The House of Representatives has decried the growing spate of oil theft in Nigeria, warning that it may ground the economy if it remains unabated.
Chairman of the House Committee on Media and Public Affairs, Benjamin Kalu, in an interview with our correspondent, stated that “something needs to be done” about Nigeria’s economic challenges, noting the high cost of living in the country.
Meanwhile, the Minority Caucus in the House, in a statement issued on Saturday, said it was alarmed by the massive oil theft in Nigeria, which the opposition lawmakers described as “an organised racket under the corrupt, reckless and extremely decadent All Progressives Congress administration.”
Speaking to our correspondent, Kalu said, “.The oil theft in the country is a major issue that reduced our blessings; that has exposed us more to the bane of the blessings that we were supposed to enjoy. Now that Russia is having problems as one of the major producers of oil and gas, we ought to leverage our capacity to produce more and add to the quantity that everybody wants to import, to make more money for the nation at the moment. It is not happening and that is what is fuelling this oil theft that is causing the economic insecurity.”
Kalu noted that the House had intervened in the issues concerning the petroleum sector by mandating standing and ad hoc committees to carry out various investigations, especially payments of subsidy on Premium Motor Spirit, popularly called petrol.
The House spokesman stressed the need for the economy to be diversified from oil and gas, adding that Nigeria must not only scale up its local production capacities but also focus on secondary goods for exportation.
He stated, “Certain things should not be imported when we have the capacity to build them here. By the time we stop importing some of the things we can produce locally, most of the organisations outside the nation, as it was in time past, will begin to localise their manufacturing plants in the country.
“When that is done, unemployment rates will be reduced, the Gross Domestic Products of the country will go up, there will be a ripple effect that will activate and stimulate our economic life as a country.”
Similarly, Minority Leader of the House, Ndudi Elumelu, in a statement issued on Saturday, said the Caucus was disturbed by reports of alleged complicity by certain corrupt government officials “as evinced in the clandestine entrance and berthing of a three-million-barrel capacity supertanker, MV. Heroic Idun, in Nigerian waters, to criminally load millions of barrels of stolen crude oil from our country.”
The statement partly read, “This shocking development underscores the massive sleaze in our nation’s oil and gas sector under the APC administration, with consequential crippling effect on our overall national economy and social wellbeing. It is indeed disturbing that under the APC administration, according to official reports, oil thieves are having a field day stealing up to 400,000 barrels of crude oil every day. This amounts to a daily siphoning of about $40m, given the current average global oil price of around $100 a barrel, accrued revenue meant for the wellbeing of Nigerians.
“The Minority Caucus, standing with Nigerians, demands an immediate, independent, and open investigation into the issue of oil theft in the country with particular reference to the circumstances that facilitated the reported illegal operation by MV Heroic Idun as well as its escape from our waters.”