Connect with us

OPINION

Irukera: How Not to Reward Altruism

Published

on

Share

By Tunde Olusunle

Monday January 8, 2024, Nigerians woke up to the news of the suspension of Betta Edu, who was formerly the Minister for Humanitarian Affairs and Poverty Alleviation. On the same day, Babatunde Ayokunle Irukera who was for six years Executive Vice Chairman of the Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Commission, (FCCPC), was relieved of his appointment.

Both developments compelled an essay which I titled “On Betta Edu and Tunde Irukera.

The article was generously ventilated by the media even as I attempted to draw comparisons between two public offices with different pedigrees and also different “misdemeanours.” Evidence in the public domain attested to blatant disregard for public service rules and mammoth thievery by one of the two people I wrote about.

The other public servant was uncharacteristically innovative, transparent and altruistic in his approach to work. He literally excavated a government agency in the throes of asphyxiation and obliteration, to a world class organisation, to local and international aplomb.

Much unlike me, I had, just weeks before, written about Irukera following the recognition of the agency he superintended over as “Government Agency of the Year.” This was evidence to how very closely I followed the good works of Irukera. The honour in question came from *Leadership* newspapers one of Nigeria’s most reputable tabloids. FCCPC was selected for the acclamation for “promoting fairness, regulatory stability and consumer protection within the marketplace.” My piece alluded to the uncommon-ness of Irukera’s attitude to public service which is construed by many office holders as licence for the wholesale looting and holistic decimation of departments assigned to them. Haven’t we just been told that nine officers in the Nigerian Customs Services, (NCS) were recently fingered in a N12 Billion scam?

In pronouncing the FCCPC under Irukera as an authentic public service exemplar, *Leadership* noted that since his appointment in 2017, the organisation had pursued “a transformative journey reshaping and rebranding the erstwhile Consumer Protection Council, (CPC).” Further, the newspaper noted that the organisation had been refocused as a “proactive and consumer-centric FCCPC.” Irukera’s oversight of the commission’s transformation and operationalisation beginning from January 30, 2019, *Leadership* noted had been a game-changer. Further still, the awarding newspaper said: “Following the enactment of the FCCPC Act, Irukera has demonstrated “unwavering dedication to fostering a dynamic and responsive regulatory environment.” The FCCPC under Irukera it was observed “has recorded numerous milestones across diverse sectors including healthcare, digital finance and electricity.”

According to *Leadership,* “one of the standout accomplishments of Irukera’s FCCPC is the strategic development and implementation of the Patient’s Bill of Rights.” That initiative establishes a comprehensive framework empowering patients with essential rights such as informed consent, confidentiality and unrestricted access to their medical records.” The Patient Bill of Rights, *Leadership* observed, “serves as a charter of principles delineating the rights and responsibilities of patients, healthcare providers and the regulatory body.” This is “an approach which fosters a culture of transparency, accountability and patient-centric care.”

Irukera’s leadership at the FCCPC witnessed other strategic initiatives and impactful interventions in other sectors, notably in digital finance, the power sector and in the nation’s bureaucracy. FCCPC was also catalytic in shaping Nigeria’s business environment which became more cognisant of the emplacement of fairness, consumer protection and regulatory stability. Local and foreign investors have continued to experience the transformative impact of standardised practices instituted by the FCCPC. This congruence between national and international standards, in combination with rigorous process auditing and the development of guidelines and standard operating procedures, serves as an imprimatur of quality assurance in the Nigerian marketplace. These are identified perspectives about Irukera’s exertions in public service as dispassionately enunciated by one of Nigeria’s more serious newspapers.

