Nigeria energy sector has always been a concern to stakeholders and professionals in the industry due to unattended issues around how the sector is being governed. Till date, the country is still grappling with the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) in order to reform the energy sector.
What perturbed operators in the industry is that there is lack of synergy in the energy sector which is subtly controlled by separate ministries and agencies with different chain of command.
The Nigeria Association of Energy Economics (NAEE) recently had its 13th annual conference and the President of the association, Professor Yinka Omorogbe, spoke to journalists about numerous issues on the sector. Omorogbe posited that the sector does not attract investment and the second wave of the Covid-19 pandemic is stalling progress in the industry.
The incumbent NAEE president said there has to be holistic approach to revamp the sector. she advocated that the interest of the Niger Delta should be considered on the PIB.
As the President of NAEE, what is your view concerning the current status of Nigeria energy sector?
Nigeria energy sector is not in a position to attract any investment; it is not attractive for a long time since its existence. The second wave of Covid has come causing a big decline in energy use. Many people have not travelled in this period, when there is restriction in movement, energy use diminishes because crude oil is the primary feed stock for fuels. The price will be affected internationally.
Nigeria is worse hit even before the pandemic, the country should take stock and realize that it needs a strong and virile industry.
The energy sector needs to be reformed and for the past twenty years, the country has been struggling to reform the industry. The thought of people is that the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) is all about reforming the sector but it is not. PIB is the first step before you reform and we have not been able to take that step.
There has to be holistic approach for the whole energy industry. The country should also focus on the electricity sector by acknowledging its present failure and if the situation continues, then failure will be the option.
One of our speakers at the conference spoke clearly that what the country has is untenable putting it at the lowest ebb in the world and Africa.
Don’t you think reforming the sector is a long-term issue?
Not really, it is not long term, you start with some steps and so much have been done in the past. Get your policies right, make sure your laws align with it. The law must be passed. Why must it take several cycles for the National Assembly to pass a single law? After the law has been passed, implementation starts. There is clear lack of synergy in the energy sector.
Planning is done in the Energy Commission of Nigeria which is under the Ministry of Science and Technology, electricity is under the Ministry of Power while petroleum issues are dealt with in the Ministry of Petroleum. The three ministries do not come together with their Ministries, Department and Agencies (MDAs) to discuss for synergy. This is appalling in the first place, let there be synergy in the sector so that much can be done and achieved.
In Ghana, the Ghanaian Planning Commission drives all the processes pertaining to energy. There are lot we can do to strategise and move forward. Individual and personal concern should be left behind to subjugate for national interest before any meaningful achievement. This is what every patriotic person should do and it requires the cooperation of others.
An association such as NAEE has the responsibility to stimulate discussions, create activities in the right direction because where the energy industry is today is not where it should be.
You said a country cannot develop beyond its intellectual capacity, what role is the Petroleum Technology Development Fund (PTDF) play in this respect?
There is so much that PTDF can do. It can effortlessly be the engine room to stir up the right policy to galvanise other agencies to take the right action. PTDF can make stakeholders in the industry to move in the right direction.
Energy is only concentrated in big cities compared to villages and rural areas across the country. Nothing is working in the villages. There has to be policies in place that bear them in mind and ensure they get the benefit of modern electricity. This will reduce negative impacts on education and health.
What sort of capacity do you think PTDF should be building in post covid world?
This probably needs a greater discussion and critical planning to make sure that we do what needs to be done in the right way.
One thing I have realised which has been said by a few speakers is that data is key, data drives activity. Usually, the emergence of data analysis is always a surprise when analysed after the numbers are scrutinized.
PTDF can train people but it needs to involve the professionals who will do the thinking and take the right action. There should be constant monitoring and evaluation by ensuring that thorough analysis is made for us to get to where we should be. PTDF can also play a big role on policy round table and dialogues.
You were one of the progenitors of PIB, suddenly the bill has resurfaced again provoking national debate. The National Assembly is planning a public hearing where various interests will be invited to give their inputs on the bill but the Niger Delta says its interest has been undermined. What’s your view?
Everybody interest should be taken into account and come out with a workable solution. One reason I threw out a lot of questions was because I felt that when you asked questions you get all the different answers with a solution.
The Niger Delta solution will go nowhere if the communities are not part of it. That is the truth of the matter.
If policemen are sent to the Niger Delta, they will also become part of whatever is happening in the region because they will either compromise or die.
The truth is that there are certain things we have to face by strategising effectively. I believe Nigeria must be first in our minds. If we don’t put the country first, the oil will exist and nobody will buy it from Nigeria because they can get it with less hassle and struggle from neighbouring countries in Africa. It has happened with other countries before.
No matter the ethnic group, everyone should think Nigeria first without personal interest.