Published On: Tue, Dec 27th, 2016

Let’s Discuss, PMB Tells Niger Deltans

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By Jonathan Nda-Isaiah

 

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President Muhammadu Buhari

President Muhammadu Buhari has said his administration is willing to discuss with the people of the Niger Delta region and has asked the people of the region to come forward for talks with the government in the interest of the economic development of the region and the country.

He stated this yesterday when residents of the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja, paid him Christmas homage at the presidential villa, Abuja.

President Buhari said his administration would persuade the people of the region to sheathe their swords and come to an amicable solution towards managing the resources in the oil rich region.

Speaking on the challenge posed to the government by agitators in the Niger Delta, he said he would seek a peaceful means of ending the problem.

“For our friends in the Niger Delta area, we will persuade them that they should please sit down with us and agree to manage our resources rather than think of fighting it out,” he stated.

He also appealed to Nigerians to be patient with his administration as he seeks to tackle the socio-economic problems militating against the growth of the country, noting that the growth and development of the country and Nigerians was uppermost on his mind.

“I want you to talk to people to be patient with the government. We are always thinking about our country and we are thinking about our people.

“God has given Nigerians a lot of resources, both human and material; we better do the right thing for our children and grandchildren.

“I assure you that the country and the people of the country are always uppermost in our minds. With our performance in the North East, Nigerians know that this government is serious,” Buhari said.

LEADERSHIP reports that peace in the Niger Delta region is critical to the implementation of the 2017 budget of N7.298 trillion as the federal government plans to fund the budget with 27 per cent expected proceeds from oil.

LEADERSHIP recalls that N1.985 trillion, or 27 per cent of the 2017 budget estimate, tagged “Budget of Recovery and Growth,” is projected to come from oil earnings. President Buhari had told a joint session of the National Assembly that the budget proposal was based on a benchmark of $42.5 per barrel and an oil production estimate of 2.2 million barrels per day, with an average exchange rate of N305 to the US dollar.

On the scorecard of his administration so far, President Buhari admitted that his campaign tripod of security, fighting corruption and reviving the economy were still fundamental problems 18 months into his administration.

“I think it is good to select objectives and be honest about them and work towards them. It is now almost 18 months since we resumed here. We are very lucky. I believe some of you followed us during our campaigns and what we identified are still fundamental problems.

“The first is security, and we kept on saying, whether it is an organisation or a country, we have to first secure it before we can manage it properly. Without security, nothing can work.

“Secondly is the economy and the unemployment of able bodied persons. We look at the left and right, from 1999 to 2014, the crude production was over 2.2m barrels per day. The average cost per barrel was $100. When we came, it was $37. I think it is now between $40 and $50.

“I asked for savings; there was no saving. I asked what they used the money to buy; they said they bought food and oil. I do not know how long it took me to recover from the shock,” he said.

Buhari recalled that it was cocoa, palm kernel, cotton and the agro-allied industry that was used to build infrastructure in the country, including the rails and schools.

He lamented that the country used agricultural produce to develop oil but that when oil was discovered, the country threw everything away.

“We thank God that, this year, the harvest was quite good; otherwise, I do not know what we would have done – no money saved; no infrastructure built; power is still our main problem. Old roads have dilapidated and they need to be repaired from Lagos to Kano, Port Harcourt up to Maiduguri. There are rail lines we want to develop from Lagos to Calabar, from Lagos to Kaduna and the Abuja one.

“If we can get the infrastructure done, we cannot even know the number of Nigerians that will get jobs. So we have to get infrastructure. It will take tankers and other articulated vehicles off the road. We will save vehicles and we will save lives and we will get jobs for a lot of Nigerians,” the president said.

Earlier, the FCT minister, Muhammed Bello, had commended Buhari for the success recorded by the nation’s troops in clearing Sambisa Forest of insurgents last week.

“We are very proud of this milestone and we pray that Boko Haram never rears its head in any part of the country again,” the minister said.

