By Etuka Sunday
The push by President Goodluck Jonathan for his candidate, Mrs. Diezani Alison-Madueke, Nigeria’s Minister of Petroleum Resources, to be installed as Secretary General of the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), was yesterday given a cold-shoulder by members of the body.
Rising from its 165th meeting at its headquarters in Vienna, Austria, OPEC rather decided to extend the tenure of Abdullah al-Badri of Iraq, the current secretary general, until June, 2015, instead of the earlier expected December this year.
It would be recalled that President Jonathan on Tuesday nominated Mrs. Alison-Madueke to succeed the long-serving incumbent, al-Badri. Nigeria’s proposal, according reports, was intended to solve the deadlock over the post created by opposing candidates from Saudi Arabia and Iran.
Diezani’s name, according to reports, has been in tow since December last year when she was elected the group’s alternate president.
Unconfirmed reports said by nominating her, President Jonathan was trying to give the minister a “soft landing” since that would mark her exit from the petroleum resources ministry.
With the decision of OPEC, Diezani must have to wait for a year for a post that was held for five years by Dr. Rilwanu Lukman, one time minister of petroleum of Nigeria.
The minister is currently being investigated by the House of Representatives for allegedly spending N10 billion to charter a private jet for two years.
She has, however, made repeated attempts to foil the probe by the House. Last month, she sought an order of interim injunction restraining the House, its members, committees or agents from summoning or directing her to appear before the probe panel.
The House had commenced the investigation following a motion on March 20, 2014, that was presented by Samuel Adejare.
The motion had accused Alison-Madueke of committing about EURO 500,000 (N130 million) monthly to maintain the private jet.
She has gone back to court to challenge the House’s move, insisting that the lawmakers cannot subpoena her without the president’s approval.
The group, had at the end of the meeting, reviewed recent oil market developments and world economic growth, as presented by the secretary general, in particular supply/demand projections for the second half of the year, as well as the outlook for 2015, noting that the relative steadiness of prices during 2014 to date is an indication that the market is adequately supplied, with the periodic price fluctuations being more a reflection of geopolitical tensions than a response to fundamentals.
The meeting observed, however, that, whilst world economic growth was projected to reach 3.4 per cent in 2014, up from 2.9 per cent in 2013, downside risks to the global economy, both in the OECD and non-OECD regions, remain unchecked.
It noted, moreover, that whilst world oil demand is expected to rise from 90.0 mbpd in 2013 to 91.1 mbpd in 2014, non-OPEC supply is projected to grow by 1.4 mbpd, with OECD stock levels, in terms of days of forward demand cover, remaining comfortable.
In light of the foregoing, the oil cartel again decided that member countries should adhere to the existing production level of 30.0 mbpd.
In taking this decision, OPEC unanimously agreed that member countries would, if required, take steps to ensure market balance, which is so important to world economic activity.
Member countries, in turn, reiterated their willingness to firmly respond to developments that might jeopardize oil market stability.
The next ordinary meeting of the group has been scheduled for Thursday, November 27, 2014, in Vienna, Austria.