President Muhammadu Buhari has again lamented that attacks on pipelines and export facilities in the Niger Delta has become a huge security challenge which has far reaching consequences for the national economy.
The president warned that these criminal conducts would no longer be tolerated in any form, stressing that every criminal act must be punished according to the laws of the land.
Buhari, who stated this at the graduation ceremony of the Senior Executive Course 38 of the National Institute for Policy and Strategic Studies (NIPSS), Kuru, Jos, said that impunity must come to an end in Nigeria and there would be consequences for violations of the law. He said that there was a correlation between oil pipeline vandalism and declining Gross Domestic product (GDP) rates.
The president stated that though the perpetrators were few and their motives not necessarily aligned, the economic dimensions of the disruptions in oil and gas production caused by militant activities in the region were indeed grave.
The president whose address was delivered by the Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, also drew a nexus between the activities of the militants, the huge degradation of the environment, said that the criminal neglect of the region due to corruption, failed policies and the continuous vandalism of facilities has created a vicious cycle of environmental damage, poverty and violence.
“The blowing of four strategic oil facilities and oil fields, the Trans Forcados pipelines to the terminal, the Qua Iboe terminal, the Brass pipeline, the Trans-Niger pipeline and the Nembe creek trunkline access both of which convey exports to the Bonny terminal, led to a decline in output from budgetary provisions of about 2.2 million barrels per day to about 1.1 million or sometimes less than 1.1 million barrels per day.
“In August 2016, the loss of over 1 million barrels of oil per day translated to the loss of over 60 per cent of gross revenues. This is compounded by the comparatively low price oil regime. When oil revenues crash, even the non-oil economy is affected because 52 per cent of our non-oil sector revenues depend on oil. Real GDP growth is directly linked to the price of crude and the relationship between oil price, oil export, and GDP growth rate remain as important as ever.
“Besides, as of February 2016, we were generating 5,000 megawatts of power for the first time in the history of the country but that same month the attack on Trans Forcados pipeline led to a 40 per cent loss in gas for power. We suffered a sharp drop in power output to less than 2000 megawatts of power at some points.
“The implication of these despicable acts of sabotage on the vast majority of our people and even our people who live in the Niger Delta trying to make a living is definitely obvious. While we have made it absolutely clear that criminality under any guise will not be tolerated in any part of the country and the sabotage of national assets is a heinous crime. We have nonetheless opened several channels of communication with all relevant groups in the Delta,” Buhari said.
According to him, the federal government would remain firmly committed to resolving all legitimate issues on the part of all to the good of our neighbours and the development of Nigeria.