Confident of his transparent governance approach, Irukera was never shy of media engagement. On the eve of the last yuletide therefore, Irukera hosted the media where he noted that the FCCPC under him, had become a wholly self-sustaining department. According to him, the FCCPC made history in 2023 by generating N56 Billion. The feat was achieved by the simple enforcement of compliance to existing laws vis-a-vis the payment of penalties by defaulting companies. This was a novelty by any standards in a milieu where many government funded establishments overdraw their allocations, expend their internally generated revenues, (IGR) and still prospect for supplementation. Irukera noted at that media interface that the organisation hired new staff in strict adherence to service procedures. This assisted the federal government in taking off young, qualified, unemployed people from the streets.

Perhaps if every ministry, department or agency under the thoroughly dysfunctional Muhammadu Buhari regime had transparently recruited qualified youths across board, the national despondency levels will be mitigated albeit marginally. Much of what we picked up in the media space was hush-hush recruitments into “A-grade” MDAs like the Central Bank of Nigeria, (CBN), the Federal Inland Revenue Service, (FIRS) and so on. After addressing staff emoluments, overhead costs and capital requirements, the FCCPC, Irukera noted gifted the federal government N22 Billion by way of remittances! This was a most un-envisaged precedence by a government agency which was picked up from the backwoods and transformed into a national model, even bride.

On Wednesday February 28, 2024, the Senate of the Federal Republic under the leadership of Godswill Akpabio, rubber-stamped the request of President Tinubu to sack Irukera. He was deemed inefficient! For those who have followed the quiet yet impactful revolution which Tunde Irukera has pursued in the past six years, nothing can be more preposterous. There wouldn’t be a joke more cruel, more malevolent, more unfeeling than such a testimonial to a man who has invested so much in service to nation at testy times such as we have been in the past decade. Irukera demonstrated that government concerns can be effectively and productively run. What do we make of an organisation like the National Board for Arabic and Islamic Studies, (NBAIS), which was in September 2022 reprimanded by the legislature for unjustified spending? The Senate Committee on Finance and Appropriation queried NBAIS for spending N8.5 Billion annually, on 6000 employees to administer examinations to 500 students. No heads have rolled ever since in the Professor Muhammad Abdullahi-led organisation.

The spiteful removal of Babatunde Ayokunle Irukera from office the way it has been done is gross injustice and colossal disservice to patriotism and sacrifice. There have been unfounded suggestions to the effect that Irukera was blackmailed as one of those who “substantially” supported former Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo’s bid to contest the presidential primary of the All Progressives Congress, (APC) in 2022. This is most farfetched for a technocrat like Irukera whose gaze is almost permanently fixed to his desk treating official correspondences, receiving briefs, holding meetings. In other climes, Irukera should by now have in the bag recognitions like the “National Productivity Order of Merit,” (NPOM) as well as a minimum investiture with a national honour in the category of “Officer of the Order of the Niger,” (OON). He chose, however, not to hunt for titular aggrandisement preferring to immerse himself wholly and completely in service to fatherland.

Irukera’s mistreatment echoes the manner Damilola Ogunbiyi who was Managing Director of the Rural Electrification Agency under the Buhari government, was unjustly treated in 2019. She has since moved on to the global heights of the “Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary General for Sustainable Energy for All.” She is also Co-Chair of UN Energy. Irukera always had a flourishing law practice in the United States before heeding the call to avail his country of his multiplex competencies and experiences. He is not a jobber like many whose only CV is “being abroad.” For as long as he remained in his job in Nigeria, he ran his family by telephone, virtually. The manner he has been treated will be a major disincentive to Nigerians out there who would otherwise be glad to come contribute their quotas to national development. In Irukera, Nigeria has a brand ambassador who should be engaged to hoist the nation’s banner across the world. He deserves to be genuinely apologised to, pacified and given his flowers.

Olusunle, PhD, poet, journalist, scholar and author is a Fellow of the Association of Nigerian Authors, (ANA)

OPINION

Yahaya Bello and a Complicit Judiciary

Published

on

Share

By Chidi Anselm Odinkalu

Josiah Majebi is the fifth Chief Judge of Kogi State (in north-central Nigeria) in four years and the fourth to exist almost entirely in the pocket of the state governor. He has been in office as substantive Chief Judge since the beginning of February 2023, having acted in that role since 26 June 2022 when his predecessor, Richard Olorunfemi, retired.

