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The Nigerian vice-president has been named Acting President as the government moves to stem fears associated with the absence of President Muhammadu Buhari amid a struggle get oil industry corruption and militant attacks under control.
On Friday, Nigerian media reported that Buhari, who has been out of the country for a month for medical treatment, appointed Vice President Yemi Osinbajo as Acting President in what journalists are calling an attempt to create a sense of normalcy and reduce uncertainty.
Buhari’s ‘disappearance’ and rumors about his whereabouts and health were reminiscent of the fate of another Nigerian President, Umaru Musa Yar’Adua, who died in office after extended medical treatment abroad, which the government attempted to conceal at the time.
Buhari is reportedly on extended medical leave in the United Kingdom.
While Nigerians are concerned about what happens with their incumbent president, a government official told Reuters:
“In this present scenario this is not the case. No vacuum was left because President Buhari sent a letter to the National Assembly.”
The website of the Nigerian presidency has published photographs of Buhari receiving Nigerian Senate representatives in London on February 15, and both the Nigerian administration and the White House published statements on Wednesday that President Donald Trump spoke with Buhari on the phone this week.
While Nigeria is getting to grips with its domestic political situation, it is also trying to overcome corruption and militancy that had long stifled its oil industry.
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Nigeria lost up to US$100 billion in unearned oil income last year, due to the militant attacks in the Niger Delta, Petroleum Minister Emmanuel Kachikwu said in a video posted on Facebook earlier this week.
At the highest point of militant attacks last year, Nigeria was losing 1 million barrels of oil per day. The economy was fiscally losing between US$50 billion and US$100 billion in unearned income last year as a result of oil operations disruptions, Kachikwu noted.
The latest available OPEC figures released on Monday show that Nigeria – one of the two cartel members exempt from the collective cuts together with Libya – raised its production by 101,800 bpd from December to 1.576 million bpd in January, according to secondary sources.
By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oilprice.com
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Tsvetana is a writer for Oilprice.com with over a decade of experience writing for news outlets such as iNVEZZ and SeeNews.