Nigeria has been hit by the misfortunes of the oil sector, but several other countries are hit much harder, President Muhammadu Buhari lamented Friday.
He spoke inside the Council Chambers of the Aso Rock Presidential Villa in Abuja on Friday while inaugurating the boards of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), the Nigerian Content Development Monitoring Board (NCDMB) and the Nigeria Nuclear Regulatory Authority (NNRA).
Buhari said the new boards were coming at a time when the global petroleum industry was witnessing a downturn in purchase which, he noted, had also translated into dwindling production by most producer nations.
“Nigeria has been hit by the misfortunes of oil industry but several countries have been hit much harder,” the president stated.
He expressed optimism that the NNPC board chaired by the Minister of State for Petroleum, Ibe Kachikwu and composed of other well selected persons with the experience and knowledge would drive the corporation into harnessing its potentials and fulfilling its expectations to Nigeria “even at this challenging time in the oil and gas industry.”
The president said the importance of the boards could not be over-emphasised “because oil and gas industry are the country’s foreign earners.”
He said the boards should ensure propriety in the management of “these most important national institutions. You should advise the minister and the corporation management on the most effective way for Nigeria to get more money from our assets.
“My expectation from the members of these boards is for them to ensure that the NNPC charts a way to face current economic challenges.
“This will involve a careful look at the ongoing reforms designed to steer the corporation to achieve better performance and efficiency. In addition, you should explore more innovative ways to resolve the joint venture funding constraints and other investment issues.”
He noted that since the inception of his administration, there had been an improvement in transparency through publishing monthly operational and financial reports of the NNPC, saying
“This added to the major restructuring of the corporation and the liberalization of the downstream sector which are pointers to the determination and focus of the new NNPC under this administration.”
Describing the task before the boards as enormous, Buhari expressed confidence that with the wealth of experience and knowledge of members, the desired growth, the government aspirations and those of Nigerians would be achieved within a reasonable time frame.
On behalf of others, Kachikwu thanked Buhari for their appointments and assure that “the people you’ve appointed are competent, experienced and nationalistic and will do their very best to reduce the burden on your shoulders.”
Addressing State House correspondents later, NCDMB Executive Secretary Simbi Wabote said: “We’ll come up with a clear Nigerian content blueprint, and everybody will be aware of where we want to be in the next five years.”
Wabote also assured that they would do the right thing to ensure attract foreign investments into the country and manage local resources effectively.