The Minister of State for Petroleum, Timipre Sylva, has said that President Muhammadu Buhari is aware and concerned about the hike in the price of gas and is promising action to ameliorate the situation.
He said this while addressing State House correspondents after a meeting with the President in his office where he presented CEOs of two new agencies: the Nigerian Upstream Regulatory Commission (NURC) and the Nigerian Downstream and Midstream Petroleum Regulatory Authority (NMDPRA) at the statehouse.
President Muhammadu Buhari has received the Certificate of Incorporation of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC).
He was presented with the certificate at the State House on Friday by the Minister of State for Petroleum, Timipre Sylva, Registrar Corporate Affairs Commission, Alhaji Garba Abubakar and NNPC Group Managing Director, Mele Kyari.
Others include the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Finance, Budget & National Planning Aliyu Ahmed; Chief of Staff to President Buhari, Ibrahim Gambari; Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha; Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Petroleum Resources Dr. Nasir Sani Gwarzo, and NNPC CFO, Umar Isa Ajiya.
Following the signing of the Petroleum Industry Bill into law by President Muhammadu Buhari on August 17, Mr Sylva had said that the (NNPC) will become a commercial company within six months.
He said a transitional committee was already in place to incorporate NNPC Limited.
Consequently, all shares in NNPC Limited are expected to be vested in the government at incorporation and held by the Ministry of Finance.
Mr Sylva noted that although the new Petroleum Act has deregulated the oil sector, subsidy policies will remain in place till further notice.
Meanwhile, the minister on Thursday also said he was confident that the law will significantly boost Nigeria’s potential to achieve its oil production to four million barrels per day.
In addition, he said the passage of the PIA will also boost the nation’s oil reserves from 37 billion barrels to 40 billion barrels.
“The PIA 2021 will undoubtedly assist in harnessing Nigeria’s potential to achieve its oil production to four million barrels per day and oil reserves from 37 billion barrels to 40 billion barrels while also drawing on the country’s estimated 600 cubic ft of natural gas to provide clean and efficient energy,” Mr Sylva said at the SEPLAT Energy Summit which held in Abuja.
The Federal Government has admitted that it is not in the best position to manage the nation’s refineries.
Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Timipre Sylva, stated this during his appearance on Thursday’s edition of Politics Today.
“I will agree with you that government is not the best manager of refineries and that is why this time, we are actually going to have professional managers to manage the refineries; we are not going to manage the refinery at all,” he said on the Channels Television programme.
Despite the submission, the minister believes it will not be out of place if the government gets the refineries working before taking appropriate decisions.
He explained that the government does not subscribe to the idea of selling off the refineries in their present condition as such action would be widely criticised by citizens.
‘The Fairest Thing’
Sylva stated, “We believe that we should get the refinery back to life before we decide on the option of whether we are going to privatise or sell all the refineries.
“If we try to sell the refineries which you call dead refineries, you will be the one first persons to say we are selling dead refineries to people.”
He said the Muhammadu Buhari administration cannot be blamed for the present state of the facilities as it inherited damaged refineries.
Despite this, he said the government has decided to prove to Nigerians that the refineries can be fixed and put back into working condition.
After the refineries have been fixed, the minister believes Nigerians can then decide what to do about them.
“We want to sell live refineries; refineries that are working and I think that is the fairest thing for the government to do and that is why we have decided to get all our refineries working.
“We want to prove to you that we can get these refineries working,” he said.
Nigeria’s Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Timipre Sylva on Tuesday said he believes the nation’s refineries have the capability to function optimally due to the deregulation of the oil sector.
Sylva disclosed this in an interview on Channels Television breakfast programme, Sunrise Daily. He spoke concerning the agreement reached by the Federal Government and organised labour which recently suspended their planned strike action.
The decision to suspend the strike followed an agreement reached between both parties that the strike will be put on hold for a period of two weeks if the government hold up its end of the deal.
Sylva in the interview revealed that although the organised Labour gave the Federal government a timeline of two weeks, the functionality of the refineries can not be achieved within two weeks.
He explained how the agreement was reached.
