Nigeria’s oil thieves

The lead story in This Day newspaper of December 30, 2021 brought the year to a close with a reminder of one of the many ills that bedevil Nigeria, encapsulated in a telling headline: “With Rising Theft, Nigeria Records 193 million barrels of crude oil deficit in 11 months”. This is otherwise translated into an estimated $3.5 billion of revenue lost to crude oil theft in 2021 alone, in other words, about 10% of the country’s foreign reserves. For a country that depends on petroleum products for about 85% of its total exports revenue and has been unable to define a future for itself beyond oil, oil theft is akin to a national calamity, a massive erosion, and an economic sabotage of the highest order. Even if it may not be the only factor that contributes to crude oil deficit, its impact is worth investigating. With regard to oil theft, ThisDay newspaper was not exactly reporting any new trend. Oil theft has been perennial and unceasing and indeed, it gets worse by the year.

—Reuben Abati 

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