Nigeria’s billionaire businessman, economist, and philanthropist, Tony Elumelu, on Thursday argued that the reason why Nigeria had been unable to meet its oil production quota as approved by the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries was not because of low investment but theft.
Elumelu’s position is contrary to the views expressed by the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Chief Timipre Sylva, who had attributed Nigeria’s inability to meet its oil production quota to low investments.
Nigeria’s oil production quota as approved by OPEC is pegged at about 1.8 million barrels per day but in the last few years, the country has struggled between 1.3 and 1.4 million barrels per day.
Early this month, Sylva said Nigeria’s inability to meet the oil production quota was due to the lack of investments in the oil and gas sector.
He said the lack of investments was due to the recent spate of exits by International Oil Companies such as Shell and ExxonMobil from Nigeria’s oil and gas sector.
The minister in a statement issued in Abuja by his media aide, Haratius Egua, had been quoted as saying, “The rate at which investments were taken away was too fast.
“Lack of investments in the oil and gas sector contributed to Nigeria’s inability to meet OPEC quota. We are not able to get the needed investments to develop the sector and that affected us.”
Sylva, however, cited security challenges as another major factor that contributed to the lack of significant growth of the sector.
But in several tweets via his official Twitter handle on Thursday, Elumelu decried the level of insecurity in Nigeria and how this had led to oil theft, which had prevented Nigeria from meeting its oil production quota.
He said, “This morning, I am listening to my colleagues at the office bemoan the very pressing issues that they face everyday in this country, and how things have been getting worse and worse – no electricity for five days, hikes in the price of diesel, frightening food inflation, etc.
“How can a country so rich in natural resources have 90 per cent of its citizens living in hardship and poverty? I have often said that access to electricity is critical for our development, alleviation of poverty and hardship. And speaking of security, our people are afraid!
“Businesses are suffering. How can we be losing over 95 per cent of oil production to thieves? Look at the Bonny Terminal that should be receiving over 200,000 barrels of crude oil daily, instead, it receives less than 3,000 barrels, leading the operator @Shell to declare force majeure.”
Elumelu added, “Why are we paying taxes if our security agencies can’t stop this? It is clear that the reason Nigeria is unable to meet its OPEC production quota is not because of low investment but because of theft, pure and simple!”
The business mogul noted that other oil-producing nations were currently smiling, going by the rise in global crude oil prices, but this was not obtainable in Nigeria.
Oil industry data seen on Thursday showed that Brent, the global benchmark for crude, appreciated in price by 8.34 per cent to $106.19/barrel.
“Meanwhile, oil-producing countries are smiling as their foreign reserves (are) rising. What is Nigeria’s problem? We need to hold our leaders more accountable,” Elumelu stated.
He added, “Elections are coming – security and resources need to be everyone’s agenda – let’s be vocal for our nation’s priority. Evil prevails when good people are silent.
“We need to be vocal about 2023. Let’s focus on Nigeria. Demand and advocate for leaders that deliver. in 2023, Nigeria must be on a strong trajectory for progress and development.”