“I don’t think Labour is expecting to see all the refineries fixed in two weeks. Labour is quite realistic. What we told them was that we understand that fixing of our refineries has been a big problem. When we look at it from the historical perspective, the non-functioning of the refineries was because there was subsidy.
“These refineries could not function optimally and commercially. But with deregulation now, we believe that the refineries can now function optimally.
“We believe that this policy (subsidy) direction will help the functioning of the refineries, as well,” the Minister said.
He explained that the Federal Government gave the labour a clear timeline for fixing the refineries and an agreement was reached.
The Minister assured that “By end of next year, the Port Harcourt refinery will be ready 50%. By 2022 the Port Harcourt refinery rehabilitation will be complete.”
He also assured that processes are on for fixing Warri refinery to ensure it functions optimally as well.
The Federal High Court sitting in Lagos has restated its order restraining the Minister of Petroleum Resources and the Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR) from taking any step on revoking the Ororo Marginal Field in OML 95 pending a suit challenging its status.
Justice Muslim Hassan reiterated the order on Wednesday after being informed that the DPR was allegedly advertising a bidding process for Marginal Field(s), which may jeopardise the interest of the plaintiff, Owena Oil and Gas Ltd.
The court held that it would deal with any breach of its order directing parties to maintain the status quo in relation to the revocation.
Counsel to the plaintiff, Mr Kemi Pinheiro, had informed the judge that despite the order, the DPR published an advertorial requesting for bids for Marginal Field(s).
He, therefore, sought the court’s protection.
Counsel to the minister, Mr Babajide Ogundipe, informed the court that he had an application and he asked the court for a date for the hearing.
After listening to all the parties, Justice Hassan adjourned further hearing until June 30.
The Ororo field, discovered in 1986, is located within OML 95 in shallow waters offshore Ondo State and lies in water depths ranging between 23 feet and 27 feet.
Owena, in the suit, said the first and second defendants (the minister and DPR), “purportedly revoked the Ororo Marginal Field without recourse to the Plaintiff.”
It contended that it would suffer “irreparable damage unless the defendants are restrained.”
The company also claimed, “The purported revocation of the Ororo Marginal Field within OML 95 is unlawful, invalid, null and void and of no effect whatsoever, having been made during the pendency of the appeal over the decision of this Honourable Court Coram I.N. Buba in Suit No.FHC/L/CS/1815/14: Owena Oil and Gas Limited v. Hon Minister of Petroleum Resources & Ors.”
On May 27, the court had granted an order of interim injunction against the defendants following a motion ex-parte application filed by Owena Oil and Gas Ltd on May 19.
The order restrained the defendants from taking any steps in relation to the suit and ordered the parties to maintain the status quo in relation to the revocation pending the determination of the matter.
The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has called on President Muhammadu Buhari to quit his role as the Minister of Petroleum “to save Nigerians the trauma of sleeping in fuel stations” in order to get fuel.
The party made the call in a statement by its National Publicity Secretary, Kola Ologbondiyan, on Sunday, insisting that “the failure of the Buhari Presidency to resolve its inflicted unabated fuel crisis, which has brought untold hardship to Nigerians” is unpardonable.
“We call on President Buhari to quit this all-important Ministry of Petroleum Resources and allow competent hands to save our people from the anguish and pains they have been subjected to in the last few months,” it said.
Many Nigerians have struggled to get fuel in recent months after the nation was hit by fuel scarcity late in 2017. While fuel queues have disappeared in several parts of the country, many people still have difficulty getting petrol and are forced to buy the product above the official price of N145 per litre.
As the Minister of Petroleum, the PDP said President Buhari must directly accept responsibility “for the manifest failure in the oil sector, even as his government should be held responsible for the exacerbated economic and security situation in the country under its watch”.
To turn the situation around, the opposition party wants the President to appoint “competent hands” to manage the affairs to the ministry.
At the height of the fuel scarcity, some Nigerians had called on the President to quit his role as Petroleum Minister. Some others debated the legality or otherwise of the President’s decision to occupy the position.
