Good morning and thank you all for being here this morning.
Crude oil theft and the attendant damage to oil and gas assets across the country destroys the environment, puts the lives of our citizens at risk and undercuts government revenue and compromises government’s ability to meet our nation’s developmental challenges. It is the worst kind of economic sabotage for which there is no viable defence or excuse. Those who engage in these acts of sabotage do so with the full awareness that their actions are inimical to the continued viability of the Nigerian state, yet they persist. Their persistence in this nefarious conduct must motivate the rest of us who bear the consequences of their actions to act in unison to identify those responsible and ensure that they are fully held accountable as allowed by law.
However, beyond that, we have a responsibility to conduct a more holistic assessment to understand whatever underlying factors have caused this action to continue and the perpetrators to continue to benefit therefrom. It is estimated in some quarters that crude oil theft in Nigeria costs us about 400,000 barrels per day. At a time when global oil prices are in free fall, this is a substantial loss that we cannot afford and must no longer abide.
There have been several interventions by the Federal Government of Nigeria to prevent crude oil theft in the country. The National Assembly: House of Representatives and Senate have at various times conducted investigations into the matter. Yet, the situation persists. What are we not getting right? What do we need to do going forward? These are the questions that must now animate the minds and seize the attention of this Ad – Hoc Committee. Mr Chairman, honourable members, I am confident of your abilities to do justice to this assignment, and I assure you that you have my support and the support of the entire House of Representatives.
Often, our ability in the House of Representatives to be faithful stewards of the office we hold depends on the willingness of citizens to engage with us, provide information to fill the inevitable knowledge gaps and deliver context so that we may have a better understanding of the information we receive. This is one of such moments. I urge all those who will be invited to make submissions during this investigation to cooperate with the Committee’s requests in the knowledge that what we have gathered here to do, is an act of service to our country. I thank all of you who have taken time to be here this morning. I salute your willingness to join us in this joint act of nation-building and I wish you all successful deliberations.
On that note Mr Chairman, honourable colleagues, ladies and gentlemen, I declare this public hearing open.
God bless you all and God bless the Federal Republic of Nigeria.