The President of the Senate Ahmad Lawan says Nigeria loses one million barrels of crude oil daily to crude theft.
He made the remarks at the presentation of the 2023 Appropriation Bill to a joint session of the National Assembly by President Muhammadu Buhari in Abuja on Friday.
Lawan said that the Nigerian economy was still challenged by a dearth of revenues and the situation was worsened recently, culminating in the loss of one million barrels of crude per day.
He said: “Translated into monetary terms, our loss is monumental. The large scale and massive stealing of our oil are concerning as this reduces drastically, the revenues available to the government.
“With conflicting figures, projections have put our losses from this malaise at between 700, 000 to 900, 000 barrels of crude oil per day, leading to about 29 to 35 per cent loss in oil revenue in the first quarter of 2022.”
The senate president also said that the figure represented an estimated total revenue fall from N1.1 trillion recorded in the last quarter of 2021 to N790 billion in the first quarter of this year.
“The figures show we are not able to meet the Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) daily quota of 1.8 million barrels per day.
“I consider the oil thieves the worst enemies of our country. The thieves have declared war on our country and our people.
“I strongly feel that if we do not take the necessary measures to stop the thieves immediately, our economy will be devastated, as efforts to provide infrastructure and diversify the economy will be thwarted.
“The idea of deploying our revenues from oil and gas to support diversification into real sectors like agriculture, manufacturing, mining etc is now under serious threat.
“It is time to take drastic and desperate measures against the thieves,” Lawan said.
He said the situation had become more worrisome if factored in, an estimated budget deficit of N7 trillion with its grim prospect of increasing to about N11.30 trillion, as presented in the 2023 – 2025 Medium Term Expenditure Framework/Fiscal Strategy Paper (MTEF/FSP).
The senate president, however, said that the budget deficit could be reduced by stopping the theft.
“We can also consider other options to source more revenues for government through the review of waivers and concessions government has granted to the tune of N6 trillion,” he added.
Other options, he said, included removing some major revenue-generating agencies from direct funding by placing them on the cost of collection of revenues, as was done for the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) and the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS).
“In this regard, agencies like Nigeria Ports Authority (NPA), Nigeria Communications Commission (NCC), Nigeria Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), etc can be given the encouraging cost of collections of revenues,” he said.