The National Economic Council (NEC) has approved the sum of N15 billion for the purchase of security equipment to checkmate the scourge of oil theft in the Niger Delta.
The amount, according to NEC, will be sourced through a tripartite arrangement involving the federal and state governments and international oil companies (IOCs).
This is coming against the backdrop of the steady increase in oil production to 2.4 million barrels per day from 1.7 million barrels per day to which it had fallen a few months ago.
The decision, according to the Anambra State Governor, Peter Obi, came after the council received an update report from the Governor Emmanuel Uduaghan of Delta State-led Committee on the criminal incidence of crude oil theft in the Niger Delta region, at the meeting chaired by Vice-President Namadi Sambo in the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
He disclosed that the council approved the provision of the required equipment to support the security agencies to stem crude oil theft in the country.
Obi further recalled that the council had agreed in June on assigning one per cent from the Federation Account monthly to the police.
In this regard, he said yesterday’s discussion centered on implementation strategy, which stated clearly that every money deducted from any state would be used strictly within that state to support its priorities in area of security as provided within police reform strategy.
According to him, the approval is to provide extra support to the police, adding: “They know what to do but they need support to do it.”
Responding to a question on whether the council was going to dictate to the security agencies what to do, the Bayelsa Deputy Governor, John Jonah, who briefed the press with Obi, said nothing like that was on the table.
“The security agencies are professionals, well trained Nigerians and some of them are laying their lives for you. One of the ways you can make a security officer very confident is to equip him.
“And equipping a security agency and telling it what to do are two different things. So, what we are trying to do is to ensure that we buy the necessary equipment for them to perform their duties in the areas that we have identified gaps. We also want to make sure that more personnel are available.”
He said the Niger Delta terrain was a very difficult one, “ and in one of the lines between Nembe and Brass, we are told that there were about 150 bunkering points and those had been vandalised by crude oil thieves.
“In the course of repairing them, we had to assign security men to go there but they must be properly equipped. So, it is the process of equipping him and giving him additional incentive to work that this money is being voted for.”
The council also deliberated on the federal government Borrowing Plan for 2012 to 2014, having been updated by the Gombe State Governor, Ibrahim Dankwambo, who is chairman of the NEC Ad hoc committee on the plan.
The Minister of State for Finance, Dr. Yerima Ngama, informed the council that the states had not shown interest in the $200 million for social safety nets provided by the World Bank to cover areas like unemployment and education, among others.
He disclosed that another sum of N200 billion Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) support for the micro-finance banks to support businesses and individuals at the local government level was also available for the micro-finance institutions to access at state levels.
Information from This Day was used in this report.