President Muhammadu Buhari disclosed yesterday he would retain his office as Minister of Petroleum Resources, working flanking former Bayelsa State Governor Timipre Sylva who will serve as the Minister of State.
At a ceremony in Aso Rock where he assigned portfolios to the 43 minister-delegates earlier furnished by the Senate, the president also announced the creation of five new ministries: Aviation, Humanitarian/Disaster Management.Police Affairs, Special Duties/International Affairs, and Power.
But his retention decision of the powerful petroleum office and the composition of his entire cabinet has elicited mixed reactions from members of the public and stakeholders especially in the oil sector, with some fearing the next four years might offer little grounds for buoyancy.
Former President of the Nigerian Association of Petroleum Explorationists (NAPE), Abiodun Adesanya, said: “A lot of things urgently need to be done. We have not had a licensing round since 2007. There must also be clear-cut policies. Some of the policies have to be revisited especially the gas commercialisation programme.
Prof. Adeola Adenikinju, The director, Centre for Petroleum, Energy Economics and Law (CPEEL), University of Ibadan warned that power brokers could frustrate Sylva’s operations.
“This reduces the ability of the latter to embark on independent policies and actions. If stakeholders start doubting the power of the minister of state, it will undermine his power and effectiveness in midwifing reforms.
Adenikinju said. “We can also have a situation where a powerful Group Managing Director (GMD) of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) might bypass the minister of state, bringing about a diminution of his authority to superintend the ministry and the NNPC,”
There were indications that a show of power between former Minister of State Ibe Kachikwu and former NNPC Group Managing Director Maikanti Baru affected the sector negatively. Nevertheless, he noted that retaining the seat could allow for institutional recollection and make the sector’s issues command notice at the highest level.