The Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo yesterday said he has not declared interest in the 2023 presidential election.

Rather, he said he was more focused on carrying out functions expected of him as the vice president, especially in tackling the nation’s security challenges and improving the economy.

Osinbajo made the clarification in the wake of the release of campaign style promotional videos, banners on social media and even the deployment of political posters in some parts of the country, including the FCT and Kano, insinuating that he had joined the 2023 presidential race.

Osinbajo’s spokesman, Laolu Akande, in a statement explained: “The Office of the Vice President is not in any way connected with the distribution and deployment of any 2023 political posters whether on the streets or in online videos, banners and the like on the social media. “All these are simply needless distractions from the urgent tasks of governance needed in our country at this time.

“Prof. Osinbajo has not declared any interest whatsoever in the 2023 election, but he is rather focused on working in his capacity as vice president in the current administration to address all the compelling issues in the country and concerns of Nigerians, including finding effective and lasting solutions to the security challenges and working to further boost the economy.

“Therefore, we ask that people desist from such publications while we all deal together with the challenges confronting us as Nigerians, and resolve them for the benefit of our people, and the enthronement of peace and prosperity in the land.”

Meanwhile, the Vice President yesterday assured that the Petroleum Industry Act (PIA) that was recently enacted as well ongoing gas initiatives in the country will help transform the country into a gas-based industrialised nation.

In an address delivered at a virtual event to commemorate the 25th anniversary of Sahara Energy Group, Osinbajo noted that it would also create a better managed petroleum industry with more value addition for both investors and Nigerians alike.

President Muhammadu Buhari signed the bill into law last week, and has further approved a steering committee to oversee the process of implementation of the new legislation.

The government currently has the Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) initiative being developed into an alternative automobile fuel as a means of making available to Nigerians cheaper and cleaner fuel to reduce ecological and economic costs of energy.

Added to that is the gas master plan which provides for investment in necessary infrastructure for gas transportation across the nation, all of which would reduce local crude oil dependency, whilst strengthening the drive for cleaner sources of energy.

In November last year, the National Gas Expansion Programme (NGEP) was launched to focus on the distribution of CNG and Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG) across gas stations operated by the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC).

“Locally, we launch into the brave new world for the oil and gas industry with the Petroleum Industry Act 2021. And this happily converges with the launch of the Year 2020 to 2030 as the ‘Decade of Gas Development’ for Nigeria. This is a follow-up to the highly successful initiative of the year 2020 as the Year of Gas.

“The main goal of the passage of the PIB and the gas initiatives aforementioned is to transform Nigeria not only into a gas-based industrialised nation through enhanced accelerated gas revolution, but also to help create a better managed petroleum industry where both the people of Nigeria and investors alike can extract value,” Osinbajo said.

While commending Sahara Group for its giant strides, the vice president noted that the next 25 years would be defining for the energy industry, adding that the group has demonstrated, “bold, innovative, knowledge-driven business models that are designed to seize opportunities in other countries”

Osinbajo reiterated the need for a just transition to zero-emission, as well as more advocacy to stop the defunding of gas and fossil fuel projects in developing countries.

“Already, the wealthier nations and their institutions have banned all public investments in certain fossil projects, including natural gas.

“Examples include the European Union (EU), the United Kingdom, Germany and Denmark, as well as specific institutions such as the Swedfund from Sweden, Norway’s Sovereign Wealth Fund, the largest in the world, the development finance institution from the UK, the European Investment Bank, and the Investment Fund for Developing Countries from Denmark.

“The World Bank and other multilateral development banks are being urged by their shareholders to do the same. The African Development Bank (AfDB) is increasingly unable to support large natural gas projects in the face of shareholder pressure from their European members.

“Barely two weeks ago, the UN secretary general made a strong call, that countries should end all new fossil fuel exploration and production, and shift fossil fuel subsidies into renewable energy,” he lamented.

The VP disclosed that while the federal government was building coalition with other affected countries to push for a just transition to zero carbon emission, indigenous energy companies such as Sahara Group could join in the urgent advocacy that is required to prevent the disaster that would result from defunding oil and gas projects.

He noted that the last two decades have brought significant growth for Nigerian oil companies from the days when they used to invest mainly in the downstream sector to a situation now where they operate in the downstream, midstream and the upstream.

“Nigerian companies have shown capacity in operations and financing of oil and gas assets. Within this group of patriotic local investors, Sahara has consistently blazed the trail as industry leaders in not just the petroleum sector, but in the power sector as well,” he added.

While congratulating the company on its 25 years of successful operation, the vice president urged the group and other indigenous energy companies to take advantage of the opportunities offered by the African Continental Free Trade Agreements (AfCFTA)

Other speakers at the event included the President of the Democratic Republic of Congo, Mr. Felix Tshisekedi and President of the AfDB, Dr. Akinwumi Adesina, while guests included the Director General of the Bureau of Public Enterprises, Mr. Alex Okoh, among others.

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