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The Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Dr. Ibe Kachikwu, and the Group Managing Director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, Dr. Maikanti Baru, met on Tuesday and discussed opportunities to further develop the nation’s oil and gas sector.

They met in Abuja at the ongoing Nigerian Economic Summit at the Energy Policy Committee session.

The duo had been involved in controversies over ongoings in the NNPC, leading to the intervention of President Muhammadu Buhari.

Baru, who led a session, came‎ first to the venue of the programme, while Kachikwu walked in some few minutes later.

As soon as the Minister of State entered, Baru stood up, approached him and exchanged pleasantries with him.

Kachikwu also suggested that he be represented at the second session of the dialogue by Baru, a request the organisers declined, because Baru was to chair a session and it would affect his participation.

Kachikwu left while the breakout held and did not return until the end of the closing session.

Baru stood in for him as the Chairman of the session, and when he returned, he joined as the co-chairman.

At the end of the programme, they exchanged pleasantries further, took some photographs, chatted and walked out of the hall together.

On the opportunities in the Nigerian oil and gas industry, Kachikwu said the industry had enormous potentials evolving on a daily basis.

He, however, said the operating environment was tough, adding that the Federal Government was looking at areas it could provide incentives to boost returns for investors to attract more investors into the industry.

He said the Federal Government was putting in place modalities to increase the scope of its earnings in the industry.

He said that the environment was improving, adding that companies that had suspended their big projects were beginning to look at the potentials of reviving them.

Kachikwu further stated that the Federal Government was currently conducting a study to determine reasons why only nine marginal oil fields awarded were involved in production out of the 24 awarded over a decade ago.

He said that the essence of the investigation was to determine factors preventing the oil fields from producing.

This, he said, was designed also advance the Nigerian oil industry forward.

He said: “Financing is key. We are still yet to develop a model that enables local players access financing very easily.

“And in an environment where we do not have lot of reserves, it would be very tough.

“We are going to be looking at all kinds of guarantee platforms, whether there are money to be set aside over a shorter time period with lower interest rates, whether they are international communities that are ready to invest on basis of guaranteed returns of certain barrels.

“We are going to see how we would work to come up with a model that would help people. And that is going to come after we do a study.

“We are doing a study right now to find out why the 24 minus nine marginal fields are not producing oil, did not get to development. Let us be sure it is only financing. If it is more of technical skills, then I think we have got to address that differently.

“If it is more of financing, community development, or quarrels among shareholders, which is a major problem with these teams.

“A lot of funny bedfellows come together and once they finish, they spend the whole time quarrelling in court and nothing happens. We are going to look at all those.”

Kachikwu assured that the forthcoming marginal oil field bid rounds would be transparent and would ensure that oil producing communities not just participate in the process, but also got the most advantage from the oil fields.

He said: “Even when you do transparency, you have to have some level of inclusive or inclusion. How do you get some of these communities to participate?”

He further disclosed that the Ministry of Petroleum was developing models that would enable the President to choose what he wanted to do and how he wanted to go about the marginal fields’ bid round.

He also said: “The key issue is that it must be transparent, so that people could see before they go in, what is expected, how the government wants to run this and hopefully win on the basis of very well-defined goals.”

Kachikwu also called for a whittling down of the powers of the Minister of Petroleum Resources, in favour of a stronger industry regulator.

He said: “One thing I can say for sure is that whatever models of the Petroleum Industry Bill we are pushing; we need to begin to see an independent regulator with fairly enormous powers and with less of a political interface, so that the individuals can do their work.

“I am all for whittling down substantially, the powers of the minister, so that these institutions can work well.

”The reality is that no one stays as a minister forever. It is something we are working on with the National Assembly.

“We are still working to make the independence stronger.”

Baru listed the opportunities in the forthcoming marginal oil fields bid round, adding that a successful completion of the process would present a veritable opportunity for Nigeria to grow its crude oil output and create employment.

BIG STORY

I Have ‘Medicine To Defeat Godfather Terrorizing Lagos’ —- Saraki Boasts

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The Senate President, Bukola Saraki has promised to ensure that the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, produces the next governor of Lagos State.

Speaking during his meeting with PDP delegates at the party’s secretariat yesterday, Saraki said he has “the medicine of the man who regards himself as godfather terrorising Lagos State.”

