Buhari appoints self Minister of Petroleum Resources

30 Sep 2015
Financial Nigeria


He reiterated his determination to sanitize Nigeria’s oil industry and mentioned this as the major reason for allotting the portfolio to himself.

Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari

After 125 days in office, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari, has said he will head the Ministry of Petroleum Resources in his much-awaited cabinet. Buhari stated this yesterday while speaking with some reporters in New York where he was attending the 70th United Nations General Assembly.

During his state visit to France earlier in September, President Buhari had stated his commitment to naming his cabinet before the end of September. The names of other ministerial nominees are expected to be transmitted to the Senate today.  

“I will serve as the Minister of Petroleum Resources myself.” Buhari told the reporters shortly before departing New York on his return trip to Nigeria. He reiterated his determination to sanitize Nigeria’s oil industry and mentioned this as the major reason for allotting the portfolio to himself.

Nigeria, Africa’s largest producer of oil faces a spectre of reduced revenue as a result of fallen oil prices, currently below $50 per barrel, and a weak currency that has depreciated about 22% since November 2014.

Due to lack of local refining capacity, supply of petroleum products in the country is supported by an import subsidy scheme and crude oil swap deals, all of which have been riddled with corruption allegations. Last month, the President appointed Dr. Emmanuel Ibe Kachikwu as the new Group Managing Director of the state-owned oil company, Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC). The federal government also cancelled the subsisting oil swap arrangements last month and replaced them with interim Offshore Processing Agreement with three multinational companies.

President Buhari said a prosecution process would soon be instituted for those who were involved in misappropriating government revenues at the NNPC under past administrations.   

President of the Senate, Bukola Saraki, while addressing his colleagues yesterday after a six-week recess, said the Senate was expecting the list of ministerial nominees this week.

He said “I believe the presence of ministers will create the space for greater policy engagement with the executive arm of government. It will also enable us to begin to respond in a more systematic manner to the various economic and social challenges before us, especially through our various committees that will also be constituted soon.”

Saraki further said, “I want to urge you all my colleagues to ensure that what is uppermost in our minds as we begin the constitutional task of screening of ministerial nominees is the overall interest of our country, informed by the enormity and the urgency of the challenges before us. Once the list is submitted, let us ensure that we treat it with dispatch and thoroughness. We must not be held down by unnecessary politicking.”

Former Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo was also Minister of Petroleum for much of his eight-year tenure. Buhari is former Federal Commissioner for Petroleum and Natural Resources. He was appointed in 1976 by then-Head of State, General Olusegun Obasanjo. Buhari also became Chairman of the newly-created NNPC from 1977 to 1978.

However, some commentators have pointed to a constitutionality issue with the President assigning a ministerial portfolio to himself, despite former President Obasanjo’s precedence. Section 138 of the 1999 constitution says: “The President shall not, during his tenure of office, hold any other executive office or paid employment in any capacity whatsoever.”

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