Yakubu Dogara, Speaker of the House of Representatives on Monday assured Nigerians of the House resolve to embark on holistic review of extant maritime legislations with the view to halt N7 trillion being lost yearly to insecurity and leakages within the maritime sector.
Dogara gave the assurance in Abuja, during an interactive session with the Chief of Naval Staff, Vice Admiral IE Ibas; management of NIMASA during the public hearing on a bill for Exclusive economic zone, create the maritime security fund, establish Anti-Piracy offences and for other related matters as well as a Bill for an Act to amend the Maritime Operations Coordinating Board Act, 2004.
“It is even more worrisome to note that Nigeria is said to be losing about N7 trillion annually in the Maritime sector due to among other reasons, leakages in revenue generation and insecurity in the water ways.
“If we are to make any progress in this regard, we must as a matter of urgency and necessity, pass laws that will address insecurity in the sector especially piracy. The International Maritime Bureau, Oceans Beyond Piracy and the Maritime Piracy Humanitarian Response Program all reported in 2012 that the number of vessels attacked in the West African sub-region for which the Gulf of Guinea belongs had reached a world record high with about 1,000 seafarers attacked in that year alone. This is said to be second only to attacks in South-East Asia.
“Between January and March 2016, several attacks were reported off Nigeria’s coast. This was said to involve pirates stealing cargoes of crude oil and petroleum products. Reports had it that, no fewer than 44 ship crew members were abducted. In the first half of this year, about over 20 commercial vessels were attacked in Nigerian waters.
“The increasing level of attacks and violence in the Gulf of Guinea have given Nigeria and other countries in the sub-region very damaging and negative image in addition to an estimated monthly loss of $1.5 billion to the country.
“As I said recently, prevalence of insecurity in our waters resulted in the loss of $1.3 billion annually to illegal Unreported and Unregulated (IUU) fishing in West Africa alone yearly. We must tighten the legal and regulatory framework to stop these losses. The only way to promote intra- African trade in our water ways is to ensure safety and security of navigation in our waters.
“What is disturbing is that pirate attacks in West Africa are said to be occurring in our territorial waters, terminals and harbors and not in the high seas which effectively stopped intervention by international naval forces
“Thus, the onus is on the Nigerian Navy to stem the tide and secure our territorial waters, in cooperation with other agencies of government. However, in the absence of enabling laws that stipulate stiff penalties and adequate funding, the Navy may not be able to perform this responsibility effectively and efficiently,” the Speaker stressed.
The Speaker who condemned all forms of economic sabotage being perpetuated by various revenue generating agencies, undermined the need to enforce the Constitutional provision on revenue generation and remittance with the view to plugs loopholes that lead to revenue leakages.
“To this end, funds generated by departments and agencies shall be remitted to the Federation Account (and Consolidated Revenue Fund of the Federation where necessary) for the appropriate constitutionally mandated public funds of the Federation and the expenditure out of these funds shall follow due appropriation process.”
He expressed optimism that the move will greatly boost government revenue, increase our foreign reserve and ultimately provide jobs to millions of our youths.
Vice Admiral IE Ibas, Chief of Naval Staff on Monday confirmed the recovery of over N420 billion or $1.17 billion stolen oil in 2016 alone. This is aside stolen oil worth N6,757,551,140.20 or $18,770,975.39 destroyed in various illegal refineries between January and June 2017.
According to Ibas who cited the report of the study conducted by OPEC data, “estimated that oil production in Nigeria plummeted by more than 25 percent to average of 1.8 million bbl/d in 2009 as a result of piracy, sea robbery and other attacks.
“Pro-rated against the total volume of that year and basing at the prevalent average cost of $90.48 per barrel at that time, a hefty loss of over $19 billion could have been incurred from just one sector in just one year,” he noted.
The Chief of Naval Staff who reiterated the Navy’s commitment towards liquidating all forms of criminalities ranging from vandalism, kidnapping, environmental pollution, maritime terrorism, illegal bunkering, poaching, smuggling, proliferation of arms, waste dumping, oil pollution and other economic sabotage harped on the need for improved capacity of the Naval officers and men.
While noting that such colossal loss to piracy and sea robbery are avoidable, he observed that intense efforts are being made to drastically reduce the menace over the past 18 months.
On the crude oil theft and other related illegal activities, he said: “according to the oil producers trading section (OPTS) report, annual crude oil loss due to COT for 2014 was 13,018,430bbls, which amounted to about 36,162bpd. As at the end of July 2015, the lose recorded by OPTS as a result of COT was already 12,900,805bbls as against 9,439,677bbls for the same period of the preceding year. This showed an increasing trend in oil theft in 2015.”
He however observed that the intervention of the Nigerian Navy has led to steady increase in national crude oil production from less than a million barrel per day in early 2016 through 1.684mbpd in December 2016 to over 2.0mbpd by April 2017, with corresponding increase in revenue earnings.
To achieve its statutory functions, he stressed the need for timely and total release of annual budgetary allocations, considering the contribution of $67.18 billion yearly by the maritime sector to the Nigerian economy.
On his part, Abdussamad Dasuki, Chairman, House Committee on Navy, noted that “while the incidences of sea piracy is reduced in other territorial waters due to effective coordination, it is increasing in Nigeria and the Gulf of Guinea.
“This is apparently worrisome given repeated warnings by the International Maritime Bureau ( IMB) that attacks by sea-borne bandits off the West African coast are on the rise in Nigeria.
“To compound the problem, the United Nations Security Council reported that Nigeria was losing about $1.5 billion monthly due to piracy and other activities.”
KEHINDE AKINTOLA, Abuja