TOPE FAYEHUN writes on how the President Muhammadu Buhari-led administration’s fight against corruption has been misconstrued among politicians of different political leanings
When President Muhammadu Buhari came on board in 2015, he made it clear that his administration would return the country to the path of prosperity and stamp out corruption which he said is the basis of the problems confronting the nation.
Hence, he embarked on aggressive fight against the menace which has eaten deep into the fabrics of the nation.
But the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) claimed that the anti-corruption war is being used mainly as a political weapon to hound, intimidate and frustrate its members, alleging that those accused of corruption in the ruling party, the All Progressives Congress (APC) are spared or treated with kid gloves.
One area that the president beamed his searchlight on is the area of the nation’s petroleum sector.
Having known that the area was always used by politicians, government officials and businessmen to entrench themselves or siphone the country’s common wealth, the president however, ensures that he monitors the sector, even as he appointed a cablabe hand to work along with.
Analysts observed that most previous administrations, perhaps because of the sensitivity of the sector to the nation’s economy, usually appoint their cronies without any expertise to man the sector so as to have full and total control on its activities.
But immediately President Muhammadu Buhari came on board, he appointed Dr. Ibe Kachikwu, as the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources.
Since then, according to analysts, the sector has been witnessing tremendous progress and equally contributing in no small measure to the development of the country’s economy.
No doubt, with the support of the president, the man at the helm of affairs at the ministry, is one individual, who knows his onions, not only in his chosen field as a technocrat but also on the turf of politics, even though he nurses no political ambition for now.
Prior to his appointment, from all indices available, it is obvious that Nigeria’s enviable oil and gas and renewable energy reserves did not translate into meaningful economic growth and the reasons are not farfetched.
Pundits opined that efforts to optimise the resources for the benefits of Nigerians have not met their targets. This is however, according to political observers, inherent in the inadequate electricity supply, infrastructure deficit and widespread poverty.
In fact, shamefully, Nigeria is a gross importer of petroleum products with its attendant negative impacts on national economy and growth.
But when Buhari’s administration came on board with Ibe Kachikwu in charge of the ministry, they introduced an industry roadmap tagged: ‘Short and Medium Term Priorities also known as 7 Big Wins (2015-2019). The introduction, not only came handy, pundits said ,it served as the much needed interruption for the breakthrough in the all-important sector.
Analysts said the policy programmes,which focused on seven thematic areas, were designed to grow the oil and gas industry to enable it serve Nigerians better and it came into effect on October 27, 2016 after it was launched by President Muhammadu Buhari.
According to some of them who spoke with LEADERSHIP, “This covers aspects of Policy and Regulation, national oil policy, national gas policy, downstream policy, fiscal reform policy, petroleum industry reform bill, business environment and investment drive; Accelerated Income Streams, upstream, midstream, downstream; Gas Revolution, gas infrastructure development, gas revolution projects, promotion of domestic ultilisation of LPG and CNG, reduction of gas flaring, gas commercial framework implementation and gas to power.
“The objective of the gas revolution agenda was to transform Nigeria from an oil-based economy to gas-based through the development of robust gas infrastructure that would ensure improved power availability and drive the establishment of gas-based industries.”
Pointedly, the government proposed to shift the focus from government built infrastructure to investor built infrastructure with the road map.
Specifically, the government , according to analysts , would provide incentives for the building of infrastructure to supply gas from the Eastern parts of Nigeria to commercial demand centers in the Western and Northern parts.
While saying that a key short-term objective was to introduce a regulatory framework for commercial pipeline investment with clear tariff methodology, analysts noted that the focus on gas also involved the development of gas-based industries and the utilisation of gas hubs near central processing facilities (CPF). These CPFs were a key part of the Gas Master plan but are yet to be built.
On the upstream side, however, the roadmap proposed to review the current legal and regulatory framework on gas flaring and implement stranded gas development projects including floating LNG, as well as establish a framework for the use of modular gas processing and utilisation systems to allow third party off-take from the wellhead.
The government , according to them , would also encourage the fulfillment of domestic gas obligations (DSO) by moving from a sanction-based model to an incentive-based model. This , the maintained that it would require the amendment of the National Gas Supply & Pricing Regulations, which impose fines for failure to fulfill DSOs.
Pundits further explained that the other outlined aspects of the programme were Refineries and Local Production Capacity, which covered comprehensive rehabilitation and revamp of existing refineries and expansion of domestic refining capacity (co-location, greenfield, modular); Niger Delta and Security, environment and security, infrastructure interconnection, capacity building and economic empowerment.
They said, “ There was also Transparency and Efficiency, transparency, capacity building, institutional strengthening and governance model, ICT and automation and Performance Management, which was to ensure stakeholders management and international coordination, communication strategy, stakeholder relationship building and management, international energy relations and bilateral cooperation.
Also, in their thirst for radical reforms in the petroleum sector, the Ministry of Petroleum and its agencies collaborated very closely with the National Assembly on the Petroleum Industry Bill. The Bill currently awaits President Buhari’s assent.
The ministry did not also relent its efforts in working with the federal lawmakers to facilitate the passage of the four bills that constitute the PIB. They are Petroleum Industry Governance Bill, Petroleum Industry Administration Bill, Petroleum Industry Fiscal Bill and the Petroleum Industry Host Communities Bill.
As part of efforts focused on boosting the business environment and improving investment in the oil and gas sector, the shift towards improved governance and transparency, renewed approach to addressing militancy in the Niger Delta region where Nigeria’s oil reserves are situated, deregulation of the of the downstream sector as well as policy, fiscal and regulatory reforms have been encouraging potential investors into the industry with healthy and diversified returns.
LEADERSHIP learnt that aspects of establishment of mini/modular refineries, prospects for NNPC refineries rehabilitation, establishment of large spectrum greenfield refineries, co-location of refineries (capacity expansion), were all concepts that would ultimately actualise the set goal of moving Nigeria beyond crude oil export and into the realm of adding value.
It would not be out of place to underscore the fact that every achievement in the oil sector was predicated on a well-planned development agenda for the Niger Delta, which was encapsulated under the Niger Delta Development Compact (Strategic Implementation Work Plan (SIWP).
Added to that, the series of visits to the region by Vice President (Prof.) Yemi Osinbajo (SAN), which were facilitated by Dr. Kachikwu, went a long way in re-affirming government’s commitment to walk its talk in the region.
These efforts have helped to address militancy, eliminate bunkering and illegal pipeline tapping of crude oil as well as increase government earnings, according to analysts.
The above, coupled with a deliberate effort targeted at re-organising and restructuring the NNPC into a focused accountable and transparent organisation are right steps in the right direction.
“On the international scene, Nigeria’s Mohammed Sanusi Barkindo was appointed the Secretary-General, Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) in 2016, Nigeria was exempted from oil cuts, the country successfully reconciled its crude oil data with the OPEC and also spearheaded the transformation of African Petroleum Producers Organization (APPO).
“These things didn’t just happen by sheer happenstance. They were a direct result of the efforts of Dr. Kachiukwu in making sure that the oil and gas sector retained its pride of place, without however downplaying the need for a future without oil.”
However, some political analysts noted that in many ways than one, Dr. Kachikwu has proven to be one in a class without peer in the ways and manners he discharged his responsibility.
No doubt, his big wins have not ceased to happen and all because the former minister has remained diligent and ensuring that the right messaging went sent out at the right time, without doing a needless mud fight.
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