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NIGERIA - Part 4 - The Decision Makers.

The hydrocarbon sector in Nigeria now is controlled by a civilian government which came to power shortly after elected President Olusegun Obasanjo was sworn in at Abuja, the capital, on May 29, 1999. The man in charge of oil policy is Rilwanu Lukman, Obasanjo's top energy advisor, who has been a key force behind OPEC's current price defence strategy.

Before Obasanjo - a former military leader - came to power the hydrocarbon sector and the other vital segments of Nigeria's economy were controlled by military governments. Successive regimes had squandered over $280 bn of oil revenues in the past 25 years.

The last civilian administration came to power in 1979, as then head of state Gen. Obasanjo ended his military rule. The 1979 presidential elections were won by a mild-mannered former civil servant, Shehu Shagari, who promised to end corruption and the mismanagement of Nigeria's vast resources. But his government turned out to be a disaster. Corruption and mismanagement brought it down four years later, as the military again took over in 1983 and stayed in power until May 1999.

Under the military regimes, the oil decision making process was unstable. Most oil deals used to go through people connected to the military in one way or another. There used to be numerous administrative changes in the oil ministry, the Nigerian National Petroleum Corp. (NNPC) and the other institutions.

Olusegun Obasanjo: Elected to a four-year term as President of the Republic on Feb. 27, 1999, Obasanjo has also retained the hydrocarbon portfolio to himself. A military man turned world politician, he has no direct experience in the petroleum industry. He has put experienced figures in charge of this sector. Through them he takes all the important decisions (see profiles below).

There are controversial but very powerful men behind Obasanjo, however, and these are led by former military dictator Ibrahim Babangida. It was thanks to Babangida that Obasanjo was released from prison on June 15, 1998, and later became the strongest candidate to the presidency (see the political leadership & background in Downstream Trends).

Obasanjo's close aides in charge of the petroleum sector are trying to establish a good working relationship with the foreign oil companies which are NNPC's partners in the main oil producing ventures. Led by Shell's local CEO, these companies' representatives in Nigeria have a number of concerns and want Obasanjo's administration to address them quickly (see profiles of the foreign CEOs in Gas Market Trends).
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Publication:APS Review Oil Market Trends
Date:Aug 23, 1999
Previous Article:TUNISIA - The TransMed Gas System.
Next Article:TURKEY - Part 1 - The Prospects.

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