1. May we meet you Sir?
I am Ayodele Oni, a commercial lawyer with expertise in energy (oil, gas and electric power) law and policy. I am also a Partner and the chair of the energy practice group at Bloomfield Law Practice. Further, I teach law at the Center for Petroleum, Energy Economics and Law, University of Ibadan Nigeria. I have also been recently invited to serve as a visiting professor at the Afe Babalola University. I am married to a beautiful lady, Adetola and we have 3 children.
2. You recently published two books on “The Nigerian Electricity Market” and “Understanding Petroleum (Oil and Gas) Transactions and the Nigerian Market” , what was your motivation to publish these books?
My aim was (and remains) to bridge the gap between theoretical knowledge of oil and gas practice and electric power practice. Many energy textbooks (particularly written by Nigerians) have been written from purely theoretical perspectives. In my books, I have taken a significantly different approach in these two books, focusing not only on the laws affecting oil and gas and power, but also practical issues which arise in key transactions in these areas and how transactions can be structured in order to avoid or mitigate the effects of these issues.
3. Can you tell us more about these two books?
The first book on electricity is written from my over 15 years advising on several electric/ power sector related transactions from grid connected to off-grid projects. I look at transactional, pure legal and due diligence related issues. I have also highlighted practical issues for consumers and provided an investors’ guide for business people. The book covers almost all issues which can potentially arise in transactions in the electric power sector, from due diligence at the commencement of a transaction, financing transactions as well as key regulatory compliance issues including environmental compliance. The book also highlights the effects which the COVID-19 pandemic has had on the electric power sector in Nigeria and my outlook of the electric power sector during and post-COVID-19.
The second is a book on petroleum transactions and as the title suggests, the book covers issues in the petroleum sector from due diligence, acquisitions, divestments and project development in both the upstream, midstream and downstream sectors. As stated above, it highlights both the theoretical legal issues which affect these transactions, as well as practical issues which will be faced and must be addressed during each stage of transactions. The book also looks at recent policy changes in Nigeria and their potential effect on the petroleum sector, including the most recent version of the PIB(Petroleum Industry Bill) The petroleum text also details creative ways to raise finance and reviews the most recent financing modes used by the NNPC.
Each book is more than 500 pages and is rich with the latest information in the energy sector. Both books will blow anyone’s mind!
4. Considering the fact that there are many books out there in the areas of Oil and Gas as well as Electricity transactions in Nigeria, can you tell us a specific gap in knowledge which your ground breaking publication fills?
Practical, transactional knowledge which other books do not provide. I dare say there is no book in Nigeria like any of my texts.
5. On the Electricity sector, do you think we need reforms?
Yes, significant reforms are required in the electric sector. Whilst NERC has made significant strides in this area by increasing tariffs and implement service-reflective tariffs, there is a need to significantly improve the revenue collection by distribution companies, increase the rollout of meters to customers and reduce electricity theft. There is also a need to unbundle the Transmission Company of Nigeria into an Independent System Operator (“ISO”) and a transmission service provider.
6. Most of the developed world countries are diversifying their energy infrastructure to champion minimal to zero reliance on Crude Oil. For instance The UK projects to stop carbon emissions by the year 2030 by use only electric cars, should this be a concern to Nigeria? What is the Energy sector re-positioning to surmount this phase?
Naturally the foregoing should be sources of concern especially when you look at the investment Saudi is making in the renewable energy space. Energy transition is an issue we need to detail in Nigeria and determine what our own local solution will be. Really, we could transition to gas first and then subsequently to renewable energy service.
7. Coming up with these books must have been demanding considering that you are a Partner at Bloomfield Law Practice, a top–tier full service commercial law firm in Nigeria, how were you able to manage your research, work, and personal life?
I had been writing the books for up to 7 years, so a lot of research had already been done. Beyond that, I got a community of young bright people, to also help.
8. What has your experience in legal practice been like and what advice do you have to young and upcoming lawyers in choosing their career path?
My experience has been great with a good measure of the Grace of God. I have won several awards and advised on some of the biggest deals in the market. I am also an adjunct lecturer at the University of Ibadan and a Visiting Professor at the Afe Babalola University, teaching law and policy, something I enjoy doing. As you are also aware, I had written 2 books before now.
My advice to young and upcoming lawyers in choosing their career path is to first gain knowledge in a diverse area of legal practice in their first few years of practice, before specializing. As the book will show, many transactions will involve a wide range of niche legal areas including financing, taxation, general corporate law. Whilst lawyers need not be experts in each of these areas, it is nonetheless essential for them to have working knowledge of these areas to advise clients appropriately. To do this, lawyers must dedicate a significant portion of their time to conducting legal research and keeping up to date with key transactions occurring in the market and the issues which have arisen in them.
Additionally, networking is also a very important factor in helping lawyers choose and advance their legal careers.
Thanks for having me!
Catch UP Media & Publicity Team.