By Michael Eboh
The Nigeria Natural Resource Charter, NNRC,Thursday, blamed Nigeria’s inability to effectively manage the wealth from its oil and gas resources on a number of factors, ranging from the country’s over reliance on oil, inability to diversify its revenue base, among other economic and social factors.
Speaking in Abuja, at the ‘Soft media launch’ of NNRC’s 2019 benchmark exercise report, Programme Coordinator of the NNRC, Tengi George-Ikoli, noted that in 2017, efforts were made to strengthen Nigeria’s oil and gas resource strategy with the approval of the national oil and gas policies by the Federal Executive Council.
She explained that these policies which would have helped in no small measure in the effective management of the country’s oil and gas wealth, were yet to be fully implemented.
George-Ikoli emphasized the need for the better management of Nigeria’s oil and gas resources with a view to repositioning the country as one of the fastest growing economy in the world.
She commended the government for the various initiatives it had put in place in the petroleum industry for effective resource management, such as the beneficial ownership register and the Amended Deep Offshore Act, among others, noting, however, that a lot still needs to be done in the industry to ensure the country derives the maximum benefit from its oil and gas resources.
She said, “There have been a lot of targets that Nigeria has set for herself; there are a lot of challenges that Nigeria is currently facing, in terms of ensuring that it maximizes her revenues; but we have recently, since 2018, being said to be the poverty capital of the world. Our country requires a lot of revenues and also has to diversify its economy.
“The way it does this is to ensure that it maximises revenue from oil and gas resources and potentially uses those revenue to diversify its economy into gas, potentially, and to others sectors as well, including agriculture.
“In the next 40 to 50 years, oil will no longer have same value as it does now. There is therefore need for Nigeria to at this time, enjoy the benefits while it still can. The conversation we are having now is that these are the top indices that Nigeria need to hit in terms of the bench mark that Nigeria needs to hit to ensure that they get all the maximum benefits from the resources.”
The launch highlighted Nigeria’s performance against 12 pre-conditions to effective resource management proposed by the NNRC and determined how far or close Nigeria might be in achieving its objectives.
The report, the fourth in the series of benchmarking exercise reports, after those of 2012, 2014 and 2017, was produced by NNRC and was undertaken to provide an assessment of governance on Nigeria’s petroleum wealth.
Also speaking, Research Associate for the Centre for Public Policy Alternative, CPPA, Mr. Opaluwa Enebi, urged the government to make decisions that would guarantee that the country derive the maximum benefits from its oil and gas resources, while not ignoring prevailing global oil market conditions.
According to him, the launch of the free and publicly-available beneficial ownership register may help address ownership and transparency issues regarding oil and gas resources.
While commending the Federal Government for taking steps to address gas flaring through the kick-off of the Nigerian Gas Flare Commercialization Programme, Enebi noted that the country’s Sovereign Wealth Fund recorded growth in the period under review.
He said, “Domestic gas utilisation improved significantly in the period under review, largely driven by demand from the power and industrial sector, however, liquidity challenges in the power sector threatens successes.”
However, he added that, “The government has acknowledged Nigeria’s unhealthy dependence on oil and gas resources. Nevertheless, the implementation of the oil and gas strategy fell short of set targets in policy documents.”