For the PDP, if the President “had heed wise counsel from well-meaning Nigerians, since last year, to quit office as the Minister of Petroleum and allow a more competent and knowledgeable person to run the ministry, the situation would not have degenerated to excruciating pains Nigerians suffer today”.
The party also accused the Presidency of unapologetically failing to fix a national problem, which it promised to resolve within one week in December, saying it has no solution but intends to continue to hold the nation to ransom.
Arguing that “poor coordination, inefficiency and reported heavy sleazes in the petroleum sector”, under the direct supervision of the President, raises a lot of issues which require urgent action, the PDP said the President has failed to take decisive steps.
“Rather, the sector has been delivered to an APC cabal, whose mission, particularly, the desperate re-election bid, largely account for the biting fuel situation and the economic misery Nigerians suffer today,” it said.
But in his New Year broadcast on Janaury 1, President Buhari had vowed to the root of the fuel scarcity which he said was a “collective blackmail of all Nigerians.”
He had acknowledged that the Christmas and New Year holidays didn’t go well with many in the face of the lingering fuel crisis.
The President, however, decried that: “Some of our compatriots chose this period to inflict severe hardship on us all by creating unnecessary fuel scarcity across the country.”
A legal practitioner, Mr Emmanuel Anene, has accused President Muhammadu Buhari of breaching the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria by imposing himself as the Minister for Petroleum Resources.
Mr Anene said, “The administration brought in the Whistle-Blowing policy, but had failed in putting it through the National Assembly for approval,” while appearing as a guest on Channels Television’s Sunrise Daily on Friday.
“The government said they are fighting corruption. Any offence involving dishonesty (is corruption). Nepotism is corruption; favouritism is corruption. If you ambush due process of law that is corruption if you arm-twist the system for your own selfish gain that is corruption.
“Mr President made himself the Minister of Petroleum by fiat. He did not submit himself to the NASS for clearance that is a breach of the constitutional provision. When we come on board, we heard of the Dasuki-gate. Today, Dasuki is being prosecuted; he has taken his bail to the Supreme Court (ordinary bail).
The lawyer questioned the government’s seriousness in fighting corruption while wondering why Dasuki’s bail lingered for two years.
“Government is pretending that they are fighting corruption. Supreme court, Court of Appeal and even the lower courts have repeatedly ruled that you should not use bail as a punishment.
“If the government is serious about prosecuting Dasuki, why will it take it them two years to determine the bail of Dasuki?” he questioned.
On the yet-to-be-released a report on the suspended Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Mr Babachir Lawal, he added, “Look at the corruption involving the SGF, they set up a committee when we have the EFCC, ICPC, Police. A committee was set up to investigate SGF, up till now; there is no report of that committee.
“The recent one, $25bn awarded by NNPC, an agency in the Ministry of petroleum. Now the question is, $25bn is Nine trillion naira, well over Nigerian budget. Where will NNPC fund that contract? What is the purpose of that contact?”
A former President of the Nigerian Bar Association, Mr Olisa Agbakoba, has challenged the constitutionality of President Muhammadu Buhari to hold office as the Minister for Petroleum Resources.
The Commander-in-Chief had in September, 2015 chosen Cabinet Ministers, after which their names were forwarded to the Senate for confirmation. He, however, named himself in charge of the Ministry of Petroleum Resources.
But in his originating summons, a copy of which was made available to Channels Television in Lagos on Monday, Mr Agbakoba listed the Minister of Justice/Attorney-General of the Federation, Mr Abubakar Malami as defendant before a Federal High Court in Abuja.
The lawyer argued that the President was not fit to occupy his position as Petroleum Minister, while still being the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, in view of Sections 138 and 147(2) of the constitution.
“By virtue of Section 138 of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, which disqualifies the President of Nigeria from holding any other executive office or paid employment, can the Nigerian President simultaneously serve as Minister of Petroleum Resources, which is an executive office?
“By virtue of Section147 (2) of the 1999 Constitution, if the President is not disqualified, can the President hold the office of Minister of Petroleum Resources, without confirmation by the Senate of the National Assembly,” he questioned.
