Despite the Federal Government’s claimed resolve to diversify the nation’s economy, President Muhammadu Buhari on Thursday admitted that oil and gas resources remain the most practical key out of economic crisis.
He said although the era of high oil prices might not be here now, the petroleum industry remained critical to the nation’s economy now and in the future.
Buhari who is the substantive Minister of Petroleum Resources said this in a speech he delivered at the public presentation of a roadmap for the development of the nation’s oil and gas industry at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
Tagged the 7Big Wins, the roadmap is the short and medium term priorities to grow Nigeria’s oil and gas industry from 2015 to 2019.
The big wins include Policy and Regulation, Business Environment and Investment Drive, Gas Revolution, Refineries and Local Production Capacity, Niger Delta and Security, Transparency and Efficiency, as well as Stakeholders Management and International Coordination.
The President said although agriculture, solid minerals and other critical sectors of the economy were being supported to grow and contribute more to the nation’s economy, the nation needs what he called a virile and efficient oil and gas industry to take care of foreign exchange requirements.
Buhari said, “The Petroleum industry remains critical to the Nigerian economy of today and the future, despite our current challenges.
“The golden era of high oil prices may not be here now, but oil and gas resources still remain the most immediate and practical keys out of our present economic crisis.
“Oil and gas still remain a critical enabler for the successful implementation of our budget as well as the source of funds for laying a strong foundation for a new and more diversified economy.
“As important as it is to ensure that agriculture, solid minerals and other critical sectors of the economy are supported to grow and contribute more to the nation’s economy, we still need a virile and efficient oil and gas industry to take care of our foreign exchange requirements.
“This is a national imperative and a core thrust of our economic policy.”
Buhari said it was therefore imperative for the Ministry of Petroleum Resources to maximise the potential and opportunities across the whole range of the oil and gas industry to stimulate the economy in spite of the current challenges.
To do this, he added, requires creativity, innovation, technology and robust partnership amongst various stakeholders.
The President said there was also a need to instill a new culture of transparency and efficiency in the industry, streamline operations along best practices by championing and implementing strategic reforms at every layer of the industry.
This, he explained, will help the government improve oil and gas production, explore the country’s frontier basins, improve local refining capacity and build sustainable partnerships with the oil producing communities.
Buhari reiterated his administration’s resolve to tackle the challenges in the Niger Delta which resulted into renewed violence by militants.