The federal government has nominated the Minister of Petroleum Resources, Mrs. Diezani Alison-Madueke, to succeed the long-serving incumbent Abdullah al-Badri as the Secretary-General of the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), Iraq's oil minister said Tuesday.
The proposal is aimed at solving the deadlock over the post created by opposing candidates from Saudi Arabia and Iran, Abdul Kareem Luaibi was quoted by the Reuters news agency as stating.
Luaibi added that Iraq continues to back its own candidate, and the issue remained unresolved. Badri's latest term in the office ends in December.
If the Nigerian candidacy is successful, Alison-Madueke would be OPEC’s first female to hold the post and would have to relinquish her post as the petroleum minister.
However, she will not be the first Nigerian to hold the post, as former Petroleum Minister, Dr. Rilwanu Lukman, held the post for six years.
THISDAY also gathered that the decision to forward Alison-Maduke’s name has been in the pipeline since December last year when she was elected OPEC’s Alternate President in Vienna, Austria.
A source in the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) said the minister had been weighing the possibility of throwing her hat into the ring for the post of secretary-general since last year.
Presidency sources also confirmed that if she succeeds, it would be the perfect exit strategy for the minister who has been mired in several controversies.
He added that her exit is deemed by the presidency as a “soft landing” for the minister and would appease those who have clamoured for her removal from the cabinet.
“Madam has been considering the post of secretary-general for sometime now. That is why her name was forwarded by the federal government, and it is likely that other OPEC member countries will back her nomination,” he said.
He explained that the minister departed Abuja for Vienna on Monday.
In recent days, he added, the minister and the Nigerian delegation have met oil ministers from Iraq, Libya, Iran, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates to get their support.
Inside the organisation, jockeying for the top job is often more heated than the debate over OPEC's bigger mission-setting the group's quota for oil output.
The secretary-general does not have an official vote in these decisions, but can act to broker compromise among members.
OPEC members are scheduled to meet today in Vienna on the body’s production ceiling of 30 million barrels per day.