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Oil theft, greatest threat to Nigeria’s economy – Speaker Abbas

Oil theft, greatest threat to Nigeria’s economy – Speaker Abbas

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The Speaker of the House of Representatives Rt. Hon. Abbas Tajudeen, Ph.D, on Wednesday inaugurated a Special Ad Hoc Committee on Oil Theft to investigate the growing spate of pipeline vandalisation, illegal petroleum bunkering and theft.

The Speaker noted that oil theft and other oil related criminalities remain the greatest economic sabotage that has left the country with dwindling revenue.

In his address at the inauguration ceremony, the Speaker stated the resolve of the 10th House to “tackle one of the largest threats to Nigeria’s economy.”
Speaker Abbas decried that Nigeria loses over 300,000 barrels of crude oil per day due to theft, vandalism, and other criminal activities.

“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,” he warned.

The Speaker also said the nation was reported to have incurred losses of oil revenues estimated at N1.29 trillion annually due to industrial-scale theft.

He stated that the Committee’s primary objective was to determine the proximate and remote causes of oil theft and recommend remedial measures to the House.

Speaker Abbas said: “Nigeria is facing significant financial challenges due to a combination of rising expenditures and falling revenues. You may recall that the proposed revenue and expenditure for 2023 stand at N9.73 trillion and N20.51 trillion, respectively. This means a fiscal deficit of N10.78 trillion, which is about 4.78% of the Gross Domestic Products (GDP). This deficit is the largest in Nigeria’s history, and with a budget more than double the proposed revenue, we are 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 have 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, the Speaker said 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,” he declared.

Speaker Abbas noted that the House set up the Special Committee to underscore the chamber’s unwavering commitment to protecting the nation’s resources for the good of all citizens and to punish the perpetrators of these dreadful crimes.

He said: “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, a sense of urgency and patriotism. The findings and recommendations from your work will 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.”

The Speaker called on all stakeholders, including government agencies, industry players, security agencies, civil society organisations, and the general public to extend their “full cooperation” to the Special Committee for it to deliver on its mandate. He noted that “by effectively addressing this challenge, we can enhance revenue, investment and overall socio-economic progress for Nigeria.”

Earlier in his opening remarks, Chairman of the House Special Committee on Oil Theft, Hon. Alhassan Ado Doguwa, described oil theft as an issue of national importance, while the House had “taken an important and bold step” to check the crime.

“The issues of oil theft and pipeline vandalisation are not new to us, nor are they exclusive to Nigeria as a nation. However, they remain persistent threats to our economy, ecology and national security,” Doguwa stated.

Signed:

Musa Abdullahi Krishi, Special Adviser on Media and Publicity to the Speaker, House of Representatives, Federal Republic of Nigeria.

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