EFFORTS to trace part of the N70 trillion generated by the Federal Government through the oil and gas but which was diverted into private pocket, began on Monday, at the consultative workshop on development of roadmap on beneficial ownership in the sector.
At the well attended ceremony organised by the Nigeria Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (NEITI), held at Apo Apartments in Abuja, the stakeholders stressed the need for the Federal Government to recover all the funds stolen by individuals.
Delivering his welcome address, the Executive Secretary of NEITI, Mr. Waziri Adio, said Nigerians, especially stakeholders in the sector must ask questions about where the money went.
According to him, “at a time when most resource-intensive countries are in financial turmoil on account of fall in commodity prices, it is tempting to rain on the openness parade, especially with a country that made more than N70 trillion from oil and gas between 1999 and 2014 to slump into economic recession in the second quarter of 2016. By all means, we should ask the N70 trillion question: where did all the money go?
“But we should never give up on transparency. At a time like this, we need more openness, not less. NEITI will continue to push the envelope on transparency and accountability. We are already going beyond revenue transparency, we are already on the bandwagon of ownership transparency, and we will do more work on expenditure transparency.
In his keynote address, the Minister of Mines and Steel development, who is also the Chairman, NSWG of NEITI, Dr Kayode Fayemi, enumerated the task before the stakeholders which was to determine the appropriate and most effective framework for beneficial ownership disclosure.
Meanwhile, the Minister of State for Petroleum, Dr Ibe Kachikwu, on Monday said the Federal Government would give more attention to the development of gas as a major revenue earner for Nigeria.
Kachikwu, who stated this in Abuja at the 10th Nigerian Gas Association International Conference, said that the country was determined to reverse its over-dependence on oil as benchmark for the economy.
The theme of the conference is “Nigerian Gas Roadmap and Its Potential for Regional and Global Influence: Its Implementation, Challenges, Opportunities and New Way Forward.”
“I must say that over the years there has been a blatant neglect of this sector. We really haven’t focused on gas; all had been on oil production.
“With regard to the recession today, it is clear to us that if we develop a two window of economic earnings, a lot of emphasis will move to gas.
“We are going to be introducing new technical resources, restructuring existing departments and assigning new managers to the existing departments. These reforms are clearly articulated in the proposed national gas policy,” he said.
The Group Managing Director, NNPC, Dr Baru Maikanti, also speaking at the event, said “there exists over $51billion investment in gas processing/transmission and general infrastructural development in the country.”
He stressed further that $16 billion investment opportunity still exists in pipeline milling and fabrication yards, FTZ infrastructure development and concession, port infrastructure, central processing facilities, gas transmission pipelines, as well as LPG plants and real estate development.
He said for Nigeria’s gas sector to grow, it requires a new Gas Policy and an appropriate pricing template structure and guarantees for payment. He stated other enablers for growing the nation’s gas sector to include enabling fiscal regime, host community engagement and conducive business environment.
Furthermore, Dr. Baru stated that beyond growing gas for power sector, there has been a strategic positioning of the sector to support massive gas-based industrialization. “The intent is to position Nigeria as the regional hub for gas based industries such as fertilizers, methanol, petrochemical, CPFs etc. Nigeria holds 9th largest gas reserves in the world and the largest in Africa with about 192TCF.”
“Our vision is to grow reserves to support domestic and export demand put at about 15bscuf per day by year 2020. To increase reserves, we need to expand the areas for gas exploration. The frontier basins need to be explored more aggressively,” he stated.