Henry Olusiyi served in that office for just under seven months from the end of June 2020 until January 2021.
Sunday Otuh, who succeeded him, spent eight months in office before retiring in September 2021.

The last Chief Judge of Kogi State who attempted to hold that office with dignity and independence, Nasir Ajanah, paid with his life, un-mourned and exiled from the state.

He was the second Chief Judge of the State to be politically lynched by the government of Kogi State in one decade.

At the beginning of April 2008, the Kogi State House of Assembly, defying an order of the state High Court, adopted a resolution asking the State Governor to remove long-serving Chief Judge of the State, Umaru Eri. On that basis, then acting governor, Clarence Olafemi, promptly announced the sack of the Chief Judge on 2 April 2008 and designated another judge, Sam Ota, to act in his place.

In his defence, Umaru Eri claimed that his crime was that he had declined the request of the politicians to act as go-between in bribing the election petition tribunal on behalf of the then state governor whose election was in dispute. On 16 May, 2008, Alaba Ajileye, a judge of the High Court of Kogi State, reversed the sack and reinstated Umaru Eri.

Eleven years later, on 18 June 2019, Alaba Ajileye presided again in deciding a case that seemed uncannily to reprise issues in his earlier decision. As with the 2008 decision, the claimant in 2019 was another Chief Judge of Kogi State, Nasir Ajanah with his Chief Registrar, Yahya Adamu. The defendants included the Kogi State House of Assembly, its Speaker, and the State Governor, Yahaya Bello.

At the directive of Governor Yahaya Bello, the Secretary to the Government of Kogi State wrote on 14 November, 2018 to Chief Judge Nasir Ajanah, asking him to provide “the payroll of judicial staff for the ongoing pay parade of civil servants in the state.” At the time, the Governor was a defendant in the court of the Chief Judge, so the Chief Registrar responded to the letter and explained that the judiciary was a self-accounting and co-equal branch of government supervised by the state Judicial Service Commission.

An affronted Governor Yahaya Bello wrote under his own name to Walter Onnoghen, then Chief Justice of Nigeria and Chair of the National Judicial Council (NJC), asking the NJC to find the Chief Judge guilty of misconduct and requiring that he “step aside and (an) Acting Chief Judge allowed to take his place.”

While his petition was still waiting for the attention of the NJC, Yahaya Bello resorted to political self-help. He referred the perceived effrontery of Nasir Ajannah to the State House of Assembly, which promptly constituted an investigation committee. The Chief Judge sued. While his suit was pending, on 2 April 2019, the State House of Assembly adopted a resolution asking Yahaya Bello to remove the Chief Judge and also requiring disciplinary action against the Chief Registrar.

On 18 June 2019, Alaba Ajileye sitting as the High Court of Kogi State in Kotonkarfe, determined that the Kogi State House of Assembly and the Governor acted unlawfully in seeking to remove the Chief Judge.

The reaction of the governor was bestial. He first went after Alaba Ajileye, a man of courage and learning whose judicial record was unblemished. With a doctorate degree in law, Alaba Ajileye was an expert in the rarefied subject of digital evidence. Following this judgment, however, Yahaya Bello’s government made it known that they could no longer guarantee his safety.

Yet, when he was put forward for elevation to the Court of Appeal, the same Kogi State government actively blocked it. A man who would easily have adorned the Supreme Court with distinction, Alaba Ajileye retired from the High Court in February 2023 and has since then forged a career as a scholar and academic.

Turning to the State Chief Judge, meanwhile, Yahaya Bello made life unbearable for Nasir Ajannah. He began by banishing the man from official state functions. When Chief Judge Ajannah attended the swearing in of the new Grand Khadi of Kogi State on 21 May 2020, the Chief Security Officer to Yahaya Bello informed him that “the governor gave a directive that he should not be allowed to attend the function.”

