By Wole Olaoye
in the equation. The totality of their operations— admittedly irritating, criminal and Eco-hostile—is just a tip of the iceberg. The real Mccoy is the billionaire league of eminent thieves.
What is even more befuddling is the fact that the government would rather borrow money to fund its budget than staunch the revenue leakage.
Opacity has always been the favoured style of NNPC over the years. About a decade ago, a Switzerland-based non-profit transparency organisation, Bern Declaration, (BD), examined the processes involved in the sales of crude oil to Swiss commodity trading companies by SubSaharan African countries between 2011 and 2013. The organisation found that some companies which did not appear on the original award list, were allowed to lift crude oil.
According to the report, “Nigeria’s award of the term contracts is a discretionary and politicised process, with companies gaining and losing allocations depending on their relationship with the officials in charge and the influence of their local contacts or ‘sponsors’”. The report also revealed that the NNPC sold crude to politically exposed ‘briefcase traders’ who, in turn, sold to Swiss trading companies at a margin “effectively privatising a profit that could go to the states that sold the oil”.
The sleaze is systemic. It is entrenched. It has become legit. All at the expense of Nigeria which now lives on loans while its wealth is syphoned by a powerful minority.
But for the re-engagement of Tompolo’s security outfit, Tantita Security Services Limited (TSSL), and other private companies, the world would not have known that operatives of the armed forces and government security agencies were complicit in the crime they were supposed to fight.
The illegal underwater 4-km pipeline, loading port, and 58 tapping points on the nation’s different pipelines recently discovered by TSSL have existed for almost nine years directly under the noses of security officials stationed in the creeks with gunboats and other security equipment. Those who have argued against the government’s engagement of Tantita and other private security companies in the creeks should take another look at the unsavoury collusion of security operatives with criminal gangs of oil thieves.
Tompolo disclosed in a television interview recently that he has already intimated the inspector general of police and the National Security Adviser with facts pertaining to the involvement of some security personnel in oil theft.
“We have illegal bunkering camps owned by some Navy, Army, Civil Defence, and Police”, said Tompolo. it is only the Department of State Services, DSS, that are not involved and we have the evidence… If we are working together as a team, in another few weeks, you’ll see that production will shoot up… We are ready, in a few weeks’ time, we will restore production.”
Believe it or not, all the pumping stations are metered to ensure accurate records. However, the metres are either tampered with or switched off to prevent accountability. NNPC, the regulator/player itself stands indicted. It will take nothing short of direct presidential micro-management to clean out the system.
It bears restating, therefore, that the way out of Nigeria’s dire straits is not mendicancy; neither is it needless borrowing. Why borrow when you can stop the leakages?
The kind of rot that pervades the oil sector can also be seen in other revenue generating areas. Nothing will be achieved without a strong political will to enforce the law and bring outlaws to justice. It calls for cerebral engagement, not the lazy option of abdicating responsibility or thinking we can borrow our way to affluence.
I am yet to fully understand the rationale behind the concessioning of the Nigerian Customs Service to a Chinese consortium last May. The deal is expected to attract an investment of $3.2 billion with an estimated income of $176 billion to be generated for the Federal Government in 20 years. I fail to see what the Chinese are bringing to the table that we (as a country or corporate players within it) couldn’t have initiated ourselves.
One clown on social media took a bet that Nigeria will soon be concessioning the duties of the Army, Navy and Airforce to the Chinese!
Legal luminary, Aare Afe babalola SAN, wrote an excellent article on the development in which he warned that Nigeria, like the fully clad masquerade, must look carefully before jumping into the expressway of debts.
His clincher: “The way out of the country’s economic woes is not the ‘handover’ of its national assets or agencies to foreign entities, but the adoption of sound and practicable economic policies which downplays the need to wallow in debt slavery”.
For me, as we approach 2023, the political parties and their presidential candidates should be telling us how they are going to plug all the ratholes that have reduced Nigeria to a beggar nation; how we are going to reclaim our respectability by making Nigerians run their own country.
Enough of this somnambulant walk to debt slavery!
(Wole Olaoye is a Public Relations consultant and veteran journalist. He can be reached on email@example.com, Twitter: @wole_olaoye; Instagram: woleola2021)
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