The Chief of Defence Staff (CDS), General LEO Irabor, has solicited sustainable collaboration among all stakeholders in the value chain of the oil and gas industry in Nigeria. He made this remark in Abuja on Friday 18 February 2022 during a meeting with the Governors of oil and gas producing states, heads of security agencies, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Nigerian National Petroleum Company (NNPC) Limited as well as CEOs of the Upstream and Downstream sectors of the oil and gas industry. The meeting, which was mandated by the President, Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of Nigeria, President Muhammadu Buhari GCFR, was to consider a framework for reversing dwindling oil production occasioned by oil theft, illegal oil bunkering and pipeline vandalism, amongst other economic crimes.
General Irabor said the nation’s economy was bleeding as oil production had become abysmally low thereby adversely affecting the national economy and that of the oil producing states alike. He added that, environmental degradation and health challenges thrown up by pipeline vandalism, illegal oil bunkering and refining, also impinged on the wellbeing of the communities, due to pollution of the waters, land and air, thereby giving rise to a cycle of poverty and diseases. Accordingly, General Irabor said he decided to lead the heads of the security and intelligence agencies as well as the CEOs of the oil and gas regulatory bodies to engage with the Governors of the concerned states. ‘So, given that the issues demand quick action as mandated by Mr President, we have come to engage with you’, he said. The resultant framework from the engagement, he added, would involve the whole of society and that, it would be a win-win situation for all stakeholders, including the host communities. He further addressed the Governors that, ‘as critical stakeholders, … to address the current challenges, you will be playing a crucial part’ in the industry-wide security of the hydro-carbon infrastructure and overall oil production capacity of the country.
In his words, “I am here with all the heads of security agencies, CEO NNPC Limited and other government agencies that are playing a very key role in the oil and gas sector.’’ The Defence Chief pointed out that the responsibility of the Armed Forces and security agencies was to provide security across the space, including the oil and gas sector. The collaboration of the Governors and host communities was however, pivotal to the successful accomplishment of the constitutional roles of the Armed Forces and other security agencies, he said.
The Executive Governor of Delta State, Dr Ifeanyi Okowa, while speaking on behalf of the governors, thanked the President for mandating the engagement. According to him, the Governors of the oil producing states were equally worried about the level of economic sabotage in the oil and gas industry, which had caused reduced revenues as well as environmental and health challenges for the states. He believed that, at the end of the meeting, a framework for collaboration amongst all stakeholders would be crafted for the benefit of all. Dr Okowa expressed the commitment of his colleagues to contribute meaningfully towards a collaborative framework that would guarantee greater prosperity for the nation, the states and host communities.
The other Governors that attended the meeting were: Governor Okezie Ikpeazu of Abia State, Governor Udom Emmanuel of Akwa Ibom State, Governor Douye Diri of Bayelsa State and Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers State. The governors of Edo, Imo and Ondo were represented by their deputies. Heads of security agencies that attended the meeting include; Inspector General of Police, Mr Alkali Baba, Director General National Intelligence Agency, Mr Ahmed Abubakar and Commandant General Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps, Dr Audi Ahmed. The Director General, Department of State Services was represented by his deputy.
The Chief of Defence Intelligence at the Defence Intelligence Agency, Chief of Defence Training and Operations at Defence Headquarters and his counterparts in the Services Headquarters were all in attendance during the event. Furthermore, the CEO NNPC Limited Mr Mele Kyari with the CEOs Upstream and Downstream Oil Sectors were present at the meeting.