By Joy Odor
Nasarawa State governor, Engineer Abdullahi Sule, has urged members of the National Assembly, to see the challenges in the petroleum industry as beyond northern issues but as challenges confronting Nigeria as a whole.
Engineer Sule made the call while delivering a speech at the 9th retreat of the House of Representatives Northern Caucus, on the Revised Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB), in Abuja, on Monday.
The governor, who spoke from his years of experience in the oil and gas sector, pointed out that, it’s important that the lawmakers, understand that issues relating to the petroleum industry, will not only affect the North but the country at large.
According to Engineer Sule, the challenge posed by the prevailing insecurity, has the potential to hinder Nigeria from harnessing her rich oil reserves, which may further affect her production quota being determined by the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), based on individual countries oil reserves.
The governor, who spent over 15 years working in the oil industry in the United States, cited Bolivia as an example of an emerging oil giant, that was able to harness her oil reserves and is now the major supplier of energy to Brazil.
Engineer Sule lamented that, as a result of security challenges, most of the countries oil operations have moved offshore, adding that oil companies like the Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC), Chevron and Mobil, have all relocated from their traditional bases in Western Niger Delta.
“Today, for security issues, we should be looking beyond what is seen as a Northern issue, it’s a national issue. And it’s very important for us to understand that,” he stated.
Tracing the agitation for the reform of the country’s petroleum industry, to the energy committee of the Vision2020, initiated by the late Head of State, General Sani Abacha, the governor noted that, Nigeria could be one of the richest countries of the world, if only it could manage its resources properly.
Engineer Sule however emphasized that, even for national security, Nigeria must not waste time in finding resources to locate her oil frontiers across all the various belts.
The governor promised to share his views, in a technical paper to be presented, on how the country could generate enough funds, to bring onboard all the frontier lines.
Engineer Sule added that, the funds being sourced, will afford Nigeria, to be able to actualise her oil reserves and to move away from mere speculation.
“Like I told my colleagues yesterday, I can see the money everywhere. We have several places we can tap these funds without affecting the states and FG as far as their allocation is concerned,” he said.
Having spent years in the oil and gas industry, the governor proposed the imposition of penalties, assuring that oil and gas companies can afford to pay such penalties.
Various speakers delivered addresses at the event, including the Plateau State governor, Simon Bako Lalong, FCT minister, Alhaji Mohammed Musa Bello, former minister of agriculture, Chief Audu Ogbe, as well as the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha, among others.
The retreat was organised by the House of Representatives Northern Caucus, with a view to identifying challenges and to proffer solutions, that may confront the Northern region, if the revised PIB is passed into law.
Engineer Sule later made a presentation in the technical session alongside, the Group Managing Director, Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation(NNPC), Mele Kyari, Executive Secretary, Petroleum Technology Development Fund (PTDF) Bello Aliyu Gusau and Chairman, New Nigeria Development Company (NNDC),Tanimu Yakubu.