22 October 2016, Abuja – Even as Nigeria is trying very hard to diversify its economy so that agriculture, mining and SMEs can form some of its other main pillars, the oil and gas sector will for now and for some time to come, remain its man pillar. This is because the task of diversifying a mono-cultural economy anywhere in the world is never accomplished overnight. It surely takes a while. It therefore means that for Nigeria, oil and gas will maintain its dominance for quite some time, depending, of course, on how committed we are in our diversification drive.
This explains why the Honourable Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Dr. Emmanuel Ibe Kachikwu, has been unrelenting in his commitment to reform, retool and refocus policy-making, regulatory and revenue-yielding parastatals and agencies under the Ministry of Petroleum Resources to operate optimally for the benefit of the national economy which has been experiencing some distress since the drastic fall in oil prices.
It is in line with this commitment that come Thursday, October 27, at the Banquet Hall of the State House, Aso Presidential Villa, Abuja, President Muhammadu Buhari is billed to unveil to Nigerians the Petroleum Industry Roadmap which Ibe Kachikwu, the Minister of State Petroleum, has codenamed 7Big Wins. What do the 7 Big Wins mean and what do they consist of?
The 7 Big Wins are seven major expected outcomes of an ambitious but well thought-out seven short and medium term priorities aimed at growing Nigeria’s oil and gas industry between 2015 and 2019.
The first of the seven-point agenda is improving security and ensuring environmental safety in the oil producing areas of the country in order to increase national crude oil production, attract investment and infrastructural development to the difficult terrain of the region.
Improving security here does not stand for the use of big guns to subdue some misguided militants who are advocating for a better or fairer deal in the sharing of assets that come from the exploitation of crude oil reserves and gas deposit in the region. Rather, it is envisaged that emphasis will be on a framework to boost infrastructural development, a lack which is one of the reasons that fuel the violent agitation in the region in the first place, a programme of economic empowerment through capacity building and other measures and another programme to deepen conversation between the government, oil companies and the people of the oil region. In short, the goal is to win peace and progress through diplomacy and a deployment of the dividends of oil wealth to impact the lives of the people who primarily suffer the collateral damage of oil exploration and exploitation.
Ibe Kachikwu has given example of what he intends to do in this regard by his shuttle diplomacy in the creeks of the Niger Delta, meeting with chiefs, youth and elders of the region pleading for peace and giving this government the chance to reverse decades of neglect.
The second plank of the Ibe Kachukwu agenda is that even within the oil and gas sector, there will be a shift in focus from oil to gas; there will be a gas revolution. Nigeria is more of a gas country than an oil one. Industry experts say that if Nigeria’s potential in gas is fully optimised or exploited, the country may move from its current position as the ninth gas-producing country in the world to about the fourth.
- Daily Trust