A coalition of civil society organizations, including ActionAid Nigeria, BudgIT, the Centre for Social Justice, and Christian Aid, has urged the Federal Government to put an end to crude oil theft in the Niger Delta region, saving the country millions of dollars in fiscal expenses.
Ahead of the upcoming 2023 general elections, the groups urged Nigerians to put aside their emotions and vote for quality leaders who will effectively preside over the country’s public offices.
They claimed that 400,000 barrels of crude oil are lost daily, amounting to $1.2 billion per month and $14.4 billion (N6.272 trillion) per year and that if the amount is accounted for in the books of the Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited, it will increase the company’s profit and dividends paid to the government.
They also urged the authorities to ensure that the federation’s accountant-general converts the monthly remittance of interim operating surplus and reconciliation of cumulative remittances after year-end into a monthly deduction. The CSOs made the call yesterday while presenting their recommendations on the federal government’s 2023-2025 Medium Term Expenditure Framework and Fiscal Strategy Paper.
Mr Eze Onyekpere, the group’s leader, stated that the FG does not need to wait for its enterprises to remit, but that the platform should be set up in such a way that automatic deduction is possible, ensuring that the sums due to the FG are never used for government-owned enterprise expenditure.
They urged the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (ret. ), to consider removing the NNPCL leadership, under whose watch crude oil theft has increased. In the alternative, CSOs expect the government to set clear theft reduction targets for the NNPC and security agencies’ leadership.
“The government should ensure that the reported quantity of PMS consumed every day is not inflated by conducting a transparent consumption audit and cut extant fuel subsidy by 50% and save not less than N3.36 trillion in 2023,” said Ene Obi, country director of ActionAid.
She expressed regret that current politicians do not manage state resources for the benefit of all Nigerians.
“Look at the caliber of people who occupy our public offices, particularly those that have been privatized,” she said.
The group stated that reducing Nigeria’s tax expenditure proposal by 90% will free up at least N4 trillion in revenue while demanding that all GOEs use the government-owned Treasury Single Account will increase the government’s independent revenue by at least N1 trillion.
“Set a debt ceiling in accordance with S.41 of the Fiscal Responsibility Act,” said one of the group’s leaders, Oyekpere. This limit should be defined in terms of debt to revenue.
“Redefine the purpose of incurring debts in clear terms, such as debts being for projects that will promote value chain development, improve the macroeconomic framework, develop infrastructure, and build strategic human capital.”