Buhari, again,  Slams Past Administrations for Challenges in Oil Sector

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 President Buhari has said that reforming the petroleum sector must be in the interest of Nigeria and Nigerians as the country is still suffering from the negative impact of rushed policies in the past.

Buhari stated this at the Presidential Villa, when he hosted the newly inaugurated national executive committee members of NUPENG led by its national president, Comrade Williams Akporeha.

The President agreed  with NUPENG that the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) needed to become an Act, but explained that dialogue was ongoing over it.

“I fully agree with you that reforming the Petroleum Industry will unlock numerous untapped potentials for the nation. However, these reforms must be well thought out and must have the best interest of Nigeria and Nigerians as its core objective.

“Such reforms cannot and must not be rushed, if we must get it right. We are still suffering from the effects of many legacy policies that were rushed and passed without fully appreciating the consequences the provisions embedded in them.

“Whatever decision we take now will impact either negatively or positively on generations to come. The Petroleum Industry Bill was conceived to ensure Nigeria’s future generations are positively impacted by its oil wealth it was never about shod term gains. I want to assure you that dialogue on the Petroleum Industry Bill is still ongoing. At the end, we will have a law that the nation will be proud of.”

Buhari lamented that rehabilitation of the nation’s refineries has taken longer than planned but assured that his administration was far gone in shortlisting qualified firms to eventually handle the projects.

He also promised that government would continue to encourage and promote dialogue with oil communities to ensure peace but must not shy away from constitutional duties of protecting oil infrastructure there.

According to him, “On refineries, the Public Private Partnership approach we adopted to rehabilitate our existing refineries has taken longer than expected. However, I am aware  that the NNPC has concluded the process for selecting the private sector partners that will rehabilitate the refineries. I am informed that they are working out finances and hopefully, work will commence soon.

“However, we will continue to support innovative ideas that will bring new refineries investments into the country. In this respect, l look forward to receiving suggestions from your members on how we can move forward.

“As one of the architects of the Nigeria Contents Monitoring and Development Act,  l am sure NUPENG members appreciate that a key principle of this act is the indigenisation of certain processes and production functions. Indigenisation means local value addition leveraging local resources where possible.

“The Act specified minimum local content requirements, including manpower, for all projects and contracts in the oil and gas industry. The Nigerian Content Development and Monitoring Board is fully empowered to ensure compliance. l will direct the Hon. Minister of State Petroleum Resources to review the issues you have raised and take appropriate action to ensure compliance with the Act by operators in the industry. ‎

“I urge that you submit any specific petition to the Minister of State with the assurance that such will be looked into diligently.”

President Buhari while noting that militancy in the Niger Delta has declined, he warned that government will respond to any hostile acts of sabotage.

He said, “On security in the Niger Delta, I am sure you will all agree that pipeline vandalism has declined. We have, and will continue to promote peaceful engagement with the communities while at the same time maintain our readiness to respond to any hostile acts of sabotage.”

He thanked the NUPENG for supporting his administration in the past three years and pledged to direct Ministry of Petroleum Resources to review the issues raised by the  Union while ensuring compliance with global best practices.

Earlier, the Nigeria Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers (NUPENG) had decorated President Buhari with Grand Comrade of Productive Workers of Nigeria Oil and Gas Industry.

The NUPENG National President, Williams Akporeha,  said as part of the association’s 40th anniversary celebrations, it was recognizing Buhari for his unparalleled “commitment and devotion to a new  Nigeria that adequately protects and provides for the citizenry and earns global respect and recognition.”

Akporeha raised the issue of challenges over the PIB, and the need for government to check continued importation of petroleum products, as refineries have not been working, thus leading to redundancy of NUPENG members while the nation suffers foreign capital flight.

The NUPENG also lamented the non implementation of Buhari’s Executive Order on local content and employment of Nigerians in the oil sector as multinational firms are still not appropriately employing Nigerian graduates.

The delegation further appealed to the President to direct security agencies to intensify surveillance and protection of oil pipelines and other infrastructure, and concluded by wishing  Buhari victory in 2019.

The Minister of Petroleum Resources, Ibe Kachikwu; Minister of the Interior, Abdurahman Danbazzau; Minister of Labour and Employment, Chris Ngige; and some presidential aides were in attendance.
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