Okowa Seeks Proper Monitoring Of Crude Oil Production

Governor of Delta State, Ifeanyi Okowa has called for proper monitoring of Nigeria’s crude oil production to ascertain the volume and ensure transparency and accountability in the oil and gas sector. 

Okowa made the call at the opening of a two-day retreat of the Investment Committee of Revenue Mobilisation, Allocation and Fiscal Commission (RMAFC) on Thursday in Asaba. 

The retreat with the theme: “Repositioning Federation Investment for Enhanced Revenue Performance” was organised to enhance the RMAFC’s revenue generation and monitoring strategy for improved public spending. 

Okowa said to ensure effective monitoring of crude oil production and export, there was a need to deploy the latest technology such as Artificial Intelligence/Robotics to guarantee effectiveness and management of cost. 

He called for the reduction in delays arising from granting of agency permits that often led to the high cost of drilling. 

He also said there was the need to urgently address the security challenges besetting the country such as crude theft, kidnapping, piracy and bunkering. 

The governor said many oil and gas agreements reached with International Oil Companies/Operators had not been closely monitored, hence the observed low level of compliance. 

He pointed out that the agreements were formulated and signed a long time ago and did not reflect present economic realities. 

Okowa added that the Delta government was particularly concerned about agreements with host communities, as a major oil producer. 

He, therefore, urged the IOCs/Operators to keep faith with the General Memorandum of Understanding with the host communities for meaningful infrastructure development and employment generation for peace and stability. 

“Close monitoring of the implementation of these GMOUs will ensure that people-oriented projects are given priority attention. 

“This will engender the provision of an atmosphere conducive for the IOCs and other operators to function without let or hindrance,” Okowa said. 

He urged RMAFC’s Investment Committee to take a critical look at the seeming lack of competitiveness in Nigeria’s oil and gas sector, saying that Nigeria had one of the highest production costs in the global oil industry. 

The governor, who had earlier received the RMAFC Chairman and members on a courtesy call, said there was the need to have a new revenue allocation formula that favoured states and local government areas. 

“We believe that the level of funding of the states and the LGAs is not enough. If the states and the LGAs are developed, then the Federal Government is developed. 

“Then, the Federal Government can relinquish some of the things it does for the states and LGAs. There are many things the Federal Government ought to begin to shed. 

“We are facing insecurity now; we should be thinking of how states can help to check insecurity in their areas by providing state police to complement the Federal Police,’’ he said. 

Okowa stated that there was a need to amend the country’s constitution to allow RMAFC to forward its proposals directly to the National Assembly for approval. 

“The commission has to send its proposals first to the table of Mr President who in turn will send them to National Assembly. 

“I am aware that on some occasions, the board has laid some proposals before the presidency, but those proposals were never laid before the National Assembly since 1999. 

“We think that there is a need to amend that section of the constitution to empower the commission to send proposals directly to the National Assembly to give greater independence to it and guarantee fairness that we expect as sub-national governments,” Okowa said. 

In a goodwill message, Minister of State for Budget and National Planning, Mr Clem Agba, said the ministry had ensured an effective budget performance framework since 2019. 

The minister, who was represented by the Commissioner representing Edo in RMAFC, Mr Victor Eboigbe, said the economic and sustainability plan developed by the Federal Government had worked tremendously as health and economic indices were at a positive trajectory. 

In his keynote address, Chairman of RMAFC, Mr Elias Mbam, appreciated Governor Okowa for his good works, especially in improving security, roads and education infrastructure in Delta. 

He said the Commission was mandated by the 1999 Constitution (as amended) to mobilize and monitor revenue accruing into and disbursements from the Federation Account. 

“As you know, the nation went through two economic recessions within a span of four years due to fall in global crude oil prices. “The primary objective of this retreat, therefore, is to ascertain and appraise the Federation’s investment vis-a-vis revenue accruals into the Federation Account. nan