Why President Buhari is Qualified To Be Minister of Petroleum, By Okoi Obono-Obla
It is axiomatic that Nigeria operates the Presidential System of Government. In 1977, the Constituent Assembly convened by then Military Head of State, General Olusegun Obasanjo to debate the framework for a future Constitution for the country and the return to democratic civil rule discarded the Westminster parliamentary system (which the country inherited from the United Kingdom at independence in 1960) and adopted a Presidential System modelled after American style of Presidentialism.
Consequently, the 1979 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria adopted the Presidential System of Government with the President vested with the executive authority of the Federation as both the Head of State and Government. The same position is applicable to the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended).
Let me try to define what a Presidential System of government in a simple manner is so that everyone reading this essay will understand and appreciate. A Presidential System of government is a system of government where the Head of Government is also the Head of State and leads an Executive Arm of Government that is separate from the Legislative Arm. Under the Nigerian Constitution, the President is the Head of State, the Chief Executive of the Federation and Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces of the Federation. He is the repository of the executive authority of the Federation.
On the other hand, there are two other Arms of Government namely the Legislative and the Judicial Arms or Branches. The President and any member of the Executive branch of government is barred by the Constitution from belonging to either the Legislative or Judicial Arm of government. Conversely, any member of the National Assembly that is appointed a Minister must first resign his or her membership of the National Assembly in order to take up the ministerial appointment. Ministers are appointed by the President subject to the confirmation of the Senate. So there is nothing in the Constitution barring President Muhammadu Buhari from appointing himself the Minister of Petroleum Resources.
The position canvassed by some people that it is Unconstitutional for President Buhari to appoint himself Minister of Petroleum Resources is therefore curious. There is even a precedent in the country. During the Obasanjo Presidency (1999 – 2007), the Minister of Petroleum Resources was President Olusegun Obasanjo himself. It goes without saying that constitutionally and otherwise President Buhari is eminently qualified to be the Minister of Petroleum Resources of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
President Buhari has experience spanning nearly forty years in the Oil and Gas Industry. He was a Minister of Petroleum Resources and Chairman/Chief Executive Officer of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC between 1977 to 1979 and during this period the Petroleum Industry experienced exponential and phenomenal growth ever seen in the country.
What should be of concern to Nigerians right now is if the Presidents intentions to oversee the Petroleum Industry is genuine or not.
Let’s consider the following factors:
- Do Nigerians know how many barrels of crude oil are shipped out of this country per day for refining?
- How much does a barrel of crude oil cost Nigeria to produce to enable Nigerians tally this information with the barrels shipped out of the country?