Although no date has yet been fixed for hearing, the lawyer is hopeful that the court of competent jurisdiction would seek a declaration that Section 138 of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria disqualifies the President from holding the office of Minister of Petroleum Resources, which is an executive office.
Mr Agbakoba, who is also a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, wants the court upon hearing of his application, to order the President to vacate the office as the Minister of Petroleum Resources.
The Executive Director of Corruption Observatory, Mr. Ivie Richards has condemned in strong terms, the position of President Muhammadu Buhari as Minister for Petroleum Resources, stressing it promotes corruption.
Mr. Richards made this known while speaking as a guest on Channels Television’s Sunrise Daily, in Lagos on Thursday.
He said, “I quarrel seriously and I condemn in its entirety the fact that a sitting President doubles as the Minister for Petroleum. That has helped this rot a great deal and the right things need to be done.
“Again, that is another aberration. In that report, Kachikwu said that he is the Chairman of the board, but he is not the Minister for Petroleum.
“Minister is supposed to be the Chairman of the board. If you watch closely between the lines, you will see the insinuation that the tender board of the NNPC got some approvals from the President.
“What my real interest is here is to invite the organized civil societies, at least those concerned with good governance, to drag the tender board of the NNPC, its governing board, to court to let Nigerians know of all that is happening behind the curtains.
The CO’s boss further noted that if the allegation is proven true that President Buhari gave approval for procurement to NNPC’s board, it is more than enough ground to impeach the nation’s Commander-in-Chief.
“But my major interest and focus would be, ‘Is it true that at any time, the President gave approval tacitly to this procurement, direct approval to the Tender board of the NNPC?’ If that is true, to me, that is an impeachable offence.
“If you look at the case in Brazil, South Korea, for we know leaders have been shown the door. They are not as grievous as this. So I would want this nation, organized civil societies to properly unravel what happened between the Tender board of the NNPC and Mr. President,” he stressed.
The Nigerian Army says it is making progress in the Niger Delta as it reveals that the Joint Task Force has killed five militants in Rivers State.
This is coming barely 24 hours after the military announced that it has begun mopping up of arms in the Nigeria’s Niger Delta region.
The militants were killed during an exchange of gun fire with the troops, and a cache of arms and ammunition recovered from them.
The troops intercepted the hoodlums after they had kidnapped an unidentified person before the gun battle ensued.
A statement by the Army spokesman, Colonel Sani Usman, stated that the exercise would continue this weekend in the 82 Division and part of the Two Division of the Nigerian Army.
The army explained that the operations in the riverine environment was to check criminal activities such as kidnapping, militancy and piracy among others.
The Commander of “Operation Delta Safe”, Major General Joseph Irabor, had told journalists in Yenogoa, Bayelsa State that the military would not relent in its determination to rid the Niger Delta of illegal arms.
This latest killing of five militants and one kidnapper occurred in Port Harcourt, the Rivers State capital this weekend and is considered a major breakthrough by the Nigerian military.
However, there are reports that the Federal Government is ready to dialogue with the Niger Delta militants, to resolve the crisis in the region.
The Petroleum Minister, Dr. Ibe Kachikwu, said at the weekend that over $40 billion have been spent in the Niger Delta in the past 12 years without any significant results.
The Committee of Petroleum Ministers from Nigeria, Ghana, Togo and the Republic of Benin says the activities of vandals in the Niger Delta have cut down the volume of gas supplies in the West African sub-region.
The oil ministers made the remarks on Tuesday at a regional meeting in Abuja to discuss recent developments that have affected the implementation of the West African Gas Pipeline Project.
According to them, attacks on oil installations have impacted negatively on the objectives for embarking on the project.
Nigeria’s Minister of State for Petroleum, Dr. Ibe Kachikwu, lamented that the activities of vandals in the southern region constituted part of the problems that need to be addressed, as it has affected gas supply to members in recent times.
Other members of the committee who spoke in French language also identified non-payment of bills for gas supplied as another challenge to be addressed.
Meanwhile, the Ghanaian Minister of Petroleum, Mr Armah-Koffi Buah, told journalists after the meeting that the recent cut in gas supply has led to loss of jobs among members.
