WEF 2017 Nigeria’s Osinbajo on stabilising oil production in Niger Delta
January 17 2017 – OLUYENI Osinbajo, the vice president 0f Nigeria, Africa’s largest economy Africa, on Tuesday(today) stressed the need to stabilise the oil producing Niger Delta region and his country to diversify away from oil.
Speaking at the 47 Annual Meeting of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, Osinbajo said efforts were underway to engage communities in the Niger Delta where militant activities and “disturbances” had led to huge losses in oil production.
Osinbajo said that Nigeria’s short-term economic recovery and growth plan hinged on secure oil production in the oil-rich Niger Delta.
Oil is Nigeria’s largest source of revenue and foreign exchange earner, but insecurity in the Delta Niger had seen revenue reduced by as much as 60 percent recently. According to Osinbajo, oil production currently stood at 1.7 million to 1.8 million barrels per day.
Osinbajo was in the Delta region on Monday, and said the Nigerian authorities had recently initiated dialogue with various groups with a view to stabilise the oil producing area and that this had already seen the situation improve markedly.
“There has been direct engagement, we have talked to youth and leaders, we have actively engaged them,” he said.
He said engagement had happened with the Pan Delta Forum, a broad coalition of communities across ethnic lines, in what he described as a “sensible road map”.
However, he was also honest about the future of oil as a key pillar of the Nigerian economy.
In his visit to the Niger Delta on Monday, Osinbajo warned of the future challenges if Nigeria continued to depend on oil for income. Citing the move to alternative energy sources such as solar and wind, he called for a diversification of the economy as oil began to lose its value.
On Tuesday, he said there should be a greater focus on sectors such as agriculture, the petrochemical industry and manufacturing, amongst others.
He said government engagement with communities had sketched a picture of the current situation, as well as what the future held, and said there had been broad acceptance.
Saying that estimates varied on how long Nigeria could depend on oil, 30 years or perhaps even shorter, he said: “We need to take advantage of the window we still have. We cannot afford militancy that leads to low oil production.”
He said this message “resonated” with the affected communities who recognised it as a “sobering message” and not a fright tactic. – ANA visit www.zimsinsa.com