In the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic, Governor Yahaya Bello made Nasir Ajannah persona non-grata in the state. As a result, he was forced into internal displacement in Abuja, where his personal arrangements were worse than transitory. While in hiding in Abuja, Nasir Ajannah contracted COVID and died in isolation in Gwagwalada in the Federal Capital Territory on 28 June 2020. His death went unacknowledged and even the institutions of the judiciary were reluctant to mourn his passing.

The men who followed Nasir Ajannah in the office of Chief Judge of Kogi State learnt to stoke the vanities of Yahaya Bello and avoid his anger. Ahead of his departure from office at the end of eight years as governor of Kogi State in January 2024, Josiah Majebi as Chief Judge and Chair of the Kogi State Judicial Service Commission, prepared a list of candidates for nomination as judges of the High Court of Kogi State.

At the top of the list was a wife to Yahaya Bello the basis of whose claim to the nomination was the dutiful fulfilment of the duties of connubium in Yahaya Bello’s bedroom. For the Chief Judge, it was also proof that he had truly abjured any pretensions to a mind of his own.

Alarmed at what they saw as perversion of the system of judicial appointments, a group of seven Senior Advocates of Nigeria (SANs) from the State wrote to Josiah Majebi to dissuade him from this course of action. In January 2024, they sued challenging his judicial nominations. Pending the outcome, the NJC suspended the process of appointment to the Kogi State judiciary.

On 18 April 2024, James Omotoso, a judge of the Federal High Court in Abuja many of whose judgments usually have something of a smell problem about them, implausibly ruled that these SANs had no legitimate interest in the process of appointment of judges in their state and that, in any case, the discretion of the NJC in appointment of judges was effectively not open to review.

It was the day after Yahaya Bello’s chosen successor and blood relative, Usman Ododo, chose to turn his predecessor into a fugitive from legal process and two days after Mr. Ododo opened his case in the petition questioning the lawfulness of his election as governor of Kogi State.

As a bungling Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) waited to arrest Yahaya Bello in Abuja, one I.A. Jamil, a judge of the High Court of Kogi State, issued an order claiming to restrain the Commission from doing its job.

According to the order of the judge, the case which was filed over two months earlier on 8 February, was hurriedly assigned while the siege was on going in Abuja, argued, heard and decided and the judge quickly signed the order and handed it to Governor Ododo to take with him to Abuja from where he spirited his cousin away from legal process in a blaze of gunfire. The court was almost assuredly disingenuous about the date of filing. In all likelihood, the case was filed same day on 17 April and then back-dated.

The EFCC now claims it has declared Yahaya Bello a fugitive but the real question will be how a compromised and complicit judicial leadership will now treat the nomination of his unqualified wife as a judge and the petition against the declaration of his violent cousin as governor of Kogi State. The judges who currently control Nigeria’s criminal politics now must show how much they owe Yahaya Bello.

A lawyer and a teacher, Odinkalu in can be reached at chidi.odinkalu@tufts.edu

Continue Reading

OPINION

The Naira Abuse Palaver

Published

on

Share

By Dakuku Peterside

There is no disputation that naira abuse or more specifically the act of spraying money at social events has become an acceptable norm or cultural practice in Nigeria. Nigerians have a cultural affinity for lavish social gatherings. Many people regard these occasions as avenue for displaying social statuses and wealth.

Spraying naira notes, and other currency notes, at events progressively appear to be the ultimate way to flaunt one’s social standing.

Even burials that are supposed to be sober moments have been turned into considerable fanfare. This has created a new industry of mint note trading and events management. All of these constitute the social infrastructure of naira abuse.

A new dimension to this abuse has been the arrival to the scene of the dodgy nouveau rich. Society has labelled these folks through all sorts of nomenclatures, such as: Yahoo Yahoo, Yahoo Plus, and 419.

