Senate: Nigeria Lost N2.3tn to Oil Theft This Year

•Asks panels to probe security agencies 

•Moves to transfer social investment programme to presidency

•Worries insecurity may lead to acute food Crisis 

•Seeks adequate military presence in north central

•Promises to back legislations on energy transition financing

Ndubuisi Francis and Sunday Aborisade in Abuja

The Senate disclosed yesterday that Nigeria has so far lost N2.3 trillion this year to oil theft .

Owing to this, it therefore ordered a thorough investigation into the actions of security forces and militia groups using sophisticated methods to steal crude oil in the country.

This followed a motion during plenary by Senator Ned Munir Nwoko (Delta North).

Nwoko, noted that available statistical data have shown that pipeline vandalism and oil bunkering had brought Nigeria into serious socio-economic crisis.

The lawmaker alleged that some bad eggs within the security agencies conspired with unscrupulous figures within the oil industry to engage in illicit activity of oil theft.

This, he said, undermined the collaborative efforts of the Joint Task Force of the Nigerian military and other various security entities to combat the menace.

Nwoko said, “The current collaborative efforts involving the Joint Task Force of the Nigerian military, operations like Operation Delta Safe and Operation Dakartada Barawo, along with the contributions of various security entities, state and local governments, and International Oil Companies (IOCs) in the Niger Delta region have yielded positive results.

“These efforts have led to an increase in oil production, reaching 1.51 million barrels per day in the first quarter of 2023.

“This figure marks an improvement from the 1.49 million barrels per day recorded in the same quarter of 2022 and is notably higher than the production volume of 1.34 million barrels per day in the fourth quarter of 2022.

“Despite the efforts of certain military personnel and security agencies like the Nigeria Security and Civil Defense Corps (NSCDC) and Department of State Services (DSS) in combating oil theft in the Niger Delta region, there are individuals within these institutions who engage in illicit activities.

“These individuals collaborate with unscrupulous figures within the oil industry to undermine the nation’s economy.

“Also observes that it has come to attention that oil theft in Nigeria thrives due to a troubling collaboration between security forces, militia groups, the local population, and certain employees within oil companies.

“These parties employ sophisticated methods to carry out theft from oil facilities located within the country. Given Nigeria’s vast oil and gas reserves, one would expect crude oil production to continuously increase, aligning with OPEC’s production quota of 1.74 million barrels per day.”

Nwoko, further said there had been accusations and counter-accusations of oil bunkering and various other crimes between the military and local militia groups.

These allegations he said, underscored the significant level of sabotage and disruption to the nation’s economic backbone.

“In 2022, it was reported that Nigeria suffered daily losses of approximately 437,000 barrels of crude oil, amounting to a value of $23 million, due to criminal activities.

“In March 2023, Nigeria incurred a substantial loss of 65.7 million barrels of crude oil, valued at $83 per barrel, translating to a staggering revenue loss of N2.3 trillion as a result of oil theft,” he added.

He, therefore, urged the Senate to carry out a holistic investigation into the activities of the oil thieves and their collaborators in the security forces.

Senator Buhari Abdulfatai (APC, Oyo) called for punitive measures to combat oil bunkering.

“We carry out investigations every year but at the end, nothing has come out of it. We need to review our laws and take punitive measures against oil thieves,” he said.

Senator Adams Oshiomhole (APC, Edo) said oil theft was an organised crime involving the bunkers and the security operatives.

This, he said, explained why many security agents lobbied their superiors to be posted to the oil producing communities.

The Senate, therefore, directed its committees on Petroleum Resources (Upstream, Downstream and Gas), Host Communities and Niger Delta Affairs) to carry out holistic investigation into the actions of security forces, militia groups, the locals, oil company employees and any individual or entity suspected to be using sophisticated methods to pilfer from oil facilities.

In his remarks, Senate President Godswill Akpabio said oil theft had impacted negatively on the country’s oil production capacity despite its growing population.

He asked the committees to carry out a thorough brobe and report back to the Senate in six weeks.

Also yesterday, the Senate started the amendments to the National Social Investment Programme Agency Act (NSIPA), 2023.

It was aimed at moving the agency from the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs and Poverty Alleviation to the Presidency.

The Bill, moved by the Leader of the Senate, Senator Opeyemi Bamidele passed second reading at the plenary.

Bamidele said the bill sought to amend Sections 9(3), 14(1), 21(1), 22(1), 26(1) and 33 of the NSIPA Act, 2023 by transferring the agency from the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs and Poverty Alleviation to the Presidency.

The senate leader added that the agency “will now be under the direct supervision of the President.”

He further explained its significance to poverty alleviation and social inclusion.

He  said the plan to amend NSIPA Act, 2023 “is to ensure that the social investment programme are standard, transparent, effective and accountable.”

He explained that the amendment “is a result of the commitment of the Renewed Hope mantra of President Bola Tinubu in ensuring that social investment programme are standard, transparent, effective and accountable structure of delivery, adequate coordination and synergy among key government agencies.”

The senate leader noted that the amendment “is in fulfilment of section 17(3) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999.”

Under the section, the State shall direct its policy towards ensuring that all citizens, without discrimination on any group whatsoever, have the opportunity for securing adequate means of livelihood as well as adequate opportunity to secure suitable employment, among others.

