06 March 2014, Lagos – Wrong legal framework and policies have been identified as the major problem militating against the oil sector in the country. This was the position of a professor of petroleum law and one time company secretary of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation NNPC, Professor Yinka Omoregbe. She stated this at the first lecture series to mark the 30th anniversary of George Etomi & Partners (GEPLAW) titled ‘life without oil’ which held in Lagos.
Among legal and other prominent personalities were Lagos state governor, Babatunde Fashola SAN, Nigerian Bar Association president, Chief Okey Wali SAN, former NBA president Chief Rotimi Akeredolu SAN , former foreign affairs minister and minister of state for petroleum Odein Ajumogobia SAN, former Lagos state Attorney general and commissioner for justice Professor Yemi Osibajo SAN, Justice Of The Supreme court Bode Rhodes-Vivour and former foreign affairs minister Major General Ike Nwachukwu ( retd ).
According to prof. Omoregbe “It is sad that half of Nigerians have been living life without oil with constant power outages. The country has been stagnant for 50 years. Our policy and legal framework for oil industry have been wrong, hence the problem in the industry. Part of the problems are bad refineries and continous importation of fuel.Because of oil exploration all over the world, Nigeria’s importance has been receeding .As a matter of fact, other countries have been studying how not to be like Nigeria.
Speaking further, she said “We lack proper record keeping in the oil industry and where there is poor record keeping, there is bound to be conflicting figures.” In his own comment,Ajumogobia said the oil infrastructure was built in Nigeria 50 years ago to export oil to the western world adding that “ it is a shame that we are still doing the same”. He expressed optimism that “ Nigeria would not run out of oil”but however cautioned that the country might become a major importer of petroleum.
Development of infrastructure
Speaking further,Ajumogobia also recommended the development of infastructure in the country with oil proceeds adding that “ with increase in consumption, prices of oil would also increase but pointed out that “the country can be immobilized if there is no oil reserves in situation of war as currently being experienced in the North East”
In his own comment Chief Akeredolu stated “all that have been said here had been said before. We are talking instead of working, we are all suffering from credibility deficiency syndrome”. we need to distil our conviction through another talk shop, I wonder when the talking would stop”.
Earlier, in his key note address , Governor Fashola said Nigerians should not keep quiet over the missing $20 billion from the NNPC account as complacency would not only make the money untraceable but lead to similar disappearances of such revenue in future.
He decried the present state where Nigeria put all her eggs in one basket without diversifying the economy. He said such a situation could not bring desired progress and development.
– Dayo Benson, Vanguard