Here’s what Dr. Emmanuel Kachikwu, the newly appointed president of OPEC, needs to tackle first

Nigeria’s minister for state petroleum, Dr. Emmanuel Ibe Kachikwu has been appointed to replace the immediate past petroleum minister, Diezani Alison-Madueke as the Conference president of the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC). He was appointed amidst speculations that President Mohammed Buhari as the Minister for Petroleum, would take up this position.

Following this appointment, Dr. Ibe Kachikwu is the conference president of OPEC, Group Managing Director of the NNPC and Nigeria’s Minister for state petroleum, which means extra responsibility at a time when the world is experiencing a decline in oil prices. Despite admitting that his first summit at the helm on Friday is going to be a “trying meeting”, huge tasks awaits him.

Falling oil prices are sensitive to the organization which calls for greater urgency and sharp-witted leadership. As the new president of OPEC, he must focus on the world energy and market stability in mind of the quota oil revenue contributes to the economies of member countries.

The new OPEC president has to mediate with Iran, Venezuela, and Saudi Arabia, among other member countries that plan to sell oil at the highest possible price in a bid to control prices and dominate the world oil market. He needs to encourage the organisation to speak in one voice under his leadership for the next year.

The relevance of OPEC has been questioned in years past. Dr. Kachikwu is faced with the task of sustaining the importance of OPEC. OPEC currently produces 40 percent of world’s crude oil but needs to establish a good relationship with non- OPEC oil producing countries in the world like Russia, Brazil and Mexico to stabilise the price of oil.

Furthermore, he should encourage all OPEC members, including Nigeria, to reduce their dependence on oil and prioritise the development of other sources of revenue. According to the International Energy Agency (IEA), the continued fall in oil prices will have a strong impact on countries reliant on oil revenue. For example, Venezuela depends on oil for 95 percent of its export revenue and is on the verge of political and economic fallout.

Dr. Ibe Kachikwu assumes office as the OPEC president at a point when the world oil-market is in a tricky situation and requires good decision making. He is expected to justify himself in this new position coupled with his responsibilities as Nigeria’s minister for state petroleum and the general managing director of the NNPC.

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