Nigeria has since recognised the dangers of naira abuse but that is not the focus of this piece. The government has made rules and laws to check it and provided enlightenment campaigns to educate people on the ill. The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) gave naira abuse as one of the reasons why it is pushing for digital-based financial transactions. Naira abuse, like its ancestor – the social epidemic of corruption, has remained stubborn and refused to go away.

There is, however, ambiguity about what constitutes naira abuse. Section 21 of the Central Bank of Nigeria Act of 2007 clearly defines naira abuse and prescribes various punishments to deter citizens from engaging in it. The abuse includes: spraying banknotes at events; writing on banknotes; stapling banknotes; tearing banknotes; dancing or stumping on naira notes; defacing bank notes with substances or ink or oil; selling banknotes; the mutilation of naira notes; and creating money bouquets.

However, there has been a pervasive laxity on the enforcement of the law. It is generally though that the laws against naira abuse are either symbolic or desuetude, because no one is held accountable for it; everyone gets away with it.

The social phenomena of naira abuse, especially the spraying of money, have become epidemic in Nigeria. Lately, the abuse is of significant concern. We have exported it to many parts of the world, and social media is replete with evidence of this in weddings and other social events attended by Nigerians in different parts of the world.

Malcolm Gladwell’s book, The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference explores the idea that social phenomena, like trends and epidemics, often reach a tipping point where they suddenly become widespread. He identifies three key factors that contribute to this tipping point: the Law of the Few (the idea that a small number of people have a disproportionate influence), the Stickiness Factor (how messages or ideas stick in the minds of people), and the Power of Context (how the environment influences behaviour).

Through engaging anecdotes and research, Gladwell illustrates how understanding these factors can help individuals and organisations create or manipulate trends and epidemics. The book emphasises the importance of paying attention to small details and understanding the social dynamics behind spreading ideas and behaviours.

The fundamental concepts of the book in relation to naira abuse are twofold. First, the cultural context or external environment provides the soil for bad or good behaviour to grow and spread. Second, key people with remarkable personalities can cause or stop social epidemics because of their social profile or social network.

There is a link between the recommendation of Malcolm Gladwell and the arrest and prosecution of Idris Okuneye, better known as Bobrisky, a cross-dresser and social influencer, for naira abuse, and the arrest and ongoing prosecution of Cubana Chief priest (Pascal Okechukwu), in connection with naira abuse. Why selectively arrest the duo when everybody is involved in some form of naira abuse or the other, either by trampling on, spraying, mutilating or rumpling our banknotes? The truth is that it is nearly impossible for any law enforcement organisation to find and apprehend every perpetrator of this offence. Resources exist in limited supply. It is simple wisdom to begin with people who have disproportionate influence. This is perhaps what EFCC has done.

The first common ground is that both of these prosecuted celebrities enjoy considerable social media influence, whether for positive or negative reasons, depending on personal value systems. These two cases, though similar, are following different paths.

Bobrisky, in court, pleaded guilty and has since been handed a six-month imprisonment. Cubana Chief Priest did not plead guilty, so his case will go to full trial, putting the law to the test. This court case will assist us in providing answers to some critical questions: What are the societal ramifications of naira spraying, and how can naira misuse be proven? Is there need to amend the existing law and make it more relevant to the challenge? Will this fresh wave of enforcement stop the epidemic of naira abuse?

Regardless of how the legal proceedings turn out, they have highlighted how important it is to take the triplet societal plague of poor social behaviour, naira abuse, and their ancestor – corruption, very seriously.

I have identified six pillars for controlling or stopping naira abuse: Fight corruption because it is an enabler of abuse of the naira. The incestuous relationship between corruption, illicit financial transactions and naira abuse is well established.

Second, the government should deepen knowledge and change people’s orientation by embarking on mass enlightenment, as people must understand clearly what constitutes naira abuse and what the punishment is for the offence.

