Shola Oyeyipo in Abuja
President Muhammadu Buhari has expressed his commitment to reform the oil and gas sector, pointing out that effectively reforming the petroleum industry must be meticulous and designed to meet the yearnings and aspirations of the citizenry.
Buhari stated this yesterday at the Presidential Villa when he received the newly-inaugurated national executive committee members of the Nigerian Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers (NUPENG) led by its National President, William Akeoraha.
The president said he was in agreement with the view that reforming the petroleum industry would unlock numerous untapped potential for the country, but stressed that the reforms must be well thought out and must have the best interest of Nigeria and Nigerians as its core objective.
According to him, “Such reforms cannot and must not be rushed if we must get it right. We are still suffering from the effects of many legacy policies that were rushed and passed without fully appreciating the consequences the provisions embedded in them.”
He added that “whatever decision we take now will impact either negatively or positively on generations to come.
“The Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) was conceived to ensure Nigeria’s future generations are positively impacted by its oil wealth, and that it was never about short term gains.”
Buhari assured them that dialogue on the PIB is still ongoing and that at the end, the country would have a bill that the people would be proud of.
“On refineries, the public private partnership (PPP) approach we adopted to rehabilitate our existing refineries has taken longer than expected. However, I am aware that the NNPC has concluded the process for selecting the private sector partners that will rehabilitate the refineries. I am informed that they are working out finances and hopefully, work will commence soon,” he said.
He expressed his commitment to continue to support innovative ideas that would bring new investments in refineries into the country, and called for suggestions from NUPENG members “on how we can move forward.
“As one of the architects of the Nigeria Content Monitoring and Development Act, l am sure NUPENG members appreciate that a key principle of this act is the indigenisation of certain processes and production functions. Indigenisation means local value addition leveraging local resources where possible.
“The Act specified minimum local content requirements, including manpower, for all projects and contracts in the oil and gas industry. The Nigerian Content Development and Monitoring Board is fully empowered to ensure compliance. l will direct the Minister of State Petroleum Resources to review the issues you have raised and take appropriate action to ensure compliance with the Act by operators in the industry.”
He implored his visitors to submit any petition they may have to the Minister of State with the assurance that such will be looked into diligently.
Highlight of the visit was NUPENG’s
decoration of President Buhari as the ‘Grand Comrade of Productive Workers of Nigeria Oil and Gas Industry’, as part of activities marking the 40 anniversary celebrations of the union.