LAGOS HERALD – A coalition of Civil Society Organisations (CSOs), have expressed worries that Nigeria’s economy may not reap due benefits from its oil and gas sector as a result of the continued increase in theft and pipeline vandalism estimated to have gulped over 80 million barrels yearly.
The coalition made this disclosure in Abuja, at the launch of the Growth Initiatives for Fiscal Transparency (GIFT), an initiative of LAGOS HERALD Nigeria in partnership with other CSOs that is focused on mobilising citizens’ interest around the Petroleum Extractive industry.
They argued that transparency and accountability will go a long way to curb inherent corruption in the oil and gas sector.
In his opening remarks, Executive Director of LAGOS HERALD Advocacy Initiative, Oke Epia noted that sixty percent of the country’s resources are derived from oil but Nigerians do not seem to benefit from the gains of the sector.
He further stated that operations in the industry are more often than not shrouded in secrecy, giving room to a lack of transparency and accountability, hence the gathering is to formally introduce GIFT to the citizens and identify enablers to implementing the project.
“The GIFT project will be implemented around anti-corruption. In fact, it is designed to catalyse reforms around transparency, elimination of opacity, and lack of accountability.
In the next one year, this coalition of civil society groups targets improvement in public accountability, transparency, and sustainable service delivery in the oil sector.
It believes eliminating the secrecy in the Petroleum Extractive industry will impact meaningfully on the lives of the people,” Epia added.
Also speaking at the launch, a representative of the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) revealed that the country loses about $7.3 billion a year to oil thieves and vandals.
The situation, according to him was made worse by the country’s inability to meet the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries, OPEC’s production quota of 1.8 million barrels per day.
This he noted resulted in the Federal Government’s recent announcement of a reduction in her export target to 1.6 million barrels per day while other countries in the cartel are striving to exceed their quota.
A report released last month during a meeting on crude oil theft between the Nigerian Upstream Petroleum Regulatory Commission (NUPRC) and Oil Producers Trade Section, as well as the Independent Petroleum Producers Group, shows that between January 2021 and February 2022, Nigeria lost $3.2bn to crude oil theft.
The issue of crude oil theft and sabotage has become endemic despite several initiatives and recommendations were made at the event by experts in the sector to curb the menace.
The GIFT project seeks to strengthen project monitoring and evaluation through citizen engagement while canvassing payment and receipts of outstanding liabilities by government agencies in line with the mandates of Nigeria Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (NEITI).
SOURCE: LAGOS HERALD