May 26, 2024

 

Oredola Adeola

 

The Nigeria Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (NEITI) and Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) have stepped up strategies in the fight against corruption in Nigeria’s crude swap deals and the exposure of criminal activities of operators in the oil and gas industry, through the use of Beneficial Ownership Data available in the country.

 

The renewed efforts in the fight against the activities of the known criminals in the country was revealed at the policy dialogue on the utilization of Beneficial Ownership information on crude oil swap deals in Nigeria, tagged “WetinWeGain”, organized by policy alert in collaboration with NEITI on Thursday.

 

EnergyDay gathered that the policy dialogue is coming on the sideline of the ongoing investigation by the House of Representatives Ad Hoc Committee on Oil Theft into the alleged loss of over $2.4 billion in revenue due to the illegal sale of 48 million barrels of crude oil export by the Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited (NNPCL). The Committee is reviewing the whistleblower’s revelation of the illegal sale of 48mb of Nigeria’s Bonny Light crude in China in 2015 by some officials of the NNPC.

 

Dr. Orji Ogbonnaya Orji, Executive Secretary, NEITI, in his speech, expressed the wish for the stakeholders at the policy dialogue to use the #WetinWeGain campaign to draw the attention of incoming Nigeria’s President and his administration, to major issues that civil society should target urgently in their agenda.

 

He said, “I wish to assure you that NEITI will take the comments and recommendations proffered at the policy dialogue very seriously.

 

“The full deregulation of the petroleum sector will permanently lay to rest the conversation around oil swaps.

 

“NEITI’s latest policy brief titled “The cost of fuel subsidy: A case for policy review revealed that Nigeria expended over N13 trillion ($74 billion) on fuel subsidies between 2005 and 2021.

 

“The figure in relative terms is equivalent to Nigeria’s entire budget for health, education, agriculture, and defence in the last five years, and almost the capital expenditure for 10 years between 2011‑2020.

 

“It is also important to note other economic opportunity costs of fuel subsidy which include among others slashing allocations for the health, education, and technology infrastructure sectors; Deterioration of the downstream sector with the declining performance of Nigeria’s refineries and recording zero production in 2020; Disincentivized private sector investment in the down and mid-stream petroleum sector; Low employment generation since the refining process is done outside the shores of Nigeria; Worsening National Debt; Declining balance of payment, Forex Pressures and depreciation of the Naira and of course product losses, inefficient supply arrangements-scarcity and its attendant queues etc.

 

He further urged the CSO to interrogate the level of success achieved by the Presidential Steering Committee on the implementation of the PIA, set up in 2021 to coordinate the implementation of the Act.

 

According to him, Not much is in the public domain on the progress of the Committee’s work, so the civil society should step up advocacy for the conclusion of the Committee’s work and submission of its report to the President before the expiration of this administration with clear recommendations to the next administration on what has been done and outstanding work.

 

Speaking on Nigeria’s crude oil theft., NEITI ES said that NEITI policy brief on crude oil theft and data pulled from NEITI industry reports of the oil and gas sector showed that between 2009 and 2020 (12-year period), Nigeria lost 619.7 million barrels of crude oil valued at $46.16 billion or N16.25 trillion.

 

Dr Orji said, “The volume of crude oil losses represents a loss of more than 140 thousand barrels per day. Between 2009 and 2018, Nigeria also lost 4.2 billion litres of petroleum products from refineries valued at $1.84 billion.

 

“These findings and recommendations on tackling crude oil theft have been submitted to the President through the Presidential Committee on Crude Oil Theft in which NEITI also served as a member.

 

“The committee has concluded its work and submitted its report to the President. The Committee did an excellent job with far-reaching recommendations.

The NEITI boss further charged the civil society in Nigeria to step up advocacies on the Glencore bribery scandal.

 

According to him, the disclosure by the United States Department of Justice that Glencore (One of Nigeria’s oil traders) had paid bribes in various sums, spanning over a decade to some Nigerian government officials at the NNPC to secure crude oil contracts and other business advantages was in the news.

 

Dr, Orji further emphasised that NEITI has through its mandate and commitment, drew the attention of the federal government to the Glencore bribery scandal through the Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation.

 

Mfon Gabriel, Senior Programme Officer, Policy, in his comment on the #WetinWeGain campaign, noted that the aim of the project is to promote accountability and transparency in the management of extractive resources and also to ensure that the benefits from the resources work for all.

 

The event was also attended by other Anti-corruption agencies, including officials of the Ministries, Department and Agencies, who also commented on their commitment to promoting public dialogue aimed at boosting accountability and prudent management of extractive resources and ensuring that the benefits of exploiting the resources work for the overall interest.