The National Economic Council on Thursday urged the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation to engage the National Intelligence Agency to identify markets for stolen products across the continent.
Governor Godwin Obaseki of Edo State made this known while briefing State House correspondents after the NEC meeting presided over by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo at the Presidential Villa.
He said the NEC’s 13-member ad hoc committee, which he chaired, submitted its report to the NEC.
Obaseki said the committee was constituted to address the impact of vandalism, oil theft and bunkering on oil production.
He said it was also to check the effectiveness of the activities of the joint task force and other security agencies in curbing the menace of oil theft.
Obaseki said that the adhoc committee discovered that there were huge losses as the NNPC reported to it that the 22.6 million barrels of crude oil valued at approximately $1.35 billion were was lost during the first half of this year.
He said the NNPC’s report showed that if the situation was not contained in two years, “we would have lost in excess of $2.7 billion”.
He added: “Therefore, the adhoc committee made the following recommendations: that there is need to restructure the maintenance and ownership of oil pipelines as a way of tackling the perpetrators of crude and other products.
“That we should have a legal framework that will ensure that criminals are duly prosecuted, imprisoned and their assets confiscated.
“That there should be special courts to trial offenders and also have a special legal task force to coordinate the prosecution of arrested offenders as well as trained special judges to handle cases of oil theft.
“That NNPC should be encouraged to engage with the NIA to identify the markets for stolen petroleum products across the continent.
“That the governors of the oil producing states should set up actions to develop the communities that are most prone and through which these pipelines run with their 13 per cent derivation allocation as well as implement programmes that will be impactful and make life easy for the people.”
Obaseki said the Niger Delta Development Commission, which had the mandate to undertake development in the region, should be restructured to perform its role better.
The governor said the council resolved in that recommendations should be presented to President Muhammadu Buhari, who is also the Minister of Petroleum, for the final decision for implementation.
He said the chairman of council also asked the NNPC to make a presentation to council on the state of petrol and other products which were smuggled across the borders.
On his part, Governor Inuwa Yahaya of Gombe State said the Secretary to the Presidential Enabling Business Environment Council, Dr. Jumoke Oduwole, gave an update on the enabling business to environment.
Yahaya said Oduwole informed the council about the current reforms in African countries as contained in the African Development Bank Economic Outlook report released in January 2019 and in the World Bank Ease of Doing Business 2019.
He said: “Nigeria was ranked 146 with micro, small and medium enterprises making up to 90 per cent of businesses in Nigeria.
“And that the economic recovery and growth plan 2017-2020, which has three broad objectives, which includes restoring growth, investing in people and building a competitive economy, has positioned Nigeria as a force in building a competitive economy.”
Yahaya said the committee was mandated to take Nigeria to top 100 in the 2020 World Bank ease of doing business index.
He also highlighted some achievements by PEBEC in the past three years.
He said: “Moved up 24 places in the World Bank ease of doing business ranking.
“Thirty-two Nigerian states led by Kaduna, Enugu, Abia, Lagos and Anambra have improved in their ease of doing business environment.
“An independent survey adjudged Nigeria as impactful in terms of procedures and time of doing businesses.
“Governors requested for clarification from NEC’s chairman-the vice president, on the relationship between NEC and the newly informed Economic Advisory Council.
“And the vice president explained that those councils are advisory for the benefit of the President, while NEC is established by the constitution, they are to complement one another.
“He added that NEC could be briefed regularly on the activities of the Economic Advisory Council with the permission of the President.”