The European Parliament is set to stop the purchase of stolen oil from Nigeria in Europe. Any crude oil meant to be sold in the European market is now to be accompanied with a certificate of origin. This was one of the landmark decisions taken at the meeting of the members of the African, Caribbean, Pacific Parliaments and their European Union counterparts (ACP-EU) at the conclusion of their three-day regional meeting in Abuja last week. Mitchell Rivasi (Acting Co- President ACP- EU) and Joyce Laboso (Co- Secretary General) told reporters that
the need to stop the huge loss of Nigeria’s oil to organised syndicates of oil thieves necessitated the decision.
The Federal Government said last week after the National Economic Council (NEC) meeting that 400, 000 barrels of oil, an equivalent of N7.3million, is lost daily to oil thieves.
Rivasi Said: “We want to ban European refineries from buying un-certificated oil. 400, 000 barrels a day is a huge loss. We need to get traceability of oil to avoid theft. The oil companies are involved in this and everybody is making big money.
“The bunkering tankers are better equipped than the Nigerian Navy, This is a huge international organised crime. We did it with diamond; we can also do it with oil.”
According to her, the country would have been better off if it had functional refineries. “Could someone please explain why you don’t have refineries in Nigeria?” She asked, describing Nigeria as a “paradox”.
“There is a paradox in Nigeria. There’s a seven per cent growth in the economy, but growth and employment are not going hand-in-hand. We need to respond to this paradox.”
Rivasi also said she would insist that the Boko Haram issue be included in the communique. “They kill people and burn churches. The international community has to help and this is something that is not reflected (in the communique). We must say that they should anticipate or pre-empt before the situation gets worse or deteriorate.”
Rivasi, who is from France, recalled that Boko Haram captured a French family. “This problem, we need on the one hand to use force because these are people that kill civilians and rob banks, attack police stations and steal arms. There is a high level of inequality in Nigeria; some are super rich and others live on less than two dollars daily. We must provide jobs.”
Responding to a question on the planned £3000 visa bond proposed by the United Kingdom, she said:
“We (Europe) have unemployment of more than 12 per cent; others 20 and Spain 57. We are trying to get you to develop in your own country. People should be able to develop in their own country.” According to her, this could be done by funding small-scale industries.
The communique issued at the end of the meeting reads: “With particular regard to the Nigerian oil industry, Members stressed the need to ensure that the revenues generated from the extractive industry are distributed transparently and equitably through the national budget in order to contribute to sustainable development and poverty reduction.
“Members also expressed concern at the high rates of oil thefts, wastage and illegal bunkering which lead to substantial revenue losses and environmental degradation. Members called on the Nigerian government to put in place appropriate mechanisms and measures to fight against this organised crime.”
House of Representatives Speaker Aminu Tambuwal solicited the support of the international parliaments in addressing oil theft.
He said: “We ask for you to support Nigeria’s effort in addressing the issue of oil theft. Here, we will come up with stiff legislation against it. But the oil is being taken out and is going to other places. If possible, we require very stiff legislation from the European Union and other countries that are destination for the oil. It has very high negative impact on the economy and by extension, the people.”
Tambuwal said West Africa had been facing a lot of security issues. “Here in Nigeria, we have taken extreme measures to ensure there is peace. As a parliament, we are supporting the executive through legislation, especially on the issue of funding.”
The ACP-EU meeting was attended by 20 lawmakers (12 from Africa and eight from Europe).