Nigeria is the major supplier of gas in the project which was established during the military era in Nigeria to provide gas to member states including Ghana, Togo and Benin Republic.
The meeting of petroleum ministers from the region was organised to discuss solutions to problems that have affected the implementation of the project.
Civil society group, Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has called on the UK authorities to “extradite Nigeria’s former Petroleum Minister, Mrs Diezani Alison-Madueke to face charges of corruption and money laundering.
Coming ahead of the International Anticorruption Summit in the UK, SERAP says the charges she is currently facing in UK court do not sufficiently capture the gravity of her alleged crimes, and the increasing allegations of corruption against her in Nigeria.
The request followed announcement during the week by the Central Bank of Nigeria that it was carrying out special investigations into the roles played by banks in certain financial transactions, especially the 23 billion Naira reportedly shared to officials of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) by officials of the former President Goodluck Jonathan administration to influence the outcome of the last general elections.
According the SERAP Executive Director, Adetokunbo Mumuni, “The anticorruption summit in London provides an important opportunity for the UK government to support the ongoing fight against corruption in Nigeria, and to send a powerful message that the UK will not provide sanctuary or condone impunity for corrupt public officials.”
The statement reads: “As a state party to the UN Convention against Corruption, the UK government can use the convention as a basis for the extradition of Mrs Alison-Madueke back to Nigeria.
“We urge the Nigerian authorities to without delay submit a request to the UK authorities for the extradition of Mrs Alison-Madueke, explicitly making the point that Nigeria will guarantee her a due process-trial.
“If the UK refuses extradition request, Nigeria should consider submitting the matter for arbitration and if this cannot resolve the case, refer it to the International Court of Justice for adjudication. The Nigerian authorities should also consider filing a civil action against Mrs Alison-Madueke in the UK court.
“By sending Mrs Alison-Madueke back to her country, the UK will be sending a message that high-level official corruption will not go unpunished no matter where the suspected perpetrator hides and thus contribute to the fight against impunity for grand corruption. The UK indeed has an obligation to extradite Mrs Alison-Madueke through international cooperation and collaboration in good faith with Nigeria.
“We believe that effective prosecution in Nigeria is feasible, and this will bring justice closer to Nigerians who are direct victims of corruption. Extraditing Mrs Alison-Madueke back to Nigeria is equally important for allowing easier access to witnesses, evidence, victims of corruption; creating a deep connection between Nigerians and the impact of the trial; and empowering victims of corruption.”
“SERAP believes that there is probable cause that Mrs Alison-Madueke participated in the extraditable acts involving some banks in Nigeria, whether directly or indirectly. The allegations of corruption against her are strong enough for Prime Minister David Cameron to facilitate an extradition proceeding.
“The UK shouldn’t be a country of refuge for corrupt officials if it is to avoid a miscarriage of justice in high-level corruption cases. But if Mrs Alison-Madueke is not extradited, the UK will have a responsibility to amend her charges to include the fresh allegations against her and to try her on the merits under the UK laws as if she had committed the crimes there.
“Mr Cameron risks missing an ‘open goal’ unless he shows that the UK is unreservedly committed to seeking justice for victims of corruption, and international cooperation in the fight against corruption by urgently facilitating the extradition of Mrs Alison-Madueke to Nigeria so that she can explain her role in the continuing disclosure of allegations of corruption and money laundering involving several Nigerian banks which allegedly took place during her time in office as petroleum minister.
“SERAP is also concerned that UK banks continue to accept millions of pounds from corrupt Nigerian politicians. Without the complicity of these banks, it would be much harder for corrupt politicians including from Nigeria to loot public funds or accept bribes.
“Therefore, in order to meet the requirements of the UN Convention against Corruption, Mr Cameron will need to do more to reform and crack down on his country’s financial institutions that continue to provide safe havens for corrupt funds from Nigeria with almost absolute impunity.
“It’s also important for Mr Cameron to work towards improving judicial cooperation between Nigeria and the UK if stolen assets stashed in the UK are to be fully repatriated and if he is not to send a message that corrupt suspects can get away with their crimes without consequences.”