Frontline Niger Delta leader and Executive Chairman of the Board of Trustees for the Community Development Committees (CDC) in the Niger Delta’s Oil and Gas Producing Areas, Mr. Joseph Ambakederimo, emphasized the urgent need for collaboration between the CDC and the Nigeria Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (NEITI). This collaboration aims to conduct advocacy initiatives in oil-producing communities using town hall meetings to raise awareness about the severe environmental impacts and economic repercussions of oil theft.
Addressing concerns at the Nigerian International Pipelines Technology and Security conference, themed “Bolstering Security, Protecting Petroleum Industry Assets for Improved Economy” at Abuja Continental Hotel, on Monday, November 6th, 2023, in Abuja, Mr. Ambakederimo highlighted the critical nature of curbing oil theft. He stressed that failure to address this issue could severely impede the government’s ability to provide essential amenities and uplift the living standards of citizens. Emphasizing the need for community understanding, he stated that participation in systems that deprive them of development opportunities must be avoided.
In his welcome address, Sir Sunny Oputa, Chief Executive Officer of Energy & Corporate Africa, stated that Nigeria is deeply engaged in discussions about pipeline protection, asset integrity, vandalism, infrastructural development, and the complexities of oil theft. These discussions underscore the vital role of the country’s pipeline networks, serving as the economic lifeline connecting various sectors.
He reiterated that protecting Nigeria’s pipeline networks is crucial for preserving the economy of Sub-Saharan Africa’s largest oil producer and sustaining its citizens’ well-being. Conversations about pipeline functionality, security, innovation, and enhancements significantly impact the nation’s progress.
Mr. Oputa further emphasized that stronger regulations, policies, technology, and security in the pipeline sector are pivotal for maintaining these networks as commercial conduits for oil and gas, ensuring stability, and fostering economic growth.
Meanwhile, Dr. Orji, NEITI’s Executive Secretary, addressed the Conference in a paper titled “Pipeline Security, Oil Theft And The Implications For Economic Growth,” emphasizing pipeline security’s role in combating oil theft for economic growth. He highlighted the dire consequences of theft, noting its impact on Nigeria’s revenue, job market, and investor confidence.
NEITI’s data revealed staggering losses due to theft and vandalism, urging immediate action to curb these issues. The keynote also proposed policy recommendations to combat theft, boost revenue, and enhance Nigeria’s gas sector. Dr. Orji emphasized the importance of pipeline security in investor confidence and urged the conference to formulate impactful recommendations for effective implementation.
In a move toward collaboration and in line with the sentiment shared by Mr. Oputa, The Executive Chairman Board of Trustees Community Development Committees of Niger Delta Oil and Gas Producing Areas, Mr. Ambakederimo, who is a co-organizer of the just concluded conference, is seeking collaboration between the CDC and NEITI to carry out advocacy involving the oil-producing communities in a townhall format for the enlightenment on the dangers of environmental impact and the effect of oil theft on the economic wellbeing of the country and its citizens.
In his words, “It will be a truism that the government would find it difficult to provide basic amenities that will shore up the living standard of the people if this worrisome trend of oil theft is not curbed. The communities must be made to understand that they cannot be part of a system that will deprive them of developing their areas. Therefore, it is imperative that we must embark on this advocacy journey with the CDC taking the lead.”
Against this backdrop, Ambakederimo revealed, “The same collaboration is taking place with the House Committee on Upstream and the special House Committee on Oil Theft and Security Chairman Honourable AlHassan Doguwa, who represented the Honourable Speaker of the Federal House of Representatives, Rt. Honourable Tajudeen Abbas.”
“Also, the CDC will, in the coming days, meet with the Executive Secretary of Nigeria UPSTREAM Petroleum Regulatory Commission (NURPC) for a similar collaboration,” Ambakaderimo further stated.
During the conference, the CDC, actively present in all Niger Delta oil and gas-producing communities, asserted its role in driving development and ensuring community security. Their direct plea to the government called for collaboration and support, emphasizing the need to empower CDC members to oversee pipeline security, shifting away from costly external solutions that have proven ineffective. These collaborative efforts signal a proactive approach to protect the environment and stabilize the region’s economy, rallying for unified action against the threats posed by oil theft.