The Nigeria Natural Resource Charter (NNRC) has undertaken a series of engagements with the media to demystify the petroleum sector by improving the understanding and coverage of several key aspects of the petroleum sector. These engagements form part of a continuous effort by the NNRC to increase transparency to enable an informed Nigerian public hold their decision and policy makers accountable. The focus of these engagements was aimed at improving media coverage on sector issues and clarifying the linkages between the sector policies and reforms and the lives of the Nigerian people. The series of engagements took place from July to September, 2018. The first in a series was a comprehensive Media Training on the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIBs) by the drafters of the bills which took place on Thursday, July 18th, 2018 in Abuja, Federal Capital Territory breaking down the contents of the Petroleum Industry Bills (PIBs) in detail and the status of the Bills.
According to the NNRC, this Training is against the backdrop that the Petroleum Industry Governance Bill (PIGB) which has already been assented to by the National Assembly would be assented the president. Thus the need to get the media on the train so they will be in a better position to understand the intricacies of the bills to enable them communicate their contents effectively to their readers/petroleum sector stakeholders.
Following the earlier training on the Petroleum Industry Bills was another which focused on enhancing the coverage of crude oil theft in Nigeria. This Training which took place on the 30th of August, 2018, in Abuja, Nigeria, had in attendance participants drawn from the political, business, financial beats of the Nigerian media. It also had energy correspondents in attendance.
As part of the event, participants were first presented with the research findings commissioned by the NNRC on crude oil sector losses in Nigeria, and its overall negative impacts on the Nigerian economy in particular and the country’s socio-economic development in general. The report focused on the consequences of weak governance structures on the Nigerian economy and the Nigerian people. It also provides credible information on revenue losses from oil theft and its impact on the economy and the average Nigerian.
The Report on Crude Oil Theft in Nigeria earlier established that the estimated value of crude oil stolen from the Niger Delta region of the country was higher than the current combined allocations for health and education captured in the 2018 budget. The Report equally highlighted that the combined allocations for health and education which amount to N189.4 billion translates to a mere 8.4 per cent of the estimated value of losses from oil theft two years ago. The NNRC hope the Media should help amplify the inherent dangers occasioned by crude oil theft and enjoined it to urge the federal government to address the issue of oil theft with the urgent attention it deserved and intervene with more effective action. With the theft of an estimated 400,000 barrels of oil per day, equating to a revenue loss of about $1.7 billion a month and $20.4 billion annually, Nigeria currently tops the list of countries most plagued by oil theft in the world.
A second wave of media engagements embarked upon by the NNRC was themed “The Impact of Petroleum Sector Reforms on Nigeria’s Economy”. This phase involved all genres of the media for effective coverage of the industry and ensuring that no gap is left in an effort to get a committed buy-in and commitment of the media in projecting and propagating developments within the Nigerian oil and gas industry. It was a three day event which kick-started on the 19th of September till the 21st of September. To facilitate the event, NNRC brought together a team of experts in the oil and gas industry, government and nongovernmental organizations to engage the media on the issues plaguing Nigeria’s oil and gas industry. The agenda had facilitators take participants through several aspects of the industry vis-à-vis the country’s socio-political system.
A similar Training for Energy Correspondents took place on the 21st September, 2018. The focus of the engagements was on the Impact of Petroleum Sector Reforms on Nigeria’s Economy. The agenda had facilitators take participants through several aspects of the industry vis-à-vis the economy such as the socio-Economic Analysis of the Petroleum Sector, Path to Petroleum Sector Reforms and the Role of the Media in Advocating for Petroleum Sector Reforms.
The NNRC, recognizing the very influential role being played by the new media (Social Media) across the world especially in this digitilised age, and the gap they fill, took a decision to engage that genre of the Nigerian media because they form a band of very influential sector of the society. The event which took place on the 19th of September was to ensure that every crack on efforts by NNRC aimed at sensitizing Nigerians on petroleum sector issues are effectively actualized. The event took participants through various aspects of petroleum sector reforms proposals and challenges with topics such as The Oil Sector: Impact and Benefits on the Nigerian Economy & Nigerians, Reforming the Obstinate: Impediments and the Journey thus far, Upstream, Midstream and Downstream: Focal Areas and Role of SMI’s in Advocating for Petroleum Sector Reforms in Nigeria.
The engagement with Political, Business and Financial Media Reporters which took place on the 20th of September, 2018, focused on topics such as How to Deliver Reforms, Venezuela or Norway: Socio-Economic Analysis of the Petroleum Sector ,Looking Ahead: Path to Petroleum Sector Reforms and the Role of the Media in Advocating for Petroleum Sector Reforms while that of the Energy Correspondents on the 21st of September had Energy Correspondents from across major news outlets in the country for a highly productive engagement which focused on topics such as The State of the Nigerian Petroleum Sector: Governance, Benefits to Nigerians, Global Competitiveness, Political Economy Analysis of Petroleum Sector Governance ,Constraints to Petroleum Sector Reforms in Nigeria, The Impact of No Reforms on the Nigerian Economy (Venezuela as a Case Study) and Path to Petroleum Sector Reform.