Onyebuchi Ezigbo in Abuja
President Muhammadu Buhari has urged the Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (PENGASSAN) to assist in the drive to provide the much-needed highly skilled manpower that would meet the nation’s developmental challenge in the oil and gas industry.
Buhari made the charge in a message at the 6th Triennial PENGASSAN National Delegates’ Conference, which was flagged off yesterday in Abuja.
Buhari, who was represented by the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Mr. Temipre Sylva, noted that the PENGASSAN consists of professional men and women who continue to make significant contributions to the development and sustainability of the oil and gas industry in Nigeria.
According to him, Nigeria has earned its place in the league of oil and gas producing nations, standing at 10th and 9th positions in global oil and gas reserves rating respectively.
He said: “Nigerian oil and gas industry remains the main driver for economic and infrastructural development of the country.
“It is the major contributor of foreign exchange earnings to the Nigeria’s government accounting for around 10 per cent for the nations GDP as well as providing employment to a significant number of skilled, semi-skilled, and unskilled labour. All these would not have been possible without the diligent contributions of PENGASSAN.”
President Buhari said that government recognised the significance of oil and gas industry as an enabler of national growth and development of the country.
He added that his administration has carved out some strategies for the Ministry of Petroleum Resources to stimulate the sector in order to foster the sustainability of the Nigerian economy.
According to Buhari, the transformation initiative would definitely require highly skilled manpower.
“We are counting on your association to continue to provide the much-needed support to meet our developmental mandate.
“Our collaboration will focus on gas to transmute Nigeria from the conventional dependence on white products for prime movers to a cleaner, more available, accessible, acceptable and affordable energy used in gas.
“This will cushion the effect of deregulation and create enormous job opportunities for Nigerians,” Buhari said.
The President also noted that COVID-19 pandemic and progressive decline of oil price in 2020 have made it imperative for Nigeria to pursue the development of non-oil economy and diversification of revenue sources as the country braces for a possible lower for longer price era.
“The government is factoring in these current realities in its reform agenda. We are developing strategic survival measures to ensure economic sustainability and job security.
“We seriously believe that the diversification plan to non-oil economy has become a national imperative. Let me assure you that crude oil will remain prominent in the global energy mix in the medium to long term. This implies that massive opportunities abound to members of PENGASSAN,” he said.
Buhari, however, commended the courage and expertise of members of the association for their tireless, fearless, and significant contribution to the development of the Nigerian oil and gas industry and the economy in general.
Also speaking, Minister of Labour and Employment, Senator Chris Ngige, said that the oil and gas sector occupies a central position in the political and social economic development of the country.
Ngige, who was represented by the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Labour and Employment, Mr. Williams Alo, tasked the association on innovative ways of addressing identified challenges in the sector.
There were 389 delegates present at the conference with only two contesting for the post of the president of the association.