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Nigeria to Regulate its Oil Industry, President Yar’Adua Says

Bloomberg

 

 

Nigeria to Regulate its Oil Industry, President Yar’Adua Says 

By Dulue Mbachu

May 30 (Bloomberg) — Nigeria will implement plans to regulate the country’s oil industry, improve infrastructure and restore peace in the troubled Niger Delta region, President Umaru Yar’Adua said.

“All our plans are coming to fruition in almost all the critical sectors,” Yar’Adua said in a speech broadcast live on state television last night to mark his first year in office.

Yar’Adua dismissed claims that he has been slow in dealing with the country’s problems, and blamed corruption and the absence of planning for Nigeria’s past failings. He said he had secured funds from oil companies to finance social spending.

Yar’Adua succeeded President Olusegun Obasanjo on May 29 last year after a controversial election, which foreign and local monitors described as “flawed.”

Muhammadu Buhari of the All Nigeria Peoples Party who came second in the balloting and Atiku Abubakar of the Action Congress, who finished third, are challenging Yar’Adua’s victory in court. The supreme court is due to make a final ruling on the matter in July.

“We’ve just signed agreements with Shell, Exxon Mobil and Total to take care of cash call obligations,” he said. “We’ll release the funds to the education and social sectors.”

Arrear Taxes

Demands recently presented by the administration to Royal Dutch Shell Plcand Exxon Mobil Corp. for $1.9 billion arrears of taxes are part of his efforts to ensure adherence to the rule of law, the Nigerian president said.

“The law states that that money belongs to the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation,” Yar’Adua said, adding that he had found out that the oil firms had reached agreements with previous governments that exempted them from paying tax in breach of the law.

Exxon Mobil stands by its earlier statement that it “pays all its taxes and royalties in accordance with the law,” Yemi Fakayejo, the company’s spokesman in Nigeria said by phone today when asked to comment on Yar’Adua’s remarks. Shell’s Nigeria spokesman Precious Okolobo could not be immediately reached on his mobile phone when called by Bloomberg News today.

Proposed Meeting

To deal with insurgency in the oil-producing Niger Delta, the government plans to hold a meeting with representatives of all communities in the region, including the armed militants, Yar’Adua said.

The Nigerian leader said he expects the meeting to provide recommendations on acceptable solutions to the region’s problems. It must also find ways of stopping of criminal gangs from selling stolen crude oil to tankers offshore, he said.

“You have within the nation criminals stealing crude oil that is loaded into barges and taken to the high seas to supply tankers which pay millions of dollars and also supply them arms,” he said.

To contact the reporter on this story: Dulue Mbachu via the Johannesburg bureau on [email protected].

Last Updated: May 30, 2008 07:33 EDT

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