Interest Groups Kept Nigeria’s Oil Sector From Growing, Says Kachikwu

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Chineme Okafor in Abuja

The Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Dr. Ibe Kachikwu, thursday said Nigeria’s oil and gas industry had been locked down and kept from growing by a few interest groups for so long now.

He, however, did not disclose the interests groups, but added that the federal government would work to take them out of the sector, and make it work for the benefits of all Nigerian.

Kachikwu stated this at the headquarters of the ministry in Abuja while receiving a report on the ‘New Nigerian Oil and Gas Sector Governance Policy’ that was put together by a group of professional Nigerians in Diaspora known as the Aberdeen Contingent.

He, however, explained that his ministry was working hard to unlock the sector, using the new policy programme – the 7BigWins, he recently launched.

“The whole essence of this 7BigWins is to point people to opportunity layers lying in the system and also take a collaborative responsibility to help people who really want to play in the field.

“The oil sector has been too locked down by a few interest groups for so long, positively or negatively. But the time has come to open it up to Nigerians,” said Kachikwu.

He further stated: “We have devoted ourselves to a level of openness because the resource is not ours, we are just gatekeepers in the management of this resource, and so it is our responsibility to help every Nigerian who has an idea, no matter how mundane, to see how that idea can come to fruition.

“So as many companies that we can bring into this sector, and any other sector for that matter, in with respect to creating employment, we will do that.

“During the offshore technology conference, I announced the concept of Project 100, which is trying to identify 100 Nigerians with skill, capacity and the energy required to make in-roads into certain sectors. And I have told the ministry to identify their handicaps and how we can help them to get to the finish line. That’s something that I’m going to be working on very seriously.”

The minister noted that Nigeria had limitless human and material resources of international repute, adding, “when you have those resources, you really would not understand why this country shouldn’t do far better than what it has done.”

In his remarks, a member of the Aberdeen Contingent and Chairman, Nigerians in Diaspora Organisation, Dr. Paul Eke, told Kachikwu that over 70 Nigerian oil and gas professionals convened a conference before coming out with the report that was presented to him.

Eke stated that if recommendations contained in the report are implemented, there would be significant improvement in the oil and gas sector in the short term.

He added that the government should be willing to collaborate with professionals within and outside Nigeria to move the sector forward.