THE sovereignty of every nation is tied to its economic value, sufficiency, and development. Therefore, a nation that is bereft of ideas, ideology, policies, and laws to protect its economic independence has lost every other form of independence. Unfortunately, over the years, Nigeria’s hard-earned sovereignty, and God given economic resources for her sustenance and relevance in the comity of nations are fast ebbing away.
SOON, Nigeria, in the midst of global crises, may not have a voice but to echo the stands of those other nations who control her economy. At that time, she may be forced to be in tandem with strange bedfellows and live in animosity with the enemies of her creditors, to whom she initially had no grudges. Given the grave implications of the nation’s economic losses, THE HOPE is certain that probe of Nigeria’s oil theft is not only a step in the right direction but also an indispensable tool for national socio-political and economic recovery.
NATURALLY, global crises ought to favour the nation’s economic ascendancy in many ways, but we have observed that,no thanks to thieves, global crises have always had negative effects on our economy even when oil based economies in other parts of the world had always smiled to the banks. Now, it is sad to observe that while the nation’s OPEC quota has been reduced from 1.742 million barrels per day to 1.38 million barrels per day, Nigeria’s accountable daily production output remained at 1.184 million barrels per day and 1.249 million barrels per day in May and June 2023 respectively, which is even lower than the 1.77 million barrels per day in 2020.
THE reasons for this decline over the years is explained by the submission of NEITI that“619 million barrels of crude valued at $46 billion were stolen in the period 2009-2020”.Thus, within eleven years, Nigeria (ns) had lost close to N17 trillion. We observe that in clear terms, the nation and her peoples have lost six refineries, good and affordable education, effective health care delivery, very good roads, many small scale enterprises, viable agriculture based businesses, strong military, employment avenues, human lives, avoidable debts and its encumbrances. So, oil thieves, did not only steal our crude oil, but also took away our existence, as individuals and as a nation. Unfortunately, it is our people, in connivance with foreigners, who did this to us.
HOWEVER, would this probe be? Since the 90s, the Nigeria government had carried out many probes on economic sabotage, with no tangible outcomes. Seems Nigeria government over the years has the penchant for announcing what they would not do to the letter. If the various advertisements and noise over anti-corruption had been followed with vigour and success, Nigeria would have been a near zero corrupt country. However, all we hear is noise without results. For this probe to have any colorations of performance, the tentacles must go deep and beyond the petty thieves caught on the scene of malfeasance. To this end, we insist that the press must be allowed to cover the proceedings of this committee; and no persons must be encouraged to ‘off the mic’, while proceedings are ongoing. While it would not be a bad idea to invite former Ministers of Petroleum Resources to this probe, top and middle level security personnel must not be left out of the net. At different levels and for a long time, accusing fingers have been pointed to men with the legitimate use of coercion as being the executors and secured channels for oil theft in Nigeria.
WHILE we may lack the locus standi to dictate the terms of reference to the committee, we do insist that the probe panel should be able to identify the persons (past and present) who make their living and earnings from this nation-destroying ventures; identify the ‘powerful kingpins of the nefarious black gold merchants; make recommendations to government on how to prevent such re-occurrences and also punish (without prejudices), all those involved in the evil trade. To do this, members of the community should look beyond any personal pecuniary gain and focus on the negative consequences of these thieves on every fragment of the society. Therefore, the committee must muster the necessary political will so that this exercise would not just remain as a storm in a teacup.