Abuja — PRESIDENT Olusegun Obasanjo said yesterday that Nigeria has earned more than N390 trillion revenue from the oil and gas sector since 1970, but lamented that the huge income has not reflected on the lives of Nigerians.
He said at the opening of a stakeholders' workshop in Abuja on oil and gas policy for Nigeria that the on-going privatisation of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) was part of the grand plan to restructure the oil and gas sector.
President Obasanjo, who was represented by his Special Adviser on Petroleum and Energy, Dr. Rilwanu Lukman lamented that the country is faced with decayed infrastructure especially epileptic power supply.
He expressed government's desire to break the vicious cycle of poverty amidsts abundant natural resources saying it was that desire that compelled government to undertake a comprehensive oil and gas sector reform programme.
The President mandated Vice-President Atiku Abubakar-led National Council on Privatisation (NCP) to submit the final draft of the Nigerian oil and gas policy to him and the Federal Executive Council (FEC).
The President expressed his administrations resolve to take step that would ensure that petroleum products were supplied to all Nigerians efficiently and at affordable prices.
Obasanjo stressed that the gas sector reform was a many-sided task that entails the reform and re-enactment of specific gas laws, the establishment of fiscal and gas pricing structures that take full advantage of Nigeria's comparative advantage in the natural gas.
He hinted that the Nigerian Gas Company Limited (NGC) will be restructured, saying that new companies are to be created from the NGC, and possible privatisation of some of the units arising therefrom.
According to the President the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) will be restructured to enable oil and gas assets to be better and more efficiently managed and more revenue derived therefrom for the benefit of the populace.
Earlier, in his welcome address, Director-General of the Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE), Dr. Julius Bala called for the resolution of the NNPC Joint Venture (JV) funding difficulties and a re-examination of the corporation's level of equity participation in the venture.
He advocated an enhanced upstream oversight capacity, particularly with respect to cost containment and the monitoring of revenue flows.
To set the pace for the reform in the sector, the oil and gas sector reform implementation committee (OGIC) was inaugurated on April 25, 2000 by Vice-President Atiku.
The committee comprised of 25 Nigerians who are experts in the industry and a representative of the World Bank while Dr. Lukman serves as the chairman.
The committee was charged with synchronising, co-ordinating and monitoring all activities relating and leading to the reform and restructuring of the oil and gas sector.
The eight-point terms of reference of the committee is contained in the draft policy while a British firm, NEXANT Limited, was appointed to review the existing laws governing the petroleum sector vis-a-vis the proposed policy and recommend appropriate amendments, hence the workshop.