Chibisi Ohakah

A study by the Nigeria Natural Resource Charter (NNRC) has said that Nigeria loses between $7 billion and $12 billion to crude oil theft annually.

The development has expectedly prompted reactions from stakeholders on the implications for the country’s critical sectors like health and education.

Speaking at a seminar on advocacy against crude oil theft, a consultant to the NNRC, Mr Niyi Awodeyi, who spoke on the NNRC study said an estimated 400,000 barrels were stolen daily particularly during the peak years of between 2011 and 2014. He said more recent figures showed that Nigeria lost N3.8 trillion in 2016 to oil theft, an amount that was over 50% of the country’s annual budget for the same year.

This, according to him, is because the revenues lost to crude oil theft could conveniently fund infrastructural and other development projects that could enhance the wellbeing of all citizens.

He said poor governance, poverty, unemployment and the oil companies were the major drivers of oil theft.

Also speaking during the seminar, the Managing Director of New Nigeria Foundation, organisers of the workshop, Prof. Femi Ajibola, said though there are no exact figures of what the country loses to oil theft, it was clear that the loss is humongous.

“What we have lost in one year is much more than 10 times what we have spent on health. If we can reduce what we are losing by just 10 per cent, we can increase our health budget to two times what we are spending today,” he said.

Critical government agencies in the oil sector, representatives of international oil companies, security agencies as well as host communities attended the seminar.

Ajibola said if the country could reduce oil theft, things can change for the better.

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