President Goodluck Jonathan said on Sunday in Abuja, that the Federal Government would develop a new technology to combat the activities of oil thieves in Nigeria.
Jonathan disclosed this while fielding questions at the second session of the 2015 Presidential Debate organised by the Nigeria Elections Debate Group (NEDG), ahead of the general elections.
Jonathan said that the issue of oil theft was a serious challenge that must be dealt with, adding that the government was developing a technology to fight it to a standstill.
He noted that the private sector participation must be encouraged to make the oil sector truly profitable to the point of exporting petroleum products.
“The issue of stealing our common assets; we are developing a technology now, contract have been awarded and we must stop it. The issue of downstream is a combination of government and private sector; it has to do with refining, production of fertilizers, petrochemicals.
The privatised companies of government especially the Eleme Petrochemicals is working very well. That is a big success story as the Eleme Petrochemicals was abandoned but now it is one of the biggest in the World.] They are planning to expand and bring in fertiliser production into it,” he said.
He said that the government planned to liberalise the downstream sector for more private sector participation in the exportation of petroleum products.
According to him, the NNPC and the entire sector will have to be unbundled even without the Petroleum Industry Bill(PIB).
Contributing, Godson Okoye, the Presidential Candidate of United Democratic Party (UDP) flayed Nigeria’s importation of petroleum products.
He said that Nigeria must not insist on building the most expensive refineries but rather focus on refineries that will work.
“We can build small scale refineries, we can group states, build a refinery of 30,000 litres, that might be a solution.
We keep taking these things out to refine, we create jobs for other people; countries that import crude oil from Nigeria have about 120 products but in Nigeria we only have six. We should be able to have refineries that work, it is not rocket science,” he said.
The presidential candidate of the United Progressives Party, Chekwa Okorie, lamented the non-passage of the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) by the National Assembly.
He said the bill would have gone a long way in addressing many problems in the petroleum industry, adding that the industry should be handed over to private investors.
He said that the nation ought to find a better use to the gas that is constantly being flared, stressing that the security agencies must step up efforts to combat oil theft in Nigeria.
Also speaking , Oluremi Sonaiya, the candidate for KOWA Party, however stressed the imperative of the private sector’s participation in the oil sector.
However, the Presidential Candidate of the National Conscience Party (NCP) Martins Onovo stressed that his party will not privatise the oil sector if elected.
“We will not privatise, that needs to be clear, we will make sure that the refineries which had been owned by us will run successfully. We waste too much funds on subsidies alone because we are importing what we can produce ourselves; if we have maintenance culture, we should fix them” he said.
He said that if the refineries are so obsolete, then they should be demolished and rebuilt adding that at 100 per cent capacity, the nation’s refineries can produce enough.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that Nigeria is said to be losing over 400,000 barrels of crude daily from activities of oil thieves.
President Goodluck Jonathan also reassured that the general elections will hold as scheduled by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
It will be recalled the Presidential Elections was initially scheduled for February 14 but was postponed one week to the date for security reasons.
Jonathan therefore reassured Nigerians that the elections will hold as now scheduled by INEC, and urged Nigerians to consolidate on the nation’s development by voting the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) for another four years.
“Let me reassure Nigerian that elections will be conducted as scheduled by INEC; Presidential and National Assembly Elections on the 28th of this month and governorship and state assembly elections on the 11th of April,” he said.
In the meantime, the seven presidential candidates on Sunday pledged to tackle the perennial problems of power supply in Nigeria.
The candidates made the pledge at the Presidential Debate organised by the Nigeria Elections Debate Group (NEDG) in Abuja.
Alhaji Ganiyu Galadima, the presidential candidate of Allied Congress Party of Nigeria (ACPN) advocated that all states should generate power that will be sufficient for the growth of the states.
“This government has spent so much money on power but their efforts have been frustrated and sabotaged. The solution to ensure stability in electricity generation, transmission and distribution in Nigeria is the deregulation of the sector. What we are advocating is the decentralisation of power generation to ensure that each state of the federation establish its own power plant,’’ he said.
The candidate for the Alliance for Democracy (AD) Rafui Salau said that the nation’s wealth should not just be distributed but that 30 percent be reinvested in the economy.
“That will give Nigerians who have experience in producing power, based on their working experience with power generating companies to produce power if given the capital. The 30 percent which we are going to invest in our economy, will be for capital projects, so we will encourage Nigerians who have experience in every industry to be supported to produce,” he said.
The presidential candidate for the African Democratic Congress (ADC) Mani Ahmad called for decentralisation of electricity generation and distribution.
“We want to diversify on the sources of electricity; we also want to decentralise the distribution network. We have to look at alternative sources of energy; there are cleaner and renewable sources of energy. Solar energy is one area particularly with the abundant sunlight; we will also want to look at wind energy and we will harness on researches that have been going on in our nuclear energy centers.”
He said that the nation could develop more than 170,000 mega watts of electricity to meet its needs.
Reacting to the incessant vandalism of gas pipelines and other electricity apparatus, the presidential candidate of the African Peoples Alliance (APA) Adebayo Ayeni called for more security.
He said that those who are caught in the act of vandalism should be duly prosecuted to serve as a deterrent to other criminals.
He said that there was also need to seek an alternative to power generation even from agriculture.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that a total of seven political parties participated in the first session of the debate.