Chineme OkaforÂ in Abuja
Nigeria yesterday disclosed it would back the quest by 14 African oil producers to reform the operations of their umbrella body, the African Petroleum Producers Organisation (APPO), adding that it was in support of the emergence of the organisationâ€™s new president and Nigeriaâ€™s Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Dr. Ibe Kachikwu, as well his expectation to lead the reforms.
Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, made the declaration shortly after Kachikwu became president of APPO at the extraordinary session of the APPO in Abuja.
Kachikwu, took over from Michel Boukar, a Chadian, as APPOâ€™s president, an organisation of African countries producing oil and gas.
He would be expected to lead its next phase, which would include re-strategising for the emerging challenges of the global oil industry.
APPO was founded in 1986 in Lagos, with its headquarters in Brazzaville in the Congo, and currently has members that include Algeria, Angola, Benin, Cameroon, Chad, Democratic Republic of Congo, Congo Brazzaville, CÃ´te dâ€™Ivoire, Egypt, Gabon, Equatorial Guinea, South Africa, Libya, and Nigeria.
Altogether, these countries account for virtually the totality of Africaâ€™s oil and gas reserves and output.
The founding of APPO was spearheaded by Nigeria as an effort to mitigate its dependency on western technology and western markets for oil export revenues. The objective of APPO was to promote cooperation in petrochemical research and technology.
In his remarks, Osinbajo said it was good the association decided to self-reform, adding that the choice of Kachikwu was apt.
The vice president equally noted that Nigeria would back the reform efforts of Kachikwu and his team in APPO.
He explained that Kachikwu had been in the centre of Nigeriaâ€™s attempt to reform her oil industry and should in this regards be comfortable with his new task at APPO.
Osinbajo said: â€œAs the birthplace for what is today known as APPO, Nigeria is concerned that it has not lived up to the expectation of its founding fathers, 30 years after it was set up.
â€œWe are concerned about this. Africa needs a united front in the global energy discuss, and we are convinced that there is no better institution to convene those conversations than APPO itself.â€
He further stated: â€œIt is gratifying to note that the decision to reassess the effectiveness of the organisation and to embark on significant reforms came from within the organisation itself.Â Â I want to commend the council of the ministers of APPO for the bold decision to confront the fundamental challenges facing the organisation.â€
He, on behalf of President Muhammadu Buhari and the government and people of Nigeria, thanked the organisation for the confidence it reposed on Nigeria, manifesting in its unanimous agreement to place the responsibility for leading the reforms process on Nigeriaâ€™s Kachikwu.
In his remarks, Kachikwu said Africa oil producers would have to adopt fresh approaches that can guarantee them growth through inter-dependence, adding that funding for hydrocarbon projects was becoming difficult across the world.
â€œThe only way growth would happen in this sector in the whole of Africa is through an inter-dependence approach. All of us must be able to hold hands and find a way of supporting one another, in terms of the research, in terms of the internal investments potential and capabilities, and also help to drive the process,â€ he explained.