Abuja — Nigeria on Monday disclosed it will back the quest by 14 African oil producers to reform the operations of their umbrella body -- the African Petroleum Producers Organisation (APPO) -- adding that it was in support of the emergence of the organisation's new president and Nigeria's Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Dr. Ibe Kachikwu, as well his expectation to lead the reforms.
The Vice-President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, made the declaration shortly after Kachikwu became president of APPO at the extraordinary session of the APPO in Abuja.
Kachikwu took over from Michel Boukar, a Chadian, as APPO's president, an organisation of African countries producing oil and gas, and he would be expected to lead its next phase which would include restrategising for the emerging challenges of the global oil industry.
APPO was founded in 1986 in Lagos, with its headquarters in Brazzaville in the Congo, and currently has members that include Algeria, Angola, Benin, Cameroon, Chad, Democratic Republic of Congo, Congo Brazzaville, Côte d'Ivoire, Egypt, Gabon, Equatorial Guinea, South Africa, Libya, and Nigeria.
Altogether, these countries account for virtually the totality of Africa's oil and gas reserves and output.
The founding of APPO was reportedly spearheaded by Nigeria as an effort to mitigate its dependency on western technology and western markets for oil export revenues. The objective of APPO is to promote cooperation in petrochemical research and technology.
In his remarks, Osinbajo said it was good the association decided to self-reform, adding that the choice of Kachikwu was apt.
The vice-president equally noted that Nigeria would back the reform efforts of Kachikwu and his team in APPO. He explained that Kachikwu has being in the centre of Nigeria's attempt to reform her oil industry and should in this regards be comfortable with his new task at APPO.
"As the birthplace for what is today known as APPO, Nigeria is concerned that it has not lived up to the expectation of its founding fathers, 30 years after it was set up.
"We are concerned about this. Africa needs a united front in the global energy discuss, and we are convinced that there is no better institution to convene those conversations than APPO itself," said Osinbajo.
He further stated: "It is gratifying to note that the decision to reassess the effectiveness of the organisation and to embark on significant reforms came from within the organisation itself. I want to commend the council of the ministers of APPO for the bold decision to confront the fundamental challenges facing the organisation.
"Let me on behalf of President Muhammadu Buhari and the government and people of Nigeria, thank you for the confidence you repose in Nigeria, manifesting in your unanimous agreement to place the responsibility for leading the reforms process on Nigeria's Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Mr. Ibe Kachikwu.
"Permit me the immodesty of saying Kachikwu has since March 2016, very much remained at the centre of the reform efforts in the Nigerian oil and gas industry. It is well pleased that he would deliver in this responsibility, given that it is very similar to what he has championed here in the domestic oil and gas front as minister in the last two and half years."
"Given the progress achieved so far in the Nigerian oil and gas industry, I can therefore, confidently assure you that Nigeria and Dr. Kachikwu and his team would exceed our expectations regarding the APPO reforms.
"I want to assure you also that Nigeria would give you all the support you need to render his vision of making APPO hold the world's major institutions reference on Africa's hydrocarbon matters and indeed the pride of Africa.
"I am confident that a revitalised APPO would contribute tremendously to the development of the African oil and gas industry, particularly now that Africa is becoming a major global player in the sector," he added.
Osinbajo equally called on members of APPO to consolidate their partnership in the wake of rising competition and challenges in the global oil industry.
According to him, the association stood a better chance at success when it opens up itself to allow for private sector-led participation in its operations.
"In the increasingly inter-dependent world that we live in, greater levels of regional integration would be required, allowing the free-flow of the dividends of research and technology.
"APPO also needs to seriously look beyond public sector or government ownership in its activities and tap into private sector competencies and models to a greater degree. It is time for us to open up the APPO, such that none APPO member countries and private institutions should be able to invest," Osinbajo explained.
In his remarks, Kachikwu said Africa oil producers would have to adopt fresh approaches that can guarantee them growth through inter-dependence, adding that funding for hydrocarbon projects was becoming difficult across the world.
"The only way growth would happen in this sector in the whole of Africa is through an inter-dependence approach. All of us must be able to hold hands and find a way of supporting one another, in terms of the research, in terms of the internal investments potentials and capabilities, and also help to drive the process," he explained.