July 13, 2024

 Oil theft: Senate President, Speakers lament over Nigeria’s economic woe, seek stiffer penalties for perpetrators

 

 

Oredola Adeola

Senator Ahmad Lawan,  Senate President, and  Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila, Speaker of the House of Representatives,  have condemned the rising spate of oil theft, which according to them has limited the country’s revenue generation and collection, and pushing Nigeria’s economy into a state of coma.

 

The Senate President made the appeal on Tuesday in Abuja as part of his welcome address to the Senators on the sideline of the resumption from the  7 – week recess.

 

Senator Ahmad Lawan, Nigerian President of the Senate, has urged his colleagues to ensure that everything was done to curtail the growing spate of oil theft, which is pushing Nigeria’s economy into a state of coma, to the extent of limiting the country’s revenue generation and collection.

 

Ahmed revealed that  the generation and collection of oil and gas revenues have remained Nigeria’s major challenges. He noted that the country’s economy is seriously bleeding.

 

According to him the economic sabotage by oil thieves and vandals has had an impact on the economy. He specifically urged the Senators to focus on ensuring a secured and safe country and an economy that works for all citizens.

 

He said, “Oil theft in the country was pushing Nigeria’s economy into a state of coma. Massive loss of revenue through oil theft is debilitating and threatening to throw the economy into serious confusion.

 

“Revelations about the scale of oil theft show that, until the government takes decisive actions, Nigeria could soon lose any revenue from that sector,” the Senate President revealed.

 

The Speaker of the House of Representatives, at the resumption of plenary Tuesday, expressed concerns over the rising debt profile of the country and crude oil theft.

 

Similarly, Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila, Speaker of the House of Representatives in his welcome remarks after their long recess, noted that concerns on the impact of the decline in crude oil production due to theft and sabotage emerged from the Senate and House Committees on Finance interactive sessions with the ministries, departments, and agencies (MDAs).

 

Gbajabiamila said the perpetrators of this brazen heist threaten the ability to serve the Nigerian people and meet the demands of governance and nation-building.

 

The Speaker noted that economic sabotage is treason against the country, for which the perpetrators must be held accountable.

 

According to him, oil thieves are not different from the insurgents and terrorists against whom the nation is battling in various theatres.

 

 

Gbajabiamila said, “Due to theft and various acts of economic sabotage, we are experiencing a massive decline in the volume of crude oil exports. Our crude oil export of 972,394 bpd for August is the lowest we have recorded in the last two decades.

 

“ At a time when we are already experiencing severe financial constraints, there are mechanisms in place to prevent these sorts of bad actors, and the government spends significant amounts of money each year to protect oil and gas resources in the country.

 

“Evidently, these existing arrangements do not suffice. As such, there is an urgent need to review them and make the necessary improvements.  It is also of particular importance that the perpetrators of these crimes against the state are identified, prosecuted, and subjected to the stiffest penalties the law allows.

 

“Those who seek to impoverish our country in this manner have declared war against the Nigerian people.  The government’s response must be sufficient to convince them of the error of their ways and deter others who might be tempted to join in their treason,” Gbajabiamila said.

 

He further noted that he had earlier met with the Finance Minister and the DG Budget and made it clear to them that there was enough crude oil theft. The Speaker noted that Nigerians don’t want to hear that again.

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