• Wednesday, July 24, 2024
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Why Tinubu must resign as Petroleum minister, by Agbakoba

Why Tinubu must resign as Petroleum minister, by Agbakoba

Olisa Agbakoba, a senior advocate of Nigeria (SAN), has called on President Bola Ahmed Tinubu to step down as Minister of Petroleum Resources and appoint a substantive minister forthwith.

Agbakoba said that it was in doing so that the sector would begin to be vibrant and serve the Nigerian people better.

The former president of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) made the call in Lagos while addressing some select editors on the need for a paradigm shift in Nigeria’s oil and gas sector.

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Speaking on ‘Rethinking Nigeria’s Oil and Gas Governance: A policy Paper’, Agbakoba said that the occupation of the position of a minister by the President was not in the interest of the country.

“We need a minister of Petroleum or Energy, not Tinubu. He is the President of Nigeria; he cannot at the same time be a minister. President Muhammadu Buhari operated that way for eight years; it did not help the country. We need a minister that will be fully in charge; not a minister of state. The oil and gas sector is so critical to the country that it will not be in the interest of Nigeria not to have a minister that will pay 100 percent attention to it. President Tinubu must step down as a minister of Petroleum,” he said.

Agbakoba, who also is a maritime lawyer, emphasized that the entire oil and gas sector needed to be completely overhauled because it is not working.

“Nigeria stands at a critical juncture in its economic history. Despite blessed with vast oil and gas resources, the country continues to grapple with the paradox of plenty, manifested in high poverty rates, inadequate infrastructure, and uneven economic development,” he said.

Proposing a shift in the nation’s oil and gas sector governance, he said the country must move from “contract oil” to “development oil.”

“Contract oil refers to the current model of oil and gas governance in Nigeria, primarily implemented by Joint Ventures (JVs) and Production Sharing Contracts (PSCs). This approach has been the dominant legal scheme in Nigeria’s oil industry for decades,” he said.

He explained that adopting development oil would help Nigeria as the revenue from oil would be reinvested into infrastructure development; education, healthcare, research and development in energy and related fields.

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According to him, “Development Oil views oil and gas not just as commodities, but as strategic assets for driving comprehensive national development. This approach aligns the oil and gas sector with broader national interests and development goals.”

Agbakoba further said that “what the Federal Government is doing in oil and gas field was unconstitutional,” pointing out that the Constitution of Nigeria does not recognise Joint Venture in the way that the FG is going about it.

“The Constitution does not allow FG to invite Joint Ventures. There is a reason the Constitution vested the ownership of oil and gas on the country. In Saudi Arabia, there is no co-ownership between Saudi Arabian government and JVs. The involvement of the International Oil Companies (IOCs) is only servicing. The joint venture partnership is not helping Nigeria. The reason why this is not working must be interrogated and addressed. I call on the President to embark on the review of what is going on in the sector,” he said.