On Tuesday, Dr. Ibe Kachikwu, the Minister of State Petroleum Resources, and Dr. Maikanti Baru, the Group Managing Director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), spoke on ways to build a stronger and more efficient petroleum industry.
This is their first meeting after the recently leaked letter Kachikwu wrote to President Muhammadu Buhari concerning Baru’s insubordination and contract scandal at the NNPC.
An allegation Dr. Baru completely denied any wrong doing, saying that the NNPC is not obligated to discuss contractual matters with the Minister of State Petroleum Resources or the NNPC Board also headed by the Minister.
However, yesterday during the third planery session of the Nigerian Economic Summit (NES) 23 in Abuja, the duo spoke on a stronger, more encompassing regulatory authority that would soon emerge in petroleum industry after the passage of the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB).
Kachikwu noted that by the time the National Assembly completes it work on the PIB, a much stronger, a much larger independent regulator would emerge.
“Whatever model of PIB that we are pushing, the point that Dr. Baru made is very, very key,” he said referring to the NNPC GMD.
“To see an independent regulator with very enormous powers, with less of political interference so that individuals could do their work and also whittle down the powers of the minister, so that these institutions could work and work well.”
“The reality is that no one will work as a minister forever. You are going to hand over that portfolio. We should be looking for the system surviving and able to work well. So, it’s something that we are working with the National Assembly very hard on and I think if you look at the issues that come up, there are a lot of emphasis on that independence.
He also added that government is already thinking on how to develop policies that would ensure the global decline in fossil energy does not take Nigeria unawares any more.
Regarding the forthcoming marginal fields bidding round, the Minister said that government was determined to ensure transparency in the process, and to give the public all that they need to know about who gets what and able to monitor the progress. Adding that these were some of the issues the Niger Delta communities, and indeed all Nigerians, were always inquiring about.
“The more transparent it is the better for us. We are developing models to ensure better regulations geared towards transparency in the bidding process, and we would alert Mr. President as soon as we are done,” Kachikwu said.
Also, NNPC GMD, Dr. Baru, said that the marginal field bidding rounds has not achieved the objectives the government set out to achieve, saying that only nine (9) out of 14 of those who won the licenses were operational which according to him is “not good enough”, saying that he was committed to work closely with the minister, Dr. Kachikwu, to address the concerns and constraints that hindered the remaining five companies from appropriately operating the marginal oil fields.”