NNPC And Cross Border Smuggling

0
756

Recently, the Group Managing Director (GMD) of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Dr Maikanti Baru, raised an alarm that the corporation was losing about N774 million daily. As if this was not bizarre enough, he also expressed shock that about 2,201 fuel stations were located within border communities in the country.
Dr Baru noted with regret that his organisation’s efforts at providing enough fuel for Nigerians had not yielded the desired result, due to the high number of dispensing outlets at border towns through which the product is smuggled outside the country.
According to the NNPC boss, the domestic consumption rate of fuel has suddenly risen to 50 million litres from less than 35 million litres per day, explaining that the N774 million loss incurred by the NNPC is the under-recovering expenses which is the difference between the landing cost and the price of the product at the pump station.
Incidentally, Baru did not say that the 2,201 filling stations located at the border towns are illegal stations. Of course, they were duly licensed, their locations approved and construction supervised by the Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR), a subsidiary of the NNPC. The question that naturally follows is: what was the DPR thinking when it approved the siting of these stations with a combined capacity of 144.9 million litres?
The Tide appreciates the concerns and very difficult situation the NNPC finds itself as expressed by the GMD, but it cannot be negated that the development is but one of the many manifestations of high degree of corruption and complicity associated with the NNPC.
Undoubtedly, those who okayed these number of filling stations at the border towns cannot claim ignorance of the fact that the product that sells for N145 in Nigeria costs the equivalent of N311 in Ghana, N308 in Togo, N292.8 in Benin Republic, N367 in Niger, N326.35 in Chad and N400 in Cameroon, a situation that is an incentive for smuggling.
While we acknowledge the generally porous nature of our land borders, and a complicit Nigerian Customs Service personnel that man these borders, leading to this ugly development that has caused Nigerians untold hardship, the NNPC umder the direct supervision of President Muhammadu Buhari as the Petroleum Minister, must take responsibility and purge itself of undesirable elements that have not only continued to compound our country’s economic woes but have also made us a laughing stock before the international community.
It is inconceivable that while contemporary oil producing and exporting countries in the world have turned their economies around and given their citizens a good lease of life, Nigeria remains trapped in the throes of underdevelopment occasioned by corruption and mismanagement.
The Tide thinks that Nigeria can no longer afford to delay the needed reorganisation of the oil sector and a comprehensive overhaul of the NNPC if the country is to make economic progress and experience social stability.
Meanwhile, the Nigeria Customs Service must rise up to its statutory obligations of effective policing of our borders. The Service must also challenge itself to making trans border smuggling of petroleum products and other goods in and out of the country a less attractive venture for economic saboteurs.
In this regard, the Federal Government should adequately equip the Nigeria Customs Service while further fortifying all entry points into the country and ensuring tighter control of movement of goods and human beings across our borders.
This is the only way to protect our economy and the welfare and well-being of the citizenry from external aggression and internal sabotage.