The group managing director, Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Dr Maikanti Baru, yesterday called for proactive action to reduce the country’s dependence on oil and gas.

Baru, who spoke at the 2018 Nigerian Annual International Conference and Exhibition (NAICE) in Lagos, identified the reliance on oil and gas, as responsible for the economic recession experienced in the country recently.

The conference with the theme: “Diversification of the Nigerian Economy- The oil and gas industry as an Enabler,” was organised by the Society of Petroleum Engineers (SPE), Nigeria Council.

“This obvious lack of proactive action unfortunately exposed the country to economic shock occasioned by the global economic crises that culminated in the recession experience recently,” he said.

Baru said the SPE 2018 theme was in line with the vision of the present administration of energising the national economy through robust sectoral development. He said with oil reserves of about 37 billion barrels and 199 trillion cubic feet of gas reserves, Nigeria was well positioned to generate resources and accelerate developments.

According to him, once this was achieved, Nigeria should be self-sufficient in providing general services, agriculture and manufacturing, among others.

The speaker, House of Representatives, Mr Yakubu Dogara, said at the conference that the country needed to pursue and develop an enabling environment that would promote transparency in the oil and gas sector.

Dogara said the legislature had given tacit support to ensure that the industry was run in a more transparent way.

Dogara, who was represented by Mr Sejus Ogun, said the House had demonstrated the support through accelerated passage of the Petroleum Industry Governance Bill (PIGB) now waiting for presidential accent.

He also assured that the remaining three other bills would receive the desired attention, as the legislators were concerned and willing to provide the investment climate to drive the industry.

Minister of state for Petroleum Resources, Dr Ibe Kachikwu, said the industry required a robust legislation that would help in the ongoing federal government’s transformation programme.

Kachikwu, who was represented by Mr Johnson Awoyemi, said the Federal Executive Council (FEC) had demonstrated commitment towards strengthening the industry by giving approval to the oil and gas policies. He urged the conference to come up with suggestions and strategies that would engender transparency, reduce contracting cycle issues, bring about cost reductions and accelerate development across the value chain.