Third, address cultural issues relating to naira abuse through community engagement. People gifting money to celebrants at occasions is no crime but the manner of gifting has become the issue.

Fourth, government should renew the push for digital transactions.

Fifth, government must strengthen the structures of law enforcement. It is not just a police and EFCC matter. The judiciary must upend its knowledge on the subject matter.

Sixth, government must be impartial and objectively enforce the law to change cultural norms and public behaviour that defaces the naira. This may entail revisiting and improving the law.

The CBN, Police and the EFCC should study different models of changing public behaviour and draw up a model and strategy to deal with the issue of naira abuse, especially since it has become embedded in some cultures. Good examples abound abroad and in Nigeria. The British government employed various strategies to change public behaviour regarding spitting and other personal vices. Spitting in public places was prohibited through by-laws or municipal regulations, but it is social persuasion that finally gave the result.

These laws serve as deterrents and can result in fines or other penalties for offenders. They launched public awareness campaigns, collaborated with community stakeholders, and monitored and enforced the law.

However, most of all, they leveraged social norms and peer pressure to influence behaviour and encourage individuals to conform to accepted standards of behaviour by highlighting the societal consensus against spitting and certain destructive behaviours, while showcasing positive role models who embodied desirable conduct.

A model that seems to be working in Akwa Ibom State is the State Ethical and Attitudinal Reorientation initiative. Before 1999, the Akwa Ibom people experienced a severe social epidemic, “The pervasive and prevalent house help syndrome,” which gained widespread notoriety and led to the dubbed moniker, “Ekaette” for nearly every female domestic helper. The administration of Obong Attah took up the task of reorienting the Akwa Ibom people’s mindset. He established the Ethical and Attitudinal Reorientation Commission (EARCOM) and gave it the responsibility of raising public awareness about the importance of “minoring” vices and “majoring” in moral principles.

The struggle has persisted throughout the regimes, and Pastor Umo Eno’s present administration appears to be taking it to newer, more profound heights by hiring assistants for each ward and unit, and charging them to carry out the Commission’s work of value reorientation in remote areas.

The success story of Akwa Ibom is a model that the Federal Government can replicate. Changing public behaviour requires a multifaceted approach that combines legislation, education, community engagement, social support  and enforcement efforts. By addressing the underlying factors contributing to undesirable behaviours and promoting positive alternatives, governments can effectively shape public attitudes and foster a more socially responsible society.

Peterside is a public sector turnaround expert, leadership coach, public policy analyst and columnist.

Continue Reading

OPINION

Ending the Menace of Oil Theft in Niger Delta

Published

on

Share

By Braeyi Ekiye

Standing up for justice and vocally too, is about standing up for each other. It is our duty to speak for the nation’s lingering ills to be corrected, particularly when others cannot speak up. That is the critical power of the voice for the reconstruction of the Nigerian State to attain the desired real nationhood.

Former governor and now a senator representing Bayelsa West, Seriake Dickson recently stood up to be counted on a serious national issue; oil theft and its debilitating consequences on Nigeria’s economy and security.

Answering questions on a programme at Channels Television recently, Dickson pointedly accused some very important personalities from Lagos and the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja for being behind oil theft in the Niger Delta.

Hear the Senator:” The Official system and oil companies are beneficiaries of oil theft in the Niger Delta”. Dickson bemoaned the absence of national values which he said, makes people to use the nation’s resources for selfish gains.

“People from Abuja and Lagos are the masterminds and the official system is not ignorant and not innocent. The official security system, the official oil system, the official federal system, all of it in its entirety. It’s a powerful system,” he stated.

Dickson wondered why a country like Nigeria that has been producing oil, exporting oil for the past 70 years was unable to have scientific way of metering, recording what leaves, what is pumped, what is sold and what is not sold? He concluded that it was a deliberate attempt at bleeding the country of her financial and economic wealth through illegal bunkering, superintended by local, national and international oil theft collaborators.