Bamidele explained that with this amendment a wide range of sustainable development goals (SDGs) including poverty reduction, education, health, social inclusion and empowerment could be achieved through the NSIPA

Also, at the plenary, former President of the Senate, Ahmed Lawan pointed out that the 9th senate passed the bill, though its implementation was flawed because those who should be given support are those in rural areas difficult to reach.

Lawan, currently representing Yobe North, said: “In achieving social inclusion, funds were distributed, and the beneficiaries have no bank accounts.”

He said, “After passing this, it is time we must participate fully to ensure the capturing of the beneficiaries that need the support in such a way the National Assembly is satisfied.”

He further explained that the National Assembly “should be to be part of the process, but that was not done.

“The support was sent to each state of the federation. All senators were onlookers, which is unacceptable.”

While contributing to the debate, Senator Seriake Dickson urged the lawmakers to use the opportunity to look at other issues raised during its implementation under the administration of former President Muhammadu Buhari.

Dickson, currently representing Bayelsa, explained that the amendment should include the mode of selecting the beneficiaries of the programme.

He said the previous government had initiatives like TraderMoni and COVID palliatives without parliamentary approval and that recommendations should be made at the committee level.

After the deliberation, the senate president expeditiously referred the bill to the committee of the whole for consideration on Wednesday to allow distinguished senators go through the bill clause by clause.

While the NSIPA Act was enacted May 2023, to address socio-economic inequalities and alleviate poverty among Nigerians, NSIP was created in 2016 under the administration of former President Muhammadu.

The programme was founded on four pillars namely N-POWER Programme, Government Enterprise and Empowerment Programme, National Home-Grown School Feeding Programme and the Conditional Cash Transfer Programme.

Each of the pillars was designed to empower the poorest and most vulnerable Nigerians to attain an acceptable standard of living irrespective of their locations nationwide.

Meanwhile, the Senate, yesterday, raised the alarm that the country might experience an acute food crisis if the current insecurity was not immediately checked.

The red chamber stated this while deliberating on a motion by the Senator representing Niger East Senatorial District, Sani Musa.

The motion was titled: “Urgent Need for Federal Government to Deploy Troops and Other Security Apparatus to Immediately Bring an End to the Menace of Insurgency and Terrorism in Niger State and Other Parts of Nigeria”

The senators, in their various contributions, unanimously noted that the development could negatively affect the food sufficiency and economic diversification policy of the federal government.

They urged the Chief of Defence Staff, the Chief of Army Staff and the Inspector General of Police to immediately deploy troops to defend the unarmed populace and bring back security to the affected communities.

They insisted that it was the only antidote to restoring confidence in the security and safety of the affected communities.

The federal lawmakers said the Chief of Army Staff and the Inspector General of Police should as a matter of urgency ensure a full military presence  in Shiroro and Rafi local government areas respectively.

They also charged the military and security agencies to redesign the modus operandi of their operations within the affected areas so as to curtail the escalating insecurity.

The senate further directed the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs and the  National Emergency Management Agency to as a matter national emergency provide relief materials and medical support team to the victims immediately.

The lawmakers lamented that the development was worsening despite the fact that the Senate had passed several resolutions, set up ad-hoc committee on Security, held National Security summits and declared every support at bringing an end to the persistent insecurity in the country and further appropriated monies as well as advanced numerous steps to support the security agencies.

Moving his motion, Musa said, “For seven years now, Niger East Senatorial District of Niger State has come under constant and sustained multiple deadly attacks by heartless, venomous and hydra headed Boko Haram terrorists who are always heavily armed with assorted sophisticated and dangerous weapons unleashing their horror on our innocent populace.

“Unfortunately, these repeated attacks are taking place amidst absenteeism, slightest hindrance, resistance or confrontation from the authorities concerned. About 42 communities across the two local government areas of Shiroro and Munya Local government have so far fallen under the Boko Haram control with about 5,000 villagers already displaced in the last three days.

“Primary schools in Gwada, Kuta, Pandogari and Minna have hurriedly been turned to IDP camps following the sacking of nearly 5,600 villagers from their ancestral homes in Shiroro, Rafi and Munya local government areas in the last few weeks by bandits who raided the towns and villages.”

In the meantime, the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Ecology and Climate Change, Senator Seriake Dickson yesterday, expressed the readiness of the National Assembly to support any new legislation or amendment of existing laws to help in the nation’s energy transition financing bid.

Dickson gave the assurance  in during a goodwill message at the Africa Climate Forum 2023, with the theme “Powering the Future: Financing Energy Transition for Sustainable Progress.”

The lawmaker who commended the organisers of the event, Global Centre for Law, Business and Economy, called for synergy  among governmental institutions

and other stakeholders towards making the country transit to renewable energy.

He expressed the readiness of the National Assembly to tinker with existing laws or any new legislation designed to ensure energy transition.

Dickson stated that in order to ensure a sustainable and equitable energy future, the urgency of the topic and importance  of the event cannot be over-emphasised.

He stated that dependence on fossil fuels had not only contributed to global warming, but also resulted in air pollution, geo-political and local conflicts and social inequities

Noting that it was the collective responsibility of all to work towards a sustainable energy transition, Dickson argued that financing would however continue to play a central role.

He said: “Let’s begin to acknowledge that transitioning to a sustainable energy is not an easy task. We have been told that Africa has 40 per cent of the world’s renewable energy sources yet, available financing so far indicate that we have only attracted only 2 per cent financing.

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