NEC approves N15b to tackle oil theft

• FG gets N4.8b loan to fight poverty

DETERMINED to tackle persistent oil theft in the Niger Delta, the National Economic Council (NEC) yesterday approved N15 billion to be used in equipping the security agencies to enable them effectively deal with the matter.

Meanwhile, the Federal Government has just obtained N4.8 billion (about $300 million) World Bank loan, to close the wide gap between the haves and the haves not.

The N15 billion is, however, to be sourced through a tripartite arrangements involving federal and state governments and International Oil Companies (IOCs)

The development came on the heels of claim of steady increase in oil production which has stabilised at 2.4 million barrels per day, as against 1.7 million a few months back.

At a joint press conference by the Governors of Anambra, Peter Obi, Gombe, Ibrahim Dankwambo and Deputy Governors of Adamawa, James Bala Ngillari, Bayelsa, Admiral John Jonah (rtd), Minister of State for Finance, Yerima Lawan Ngama, the officials gave updates on previous resolutions by the Council, especially in respect of oil theft in the Niger Delta region.

The Gombe governor who is the chairman of the NEC Ad-hoc Committee on the Federal Government Borrowing Plan, provided an update to the Council on states’ plan.

Obi said oil production has improved following progress made by the military joint task force deployed in the region to protect the nation’s oil installations. He said figures from the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) have revealed some increase in the production, thanks to efforts of security agencies in tackling oil theft.

The NEC, according to Obi, has received an updated report from the Governor of Delta State, Emmanuel Uduaghan Committee on the criminal incidence of crude oil theft in the Niger Delta Region and approved the provision of the required fund as logistics to support the security agencies to achieve their obligation of arresting crude oil theft in the country.

The new poverty reduction intervention strategy of the Federal Government in conjunction with the World Bank known as: Youth Employment and Social Support Operation (YESSO), which was launched in Abuja yesterday by the Coordinating Minister for the Economy and Minister of Finance, Dr. (Mrs.) Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala at a well attended ceremony is the offshoot of a welfarist and wealth creation initiative pioneered by the Osun State government.

Under the leadership of Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola, the sum of N2.4 billion annually has been voted for some 20, 000 identified indigent population under the State’s Osun Youth Empowerment Scheme (O’YES), with the beneficiaries being paid a subsistence allowance of N10, 000 monthly, which translates to N200 million monthly and adds up to N2.4 billion on annual basis.

By Mohammed Abubakar and Mathias Okwe, September 20, 2013