By Azimazi Momoh Jimoh,
The Senate yesterday resolved to invite the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Ibe Kachikwu, to explain three oil and gas related deals worth $115 billion he signed with China and India on behalf of Nigeria.
Adopting a motion sponsored by Senator Clifford Ordia (APC, Edo Central), the Senate specifically resolved to seek detailed explanation from the minister on the $15 billion Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Indian government in the oil and gas sector.The minister is also expected to explain details of the over $80 billion MoU he signed with Chinese firms in the same sector.
After exhaustive deliberation, the upper chamber said the minister had to appear before its joint committee on Petroleum Upstream, Gas and Foreign Affairs, to proffer detailed explanation on the subject matter of each of the MoU signed in China, and the proposed MoU with India, and the anticipated impact on the country’s economy.
It noted: “Besides these MoU for $80 billion investments, the two largest oil companies in China, Sinopec and CNOOC, signed investment MoU with the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources committing the companies to further investments in Nigeria’s upstream oil sub-sector to the tune of $20 billion.”
Ordia, in his lead debate, drew the attention of the Senate to the fact that the Minister of State for Petroleum negotiated a $15 billion investment with India where the Indian government would make an upfront payment to Nigeria for crude oil purchase.
The lawmaker said the two countries had agreed to sign an MoU to facilitate investments by India in the Nigerian oil and gas sector and in areas such as refining, oil and gas marketing, upstream ventures, development of gas infrastructure and the training of oil and gas personnel in the country.
Senate Leader, Mohammed Ali Ndume, said it was important to know whether the minister had the power to endorse any MoU involving billions of dollars without the participation and endorsement of the National Assembly.
Senator Abdullahi Adamu explained that what the minister did was “mere intention that has not matured.” He said that when the deal matures, the National Assembly would be brought in.
Senate President, Abubakar Bukola Saraki, thanked movers of the motion for drawing the attention of the Senate to the matter. He said the essence of the motion was to ensure transparency in a matter that involved future investments in the oil and gas sector