Recall that President Muhammadu Buhari reiterated his determination to sanitize Nigeria’s oil and gas industry and for this reason, allotted the portfolio of Petroleum Minister to himself.
Nigeria, Africa’s largest producer of oil faces a spectre of reduced revenue as a result of falling oil prices, currently below $50 per barrel, and a weak currency that has depreciated about 22 per cent.
Due to lack of local refining capacity, supply of petroleum products in the country is supported by an import subsidy scheme and crude oil swap deals, all of which have been riddled with corruption allegations.
Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari swore members of his cabinet into office on Wednesday, assigning a new minister of state for petroleum in Africa’s top producer of crude oil in a cabinet of 43 ministers.
kept the petroleum portfolio for himself, as in his first term, and appointed Timipre Silva as minister of state for petroleum, who will manage the portfolio on a day-to-day basis.
Silva replaces Emmanuel Kachikwu who was the country’s representative at OPEC meetings. Zainab Ahmed retained the position of finance minister.
However, reactions from few anonymous Oil expert posits that
from the way things are going today, the President has so many things he is presiding over. In the interest of national growth and progress, it will make sense if he reassign that position of substantive Minister of Petroleum Resources to another credible Nigerian that has the integrity, dexterity and the management capability to make sure that the Nigerian oil and gas industry is brought out of the woods for the progress of the country.
The President is the one we elected. So, whichever way the President thinks his administration would go, he can decide to do that. However, he must ensure that whatever role he decides to play is run efficiently. As it is now, the Ministry of Petroleum is not as efficient as one would expect.
The analyst said:”The optics for Mr. President is not good right now because the ball will stop at his table and at the end of the day, he is the Minister of Petroleum. So, Nigerians will have questions for him to answer. If I were in his shoes; I would quit the office of the Minister of Petroleum. If not, Nigerians would play politics with it. If I were the President, I would look at the process in the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC)
According to the analyst,they had schism too but it didn’t make the front page because they handled it differently. In this case, the analyst noted that having heard from both sides, he (Buhari) needs to look at the governance aspect of it.” What is lacking in the NNPC is good governance. He should look at the shortcomings and go ahead to start correcting them, rather than making himself minister of petroleum”, he suggested.
If there is the need to amend the NNPC Act, the President can originate it. After listing out where he thinks there are problems, he can go ahead and recommend an amendment of the Act.
Another former Director of Petroleum noted it is not holding the position of the Minister of Petroleum that will make President Muhammadu Buhari to succeed; ratherbllô it is the vision he has for Nigeria and credible lieutenants and subordinates who have the credentials and capacity to carry on, whether he is there or not.
The petroleum ministry is as important as other ministries such as health, power, works and housing, sports and youth development. “So, all we need is a focused leader as the president and credible people as ministers. No ministry is better than the other. There are some sensitive cases he can hold. But it is better to let people who are technocrats to advise and handle petroleum ministry”, he said
He suggested that it is better to have a substantive minister so that Mr. President will free himself more to address wider range of national issues and coordinate the ministries of petroleum and power. Otherwise, the easiest thing is to create the Minister of Energy and then have under him different ministers dealing with power, oil and gas and others.
Another Oil and gas expert who also claim anonymous, stated that the reason why the President retained the position was that having seen the corruption toodk play aød under the administration Peoples Democratic Party (PDP)]!]!]!, he wanted it to be seen that the petroleum ministry would be kept clean.