Federal Govt Moves To Avert Agony Of Subsidy, Ends Fuel Importation Next Year

The group chief executive officer (GCEO), Nigerian National Petroleum Company (NNPC) Limited, Mele Kyari, has disclosed that Nigeria will stop importing petroleum products by mid-2023.

Kyari disclosed this yesterday during the weekly ministerial briefing organised by the Presidential communication team at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.

He hinged his optimism on the premise that the combination of output from the Dangote Refinery and state-owned refineries would eliminate any importation of petroleum products into the country.

According to him, because of Nigeria’s population and the size of the middle class that has impacted on demand, the volume of petrol required in the country has increased.

He said NNPC owns 20 percent equity in the Dangote Refinery and has a first right of refusal to supply crude oil to the plant.


He said, “Even if all our four refineries in three locations are operating at 90% of installed capacity, they will only be able to raise 18 million litres of Premium Motor Spirit (PMS). That means even if all of them are working today, you would still have a net deficit of PMS to import into this country.

But we saw this energy transition challenge coming. We knew that time would come when you would look for people to buy your crude and you will not find them.

“And that means we have locked down the ability to sell crude oil for 33,000 barrels minimum by right for the next 20 years and by right also we have access to 20 percent of the production from that plant.”

Kyari said the Dangote Refinery would begin producing by the middle of next year, adding that it can produce up to 50 million litres of PMS.

“The combination of that and our ability to bring back our refinery will eliminate any importation of petroleum products into this country next year. You would not see any importation into this country next year.

“This is very practical. As a matter of fact, when we are done with our own refineries and the Dangote Refinery, there remain other small initiatives that we are doing – small modular condensate refineries that we are building. If that happens – and we are very optimistic it will happen – you would see that this country will now be a net exporter.

“As a matter of fact, it will be a hub for the export of petroleum products, not just to the West African sub-region. This will happen. The flow of supply will change by the middle of next year. You will not need the importation of petroleum products into this country by the middle of next year,” he added.


‘Pipeline Protection Contract In Public Interest’

On the controversial pipelines surveillance contract recently given to the former Niger Delta agitator, Government Ekpemupolo, also known as Tompolo, Kyari said that the contract was not awarded to Tompolo as a person but a company he has interest in.

He explained that it was not the first time that individuals within the Niger Delta region were awarded a contract for pipeline surveillance, noting that the contract was in the interest of the people.

He said it was his belief that the federal government has taken the right decision to hire private contractors to man its oil pipeline network nationwide. Kyari argued that although the security agencies are doing their part, end-to-end pipeline surveillance would require the involvement of private entities and community stakeholders.

“What we did is to do three things. First, to ensure the government’s security agencies play their part’ we have our Navy, the Army and they are doing an excellent job of containing this, but as you do this sustenance is everything and, therefore, we also decided that we need private contractors to man the right of way and also operate outside the right of way so that they can also join us to manage members of the community,” he said.

“We don’t have access to that; therefore, we put up a framework where contractors were selected through a tender process for people who can do it, not everyone can do it, and Tompolo is just mentioned; we’re dealing with corporate entities. He may have interest in the company, we’re not dealing with Tompolo, but we know that he has interest in that company. We know that we’re engaging all other individuals who will be of help to us in this situation.,” he explained.

Kyari also disclosed that churches, mosques, security agencies as well as communities where pipelines pass through are involved in pipeline vandalisation and theft of petroleum products.

He said: “As you may also be aware, because of the very unfortunate acts of vandals along our major pipelines, from Atlas Cove all the way to Ibadan, and all others connecting all the 37 depots that we have across the country. You know, none of them can take delivery of products today.

“And the reason is very simple. For some of the lines, for instance, from Warri to Benin, we haven’t operated that line for 15 years. Every molecule of product that we put gets lost. And, of course, you remember the sad incident of a fire incident very close to Warri, close to Sapele that killed so many people, so, we had to shut it down.

Kyari further stated that 295 illegal connections were discovered in one line in less than 200 metres, and that with the help of the security agencies and the directive of the Chief of Defence Staff, the company was able to intervene.

He said that, so far, 30 speed boats, 179 wooden boats and 37 trucks had been arrested, explaining that the authorities have taken the decision not just to arrest but to burn such confiscated products.

Besides, he said that 122 persons, comprising highly placed individuals, have been arrested between April and August, and that some of them have been handed over to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC.

He said 739 ovens for the illegal crude oil theft had been discovered and some destroyed, and 344 reservoirs created and 355 cooking pots also discovered, stressing that the level of the illegal business was enormous.


FG Commissions 8 Gunboats To Fight Oil Theft

Also yesterday, the federal government vowed to bring down its might on vandals and oil thieves sabotaging the nation’s economy.

It also urged the security forces to collaborate to end the scourge.

The minister of interior, Rauf Aregbesola, made the declaration at the commissioning of eight gunboats acquired for use by the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) in Port Harcourt, Rivers State yesterday.

He said, “Those who steal crude oil not only deny the country of the much-needed revenue, they sell the stolen goods at discounted prices well below the market value. This black market creates a glut and forces down the official price. They have, therefore, made Nigeria suffer the double jeopardy of loss in revenue and drop in value of the product.

