To say the mainstay of the Nigerian economy is Oil is to restate the obvious. However, there has always been gracious concern about our continous reliance on Oil as the major sustanance of our economy. Nigeria has immense gas resources. The country as at 2021 has proven gas deposits of 206.53 trillion cubic feet, making it the largest gas reserve holder in Africa and one of the largest globally.
The various administrations since independence had taken varied steps to navigate the Nigerian economy from Oil as the driver of economic life. Alas, such efforts has not been properly focused due to concatenation of factors, among which is appropriate laws that would encourage inflow of investments into the Oil and Gas Sector.
Worried by this sad state of affairs in the sector, President Muhammadu Buhari, on assumption of office in 2015, decided to handle the situation differently by downplaying politics and face the issue fair and square. These culminated in the passage of the Oil Sector Reform Act.
While working ausiduously to diversify the economy away from Oil, President Buhari is not unaware of the influence of Oil and Gas in the global economy. With the new law, it is expected that Nigeria will start reaping the fruits of its God-given natural resources. This is made more manifest with the ongoing Oil crunch in global market occasioned by the Russia-Ukraine war.
In fact, President Buhari is leveraging on Nigeria’s abundant deposit of gas to warm Nigeria’s way back to global relevance. Leaders of various countries are begining to aporoach Nigeria cap in hand to seek for partnership in the area of Oil and Gas. As a deft leader that he is, Buhari seized the opportunity of his meeting with various leaders, especially, European leaders to restate Nigeria’s readiness to fill the Oil and Gas vacuum created by the diplomatic face-off between Russia and the west over Ukraine.
For instance, on Thursday in Lisbon, Portugal, Buhari intimated his host, the Portuguese leader, President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa, that Nigeria is ready to fill the natural gas gaps in Europe predicated by the current Russian-Ukrainian war. Without a doubt, Nigeria is in for a new era of Oil and Gas dominance.
But while President Buhari is busy engaging various international stakeholders in the Oil and Gas sector for maximum benefits for Nigeria and Nigerians, mischief makers back home are making life miserable for Nigerians through artificial scarcity and unnecessary price hike. It is disheartening to note that despite the huge resources Nigeria is expending on the subsidy regime, Nigerians are still buying petrol at cut-throat price.
Without an iota of a doubt, apart from stubborn economic behaviours and profiteering intent, these elements are being influenced by powerful forces to paint the Buhari government black.
The recent reports released by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), which revealed favourable trade balance from rising exports and lower import expenditures in the first quarter (Q1 2015) of the year has helped in shoring up Nigeria’s balance of trade with a total of N4.875.4 billion. Things are certainly picking up for Nigeria.
The bureau affirmed that the rise in exports and lower imports had helped to improve the country’s trade balance which increased by 71.6 per cent from the preceding quarter to N584.9 billion. This is a soothing relief at a time profiteers are making life difficult for Nigerians because of greed and avarice.
Luckily, major stakeholders like the Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria (IPMAN), seeing the purity of Buhari’s motives, have insisted that it will not sell Premium Motor Spirit (PMS), otherwise known as petrol above N165 per litre. IPMAN was also joined by the Association of Distributors and Transporters of Petroleum Products (ADITOP) in urging its members to stick to the regulated price. This is good news for all of us. If we join hands together, we can overwhelm the few bad eggs who are manipulating the price of petrol just to tarnish the image of the Buhari governmemt.
It is obvious that the government needs to do more in the area of heavy hands. Every operator in the oil sector is licensed by governmemt. Now that a clique has decided to be law unto themselves, governmemt should consider withdrawing the operating licenses of erring stakeholders to serve as deterrent to others.
The most painful aspect of the fuel debacle is that those who sell at the black market have enough fuel to sell, while most fuel stations are under lock and keys. The question begging for answer is, who is selling to black marketers?
As a professional in the sector and a member of various advisory councils to both international and African down stream oil sectors, I have come to the indisputable conclusion that something is wrong with the Nigerian oil sector. The political cabals are using certain persons in the sector to frustrate government’s efforts. The plan is to instigate Nigerians against President Buhari by creating fuel shortage.
Fortunately, our intelligence agencies are working round the clock to fish out these bad eggs in the Oil sector. My advice to them is that they should be more active in enforcing law and order. The hawkers sighted in major cities helping to hoard fuel must be clamped down on. It is a serious risk for these young Nigerians to be moving around with petrol. Some of them are even seen about three hundred meters to the presidential villa.
Nigeria is practicing Democracy; hence, everything should be done democratically to achieve peace, prosperity and order for all. Let it be known to these recalcitrant elements that President Buhari’s democratic tendencies and benevolence should not be mistaken for weakness. No governmemt will fold its arms and allow few greedy elements to cripple economic activities just because of their narrow interests.
– Ibrahim is director, Communications and Strategic Planning, of the Presidential Support Committee (PSC)