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 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 President Muhammadu Buhari, was to consider a framework for reversing dwindling oil production occasioned by oil theft, illegal oil bunkering and pipeline vandalism, among other economic crimes.
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 water, land and air, thereby giving rise to a cycle of poverty and diseases.
Accordingly, 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.
Irabor told 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 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 reduced revenues as well as caused environmental and health challenges for the states.
Okowa expressed belief that, at the end of the meeting, a framework for collaboration among all stakeholders would be crafted for the benefit of all.
He declared 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.
Other Governors who attended the meeting were Governors Okezie Ikpeazu of Abia State, Udom Emmanuel of Akwa Ibom State, Douye Diri of BayelsaState and Nyesom Wike of Rivers State.
The governors of Edo, Imo and Ondo States were represented by their deputies.
Heads of security agencies who attended the meeting included the Inspector General of Police, Mr Alkali Baba, the Director General of National Intelligence Agency, Mr Ahmed Abubakar, and the Commandant General Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps, Dr Audi Ahmed.
The Director General of the Department of State Services was represented by his deputy.
The Chief of Defence Intelligence at the DefenceIntelligence Agency, the Chief of Defence Training and Operations at Defence Headquarters and his counterparts in the services’ headquarters were all in attendance during the event.
The CEO of NNPC Limited, Mr Mele Kyari, with the CEOs of upstream and downstream sectors were also present.