On his part, the chairman of the Christian Association of Nigeria, FCT Branch, Rev. Jonah Samson, commended the president for his leadership, which he said had impacted positively on Nigerians.

Samson particularly commended the president for his administration’s anti-corruption war.

He said, “Corruption is a cankerworm. It is a terrible thing that we must kill. We urge you to ensure that the war continues. It should not end during this administration.

“We thank God for the victory over Boko Haram. It is a thing of joy worthy of celebration.”

The delegation that visited the president included Christian and Muslim leaders, National Assembly members, traditional rulers, top government officials and security chiefs, among others.

In a related development, the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) yesterday vowed to find a sustainable solution to the challenge posed by insurgency in the Niger Delta.

The Corporation said it had created security management platforms that would enable it identify and evaluate risks, develop and superintend implementation of investigations, and aggregate and deploy necessary resources to guarantee a peaceful business environment in the region.

NNPC group managing director, Dr. Maikant Baru, who disclosed this plan in an end of year message to staff of the Corporation in Abuja, said the Corporation was committed to implementing a robust security and stakeholders’ strategy that would ensure that peace reins in the industry operational areas.

Dr. Baru attributed the recent increase in the country’s oil and gas reserves to 37 billion barrels and 192Tcf respectively to the relative peace in the Niger Delta of late.

He explained that over the year, NNPC adopted strategies to ensure the Corporation’s operational profitability, citing the renegotiation of all existing contracts which had enabled his Management Team achieve substantial value realisation of between five and 30 per cent discounts.

“This singular effort alone translated to substantial cost savings in favour of NNPC”, the GMD noted.

Nigeria’s national production output was continuously impacted during the year resulting in deferment of about 700,000b/d of crude oil production.

Data from the Ministry of Petroleum Resources revealed that the average daily production of crude oil rate stood at 1.9mmbd due to incessant security challenges, especially the vandalisation of critical oil and gas infrastructure by saboteurs.

The Ministry hinted in its 2016 Score Card that the worst hit pipelines during the year were the Trans Niger Pipeline (TNP) and the Trans Forcados Pipeline (TFP).

The report explained that while the TNP had a crude carrying capacity of 150,000b/d, the TFP had a capacity of about 300,000 b/d.

With respect to the terminals, the Focardos Oil Terminal (FOT), which receives the TFP’s throughput volume, experienced the most outages of over eight months in 2016 due to the sabotage of the 48-inch export pipeline in February and October 2016.

Similarly, the ExxonMobile operated Qua Iboe Terminal (QIT) 36-inch and 42-inch crude export lines, with capacities for 200,000 b/d each, were also breached within the year.

The report stated that the NNPC would have been in a position to produce beyond the 2016 national budget target of 2.2mbpd if not for the sabotage and vandalisation of the critical pipelines.

In a similar development the Nigerian Petroleum Development Company (NPDC), the exploration and production subsidiary of the NNPC, has disclosed that it lost N1.5 trillion to attacks on its facilities from January till date.

Dr. Baru disclosed this at the opening ceremony of the 2016 NNPC Security Awareness Week, with the theme, “NNPC Security: A Task for All Stakeholders.”

He lamented the rising spate of criminality in the society in general and in the oil and gas industry in particular, leading to the loss of much needed revenue and urged all Nigerians to do everything possible to help protect the national assets, adding that governments at various levels are doing much to fight criminality and that success can only be achieved when all stakeholders imbibe the consciousness that security is a task for everyone.

Meanwhile, the Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria Ltd (SPDC) has launched a campaign against crude oil theft. The campaign highlights the dangers of crude oil theft and sabotage of pipelines to more than 40 communities in the four local government areas in Ogoni land – Khana, Gokana, Tai and Eleme.

Speaking during the launch, managing director and country chair, Shell Companies in Nigeria (SPDC), Osagie Okunbor, said, “This public service campaign is a clarion call to people involved in crude theft in the Niger Delta, not only in Ogoni land, to stop destroying their land and heritage through pipeline vandalism.”

(SOURCE –LEADERSHIP)

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