Kachikwu: Transparency Index in Oil Sector Still Low Despite Reforms



Says search for oil will continue in Lake Chad Basin, Benue Trough and other areas

Chineme Okafor in Abuja

The Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Dr. Ibe Kachikwu, has said the country’s oil industry is still lacking in sufficient transparency and trust.

Kachikwu, in a monthly podcast he shared on his social media feeds, and which THISDAY obtained yesterday in Abuja, said despite efforts initiated by the government since 2015 to clean up the industry, transparency index still remains low and trust deficit still very high.

He said going forward, his ministry would focus its energy on improving the industry’s transparency and trust indices, adding that Nigerians had the right to know every details of the industry’s operations.

According to him: “Transparency and trust are going to be key. We have done a lot in terms of trying to bring transparency to the industry: we have done monthly reports, we have done processes, we have reviewed time, we have opened up the industry, but the transparency index still remains low.

“The trust deficit still remains very high, people still do not trust the oil sector, they still do not trust the NNPC, they still do not trust the DPR, and they still do not trust anybody in the oil sector despite all that we have done.”

Speaking on plans to improve the industry’s transparency level, he said: “We have got to ask ourselves: how do we work with those oversight teams, the likes of NEITI, global bodies to work out a process where they can review what we do and get a benchmark where we will be happy.

“Make no mistake about it, Nigerians are entitled to feel the way they do, they are entitled to ask questions, this is their resources, it doesn’t belong to those of us in the ministry. We must be able to look to data, we must be able to do pure analytical appraisals and arrive at a conclusion that is accurate, and at least access what we do in a way that is honest, as opposed to fictional.”

The minister also disclosed in the podcast which focused on his two-year at the helm of the oil sector that the government would step up its oil search not minding the challenges therein.

He said the federal government would remain bullish and not likely to slow down on its search for more oil deposits in the country despite existent challenges militating against this effort.

Kachikwu explained that Nigeria was encouraged to adopt this position by the exploits of the Americans with Shale oil.

In addition to exploring for oil in established areas with hydrocarbon potentials like the Lake Chad Basin and Benue Trough, Kachikwu said the government would further its search for oil in other parts of Nigeria with such potentials.

“We have investments that we are looking at in the Benue Trough and Chad zone. It is absolutely important that just like changing the foothold on refining is going to be key for us in stopping (petrol) importation by 2019, investments in the Lake Chad Basin and Benue Trough are going to be key.

“Every part of Nigeria that has a potential for oil, we will find, if America can find oil out of Shale, Nigeria must find oil wherever it resides in Nigeria,” said Kachikwu.

An attack in July of a team of oil explorers from the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), University of Maiduguri and joint security personnel who were undertaking seismic data studies at the Lake Chad Basin, had impacted Nigeria’s oil search in the basin after President Muhammadu Buhari, asked the NNPC to resume its oil search.

Similarly, commercial oil finds in neighbouring Chad had encouraged the NNPC to go back there in November 2016 when it resumed exploration activities in Gubio; Magumeri; Monguno; Kukawa; Abadam; Guzamala; and Mobar, after getting security advice from the military.

2nd lead

Again, Buhari Emphasises Right of Nigerians to Live, Work Anywhere in the Country

As convention, intra-party conflict top agenda for president, APC leaders’ meeting

Onyebuchi Ezigbo in Abuja

President Muhammadu Buhari said yesterday in his hometown of Daura, Katsina State, that every Nigerian could live and work anywhere in the country, irrespective of background, underscoring once again the constitutional right of citizens and the stand of his government against recent hate speeches. Buhari made the comment when he received the governor of Katsina State, Alhaji Aminu Masari, as part of the Eid-el-Kabir festivities,

THISDAY also learnt yesterday that the tricky national convention of the ruling All Progressives Congress and internal dissensions in some of its local chapters would dominate discussions during a planned meeting between Buhari and the leadership of the party. The meeting is billed to hold shortly after the Moslem Eid-el-Kabir holiday.

