is going through a serious and trying time on security, political and economic matters. We have a lot of things at hand to contend with on security. I believe government has prepared for it based on the content of Appropriation Act of 2012. If you look at how much money was appropriated for security, it means government envisaged there could be problem within the particular financial year. For the first time in the history of Nigeria, a sum of about N1 trillion was appropriated and approved for maintenance of peace and security.
In the course of all these, security chiefs were changed, minister of defence was removed and the appointment of Inspector General of Police was confirmed. It shows all is not well and we need to find out the cause and how to solve it because the fundamental responsibility of any government is the maintenance of peace and security. In a situation that it cannot do this, then it calls for question about that government. The National Assembly believes it is a domestic problem that must be handled domestically; hence the need to know the people behind the menace of insecurity. What are their grievances and how do we sit down to discuss with them? And that's why we say dialogue is the only way out. If not, we might end up breaking up. But will it be good for this country? We all came together based on the design of almighty God. Why should we work towards breaking it? If we as Nigerians, despite tribal diversity, have one thing or the other in common, that binds us together, this shows configuration of God. We should all work towards the unity of this country.
I believe that government and individuals should do more. We should be vigilant in our communities and also help police with useful information on any suspected movements. The situation is not peculiar to Nigeria but this is our own country and we should ensure we live in peace. The situation is foreign to us here. We are fun-loving people who do not want to die unlike what we now have in suicide bombers. We pray that Nigeria will not break up. The president has taken some steps with the appointment of IGP and the new National Security Adviser is going round to work things out. We should all pray for divine intervention in the problem.
What is really the motive behind the face-off between the House and the executive on budget implementation? Are you serious with the impeachment threat against the president?
We are not planning impeachment. We only pointed out that there is a particular clause that can be used if this is not done. We have looked at the budget and it becomes a law the moment it is assented to by the president. We all must abide by it - be it president or anyone else and it is binding. But for one to start selective implementation of the budget is against the law. If the president decides to keep quiet and allows his ministers to run afoul of the law, then the president himself has run afoul of the law.
It's like acting against an act of the parliament. This is an act of illegality. We say the budget bill must be respected. So, if this is not done within this period, there's another provision of the law that says this is how you can be made to do it if you are not ready to comply with it. It's just a pointer to the fact that there is another provision of the law that says something can be done if you do not respect the law. The president must be guided and that's what we are saying.
Will you go ahead to impeach the president if he fails to satisfy to fulfil your intention?
It's one thing to see ourselves as party men and women and it's another thing entirely to see ourselves as legislators in charge of legislative activities of the country. You can have a link on the platform that brought a legislator but I think what is important to everybody is Nigeria as a project. The issue of politicising it is infinitesimal compared to the zeal to ensure that Nigeria excels. We need to be serious to get there in the comity of developed nations. We are not saying ‘get it 100 per cent implemented.’ Nobody wants to rock the boat but to legislate for the good governance of the country and checkmate the executive to have value for our money.
It’s not about party politics but Nigeria's survival. We are not on the same page with the executive on the level of budget implementation. What is the level of recurrent and capital budget? They should come out and tell us. We just came back from oversight visits and found out those agencies and parastatals had not touched the capital projects at all. They either say they have not had a release or that the release is not enough.