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Oil Theft: Buhari Plans Oil Sector Reforms

Posted: Jul 1, 2015 at 1:22 am   /   by   /   comments (0)

•   APC Gives President Pass Mark For First 30 Days

By Austin Oboh, Lagos and Chesa Chesa, Abuja


Taking a cue from Monday’s decision by the National Economic Council (NEC) to probe the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) and the operations of the Excess Crude Account (ECA), President Muhammadu Buhari, on Tuesday in Abuja, announced plans to initiate reforms and fresh policies that would reduce bottlenecks and security challenges impacting negatively on revenue from the nation’s oil and gas sector.

Speaking at the Presidential Villa when he met separately with delegations from Exxon- Mobil and the Nigeria Liquefied Natural Gas Company (NLNG), he specifically listed the need to remove of bureaucratic bottlenecks created by multiple government agencies currently hampering operations of companies in the sector as part of reforms planned by his administration.

The Federal Government reportedly loses about 60,000 barrels of crude oil daily to oil theft through vandalism of oil pipelines, following which he said government would give priority attention to security of oil and gas installations as well as maritime security in its bid to boost national earnings.

It is the responsibility of the Federal Government, Buhari added, “to secure the environment. The vandalism of oil installations and pipelines, piracy, oil theft and the fall in the international price of oil have made our economic situation very disturbing.”

“This government will do all within its powers to secure the environment and encourage more investments in the oil sector.”

The President said his administration would ensure that Nigeria’s oil and gas industry becomes globally competitive, assuring the NLNG delegation of his administration’s full support for plans to expand the total production capacity of the company, regretting that political squabbles and interference in the past had prevented it from attaining its full potentials.

“Today, we are celebrating six trains. It could have been 12 trains if all had gone according to plan”, Buhari said.

The Exxon-Mobil delegation was led by its Managing Director, Nolan O’Neal, while the NLNG delegation included the Group Managing Director of NNPC, Joseph Dawha and the Managing Director of NLNG, Babs Omotowa.

Meanwhile, aware of growing concerns from Nigerians about President Muhammadu Buhari’s performance after 30 days in office, the All Progressives Congress (APC), in Lagos on Tuesday, reassured Nigerians that the President Buhari is working quietly to tackle the nation’s most urgent challenges.

Addressing a press conference to discuss achievements of the new administration’s first month in office, on the heels of accusations from mainly opposition quarters that the APC government could not hit the grounds running as promised, the party insisted that “there has been motion, and there has been movement, contrary to what is being peddled in some quarters.”

National Spokesman of the APC, Lai Mohammed, told journalists that the President has started addressing “the enormous challenges that it faces, including an empty treasury and an economy that has virtually collapsed.”

Mohammed re-echoed the party’s earlier statement that the Buhari administration got the handover notes from the former government just four days before inauguration, thereby denying it an opportunity to have a clear picture of the situation on the ground.

“If any disease is not appropriately diagnosed, it cannot be effectively treated,” Mohammed said.

He continued: “Recall that when we raised the alarm over the delay in getting the handover notes, the former government even accused us of seeking to form a parallel government!

“Secondly, Nigeria has never before witnessed this kind of transition. What the country has been accustomed to is transition from one government to another under the same ruling party, not from the ruling party to the opposition as we have now.

“The implication is that this is a new learning curve, with its attendant hiccups.

“Thirdly, never before has the ship of Nigerian state been steered aground as we have it now.

“Never before have Nigerians been this expectant from any leader or any government.

“These are all the more reasons to get things right, once and for all, so we won’t need to continue with the vicious cycle of hopes raised and dashed!

“Even with these challenges, gentlemen, the Buhari Administration has availed itself creditably within one month of assuming office.”

The party spokesman enumerated efforts already taken to contain terror and insecurity, among these, the President’s visits to neighbouring West African and getting the ECOWAS to work with Nigeria against Boko Haram.

Said he: “Outside our sub-region, the President travelled to Germany to meet with G7 leaders to present to them a wish list that included getting their support for the battle against Boko Haram.

“The leaders of the countries affected by the Boko Haram insurgency have compiled their requirements which are being forwarded to the G7 for appropriate action.

“While waiting for that, the US has announced a $5 million assistance for the fight against the terrorists who have been ravaging our country and our sub-region.

“Added to the relocation by the Nigerian military of the command centre to Maiduguri, these are no mean achievements.”