Economy: We Need Oil to Get Out of Oil – VP Osinbajo

Remarks by His Excellency, Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, SAN, GCON at the presentation of three books by Honourable Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Dr. Ibe Kachikwu in Abuja, on November  14, 2016.

I am especially pleased to be here this morning to celebrate the major intellectual and policy achievements of Dr Ibe Emmanuel Kachikwu, in his three texts on oil & gas law and policy in Nigeria.

One, is the Compendium of Oil and Gas Cases in Nigeria, two, Legal issues in the Nigerian Petroleum Industry and the Petroleum Industry Bill: Getting to the Yes.

These books are important, first, because oil and gas law and policy in Nigeria is notoriously underserved with quality materials. There just aren’t enough scholarly materials on the subject.

But perhaps of greater importance is the pedigree of the author, a first class scholar, an industry expert of 30 years standing and now possibly the foremost policy person in the sector today, in his capacity as Chair of NNPC, former GMD of NNPC and the Honourable Minister of Petroleum and perhaps one should add his current position at OPEC.

With this type of antecedents, it should be expected that the quality of thoughts and insights and the solutions that should be on offer should be unique indeed.

I am pleased to say that from my assessment of one of the books: Legal Issues in the Petroleum Industry– which I had the pleasure to peruse, he did not disappoint.He took on the difficult issues of the defining items in the Nigerian oil and gas industry.

The law is the law, policy is what it is, but how do they work on a regular day? What are the unspoken or subtle rules? In order words, what are the practical implications of policy and legislation? How did the subsidy regime for example redefine our downstream sector and perhaps the whole industry?

You will not find the insights that Dr Kachikwu offers in the chapters on marketing and transportation of petroleum products, divestments, negative trends in the Nigerian petroleum industry and ministerial discretion in any text book or policy manual on the subject.

Dr Kachikwu clearly took full advantage of the rare convergence of scholarship, contemporary experience and policy wisdom to deliver what are probably today the most significant contributions to our understanding of the major issues and nuances of the Nigerian Petroleum industry. It is this uniquely versatile background that makes this publication on the subject a must read for serious participants in one form or other in the industry.

But I will not be surprised if one of the books – The Petroleum Industry Bill: Getting to the Yes – attracts considerable attention.

The industry has awaited this all important bill for so long and many would hope at least that they can get a sense of how the minister’s mind is working.

(I am afraid I cannot help much on that score as I was unable to read the book before now.)

However, I think it might be important to say that the federal government has had to deal frontally with the critical issues bedeviling the sector: the deregulation of the downstream sector and its continuing challenges, vandalism of pipelines and export facilities and the critical drop in production, gas to power issues, the urgent imperatives of local refining, cash call problems and the plans to exit that regime and empowering indigenous operators.

As we move to diversify our economy we are acutely aware that we need oil to get out of oil. Yet our window of opportunity to benefit maximally from the petroleum industry is narrowing.

The development in shale oil which the author spends considerable time on, the increasing breakthroughs in renewable energy use, the incredible speed of the expansion of the use of electric vehicles, -Japan now has more electric charging stations than gas stations- all point inexorably to the fact that the party might be over sooner than we expected.

But let me just go to another issue. Very few people here know that the author, Dr Ibe Kachikwu is also a great writer of fiction. I wonder how many people know that Dr Kachikwu was the publisher of the famous Hints magazine. Hints magazine, by the way, was a romantic magazine and several of the romantic stories there, were personally authored by Dr Kachikwu himself. I am sure for those who read fiction, you might have read the Cocaine Connection which he wrote, Beneath the Boardroom and the wonderful book, Peace at Last, which really is a book about himself and his childhood.  And I think it is the book that we all ought to read because, again it deals with some of the types of problems of young people that are growing up, especially when we have issues with our parents.

Dr Kachikwu has always proved to be a multi-tasking individual and when you look at some of the works of fiction that he has written and just the way that he has written them, -and they are such good books to read, -I am sure that many of us would agree that if he had not made a success of his first love, which is oil and gas, he probably would have been quite successful as a writer of fiction.

Let me say that having read his latest works, especially the one that I have read, I think that we must really commend him for the very excellent work that he has done.

Once more, let me congratulate the author. I am sure he knew that when he finally decided to write on the industry, we would not tolerate one book from him. Three books at once is certainly in keeping with his immense talents. Congratulations indeed.

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