Saraki, a PDP presidential aspirant, said, “What you have been fighting for many years, you will have it during the coming election because you now have somebody that has intention and charisma to deal with those disturbing you.

“I have a medicine of the man who regards himself as godfather terrorising Lagos State. We have their formula, come next year, PDP will take over Lagos.”

The Senate President also warned Nigerians to be mindful of presidential aspirants promising to restructure Nigeria, if elected president.

He said: “Many aspirants will tell you that they will restructure Nigeria, but don’t let them deceive you because restructuring is not something only a president can do because certain laws also need to change.

“So you need a president that has the political sagacity to carry people along. But there are very few aspirants today that possess such charisma. Once I assume office, I will devolve more powers to the state.’’

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BIG STORY

PHOTOS: Osinbajo, Tinubu, Ambode, Captains of Industries Attend Jim Ovia’s Book Launch

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It was indeed the gathering of captains of industries and other top dignitaries at Zenith Bank’s Chairman/Founder Jim Ovia’s book launch ‘AFRICA, ARISE and SHINE’ on Monday in Lagos.

The book, launched at Eko Hotels and Suites, Lagos, is essentially about the story of how Zenith Bank commenced operation in the 80s in a rented 4-bedroom duplex with N0.00 and now worth $16billion.

The event which had in attendance great Nigerians such as VP Yemi Osinbajo, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, Gov Ambode, CBN Governor Emefiele, Several state governors and other dignitaries who graced the occasion.

Lagos State Governor, Mr Akinwunmi Ambode highlighted the contributions of the Founder and Chairman of Zenith Bank, Jim Ovia to the accountancy and banking professions, calling on leading entrepreneurs in Africa to take time to expose the younger generations to their inspiring story with the view to showing them how to become successful business owners.

Governor Ambode, who spoke at the public presentation of Africa Arise and Shine, a book written by Ovia, said it was important for successful entrepreneurs like the author of the book to tell the story of how they were able to navigate the business climate to inspire others who look forward to being like them.

According to the Governor: “There is nobody that will read this kind of book and will not be inspired and I want to recommend it to everyone.

“It is always very good when people who have been successful in their careers or profession decide to say something about how they really toiled to get to where they are.

“Some people just think people get to be successful without knowing that they actually toiled to become successful and this kind of book inspires our younger ones to become more resourceful and then more inspiring,” Governor Ambode said.

Here are faces from the event:

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BIG STORY

I Can’t Be Impeached, They Don’t Have The Number —- Saraki Boasts

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Following the call for his resignation by the National Chairman of the All Progressives Congress, Adams Oshiomhole, the President of the Senate and presidential aspirant on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party, Dr. Abubakar Bukola Saraki, on Sunday said those calling for such don’t have the number to impeach him.

Saraki also said the decision of the upper chamber of the National Assembly to go on recess was unanimously agreed and in accordance to the rule of law.

While responding to questions from journalists at the PDP secretariat in Minna, Niger State, Saraki said those who are being emotional don’t have ‎the number.

According to him: “Those who are accusing us of an undue process in the adjournment are unaware that we are in the majority.

“They know they don’t have the ‘locus standi’.

“It is important to note that when we adjourned, it is with the total support of everyone, not that we stayed in a corner or in the dark because there is a due procedure where at the end of the session, they will vote for that.

“It was proposed and seconded.

“We took minutes and we also even waited and went through the rules and proceedings of the Senate.

“It was not anything done out of mischief.”

The Senate president, however, said that the adjournment is not an issue, adding: “The most important thing is that at any time I will never sacrifice the interest of this country for my own personal interest.

“In the last three years, my interest is always secondary to the interest of the country.

“The people that are speaking now against it are speaking out of emotions because everyone was there when the decision was taken.

“It was not that a few of us met somewhere and took a decision.

“Everybody was there and we all took a decision to adjourn in our normal annual recess.

“Check the dates we resumed last year and the year before.

“There was nothing abnormal about it.

“Those people who are talking against it are just playing politics with it.

“When it is time for us to resume, we will resume.

“And all we just want to do now is to see that this country is run properly according to the rule of law and due process.

“I have always aligned myself with what the constitution says and the tenets of the three arms of government to ensure that we allow the rule of law, the respect the democratic process.”

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