By Peter Uzoho
An Emeritus Professor of Petroleum Economics, Prof. Wumi Iledare, has said Nigeria should take advantage of the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) currently in consideration at the National Assembly to drive the emergence of energy intensive industries in the country.
Iledare, also advocated Nigeria’s transition from an energy production country to that of a consumption nation, explaining that such was urgently needed to maximise the country’s oil and gas potential for development that would impact on the people.
He observed that although efforts at replacing oil with alternative energy sources had been growing, Nigeria still has the chance to stir economic growth in the next few decades before the replacement of fossil fuel as main source of global energy.
Advancing his thoughts recently at a stakeholders’ engagement forum on the PIB, in Uyo, Akwa Ibom State, Iledare urged the National Assembly to fashion a PIB that is capable of transforming Nigeria to an energy consumer by encouraging the maximization of the value chain.
“Nigeria must move away from the thinking that emphasises energy production and move towards the economically impactful paradigm of energy consumption.
“It is energy consumption that will ensure the country grows its economy through value chain maximisation,” he stated.
Making a peer review analogy, he argued that Dubai, United Arab Emirates, used to be a mere desert in the early 1980s, saying the country used the energy transition model to turn the country around, while Nigeria was still stuck in emphasising oil production and oil rent to the country’s detriment.
Iledare, said Nigeria had wasted years through emphasis on oil rent and revenue sharing, stressing that the PIB must be deliberate in its national development purpose.
“I have not seen an economy that develops that is not a huge consumer of energy,” he said
He, however, called on all the labour unions in the oil and gas industry to begin to think beyond their immediate personal gains and work towards the maximisation of the opportunities that are possible for the collective prosperity of the nation.
He said the challenges of restiveness and poor development of the country’s oil belt of the Niger Delta could be solved through the PIB if the government would sincerely work towards opening up investment opportunities in the oil and gas value chain close to the sources.
“The solution to the crises and development challenges in the Niger Delta is to work towards the emergence of energy-intensive industries close to the energy sources.
“This will trigger rapid industrial and commercial development and also engender other industrial clusters in other parts of the country,” the petroleum economics said.
Iledare, who also consults for the Government of Ghana on oil industry development, however, stated that contrary to conspiracy theories, the oil industry was not imperiled.
He added that opportunities still exist for Nigeria to utilise its oil resources for economic transformation before the dawn of global energy transition.