From Fred Itua and Adanna Nnamani, Abuja

Group Managing Director, Nigerian Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Mele Kyari, has decried the impact of insecurity on the oil and gas sector.

He spoke at the 17th All Editors’ Conference 2021 in Abuja, yesterday, with the theme: “Media in the times of crises: Rising conflicts, achieving consensus.”

He said oil and gas workers were targets of kidnappers around the country, hence funds have been lost as ransoms to rescue kidnapped workers.

The NNPC boss alleged that most communities around oil and gas facilities harbour thieves and serve as hideouts for vandals and oil bunkers.

Kyari assured of a new NNPC and a better performance of the corporation in the coming years, especially with the advent of the Petroleum Industry Act (PIA).

He said: “Today, as we all know, Nigeria is in an energy deficit. We import all our petroleum products. In the past several years, every attempt to salvage our refineries have ended up in one misfortunate or another.

“There have been so many factors responsible for this. However, I can assure you things have changed and so many things are about to change. For the first time in history, NNPC and its subsidiaries are allowed to do things the way they should be done.

“I can confirm to you that we will fix those refineries. We have started the process. Contractors have been mobilised and I promise they will be delivered soon. You will see what we will deliver before the end of the year.

“Insecurity is also impacting the oil and gas industry, our workers, across the country, are targets. Many have been kidnapped and ransom paid. We have issues of insecurity around our facets and facilities.

“We have come to discover that most of those communities around our facilities are communities of thieves. With all the recent security interventions, we have been able to achieve a fall of loss to stealing from 20 to 10 percent.

“There is an ongoing energy transition. There is less focus on fossil fuel and more focus on renewable energy. However, we advocate energy justice. There must be energy justice.

“This means that countries should be allowed to move at their own pace in line with their energy reality. Nigeria is nowhere close to an energy transition. A cleaner form of energy we have which is also more affordable than fossil fuels is gas. This we must explore.”

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President of the Nigerian Guild of Editors (NGE), Mustapha Isah, called on editors and publishers to reduce the rate at which they publish activities of terrorists and bandits, tagging it as publicity for the groups.

He said the conference was an avenue for editors to come together and liaise with relevant stakeholders to discuss national issues and proffer solutions to them.

He encouraged them to use their various media in projecting the gallant achievements of the Nigerian military in the battle against insurgency, adding that terrorism strives on publicity.

“This forum has over the years provided news managers with the opportunity to put a searchlight on national issues with a view of proffering solutions. Security is one of the issues facing the nation today.

“The entire nation is engulfed in one crisis or the other. The economy is bleeding and the scarce resources which ordinarily should have been used to address the nation’s infrastructure gap are being deployed to tackle security challenges.

“The country cannot continue this way. The media has to be part of the solution and be at the forefront of the war against terrorism.

“I want to put a few questions out: should the media play the occasional successes of insurgents and bandits against that of our  military? Shouldn’t the media deliberately give adequate publicity to our dedicated military against the bad guys?

“One thing I know is that terrorists and bandits need publicity to sustain their nefarious activities. Deny them those privileged activities and you would have crippled them.”

Executive Vice Chairman of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), Umar Garba Danbatta, urged the editors and media managers to play a greater mediatory role by entrenching a peace media system and building a culture of peace in today’s conflict-ridden world.

According to Danbatta, a lot of people in times of crises look up to the media to provide vital information that would help them in making informed decisions that create stability in emotional management, rather than take actions that result in pandemonium.

“Because most newspapers or broadcast media also have online versions, the NCC strongly advocates responsible use of the Internet to carry out personal, business and other professional activities in the way and manner as to promote unity, peaceful co-existence and cohesion in the society,” the NCC boss said.

President of Newspaper Proprietors Association of Nigerian (NPAN), Kabiru Yusuf, disclosed the association was spearheading an initiative to find ways to alleviate the various difficulties that had been posed by the COVID-19 pandemic to media organisations, especially the newspapers.

He said importation of newsprints for newspapers and regulation of the social media were some of the problems the association would be dealing with.