By Jonah NWOKPOKU
The Environmental Rights Action, a non government organization has charged the Federal Government to employ real time digital metering of oil production in order to ascertain the true rate of oil produced in the country and curtail oil theft.
ERA’s Executive Diretor, Dr. Godwin Ojo gave the charge while addressing news men at a media launch recently.
Outlining ERA’s tasks for 2014, Ojo noted that the amount of oil produced in Nigeria is virtually unknown.
According to him, “What we usually hear is that the country produces between an estimated 2.4 million barrels a day. But if it is true that oil theft accounts for between 400 to 600 barrels of crude stolen, and if it is true that illegal oil bunkering, is higher than the regular theft, then you can now begin to look at the figures. So Nigeria loses on the average, about 2 million barrels of oil per day. So Nigeria may actually be producing about 4 million barrels per day but just declaring what they have sold at the export terminals by the oil companies.
“This year, we want to push that there should be metering, real time digital metering of oil production. From the point of production through transport to the oil wells down to the export terminals, we should be able to measure them through real time digital measuring so that the actual production would be well recorded. This would help Nigeria on two fronts, it will help to save us the ridicule in the world that today, we don’t know the amount of oil produced and secondly, it will improve the economy of this country.”
Ojo also tasked the federal government on social security, saying that it has become imperative since a lot of people have been deprived of their rights and livelihood especially in the Niger Delta region where oil production activities have destroyed the environment, especially farm lands.
“The people in our rural areas have been deprived of their rights and livelihood and in the year 2014, ERA will focus more on actualizing the rights of these local communities. In order to actualise this; we are looking at the national income basic scheme which will serve as a kind of social security and provide a kind of assured income for all Nigerians, especially those who are unemployed.
“This is simply because, some people at the Niger Delta for instance, have had their livelihood destroyed through oil exploration and pollution. Also, if you look at up north and see what is happening there, you will see that that is also a question of livelihood which has been destroyed. In the South West and South East, deforestation and gully erosions have taken over, so what will the people depend on for their livelihood?
“We need the government to address the issue of national income basic scheme. This can be something from N10, 000. 00 or more. Some may argue that the government does not have that kind of money but it’s a question of priority. If things are rightly prioritised by the government, this will be done. What we need to think about is how do we ensure that national basic income scheme becomes a reality? Already there are some states that have begun to pay some stipends to some elderly people and I think the federal government can key into this and give it a legal backing that it depends that this initiative is promoted and make sure that all the unemployed in Nigeria is catered for,” he said.
Speaking further, he said ERA would also look into energy access for the poor.
“In doing this, we are also looking at renewable energy. We want to use this opportunity to commend the federal government for the light up programme that has just been inaugurated, the focus on non-renewable energy in order to produce electricity to rural dwellers. The ERA proudly buys into the operation light up the rural area project.
We want to advise the FG not to approve any energy policy without broad consultation with the people, particularly the civil society. We strongly believe that it is time for non grid electricity. A decentralised energy system that ensures that communities own their own resources, produce and supply electricity and are even able to conduct maintenance on their own,” he said.