It is instructive that the Nigeria Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (NEITI), had in November 6, 2023, through its Executive Secretary, Ogbonnaya Orji, said that oil theft was an emergency that posed serious threat to oil exploration and exploitation with huge negative consequences on economic growth, business projects and profit earnings by oil companies.

Orji stated that as a result of NEITI being a member of the “Special Investigative Panel on Oil Theft and Losses”, the organisation was aware that: “Oil theft is perpetrated mainly through pipeline clamping, illegal connections and major pipeline exploitation of abandoned oil well heads, pipeline breakages and vandalism of key national assets to illegally siphon crude into waiting vessels stationed in strategic terminals”.

NEITI maintained that it was a matter of fact that many members of the pipeline’s association were directly and indirectly involved in providing the skills and knowledge required to carry out oil theft.

Orji therefore, condemned the association for failing to put in place stringent regulations and appropriate sanctions to check involvement of their members.

While being hopeful that President Bola Tinubu’s leadership would spring a surprise to douse the fears, the apprehensions of critical Nigerian minds, like Senator Dickson, Ogbonnaya and many others, there is the compelling need for this administration to seriously interrogate this malignant ulcer on the nation’s oil industry. There is also the need to critically examine NEITI’s unsolicited solutions to the problems of oil theft that have held Nigeria’s economy prostrate and her developmental framework for accelerated growth in all facets stunted.

NEITI in a report titled: “Nigeria’s Battle With Crude Oil Theft: A Total of 4,145 Cases Since May 2023,” published by Arise News on November 23, 2023, revealed a staggering number of highlights of the severity of the issue at hand.

Also, in its weekly: “Energy & You” series aired on the NTA News Network, the NNPCL noted in Episode 7 that 344 crude oil theft incidents were recorded between January and April 2023. Meanwhile, by Episode 8 of the weekly NTA television series, NNPCL shared reports of crude oil theft incidents. A summation of crude oil theft incidents recorded between episode 8 (May 2023) and episode 30 (October 2023), revealed that a total of 4,145 crude oil theft incidents were recorded between May 2023 and the second week of October 2023.

According to NNPCL records, some of the more active hotspots for crude oil theft in the Niger Delta include; Ohaji-Egbema, Oguta (Imo), Ogbia, Imiringi (Bayelsa), Obodo-Omadino, Ughelli (Delta), and Egorobiri creek, Gokana, Iba community, Emuoha, Rumuji, Degema (Rivers).

Nuhu Ribadu, the National Security Adviser, had revealed in August 2023, that: “the country was losing 400,000 barrels of oil per day to crude oil thieves”. This led to commentators insisting that the persistence of crude oil theft in Nigeria lays bare the deep-rooted issues of corruption and severity of vulnerabilities in the country.

That, Nigeria lost more than ₦4.3 trillion naira to oil theft in five years, stolen in 7,143 pipeline vandalism cases is not news. NEITI had revealed this startling loss at the Nigeria Interventional Security Conference in Abuja, with the theme: “Bolstering Regulations, Technology and Security for Growth”, way back in November 2023. The conference was organised by the Pipeline Professionals Association of Nigeria. In a presentation at the conference, NEITI, the federal government agency, revealed that oil theft and losses in Nigeria have become a national emergency, and shall I say, a monumental embarrassment to the country.

Recently, Senator Munir Nwoko, representing Aniocha/Oshimili Senatorial Constituency shed more light on this disturbing matter. Nwoko said that certain security officials whose primary duty is to safeguard oil and gas assets, are actually complicit in this illegal trade. “They are driven by the financial gains associated with illegal activities”, the distinguished senator said.

The crude oil theft network encompasses a broad spectrum of individuals and groups as Senator Dickson rightly pointed out at the Channels TV interview and corroborated by NEITI. It involves foreign oil traders, shippers, bankers, refiners, top-ranking politicians and even military officials.

