Nigerians Reject Tinubu’s Appointment As Oil Minister – Poll

More than 80 percent of Nigerians responding to a BusinessDay poll rejected the idea that President Bola Tinubu should be appointed oil minister like his predecessor, Muhammadu Buhari. 

Experts and some operators in the oil and gas sector who were also surveyed told BusinessDay that the industry would be better served by a minister who can focus on day-to-day operations in the oil sector rather than the president, who is already overwhelmed, with the direction of the ministry.

With a weak understanding of how modern economies work, President Buhari’s leadership in the oil sector was characterized by a sluggish pace of decision-making that unnecessarily delayed regulatory approvals and ultimately frustrated operators.

In the Buhari years, corporate rules and even critical appointments were scrutinized through the narrow lens of ethnicity and politics, and sometimes advice from those less informed or qualified but with better access to the influential president.

The net effect of Buhari’s poor leadership in the oil sector is the worst drop in oil production in history, as well as the fastest flight of investment capital.

Against this backdrop, analysts say the president should focus on the presidency and leave the role of the minister to skilled technocrats.

“I think someone with practical knowledge of the sector should be the minister. I’d rather the president wasn’t,” said Ayodele Oni, an energy attorney, and partner at the law firm Bloomfield. The oil sector in Nigeria is currently facing existential threats that require the exclusive attention of a minister.

The gas sector is planned to be removed from the Ministry of Petroleum and this will require serious policy and administrative work to help the country focus on gas.

Crude oil theft must be tamed to hope for better oil revenues to improve dollar supply and government profits. NNPC embarks on a transition to a commercial entity and serious guidance in implementing joint venture agreements and meeting its obligations.

“It’s a terrible idea right now,” said Kelvin Emmanuel, energy industry analyst and CEO of Dairy Hills Ltd.

Emmanuel said the key areas of focus for the next oil minister are huge. This includes reviewing the provisions of the Petroleum Industry Law to improve gas taxation, especially in deep offshore fields, preparing the NNPCL for an IPO to raise cash to finance oil projects, securing pipelines, and implementing Nigeria’s shift to a gas-fired economy.

“These responsibilities are too technical for a sitting president, you need someone from the industry who is not only technical but also understands the administrative policies of dealing with stakeholders,” said Emmanuel.

President Tinubu sent a list of 48 ministers for consideration by the Senate, of which 45 were selected and approved.

It seems debatable that he would appoint someone from the list as oil minister, but Buhari selected 42 ministers and still could not trust any of them to lead the ministry.

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