Subsidy Removal Necessary For Long-Term Energy Security, Nigeria’s Economic Prosperity – Tinubu

By Miriam Humbe

President Bola Ahmed Tinubu has stated that the decision of his administration to remove subsidy on Premium Motor Spirit (PMS) was premised on the need to ensure long-term energy security and economic prosperity of Nigeria.

The President said this in his keynote address at the opening ceremony of the 7th Nigerian International Energy Summit (NIES) at the Banquet Hall of the Presidential Villa, Abuja on Tuesday, 27th February, 2024.

The President who was represented at the event by the Minister of Information and National Orientation, Alhaji Mohammed Idris, noted that the petroleum subsidy had, over the years, strained the country’s economic resources, leading to inefficiencies and, most importantly, hindering ability to invest in critical areas of energy security.

Oluwakemi Ogunmakinwa Mrs.,
Deputy Director, Press and Public Relations in the Federal Ministry Of Petroleum Resources revealed this in a statement signed on Tuesday.

Tinubu admitted that the decision to remove the petroleum subsidy was a challenging one, but stressed that it was a step that must be taken to secure Nigeria’s energy future and foster economic growth.

Tinubu said that by removing the subsidy: “We are creating a more transparent and accountable energy sector.

“The funds that were previously allocated to subsidizing petroleum products are now redirected towards developing and upgrading our energy and other social infrastructure.

“While we are immersed in energy security, let us not forget that Energy Transition is another key aspect of our discussions.

“We stand on the brink of a new era, where traditional energy sources are being complemented and, in some cases, replaced by cleaner and more sustainable alternatives.

“This transition is not only an environmental necessity but also an economic opportunity. We must leverage innovation and collaboration to ensure a smooth and just transition that will leave no one behind”.

Highlighting some of the gains of the removal of the subsidy, the President said the private sector had been encouraged to participate in the energy industry with potential of attracting more local and international investors, fostering innovation and competition that will drive down costs and improve the overall efficiency of our energy sector.

The Minister of State Petroleum Resources (Gas), Rt. Hon, Ekperikpe Ekpo, advocated for a shift towards the vast potential that lies in Nigeria’s gas sector.

He emphasized that the shift towards gas was not merely an option but a necessity for the country’s economic resilience, adding that the gas industry presented a unique opportunity to diversify revenue streams, reduce dependence on oil, and create a more robust and sustainable economic foundation.

Ekpo said that the theme of NIES 2024, “Navigating The New Energy World Order: Security, Transition, and Finance,” underscored the challenges and opportunities that defined our times.

He said: “The theme resonates deeply with the path that the gas industry must tread to ensure Nigeria’s economic transformation”.

The Minister posited that the theme of the summit synergized with Nigeria’s gas industry’s transformative potential.

He informed that energy security extended beyond geopolitical stability to include energy infrastructure’s resilience, diversity, and reliability.

He said: “The gas industry, with abundant proven gas reserves of more than 208 trillion cubic feet (TCF) and further exploration potential, is crucial for enhancing energy security.

“In the light of the above, Nigeria has no business with energy poverty”

On the energy transition side, Ekpo said: “Nigeria has chosen gas as our transition fuel, facilitating the shift from more conventional to new and renewable energy sources.

“With its lower carbon footprint and versatility, natural gas aligns with global climate objectives while providing a reliable solution for our energy needs.

“Nigeria, with significant gas reserves, should leverage this advantage to become a key player in the global energy transition and a regional powerhouse for gas processing and industrialization”.

On finance, the Minister informed that, Gas was attracting domestic and foreign investments that were crucial to unlocking the full potential of our gas resources.

He further announced that significant progress had been made in the realization of the ‘Decade of Gas’ vision.

He said: “The official secretariat is now operational and fully functional”.

The Minister of State Petroleum Resources (Oil), Sen Heineken Lokpobiri, said, in spite of the abundant oil and gas reserves in the country, Nigeria suffered from energy poverty as the reserves had not translated to economic prosperity contrary to what obtained in the Middle East.

He therefore implored the summit to unravel what other oil producing countries were doing to bring economic prosperity to their countries that Nigeria hadn’t done.

He noted that the task of exploring oil reserves should be given to those with proven capacity, both financially and technically to be able to explore oil and gas reserves for the benefit of Nigerians and the global energy landscape, adding that, the easiest way to guarantee energy security in Nigeria was to get the right investment.

He also noted that, in exploration, the target should be to explore these resources in a more environmentally friendly and sustainable ways.

Lokpobiri charged the delegates at the summit to come up with brilliant ideas in ensuring that we have energy security in Nigeria and ramp up production.

He said: “The only way we can guarantee energy security is to increase production in the upstream so that we will be able to provide the right quantity to service our obligations, both locally and internationally”.

The Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Petroleum Resources, Amb. Nicholas Agbo Ella said: “The global energy landscape is undergoing a transformative shift, and it is imperative that we collectively address the challenges and opportunities that come with this new order.

“Through thoughtful discussions, insightful panels, and robust deliberations, we aim to chart a course that ensures the security of our energy resources, facilitates a smooth transition towards sustainable practices, and addresses the financial dynamics of the sector”

In his message, the Secretary-General, Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), H.E. Haitham Al Ghais, said, Nigeria’s role in OPEC’s past and present was a tremendous source of pride.

He added that OPEC was also acutely conscious of Nigeria and Africa’s critical role in the future of our organization and the energy industry more broadly.

He acknowledged the contributions of successive generations of Nigerian public servants and captains of industry in making the OPEC-Nigerian relationship a success.

The Secretary-General of African Petroleum Producers Organization (APPO), Dr. Omar Farouk Ibrahim, in his message said, the decision on which country, the proposed African Energy Bank will be sited is to be taken by the end of the first quarter of 2024, adding that seven countries including Nigeria are jostling for it.

He further noted that the bank is expected to take off not later than the end of the first half of 2024.

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