Experts Brainstorm On Declining Petroleum Revenue Under Price Volatility

Issues bothering on ensuring that the revenue accruable to the country from crude oil was properly utilized under the current harsh global economic realities formed the main thrust of the 6th Emmanuel Egbogah Legacy Lecture Series which took place at the Emerald Energy Institute, IPS Park, last Wednesday.
Delivering the Keynote Address on the theme: Managing Petroleum Revenue Under Volatile Price Dynamics, Chief Executive Officer of International Institute of Petroleum, Energy Law and Policy, Dr. Timothy Okon, stated that issues that currently bedevil the economy were reflected in the way and manner the huge revenue that previously accrued to the country was utilized by the political class, stressing the need for government to evolve a basic plan for properly harnessing and prioritizing oil revenue to better the lot of Nigerians groaning under economic recession. 
Dr. Okon said that understanding price movement in the unpredictable oil and gas sector was the right strategy for any forward-looking government, adding that the volatility in the petroleum sector was not a new occurrence. He pointed out that the Nigerian government should have been in a position to understand the signs of an oil glut in the sector long before it happened. To address the parlous situation, Dr. Okon submitted, there was an urgent need to discuss the revenue governance framework of the country in the short and long terms.
“There were many tools that should have enabled policy makers to manage the economy in a volatile situation such as we currently find ourselves. Our failure to create the necessary buffers early enough to forestall the current predicament has resulted in the situation we now find ourselves. When prices were high, we ought to have saved for the rainy day, but we regrettably failed to do so. That was what led to the belated creation of the Sovereign Wealth Fund (SWF) from which other oil producing countries such as Norway, Kuwait and Qatar have reaped huge profits,” Dr. Okon said.
The Keynote Speaker also warned government against adopting such economic populism as the discredited subsidies in petroleum products, adding that it was not only unsustainable, but also damaged the long-term economic development of Nigeria. He called for both revenue and economic diversification as a way of mitigating the current economic problems facing the country, warning that a situation in which most states entirely depended on the revenue that accrued from the centre for sustenance was unproductive and portended grave dangers for the economy. 
Dr. Okon regretted that with 600 miles of coastline available to the country, only Lagos State had shown some promisesof becoming self-sufficient by 2020, an example he recommended to other States of the Federation if they wished to remain economically viable.
In his remarks, Chairman of the occasion and Executive Governor of Anambra State, Chief Willie Obiano, who was represented by his Chief of Staff, Professor Joe Asike, described Dr. Egbogah as a man who believed in core competences, extolling his qualities as a foremost Petroleum Engineer, philanthropist, educationist and great mentor. 
He said that it was in recognition of the strategic geographical location and contribution of the University to the petroleum sector that Dr. Egbogah made huge endowments, assuring that with the prospect of Anambra State joining the league of oil producing States, the Government would ensure that institutions of higher learning in the State came to the University of Port Harcourt to acquire training on how to properly harness and manage the emergent hydrocarbon industry.
Also speaking, the Vice-Chancellor, Professor NdowaLale, who represented by the Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Administration), Professor Anthony Ibe, stated that Dr. Egbogah’s  “unique acts of philanthropy and love for quality education gave birth to the Emerald Energy Institute that is doing a commendable job in helping to shape the future policy direction of the Nigerian hydrocarbon industry,” expressing gratitude to him for the gesture “which has put the University on the global map in the study of petroleum policy, especially in this era of volatility in the global oil price and its attendant effects on our national economy and impending social dislocation.”
Earlier in his address, Director of the Institute, Professor WumiIledare, explained that the Emerald Energy Institute was “established to provide a forum to generate policy debates and conduct applied research on energy, especially contemporary petroleum and power policy issues, with a mission to equip, empower and engage energy professionals and managers.”
The event, which also had a Petroleum Policy Roundtable on the Theme: Geopolitics of Petroleum Supply: Implications for a Petroleum Dependent Economy, featured the cutting of Dr. Egbogah’s 74thbirthday cake. The panel was chaired by the former Group Executive Director in charge of Exploration and Production in the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, Engineer Philip Chukwu. He was joined by the Director of Claude Ake School of Government, Professor EmeEkekwe, President of the Chartered Institute of Taxation, Chief Mark-Anthony Dike and an Adjunct Professor at the Emerald Energy Institute, Dr. Joseph Ellah.   
Other dignitaries that were in attendance included the fifth Vice-Chancellor, Emeritus Professor Nimi Briggs, seventh Vice-Chancellor, Professor Joseph Ajienka, Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Academic), Professor Hakeem Fawehinmi, Registrar, Mrs. Dorcas Otto and University Librarian, Dr. Susan Umeozor, amongst others.


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