June 23, 2024

#Oil thieves, revenue loss and the future of #Nigerian economy

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#Oil thieves, revenue loss and the future of #Nigerian economy

By Daura Abdul-Nasser

When falsehood is dressed in the garb of truth, even angels may be tempted to fall into the trap.
Nigeria is a country where corruption does not sleep. It fights back with everything: its strength, brain and even its brawl.

If President Bola Tinubu is to succeed in fighting corruption, he needs to understand the infinite capacity of corruption to fight viciously and mercilessly.

Corruption has brought poverty, hopelessness and even political challenges

Corruption is partly responsible for extremism.

One of the cesspool of corruption is the oil sector. In this realm are principalities and powers and rulers of darkness in low and high places. For Nigeria to grow, these forces must be fought ruthlessly.

The loss of revenue to oil theft undermines sustainable development which fuels instability and threats to nationhood.

The Nigerian Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative said Nigeria lost 650million barrels of crude oil valued at $46billion between 2009 and 2020. The oil blatantly stolen through barges and vessels mostly from 24-foot visible from miles on the water.

The Federal Government said more than N4.3trn worth of crude oil in some 7,143 pipeline vandalism cases within the period of five years. These are indications of the level of organisation and depth of corruption in the oil industry in Nigeria.
Since President Tinubu assumed office, his right choices of certain security commands have shown that he conducted diligent search. One of the best ways to bring back the economic fortunes of Nigeria is transparency in oil transactions offshore and onshore.

In my opinion, one of the right choices he made was the appointment of the current  Chief of Naval Staff (CNS) Vice Admiral Emmanuel Ogala from Enugu State.

I write this because I have the privilege to have known him for at least a quarter of a century as a clean hand and a stainless steel. But, that is not enough to defeat the oil theft cabal.

Yet, the responsibility before him is daring. Nigerians look up to him. He had to fight historically enthrenched forces who have an extensive rogue network locally and internationally, within the political, social and financial sectors.

However, it appears Admiral Ogala has worked tirelessly to subdue the desperate foes.

In the past few months before December 2023, the Nigerian Navy had seized 803,353 barrels of oil worth N105bn. In November 2023, the Navy, through its task force destroyed 15,775 litres of crude oil from oil thieves in the Ilaje area of Ondo State.

The feat was achieved by the Nigerian Navy forward operating base (FOB) located at Igbokoda. In the same Ondo State, 17 suspects were arrested with stolen Crude in Ondo State. In December, the Navy destroyed 703 illegal refining sites and seized 23 sea vessels.

The success stories flood in almost every week under Vice Admiral Ogala. I work in Port Harcourt. My business is legitimate. I can, and everyone can feel the uncomfortable postures of oil bunkerers. The heat is on, the wind has blown, we can now see the rump of the fowl.

They have become targets in their safe haven of hotels. An effective surveillance has been mounted to track them offshore and onshore. Intelligence gathering on them has improved. Resort centres they usually dominated on weekends in Port Harcourt, where they spend free and illicit funds have become scanty.

The oppressive lifestyles of the agents of oil bunkerers have suddenly turned arid as we can see in Port Harcourt and Bayelsa.

Oil theft is also linked with arms proliferation. A halt to oil theft will reduce or eliminate illicit arms brought into Nigeria.

In the past eight months, Nigeria has seen remarkable drop in bunkering and oil theft. This is bad news for the enemies of the country.

This is the exact reason why a plot appears to have been hatched to shoot deadly arrows at the Chief o Naval Staff. A section of the media also appears to have been enlisted in the desperate plot to smear the image of the Navy.

One of such was reported in the People’s Gazette which is now being aired by other credible media outlets.

This kind of write up,to me, is a hatchet job. The media should realise that it is part of their responsibility to promote transparency.

The media since 1859 when the first publication debut, has been largely pro-people. This tradition must not die.

The media should be in the forefront in the fight against corruption. I salute the contributions of the media to Nigerian democracy and the sacrifices made over the years.

Unfortunately, a few media groups do not see it that way.

They join the rogue cell.

The real focus is to stir up this falsehood with the primary aim of removing the CNS.

As men of good conscience, we know that the heat on bunkerers has affected their free slush funds from crude oil theft.

The CNS also worsened their situation by making a die hard anti theft and anti bunkering senior officer in person of Rear Adm SJ Bura the FOC Central Naval Command.

This is an FOC that deliberately refuses to fraternise or meet in any way with bunkerers. These are some of the heartaches of bunkerers and oil thieves.

My personal experience while working in PH about our FOC Central Naval Command is something else.

When he was the CO NNS Pathfinder, I went to visit him at his official residence and I was refused all efforts to contact
Rear Adm Bura.
Despite introducing myself as his Classmate in Secondary school and friend, I was not allowed any access.
It was when I wanted to depart that one of the Naval Ratings came to meet me and apologized that I looked like a bunkerer and that their boss does not have anything to do with bunkerers. He does not want them anywhere around him and does not pick their calls.
The Rating then told me their boss was not at home.
It is this kind of character that now oversees Central Naval Command.
This is not an image laundering write up , we have to state facts so that those in positions of authority can be guided by truth.
Now to the CNS who has not held any such commands that even exposed  him  to knowing oil dealers is even more painful for bunkerers.
Those in positions must be more surgical to understand that our Crude oil Production has been increasing steadily under the leadership of the CNS who has zero tolerance for oil bunkering and oil theft.
There has been a steady growth of monthly average production of crude oil under the leadership of the CNS. I cite the following instances like in September 2023 production moved from the average of about One Million barrels per day to 1.3 Million barrels per day.

In October 2023 maintained 1.250 million barrels per day average while in December 2023 it moved to 1.335 Million barrels per day average. This level of production was recognized by OPEC which declared Nigeria as the highest oil producing country in Africa for December 2023.

While the CNS continues to fight oil theft and oil bunkerers without any form of compromised negotiations, the chances are that our daily oil Production under the current CNS can hit the projected plan of Mr President’s target of 2Million barrels per day.
The CNS is encouraged not to be distracted by enemies of the Nation but that he should sustain the pressure against oil bunkering and oil theft in the Nation.
*Daura Abdul-Nasser*
Bsc, MITD,FIMC, CMC, FIMS, Cert (ERM)
MD/CEO Cedar Security
Maritime Security Consultant who has worked in the Gulf of Guinea for over 7 years
Pipeline Security Manager who has managed NNPC pipelines of KM 1 to 51 ( PH to Aba) and Aba to Enugu KM 1 to 210kms for years.

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