… As Experts seek global collaboration, technology deployment to curb oil theft***
The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) has called on the Federal Government to address issues that necessitated the ongoing strike by the Academic Staff Union of Universities(ASUU) and other unions in tertiary institutions.
President of NLC, Ayuba Wabba, made the call when he addressed newsmen shortly before going into a closed-door meeting of the Congress’s Central Working Committee (CWC) on Wednesday in Abuja.
The newsmen report that ASUU embarked on a nationwide warning strike to press home its members’ demands from Feb. 14.
The lecturers’ demands include; funding of the Revitalisation of Public Universities, Earned Academic Allowances, University Transparency Accountability Solution (UTAS) and promotion arrears.
Others are the renegotiation of the 2009 ASUU-FG Agreement and the inconsistency in the Integrated Personnel Payroll Information System (IPPIS).
Wabba said the call was imperative in the interest of the Nigerian children who are from poor homes.
“In Nigeria today, we are facing a period of great injustice on the downtrodden of the society, the worse of it is that for more than three months, the children of the poor are actually at home and this is not acceptable.
“But instead of the politicians looking at the issues as a national disaster, they are discussing politics that is why there can never be equity and justice in such a system.
“As you are aware, we have communicated what we think would be able to resolve the issue with the government.
“Till date, we are yet to receive any formal information of any effort being made by them to look at that recommendation, we made to them,’’ he said.
On the upcoming political dispensation in the country, Wabba called on union leaders to defend democracy and the rights of the working class.
According to him, this time around, with what has happened with a lot of broken promises, I do not think any worker or union leader will actually sit down and watch.
“It is not a time to watch, because it is the political decision that will put food on your table, so therefore sitting down and waiting or watching certainly will not be our portion.
“Every Nigerian worker must be active to use our “charter of demand’’ to engage the politicians.
“We must try also to make sure that the agenda of the working class, the poor and the downtrodden finds space to be accommodated even in the political process,’’ he said.
The NLC president further said the CWC meeting would look at the next step to take if the government fails to respond to its recommendation on resolving the ongoing strike by unions in the tertiary institutions.
He also said the CWC would also look at key issues of the economy, major roles to bring about peace and respect to the sanity of collective bargaining in the education sector, among others.
In the meantime, some oil and gas experts have underscored the need for global collaboration, technology deployment and host communities engagements to curb oil theft in Nigeria.
The experts spoke on Wednesday at a webinar organized by NexTier Consultants with the theme: “Protecting Petroleum Pipelines: Strategy for Curbing Oil Theft in Nigeria.”
The newsmen report that the country’s oil output currently dropped to an average of 1.24 million barrels per day (bpd).
Nigeria lost about 3.5 billion dollars to crude oil theft in 2021, which was about 10 per cent of its foreign reserves.
Recent reports indicated that Nigeria lost most of its crude oil production to theft and vandalism.
Speaking on exploring pragmatic solutions to curb crude oil theft, Mr Joe Nwakwue, a petroleum sector specialist, said oil theft had become worst due to the response of the state to the challenges.
Nwakwue listed engagement of the host communities, application of technology (either satellite base or fingerprints) and collaboration with the global community as strategies to tackle oil theft issues.
He said international collaboration was paramount because there was a global trade in stolen crude oil products, adding that the issues had far-reaching complications for both investors and the government.
Nwakwue said Nigeria had witnessed overtime increasing amount of point of origin and terminal oil losses, with an average of 1.6 pbd in 2021 and an average of 1.2 pbd in 2022.
“Theft of this skill cannot go on without the complicity of the society at large; the host communities know what is going on and our processes are not transparent enough.
“The assumptions in the Petroleum Industry Act (PIA) is that it will attract investments, that’s why royalty and tax rates were reduced and on one hand crude theft is sending the wrong signal to the market.
It should be addressed, otherwise, we will not see gains of the PIA,” he said.
Also speaking, Mr Thomas Kieler, European Union (EU) Adviser on Security, who called for more engagements of the host communities said it was committed to ending the oil theft issues through support programmes and dialogues.
Kieler said the EU had an interest in solving Niger-Delta issues and was keeping a close eye on curbing the menace, adding that accountability, adequate manpower and investments were necessary.
Mr Sam Otobueze, former General Manager, Group Security Head, Nigerian National Petroleum Company Ltd. (NNPC), said the decline in oil production was a huge concern and needed drastic measures because the sector accounted for 89 per cent of national income earnings.
Otobueze, the Chief Executive Officer of Abokus Integrated Security Ltd., said that the PIA could boost investors’ confidence if technology was deployed and issues of law enforcement and protection of the pipelines stakeholders addressed.
On his part, Dr Ndu Nwokolo, a social scientist, said there was a need for government to rebuild the trust of the host communities because they engage in such due to the unfair treatment from the state.
“Government should do enough to convince the people, rebuild their trust and allow them to join in protecting the assets,” he noted.
Earlier, the Convener, Mr Charles Achodo, Senior Director, NexTier, said oil theft had posed a threat to the nation, eroded revenue base, undermined national security, destroyed environment and biodiversity and stopped investments.
Achodo decried the fact that it militated against the country’s capacity to meet its quota given by the Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC).
He said the key discussion points would be documented to help policymakers and key stakeholders understand the status, gaps, challenges, and ways to mitigate the challenge.
According to the participants, the host communities are complicit, using the state of their communities for their gains.
They noted that collaborations between the community, civil society, International Oil Companies and security agencies were needed.
“If you have ever visited these oil-producing communities and see first hand the kind of poverty in these areas, you will understand why the issue is unending,” the participants said.