By Imman Ekpe

A Federal Government team was in Delta State last week to draw reference from the state administration’s exemplary moves in checking oil theft and drawing community participation in the collective wellbeing of the state.

The news that Nigeria’s oil production level had increased to 1.23 million barrels per day may have been a shocker to many who years ago were basking in the fact that the country’s production level was above 2 million barrels per day.

How Nigeria sunk lower in its production capacities according to many are reflective of how several economic indices have sunk under the Muhammadu Buhari regime.
Among the factors most notable for the shortfall are theft, declining capacity nay interest of the oil majors and the Federal Government’s incapacities.

According to reports Nigeria lost $10.246 billion (about N4.2 trillion) in revenue in the first half of 2022 to crude oil theft leading to the country’s inability to meet the daily production quota set by the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC).  Team.

The Federal Government had projected 1.8 million barrels daily crude oil production for the 2022 budget, but the highest production figure recorded in the first half of the year was 1.4 million barrels.

It is, however, cheery that the administration does not want to remain in that sunken level and hence the move to address the factors that have mitigated against the country’s production levels.

It was in that respect that a Federal Government delegation led by the Minister of State for Petroleum, Mr Timipire Sylva visited Delta State to share thoughts with Governor Ifeanyi Okowa given the efforts made by his administration in addressing issues bordering on oil theft, militancy among others.

Governor Okowa’s move towards addressing the issue of oil theft and related issues first came to fore on January, 13, 2016, when he convened a one-day stakeholders’ summit on vandalisation of oil and gas facilities.

The summit turned out to be prophetic in nature and showed off Governor Okowa as a man of unique foresight. Less than two months after the summit took place, there was a resurgence of militant activities in the Niger Delta. The attendant destruction/vandalism of oil and gas facilities, leading to the downturn oil production, impacted negatively on the nation’s revenue receipts from oil exports. A catastrophic resultant effect was mass spillage and destruction of aquatic life.

Delta State bore the major brunt of the renewed militant activities as the Forcados Export Terminal was truncated.

In a swift move to stop the bleeding, Governor Okowa inaugurated a 9-man Advocacy Committee Against Vandalism of Oil and Gas Facilities with His Excellency, Barr. (Dcn) Kingsley Burutu Otuaro, Deputy Governor of Delta State, as Chairman.

A major achievement recorded by the Delta State Advocacy Committee Against Vandalism of Oil and Gas Facilities in the first month of its assignment was the cessation of the spate of bombings of critical oil and gas facilities in Delta State. 
Relative peace was achieved.  The state government’s pro-peace efforts had proved most useful in the restoration of peace in the once volatile oil bearing areas of the state.
Another major achievement of the Committee was securing the repair work at the vandalized Forcados Export Terminal within a month of its inauguration. It is worthy to point out that over 200,000 barrels of crude oil is fed into the country’s export from the Forcados 48 – inch underwater export pipeline operated by Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria (SPDC). 

The Delta State Advocacy Committee has also successfully engaged some youths in the Oil bearing Communities for intelligence gathering and surveillance of Oil and Gas Facilities from May 2017 till date.  This, no doubt, has successfully reversed the downturn in the Oil and Gas production to the State.

Due to the need to secure national attention to Delta State, nay Niger Delta aspirations, the Advocacy Committee reached out to the presidency resulting in the Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osibanjo’s fact finding visit to the Niger Delta which began from Gbaramatu Kingdom in Delta State.

 Recognising the fact that the security of Costal States of Nigeria are interdependent, the Advocacy Committee led by His Excellency the Deputy Governor offered its intelligence security network to, on occasion, contributed to the rescue of six Lagos State students that were abducted by militants in the creeks of Ondo State.

It is noteworthy that Governor Okowa’s efforts have been observed and noticed by federal authorities hence Delta State became a point of reference for the Federal Government’s team.

Given his own efforts in building community participation and bringing down incidences of oil theft, militancy it is worthwhile that Okowa has been nominated as the vice-presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP.
It is envisaged that he would bring the example he has put in Delta State to bear in Abuja in 2023.

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