Providing data from the agency’s reports to back his claims, NEITI’s Orji, said: “NEITI in the last five years, 2017-2021, has found that Nigeria recorded 7,143 cases of pipeline breakages and deliberate pipeline vandalism resulting in crude theft and product losses of 208.639 million barrels valued at $12.74m or N4.325 trillion. NEITI reports also disclosed that during the same period, Nigeria spent ₦471.493 billion to either through repairs or maintenance of pipelines.

The criminal exploits, NEITI said, takes place, ‘most times in atmosphere of communities’ complicity and conspiracy of silence. This, therefore, calls for the Tinubu administration to swiftly swing into action to put an end to this dastardly act, or at least, reduce it to the barest minimum. After all, the state security agencies for effecting a quick resolution of this matter are at the president’s beck and call.

It would also be recalled that NEITI released empirical data of oil theft and losses way back 2009 and 2020 to the staggering figure of 619.7 million barrels of crude, valued at $46.16 billion or ₦16.25 trillion. In addition, Nigeria lost 4.2 billion litres of petroleum products from refineries, valued at $1.84 billion at the rate of 140, 000 barrels per day, from 2009 to 2018. Thus, the total value of crude losses between 2009 and 2020 is higher than the size of the country’s reserves and almost 10 times Nigeria’s oil savings in Excess Crude Account, NEITI said.

So, how long shall Nigeria continue to condone these criminal activities? The country’s inability to proffer answers to these questions will continue to keep Nigeria in a state of coma in her overall developmental strides, including her peace, unity and security.

 Ekiye writes from Yenagoa, Bayelsa State.

Continue Reading

Read Our ePaper

Top Stories

NEWS52 mins ago

FG Revokes 924 Dormant Mining Licences as Minister Decries Racketeering

Share The Federal Government has revoked additional 924 dormant mining licenses. Minister of Solid Minerals Development, Dr Dele Alake announced...

NEWS57 mins ago

Sokoto Assembly Adopts Motion to Establish Skills Centre for Displaced Widows

Share The Sokoto State House of Assembly, on Wednesday, approved a motion advocating for the establishment of an Educational and...

NEWS1 hour ago

Undertake Reforms for Functional Justice System – Tinubu Tells Judiciary 

SharePresident Bola Tinubu has called on the nation’s Judiciary to embark on reforms that will ensure functional justice system and...

NEWS1 hour ago

EFCC Withdraws Appeal Against Former Kogi Gov. Bello

ShareThe Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), has filed a notice of withdrawal to discontinue an appeal against an order...

NEWS1 hour ago

Establish Base in Sambisa Forest, Zulum Tells Army

ShareGov. Babagana Zulum of Borno has urged the Nigerian Army to establish a military base in Sambisa Forest, to effectively...

NEWS1 hour ago

Alleged N80bn Fraud: Bwala Faults EFCC’s Media Trial, Disregard for Rule of Law

Share Mr Daniel Bwala, Former Spokesman of Former Vice President Atiku Abubakar on Wednesday faulted the Economic and Financial Crime...

NEWS2 hours ago

NCAA Suspends Dana Airline’s AOC Effective April 24

ShareThe Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) has written to the management of Dana Airlines, informing it of the suspension of...

Education2 hours ago

Borno Varsity Secures Accreditation in all Programmes – VC

Share The outgoing Vice Chancellor of Borno State University (BOSU), Prof. Umar Sandabe, says the five-year old institution has secured...

NEWS2 hours ago

FRSC Apprehends 222 Trailers Conveying 3,169 Passengers

ShareThe Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC) inter-agency task force, has apprehended 222 trailers conveying 3,169 passengers in Niger, Bauchi, Taraba...

NEWS2 hours ago

Rivers Finance Commissioner Resigns.

ShareRivers Commissioner for Finance, Mr Isaac Kamalu, resigned his appointment on Wednesday. He is the second commissioner to resign from...

Copyright © 2021 Daily Asset Limited | Powered by ObajeSoft Inc