The Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Ibe Kachikwu, and Group Managing Director, Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, Maikanti Baru, who recently disagreed on contracts awards, on Tuesday however agreed on the need for the the petroleum industry regulator to be insulated from politics.
Kachikwu had in a recent leaked memo he wrote to President Muhammadu Buhari accused Baru of insubordination and awarding a contract of about N9 trillion without due process.
The NNPC boss in his reply to the accusations, argued that the NNPC Act does not mandate him to seek the approval of the Minister of State for award of contracts.
However, when Kachikwu and Baru met on Tuesday, during a breakout session at the ongoing 23rd Nigerian Economic Summit, they shared the same view on the controversial Petroleum Industry Bill, as well as opportunities in the Nigerian petroleum industry and ways to grow the sector.
Kachikwu said the federal government would develop policies that would ensure that the drop in global demand for crude oil does not take Nigeria unawares.
He noted that government was already thinking towards that direction, but is currently dealing with the fundamentals of ensuring that the refineries work and ensure availability of energy sources to meet day-to-day energy needs.
Kachikwu said: “The first thing is to develop the policies and to do that the NNPC would have to take over the commercial aspects because they are going to be the one deploying it..
“As the refineries get kitted up, obviously we would continue to look at new fossils development programmes and will see a need to pump out policies that would enable Nigerians to see the advantages in terms of costs.”
Kachikwu further said that the government was already working to make sure that an improved PIB would be passed which will meet the aim of stakeholders.
“We are still working to make it better. By the time the Senate and the entire National Assembly finishes what they are doing, we are going to see a much stronger and a much larger independent regulator.
“Whatever model of the PIB that we are pushing, the point that Dr. Baru made is very, very key to see an independent regulator with very enormous powers, with less of political interference so that individuals can do their work and also whittling down the powers of the minister so that these institutions can work and work well.
“The reality is that no one will work as a minister forever. You are going to hand over that portfolio. We should be looking for the system surviving and being able to work well. So it’s something that we are working with the National Assembly very hard on and I think if you look at the issues that come up, there is a lot of emphasis on that independence”.
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