Nigeria is pushing the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries to name the Petroleum minister, Mrs Diezani Alison-Madueke as its secretary-general, people familiar with the matter said yesterday, a move that could end a long-running leadership standoff at the cartel.
According to a report by Wall Street Journal, Nigeria’s delegation at OPEC has put Petroleum Minister Diezani Alison-Madueke forward as a contender for the group’s top job, OPEC delegates said. If approved by the organization’s other members, she would be the first woman to lead the group.
If Alison-Madueke is appointed Secretary-General of OPEC, it implies she will exit her current position as Nigeria’s Minister of Petroleum, because the OPEC position is a full-time job with its office in Vienna, Austria.
Nigeria is proposing to put her nomination as secretary-general on the agenda of OPEC’s semiannual meeting slated for today. In recent days, Mrs. Alison-Madueke has met oil ministers from Iraq, Libya and the United Arab Emirates, according to delegates.
Her delegation has also approached Iran and Saudi Arabia, these delegates said.
Asked by a reporter if Nigeria had put her name forward as a candidate to head OPEC, Mrs. Alison-Madueke said “that would be wonderful…I don’t know anything about that.” But Iraqi Oil Minister Abdul Kareem Luaiby said she had raised the issue of her candidacy during a meeting earlier Tuesday. “We were surprised by this subject,” he said.
OPEC’s current secretary-general, Libyan Abdalla Salem el-Badri, was due to retire at the end of 2012. But OPEC delegates haven’t so far agreed on a replacement, and he continues to serve in the post. While the job is largely ceremonial, it is highly coveted as it provides a platform on the global economic stage for the country that holds it.
Inside the organization, 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. OPEC members produce one out of every three barrels of oil consumed in the world and tailor output to keep prices robust, but not so high that they encourage a shift among consumers to alternative sources of energy.
The secretary-general doesn’t have an official vote in those decisions, but can act to broker compromise among members. [WSJ]