The Ministry of Petroleum Resources and the eight agencies under it are at it again. In line with the tradition they set in 2016, they again want to stage a public rendering of the account of their stewardship. In 2016, the Ministry under the leadership of President Muhammadu Buhari and his Minister of State, Dr. Emmanuel Ibe Kachikwu, invited stakeholders in the oil and gas sector and the general public to Abuja where they presented their key achievements, the challenges besetting the sector and their fears and hopes for the years ahead.
That pioneering outing was christened Ministerial Scorecard. At that event, the promise was given that it will become a yearly tradition. In keeping with that promise, this year’s event tagged Presentation of Three Years (2016-2018) Key Achievements and Award to Outstanding Staff will, again, be staged here in Abuja, on Thursday, 13th December, barely a few days away, at the cavernous auditorium of the Petroleum Technology Development Fund opposite the Shehu Musa Yar’Adua Centre in the nation’s capital, Abuja, where the first ever event was held.
As was the case with the pioneer event in 2016, this year’s occasion will feature a presentation of the key achievements recorded by the Ministry and its agencies in the years 2016, 2017 and 2018 as well as an award to outstanding staff of the Ministry and its parastatals.
Why has the Ministry of Petroleum and its agencies chosen to render a yearly public account of their stewardship and also give recognition to their outstanding staff? The wisdom behind the two-in one event is not difficult to discern.
The Ministry and its parastatals have a mandate to harness the nation’s abundant hydrocarbon resources which, for years now, account in large measure for the nation’s economic sustenance. It is in recognition of the critical role the MPR and the agencies under it are expected to play in the nation’s economic growth and development, that they felt they are duty-bound to let Nigerians know what efforts they are making in the discharge of their obligations to the Nigerian public. This is what the democratic tenet demands of them and this is the commitment Buhari and Ibe Kachikwu made as part of their pledge to clean up the running of the nation’s critical oil and gas sector and make it more transparent.
In the past, many Nigerians and foreign investors alike complained that there was too much opaqueness surrounding what was happening in that critical sector of the nation’s economy and life. At any rate, it is good just to be good and be inconformity with best known global practices. If accounts of performance are rendered publicly, it will help to inspire confidence of stakeholders, especially those of investors, in the sector. The result of that, of course, is that there will be greater investment and subsequently, greater revenue will accrue from that sector and more employment opportunities will be created for the nation’s teeming unemployed.
It should be noted also that what MPR and its parastatals have set out to do will help to re-assure Nigerians that Government’s pledge to use revenue from oil and gas to diversify the country’s economy into other sectors such as agriculture, solid minerals, manufacturing and many others, is on course.
Nigeria our country is presented with some sort of paradox. Depending so much on oil and gas has been one of the reasons for Nigeria’s economic woes. Yet, for the nation to be able to diversify her economy away from oil and gas, she still needs to depend for a while on the massive revenue from oil and gas to be able to accomplish that sensible goal that will make her economy stable and not susceptible to frequent shocks following fluctuation in oil prices in the international market.
The decision to not only let the public know what they are doing to contribute to the growth and development of the economy but the use of the occasion to also reward outstanding members of their staff indicates that while the Ministry and its organs value transparency and accountability, they also place an equally high premium on affirming the values of those who stood heads and shoulders above others in making the successes attained possible.
What, exactly has the Ministry and its agencies done that they want to crow about? Since the date for the public showcasing of what they have been able to achieve in the past three years has been set and is not far away from now, I can only give an appetizer of their innumerable ‘hits’ here and leave the full course meal for the day.
On Thursday October 4, barely two months ago, the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Dr. Emmanuel Ibe Kachikwu, performed the groundbreaking ceremony for the establishment of a 5, 000 barrels of crude oil per day (bopd) modular refinery at Ibigwe field in Ohaji-Egbema Local Government Area of Imo State. The refinery, which is being developed by Waltersmith Refining and Petrochemical Company, is coming into existence with a 30 per cent equity contribution of the Nigerian Content Development and Monitoring Board (NCDMB), one of the star parastatals of the Ministry of Petroleum Resources. This is the type of significant achievements that will be trumpeted on that occasion.
The event is significant in many respects for Nigeria but for the MPR and its agencies, it is cause for great celebration because it bears eloquent testimony to the kind of synergy that exists between the Ministry and the eight agencies under which we seek to celebrate on next Thursday December 13.
Since the coming into office of the Buhari administration and the partnership of Mr. President as Minister, Petroleum Resources and Dr. Emmanuel Ibe-Kachikwu as his Minister of State, a clear roadmap has been drawn up to mark a major turning in the running of the strategic oil and gas sector.
The roadmap, codenamed the 7 Big Wins, articulates the short-medium term (2015-2019) blueprint for growing the oil and gas industry between 2015 when this administration came into being and 2019, which is the end of its first term in office.
It is called the 7 Big Wins because it focuses on seven thematic areas namely Policy and Regulation; Business Environment and Investment Drive; Gas Revolution; Refineries and Local Production Capacity; Niger Delta and Security; Transparency and Efficiency and Stakeholder Management and International Coordination.
The event of October 4 in Ohaji is the fruit of roadmap 4 which aims to revamp our existing refineries and encourage the development of new refineries driven by private businessmen and business concerns. It also helps to fulfil policy 5 whose focus is to improve the lives of Niger Deltans by creating job opportunities in that region that bears the nation’s oil and gas. The bigger goal is to have peace and security in that region.
At the December 13 event, Nigerians are billed to hear details about how the MPR and its agencies are tackling the gas flare challenge; how they are making the business environment more conducive for potential investors; what efforts is being made to tackle the neglect of the Niger Deltans and what new policies are in the works and the old ones that are being reviewed to guide the exploration, exploitation and distribution of our oil and gas resources in order to increase their contribution to the nation’s wealth generation efforts.
Mr. Idang Alibi is the Director, Press, Ministry of Petroleum Resources