February  23,  2016

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President Muhammadu Buhari, in a bid to crash oil glut and push oil prices high, on Monday, February 22, left for Saudi Arabia and Qatar where he will engage King Salman Bin Abdulaziz Al Saud and Senior officials of Saudi kingdom.

According to his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina, the President will focus on the “Ongoing efforts by Nigeria and other members of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, OPEC, to achieve greater stability in the price of oil exports”.

Other areas of engagement include; meetings with heads of international financial organizations and multilateral associations before going on to Doha, where he will also visit Medina and Mecca to pray for greater peace, prosperity and progress in Nigeria.

Meanwhile, oil price in recent times has been rising on a snail pace as the world’s two largest oil producers, Saudi Arabia and Russia had last week, agreed to keep oil output at January levels, which will assist in preventing further decline in oil prices. However, the ability to compel other oil producing countries to key into the idea, so far has proved abortive.

As at Monday, February 22, Brent oil price appreciated by $1.49 representing 4.5 per cent at $34.50 a barrel, while US crude (WTI) futures rose above $31 a barrel, gaining $1.95, or 6.6 per cent, to $31.59 a barrel.

Buhari’s visit to Saudi Arabia which is aimed at forming an alliance, to achieve greater oil stability has been a bone of contention among political watchdogs.

Nevertheless, analysts have argued that such move might meet a dead lock as Buhari and the Saudi authorities are in the black book of the Iranians who had vowed to push a million barrels per day into an already saturated market after years of western sanction.

It should be recalled that Iran and Saudi Arabia have been locked in an escalating dispute over Saudi’s execution of a leading Shia cleric, Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr.

Late Sheikh Nimr, was a vocal supporter of the mass anti-government protests that erupted in the Eastern Province in 2011, where a Shia majority had long complained of marginalization.

Iran had threatened that Saudi Arabia would pay a “high price” for the execution.
This dispute has affected the Shia and Sunni Islam foreign policies with both sides forming alliances with countries who share their theologies, and backing militant groups in those that don’t.

Unfortunately, Buhari has been cut up in the web. Ideally he should have willingly stopped over in Iran to discuss his mission, but the military clash with the Iranian-backed Shia group (Islamic Movement of Nigeria) and its leader, Ibrahim Zakzaky in Zaria, Kaduna state last December has put paid to the possibility of a détente with President Hassan Rouhani and the Ayatollahs of Iran.

Also, without Iran and even Iraq on their side, Nigeria may have to wait a bit longer before oil prices reach levels sufficient to improve revenues.


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