COVID-19: We’re developing survival measures for economic sustainability, job security ― Buhari

• Revenue from oil can no longer sustain Nigeria ― PENGASSAN

President Muhammadu Buhari declared, on Thursday, that his administration is developing strategic survival measures to ensure economic sustainability and job security.

Buhari made this declaration even as he assured oil and gas workers of job security despite the devastating effect of COVID-19 pandemic.

The President, who spoke at the Sixth Triennial National Delegates Conference of the Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (PENGASSAN), also said his government has carved strategies to stimulate the oil and gas sector to sustain the economy, create well-paid jobs, and take millions of Nigerians out of poverty.

But the President of PENGASSAN, Comrade Ndukaku Ohaeri, warned that the revenue from the oil and gas sector can no longer sustain Nigeria as a nation and this is the time to work the talk.

Buhari, whose speech was presented by the Minister of State for Petroleum, Timipre Sylva, said: “Nigeria has earned its pride of place in the committee of oil and gas producing nations, standing at 10th and 9th positions in global oil and gas reserves respectively.

“Nigerian oil and gas industry remains the main driver for economic and infrastructural development of the country. It is the major contributor of foreign exchange earnings to the Nigerian government; accounting for around 10 per cent for the nations GDP as well as providing employment to a significant number of skilled, semi-skilled, and unskilled labour. All these would not have been possible without the diligent contributions of PENGASSAN.

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“Recognizing the significance of oil and gas industry as an enabler of national growth and development, my government carved out some strategies for the Ministry of Petroleum Resources to stimulate the sector in order to foster the sustainability of the Nigerian economy, create well-paid jobs, and take millions of Nigerians out of poverty.”

To this end, President Buhari said the significant transformation was currently on-going in the oil and gas sector, adding that this transformation initiative, will definitely require highly skilled manpower.

“We are counting on your association to continue to provide the much-needed support to meet our developmental mandate,” Buhari told the oil workers.

He said: “Our collaboration will focus on gas to transmute Nigeria from the conventional dependence on white products for prime movers to a cleaner, more available, accessible, acceptable and affordable energy used in gas. This will cushion the effect of deregulation and create enormous job opportunities for Nigerians.”

While revamping the existing refineries, he said the green field and development of modular refineries are springing up, adding that these activities will continue to engage PENGASSAN and NUPENG members.

President Buhari added: “COVID-19 pandemic and progressive decline in 2020 has made it imperative for Nigeria to pursue the development of non-oil economy and diversification of revenue sources as the country braces for a possible lower for longer price era. The government is factoring in these current realities in its reform agenda. We are developing strategic survival measures to ensure economic sustainability and job security.

“While we seriously believe that the diversification plan to the non-oil economy has become a national imperative, let me assure you that crude oil will remain prominent in the global energy mix in the medium to long term, this implies that massive opportunities abound to members of PENGASSAN.”

PENGASSAN President, Comrade Ohaeri said the government has talked a lot about diversification of the economy, but added that now is the time for the implementation.

He stated that revenue from oil and gas can no longer sustain the country, therefore this is the time to walk out the talk.

He said: “We expect to see government coordinate responses towards divestment from some public agencies that will allow for private participation and freeing resources for key areas of need.

“We have talked a lot about diversification of the economy and this is the time for its implementation as a matter of emergency. The truth is that revenue from the oil and gas sector can no longer sustain as a nation and this is the most auspicious time to walk our talk.”

NIGERIAN TRIBUNE

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