By Olawale Abdul-Fatah
As Nigeria continues to records daily loss in liquefied natural gas, President Muhammadu Buhari, has attributed the challenges in the sector on the Olusegun Obasanjo and late Shehu Shagari administrations.
Buhari argued that in 1983 when the Buhari/Idiagbon administration took over from Shagari, the nit a single part of the blueprint on liquefied gas had been implemented.
The President disclosed this during bilateral meeting held on the sidelines of the 5th Summit of Gas Exporting Countries Forum in Malabo, Equatorial Guinea, with Iranian Vice President for Economic Affairs, Mohammad Nahavandian.
At the meeting where both countries agreed to set up a binational commission that will promote trade, investment, agriculture and technology transfer, the Nigerian President recalled his close association as Nigeria’s oil minister with Iran before 1978 when he left office.
Buhari told his guest that “if the blueprint he left behind as petroleum minister had been followed, Nigeria would have had 12 Liquefied Natural Gas trains by 1983.
“Instability and partisan politics thwarted all that, leaving us with just six, and the seventh we are now working on. We would have been earning more from gas,” he added.
Buhari said the future of oil and gas is in value addition, extolling Iranians for attainments in oil and gas, electricity generation, agriculture and petrochemical industry.
The President, in a statement signed by his Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, stressed that he was impressed with the speed in transformation of Iranian oil and gas industry from what it used to be when he served as Nigeria’s petroleum minister in the 1970s.
According to him, I will work very hard towards the joint commission. We will go back and identify sectors of common interest. In particular, we are interested in how you utilized your gas, with 95 per cent of your national population wired to gas.
“The evolution of our gas industry is too slow. We are still flaring gas. I will work with you on how to harness and utilize our gas. I am very impressed”.
The President said that Iran also flared gas in the 70s, expressing his delight that the fires had all been put out, assuring that Nigeria would soon attain the same feat.
Buhari asked to be given up to second quarter of 2020 on the modality of the binational commission.
The President commended the Iranian defeat of ISIS in Iraq and Syria, saying the dispossession of the terrorists of their oil wells meant that they had lost access to resources used in supporting Boko Haram in Lake Chad sub-region.
The Iranian Vice President, who was emphatic that Nigeria and Iran can do a lot, said: “A lot can be done. We can do miracles. We have the vision”.
He suggested four major areas of economic cooperation: petrochemical, power, irrigation agriculture and industry.
The Iranian Vice President also offered cooperation in counter terrorism, citing the routing of ISIS in Iraq and Syria as major contribution to the global anti-terrorism efforts.
He used the meeting to brief the President on the political and security situation in the Middle East region.
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