By Joseph Erunke
Stakeholders in the petroleum sector have called on President Muhammad Buhari to ignore campaigns in some quarters for the sack of the Minister of State for Petroleum, Mr Timipreye Sylva, over his recent comment that the Federal Government cannot legitimately recover alleged $62 billion owed the country by International Oil Companies, IOCs.
The stakeholders, under the umbrella of Partner For Petroleum & Energy Sector Prosperity Initiative, P-PESPI, insisted that the call was baseless considering the achievements recorded by the minister he assumed office.
The group, which rose in defence of Sylva, said the statement credited to him was quoted out of context.
To this end, it has asked President Muhammadu Buhari to disregard the campaigns for removal from office, insisting that the calls were not only baseless but also being carried out on mischief basis.
National Chairman of the group, Lord Charles Ibiang, in a statement, flayed the negative narrative and the publication by a civil society organisation, Accountable Leadership For Better Nigerian Initiative, ALBNI, against the media.
The group, while reiterating its support for Chief Sylva, said the minister had “deep knowledge of the reality in the Nigerian Petroleum Sector.
“Chief Sylva is a great asset to President Buhari’s administration and the Petroleum Sector in general.
“Any close watcher of the investment drive in the petroleum sector will realise that IOCs are not injecting new capital for new projects. Rather, what they are engaging is assets management and divestment from Nigeria to other climes where the business, regulation and political environment are friendly.
The pro-Sylva group said his achievements since assumption of office were unprecedented hence the need to the president not to listen to anyone but the minister regarding issues in the petroleum industry.
“The NLNG Train 7 has reached an advanced stage of execution and final Investment decision to be signed by November 2019.
“This is about $17billion dollars investment with the capacity to generate more than 45,000 jobs.
“In the same vein, the two-year protracted disputes between SPDC OML 25 and the Belema, Njege and Opu kula Communities has been resolved by Chief Sylva.
“Over $6 billion was lost due to the crisis. Today, oil production has resumed at the closed flow station,” it said.