National Chairman of the Inter-Party Advisory Council (IPAC), Yabagi Sani, says that assigning a Minister of State for Petroleum Resources from the oil-rich Niger Delta area is a ‘wrong signal’.
Sani, who was a guest on Channels Television’s Sunrise Daily breakfast programme on Thursday, stated that limiting the appointment to a particular state would trigger a sense of entitlement amongst the people of the Niger Delta.
President Bola Tinubu released portfolios for 45 ministerial designates on Wednesday. The President appointed Bayelsa-born Heineken Lokpobiri as Minister of State for Petroleum Resources but silent on the portfolio of the Minister of Petroleum Resources.
This omission similarly pointed to the pattern displayed in the former administration of ex-President Muhammadu Buhari when the then President reserved the Ministry of Petroleum Resources to himself and appoint a former Bayelsa State governor, Timipre Sylva as Minister of State for Petroleum Resources.
Commenting on the portfolios of the minister designates, the IPAC chair said, “Unfortunately, this sector (Niger Delta) has been made to look as if people that should be appointed to that ministry should come from Niger Delta. It is a wrong signal because, when you now give people a sense of entitlement their efficiency becomes something that is not given due attention to.”
“I think we must change that scenario, but if he must do that – not because I am from the North Central – why don’t you give Federal Capital Territory to an indigene of North Central? – if you must be sensational about such very important ministry,” he said.
“What do we do about fighting crude oil theft?” he asked. “Crude oil theft endemically is perpetrated – from what we heard so far is from the people from that area.”
Sani suggested that the petroleum sector should be looked into from a professional point of view and a national interest point of view.
According to the IPAC chair, the responsibilities of the President are weighty and critical for the Ministry of Petroleum.
He lamented that if the ministry is reserved to the president, there could be issues lingering on accountability and efficiency in fighting crude oil theft.
“I believe that that ministry is too important for the president to take as another responsibility for himself if that is the intention. The reason is that we have seen the kind of drawbacks we have had in the economy itself as a result of the lack of proper management of that industry (oil and gas sector).
“The president that is already more than occupied now is taking the ministry that he is going to supervise it himself. I am sure we may not see the result of what we want. What we want in that industry is for corruption must be chased out as quickly as we can,” he said.