Some groups and individuals from Buhari’s native northern Nigeria and the southern parts of the country had of late engaged in a mutual tirade of hate speeches and actions, leading to months of tension. Things came to a head when on June 6 some youth groups in northern Nigeria, under the aegis of Coalition of Northern Groups, met in Kaduna and issued a three-month ultimatum to Nigerians of Igbo extraction to quit the North or face “visible actions” of isolation beginning from October 1, Nigeria’s national day. But Buhari emphasised in his national broadcast on August 21 that Nigerians were free to reside anywhere in the country, in apparent mention of his government’s position on the so-called quit notice to Igbos. Though, the groups have backtracked on their ultimatum.

While receiving Masari, who was accompanied on the visit by the Emir of Daura, Alhaji Faruk Umar Faruk, and members of the state executive council, Buhari reiterated his administration’s commitment to guarantee the security of every citizen and protect them from harassments by reason of state of origin, tribe or ethnic background.

The president said, “Every Nigerian has a right to live, work and thrive in every part of the country, irrespective of their backgrounds,” according to a statement by his senior special adviser on media and publicity, Garba Shehu.

THISDAY gathered at the weekend that the date for the meeting between Buhari and the leadership of his party would be fixed as soon as he returns to Abuja from his home town, where he has spent the last couple of days holidaying with his family, friends, and relatives.

A top party stalwart who revealed details of the proposed meeting to THISDAY said the parley with the APC national caucus would have taken place shortly after the president’s return from medical leave in the UK on August 19. But it was delayed to allow for a joint visit to Buhari by the leaders of the ruling party and the main opposition Peoples Democratic Party, which took place on August 25 in Abuja.

Summoning a non-elective national convention has been a challenge for APC since it assumed power at the national level in May 2015. APC’s inability to hold the all-important convention has raised doubts about its organisational capabilities and commitment to its own constitutional obligations.

THISDAY gathered that owing to the growing misgivings about the ruling party, the president had promised to meet the APC leadership to iron out the pending issues relating to the convention. One of the critical issues the meeting with the Buhari is expected to address is the delay in the organisation of a non-elective convention. Plans for the convention have been on the drawing board for a long time.

Party sources said the meeting between Buhari and APC leaders will also address other critical issues, such as internal party squabbles in many of its state chapters. Some of the intra-party conflicts have seemed to defy peace efforts by the national chairman, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun, and his National Working Committee.

APC has in recent times had squabbles in its state chapters in Kano, Kaduna, Kogi, Bauchi, Adamawa, Lagos, Edo, Rivers, and Bayelsa. In Kano, the tussle is between the former governor, Rabiu Kwankwaso, and his successor, incumbent Governor Abdullahi, Ganduje. The disagreements have polarised the APC state executive.

Kaduna State Governor Nasiru El-Rufai and Senator Shehu Sani are the main rivals in the wrangling in the state chapter, while the Kogi State APC leadership has been at daggers drawn with the state governor, Yahaya Bello, in what is seen as a spill-over of his quarrel with the APC senator representing Kogi West, Dino Meleaye. In Bauchi State, some APC stakeholders, led by Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon. Yakubu Dogara, are at loggerheads with the governor, Mohammed Abubakar, over control of the state party structure.

The NWC had set up a committee headed by Mr. Tony Momoh to try to resolve the crisis in its Kogi State chapter and when the problem could not be settled, the party constituted another peace committee in April headed by Idris Garba. But resolution does not seem to be in sight. Senator Chris Ngige headed the reconciliation committee for Bauchi State.

It is hoped that the president would be able to use his influence to reconcile his party members and ensure a rancour-free convention.

According to a source in the party, who did not want to be mentioned because of the sensitive nature of the issues, the party leadership had all along delayed the convening of two most important meetings, the National Executive Committee meeting and the national convention, to try to ensure that they had the president’s active participation.

The source said, “Buhari’s presence will, apart from calming nerves, help to resolve most of the protracted disputes within the party, which will enable us go into a convention as one family.”

THISDAY learnt that the meeting with the president might also examine other issues that have bothered APC leaders and members in the states. They include, principally, the demands for reorganisation of the federal cabinet, and the need to make the remaining appointments to boards of parastatals. The appointments are generally seen as a way of compensating key members and stakeholders.

Equally slated for discussion, it is gathered, is the need for government’s deliberate intervention to address the harsh economic conditions in the country and meet electoral promises as a way of reviving and boosting support for the APC federal government.