President Muhammadu Buhari on Friday inaugurated three different boards in the Ministry of Petroleum Resources with a charge to help the Nigerian National Petroleum Cooperation (NNPC) chart a new way of tackling the current economic challenges facing the country.
He emphasised that the sector still remained the biggest source of foreign exchange earning and that it should be well managed.
The boards which were three of the six boards in the ministry were to be chaired by the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Dr. Ibe Kachikwu. They were Nigeria Nuclear Regulatory Authority (NNRA), Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) and Nigerian Content Development Monitoring Board (NCDMB).
President Muhammadu Buhari at the Council chamber of the presidential villa, Abuja, said the inauguration came at a time when the petroleum sector was experiencing a downturn.
He said: “The new boards are coming at a time when the global petroleum industry is witnessing a downturn in purchase which has 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 composition of the board which will be chaired by the minister of state petroleum and other well selected persons who have both the experience and knowledge to drive the NNPC into harnessing its potentials and fulfill its expectations to the nation even at this challenging time in the oil and gas industry.
“Oil and gas industry are the country’s foreign earners, therefore the importance of this boards cannot be over emphasized.
“Your job should be to 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 expectations from the members of these boards is for them to ensure that the NNPC charts a way to face current economic challenges.
“These 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.
“Since the arrival of this administration, there has been an improvement in transparency through publishing monthly operational and financial report of the corporation. This, added to the major restructuring of the corporation and the liberalisation of the downstream sector, are pointers to the determination and focus of the new NNPC under this administration.
“Finally, I must mention that the task before you is enormous but I am confident that with your wealth of experience and knowledge of members of this boards, the desired growth, this government aspires and indeed the aspirations of Nigerians will be achieved within a seasonable time frame.”
Responding, the minister, Kachikwu thanked the President for finding them worthy of the service.
“Mr. President, thank you very much for giving us this opportunity to serve. We have heard your kind words of wisdom and the steer you have given us in terms of ensuring transparency, focus and thinking outside the box in a bid to finding solutions to many of the problems that plague many of these parastatals. We assure you that the people you have appointed are competent, experienced and nationalistic and will do the very best to reduce the burden on your shoulders in terms of the management and steer of this institutions.
“For NNPC, a lot like you mentioned has already been achieved but a lot still needs to be achieved and we will be working with the management through the board to try and get them to where they should be. No political undertone?
“There are two different things. You are talking of results but we are talking about the boards now. But I don’t think we are gonna experience that.
“It is not designed to compensate anybody. But having said that, those who fought for political positions would have benefits in the system. That’s then essence of politics,” he said.