“President Muhammadu Buhari, GCFR, has given us the resources and the marching orders to take the war to them. As a step in this direction, the federal government is taking adequate steps to equip relevant security agencies and, by extension, the NSCDC, which is the lead agency in the protection of critical national assets and infrastructure,” the minister stated.

Aregbesola further stated that the government is not oblivious of the dangers crude oil theft portends for the country, stating that the value of such theft is estimated to be in its billions.

“In the latest estimate, billions of dollars are lost to oil thieves and vandals. There is no gainsaying the fact that the federal government is committed and determined to curb the menace of oil theft – which is bleeding the economy mindlessly, a development that has led to a drop in the earnings of the government.

Speaking at the event, the commandant-general of the NSCDC, Abubakar Audi, declared the Corps’ readiness to put an end to pipeline vandalisation and pillaging of the nation’s resources.


Provide Evidence, Religious Leaders Tell NNPC Boss

Meanwhile, a former director of Legal Affairs, Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), Evangelist Kwakur Samuel, has faulted the allegation by the NNPC Ltd GMD, Mele Kyari, that churches and mosques were involved in stealing of petroleum products in Nigeria.

Kwakur called on Kyari to produce evidence to prove that the church is involved in oil theft in Nigeria. He said Kyari cannot isolate any evil to a particular religion, because when he said the mosque and the church are part of those stealing the oil, the first question that would come to mind is; what does he mean by that statement?

Kwakur said: “Because I do not think he has any evidence to show that the church is directly involved. If he has them, let him bring out the evidence. It is possible that in a community where there is a church or mosque, people still steal there.

“I think we cannot, as religious leaders, absolve the liability of any community because we have churches or mosques there and we will say that those communities are perfect and cannot steal, but to say that churches are stealing oil, I think that is what I can vehemently say that is not true and cannot be true. I read that he said that everybody is involved. He was trying to generalise stealing of oil.

“If he has any evidence that any church is directly involved in stealing oil, he should bring it out.

“We cannot speak for all the churches, because there are people that when they see any building, they will assume it is a church and there are people that when you see them, you will think they are Christians.”

He, however, asserted that no God-fearing Christian or church built on Christ will be involved in stealing oil, even as he challenged Kyari to show evidence that any particular church is directly involved.

“We wish that he produces the evidence, so that CAN and other Christian leaders can investigate if that place is truly a church,” he added.


Kyari’s Allegation Untrue – Rivers CAN

On its part, the Rivers State chapter of CAN described Kyari’s allegation – that churches and mosques are involved in oil theft – as untrue.

CAN secretary in the state, Bishop Emma Ogu, who disclosed this while speaking with LEADERSHIP in Port Harcourt yesterday, challenged Kyari to provide evidence to buttress his allegation.

Ogu said: “Mele Kyari has no evidence that churches are involved in oil theft. Mele Kyari himself is the headmaster of bunkerers. He has no evidence; if he has evidence, let him bring it forth and let the people know. He cannot just accuse pastors without evidence. What is his evidence? It is not true.”

Reacting to the allegation, Kaduna State CAN chairman, Rev. John Joseph Hayab said, “Let the GMD of NNPC show us evidence of churches and mosques that are involved in oil theft.

“We hope it is not another politics of throwing out names to divert attention and also blaming others just to cover up a very serious matter that may come out to expose the criminality going on in that industry.

“The church, which I know, will only help to expose oil theft, not be involved in it. I hope the GMD means that some people hide under the name of these faiths to steal, but none of these faiths or institutions practise what he is accusing us of, or promote what she knows is a crime against the nation.

“The Church in Nigeria will help all the anti-corruption agencies to expose and arrest them if there is proven evidence. CAN, therefore, appeals to every office holder in Nigeria to stop saying things without evidence that can only create more confusion than healing the nation.

“For now, we will presume that the GMD’s claim and accusation against the church as an institution may be from ignorance because the church as an institution cannot steal oil.”


Deal Harshly With Culprits – Imam

On his part, the national chief imam of Al-Habibbiyah Islamic Society, Imam Fuad Adeyemi, urged the government to deal decisively with any religious leaders or followers behind the crime.

He said he completely agreed with the Kyari that some churches and mosques are aiding and abetting corruption because their leaders are in the religious business looking for wealth and recognition.

“I think he (Kyari) was being economical with the truth because he knew what he was saying or probably he was afraid of being accused of accusing the Christians alone. But I’m very sure he knows what he was saying and if he was the one that said it, then he is right and correct because I knew that some people steal government money and take it to the church or mosque because they would not query them, and that is why people are complaining about the new NGO Act.

“It is not about advising the mosques or churches to desist from the devilish behaviour; the government should treat them the way they would with any other person that is stealing from the government.”


Don’t Generalise – MURIC

The Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC) has expressed worry over the involvement of places of worship in the issue of oil theft.

MURIC’s director, Professor Ishaq Akintola, in an interview with LEADERSHIP yesterday, however, warned that one should not generalise on who and who were corrupt.

“I cannot know the level of involvement of mosques and churches in oil theft,” he said, adding that where some people are corrupt, some others are not.

He explained that, generally, many people are guilty of corruption, adding that some Muslims were involved in stealing and others in corruption.

“Among Nigerian leaders, only few of them are not corrupt; some are stealing while some are not”, Akintola said.

“We should not generalise”, he added.


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