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How Nigeria’s Barkindo emerged OPEC’s scribe

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Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Dr. Ibe Kachikwu (right); newly appointed Secretary General of the Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), Dr. Mohammed Sanusi Barkindo and Head of Chancery, Nigeria Embassy in Austria   Gazing Dangtim at the OPEC Conference in Vienna …yesterday

Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Dr. Ibe Kachikwu (right); newly appointed Secretary General of the Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), Dr. Mohammed Sanusi Barkindo and Head of Chancery, Nigeria Embassy in Austria   Gazing Dangtim at the OPEC Conference in Vienna …yesterday

•Diesel price hits N170 as cooking gas nears N4000

Nigeria’s Mohammed Barkindo yesterday emerged the Secretary – General of the Orgnisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC). He took over from Libya’s Abdalla Salem El Badri after a meeting where the cartel could not agree on production limits.

Meanwhile, diesel or Automotive Gas Oil (AGO), a major staple of medium and big manufacturing firms now sells for N170 per litre. There are also indications of an indiscriminate rise in prices of Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG), otherwise known as cooking gas, to N4000 per 12.5 kg and kerosene well beyond N80.

The Guardian learnt in Abuja yesterday that the diesel price, which has hov-ered between N135 and N145 per litre in the last three years has risen to N170 per litre in the last few days, most likely to be followed by the rise price of kerosene.

Though there has not been any official words from the Petroleum Products Pricing Regulatory Agency (PPPRA) on the reasons for the increase in the price of diesel, manufacturers, banks and other fairly sizeable businesses premises are likely to groan the more under the new price adjustment as some have drawn up timetables on when to switch on their power generating sets in order to reduce operational costs.

According to estimates from gas marketers, cooking gas may now sell for between N3,500 and N4,000 representing about 48 per cent increase from the N2700 price of a 12.5 kilogramme cylinder.

The marketers under the aegis of the Nigerian Association of LPG Marketers (NALPGAM) in Lagos yesterday lamented that the cost of 20 metric tonnes of LPG rose astronomically from N2.4 million last week to N3.5 million.

The Executive Secretary of the association, Bassey Essien said: “We are now worried about the price instability, because we discovered that a couple of people have hijacked the system and are manipulating the domestic price of cooking gas.

“The product suddenly rose to N2.4 million per 20 metric tonnes’ truck last week Wednesday and moved to N2.6 million on Thursday, N3 million on Friday and hit N3.5 million on Monday on the same consignment.”

It was learnt that this indiscriminate increase in price may impose pressure on consumers who might resort to adopting firewood, kerosene or charcoal as sources of cooking.

However, an assurance has come from the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) that it would continue to oppose government policies that it deems anti-people.

At the 10th Delegates Conference of TUC in Abuja yesterday, NLC President Ayuba Wabba said as far back as 18th century, there was nothing workers got from governments and employers that was without struggle.

His words: “It is not true that government will willingly give us for free. All we have got were got with our collective struggle and unity of purpose. What will it cost workers to unite around the globe? The lack of unity is consequential as we are witnessing in the country today.”

He argued that labour must not be under any illusion that workers’ interests would be protected by government and employers on the platter of gold without struggle.

“Comrades, freedom and liberty can be lost if good people are not vigilant. Therefore, we must continue to remain vigilant, do proper consultation and engage issues for the benefit of the Nigerian people. That is why the decisions of our organs are upheld by the leaders,” he stated.

He described the theme of the conference, which is “Labour and National Re-orientation: The Change we want” as apt because of the challenges that Nigerian are going through.

He submitted that the challenges confronting the country are predicated on two major issues of the influence of the Bretton Wood institutions as represented by the World Bank and International Monetary Fund (IMF) and leadership.

Citing the ongoing massive protests in France, Wabba insisted that protests are not anti-development but a tool to remind governments that there is the need for engagement whenever policies affecting the people are introduced.

He stressed that both NLC and TUC would continue to work together in order to advance the progress of Nigeria, adding, “we might have differences in approach but the ultimate goal is the same.”

Wabba insisted that what is needed now more than ever is policy engagements that are not prescribed by foreign agencies and bodies but a locally assembled team that would proffer in-country solutions to Nigeria’s challenges.

He added: “Under such arrangement, Nigerians will follow suit. No country in the world has made any progress under the prescription of the IMF and World Bank. The Singaporean experience was achieved under the guise of internally-made solution. We have seen the consequences of IMF and World Bank prescriptions on Argentina and other countries,” Wabba said.

The President of TUC, Bobboi Kaigama, said there was the urgent need for government to raise an economic team that would comprise technocrats with the mandate of critically examining the state of the country with a view to proffering solutions to the economic woes of the nation.

Meanwhile, there is no end in sight yet to the crisis in the international oil market following the failure by members of the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) to agree an oil production ceiling yesterday at a meeting that ended in acrimony, after Iran insisted on the right to raise output steeply.

At the meeting, the cartel elected former Group Managing Director of NNPC, Mohammed Barkindo as the next secretary-general.
Barkindo’s election marked the end of the tenure of Libyan’s Abdalla Salem El-Badri, who has been the scribe of the oil cartel since 2007.

Barkindo got the nod ahead of other contestants from Saudi, Iran, Ecuador, Iraq and Indonesia. The Guardian had on April 3, 2016, reported that his experience as a former acting secretary general of the cartel put him ahead of his fellow contestants. It was also reported that Barkindo was nominated by the Nigerian government owing to his experiences at OPEC since 1986.

Barkindo started his career as a member of Nigerian delegation to OPEC in 1986 when the late Dr. RilwanLukman was Minister of Petroleum Resources.

He was on that duty when he became the National Representative to OPEC in 1993 to 2008. Indeed, in between that period, he was the deputy managing director of the Nigerian Liquefied Natural Gas (NLNG) from where he was appointed acting secretary general between January 1 to December 31, 2006.

He became the acting secretary general in 2006 after Edmund Dakouru, who was at that time the Conference President was nominated to perform the functions of the Secretary General following disagreement over who was to be appointed scribe.

The choice of Barkindo alongside other five candidates from five countries would fill the void left by el-Badri in an election expected to hold in June during the OPEC Ordinary meeting slated for Vienna, Austria.

As Group Managing Director of NNPC, Barkindo led the corporation’s transformation agenda, which entailed moving it from an operator into a profit centre. The efforts culminated into the unbundling of the NNPC.

As soon as OPEC members decided to maintain production level, crude oil prices declined from its $50 a barrel gain Specifically, U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude oil for July delivery recently fell by 1.8 per cent to $48.14 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Brent, the global benchmark, fell by 1.3 per cent to $49.09 a barrel on ICE Futures Europe.

At the meeting yesterday in Vienna, while some such as Kuwait and Qatar appeared to lean towards the Saudi Arabian way of thinking – agreeing on the need for an output ceiling – others such as Venezuela and Algeria seemed to agree with Iran, which said an output ceiling must be accompanied by a country-specific quota system.

Other oil ministers, such as Nigeria’s, were said to have called for open-minded discussion and unity – something that has been in short supply at previous meetings.

Iranian Oil Minister Bijan Zanganeh said Tehran would not support any new collective output ceiling and wanted the debate to focus on individual country production quotas.

“Without country quotas, OPEC cannot control anything,” Zanganeh told reporters in Viena.
He insisted Tehran deserved a quota – based on historic output levels – of 14.5 per cent of OPEC’s overall production.


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