Nigeria targets global oil leadership with OPEC secretary-general candidacy
Nigeria is working to consolidate its status at the head of the global oil market by pushing for its oil minister to lead Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC).
Nigeria recently overtook South Africa as the biggest economy in Africa, and Nigeria appears to be set on consolidating its position on the global stage.
Now, it appears the next step is to develop its reputation using its plentiful natural resources, as news has emerged the country is pushing its own oil minister for a leadership role in the world’s major oil organisation.
The Nigerian delegation to the Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) summit in Vienna this week has put forward Diezani Alison-Madueke as a candidate to become secretary-general. If she is approved by the other major oil producers that make up the organisation, she will become the first woman ever to hold the post.
Her appointment would mark the end of a long-running leadership dispute at the head of the powerful body. Libyan Abdalla Salem el-Badri, who currently serves as secretary-general, was meant to step down in late 2012, but is in fact still leading the organisation because members have not been able to settle on a replacement acceptable to all parties.
Squabbling over who should actually take up the role is often a key issue at OPEC meetings, the Wall Street Journal reports, even to the point of overshadowing the major issue of oil output that delegations are sent to discuss.
OPEC countries collectively account for a third of all global oil production, and therefore work together to restrain output when necessary to prevent prices dropping too low.
The role of the secretary-general provides scope for mediating when there is disagreement on what the new quota should be, though the post-holder doesn’t actually have a vote.
Mrs Alison-Madueke is a controversial figure in Nigeria, having struggled to shake off allegations of corruption. But it is likely that the biggest obstacle Nigeria faces is opposition from Middle Eastern countries, with Saudi Arabia and Iran both having forwarded their own candidates.
The position is mostly ceremonial, although Mrs Alison-Madueke will have to step down as oil minister if her campaign proves successful. But it does provide a platform and focus the world’s attention on the country whose candidate holds the job. In many ways, leading OPEC is more of a means for Nigeria to consolidate its position as a world leader in oil production.