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Bold vision promises new dawn for Nigeria’s ailing petrochemical industry

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Estimated to hold 37 billion barrels of proven oil reserves, Nigeria is the second biggest oil-rich country in Africa, after Libya. The exploitation of these resources has been in the hands of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) that was established in 1977 as a merger of the Nigerian National Oil Corporation and the Federal Ministry of Mines and Steel. NNPC by law manages the joint venture between the Nigerian Government and international oil companies such as Shell, Agip, ExxonMobil, Total and Chevron.

Despite its rich resources, at present Nigeria’s state-dominated oil industry is declining, afflicted by systemic corruption, starved for international investment, and hit hard by weak oil prices. Despite that malaise, oil remains the country’s chief source of income.

A choice of paths

What many considered a watershed moment for the industry occurred earlier this year in the country’s election with two conflicting strategies for the development of the industry put forward by the two candidates.

The incumbent, Muhammadu Buhari’s planned to retain a nationalized oil industry under the NNPC banner while the vision of his opponent, Atiku Abubakar, was to sell off aging refineries to private buyers to liberalise the economy. In the end Buhari won a tight contest.

The importance of the oil and gas sector for the state cannot be underestimated with more than half of its revenue along with 85 per cent of its export revenue coming from the sector. Despite the 40 billion barrels of oil under its control, Nigeria’s ageing infrastructure can only produce around 2.5 million barrels of crude oil per day.

Adding to this malady is the state of its mid-stream and downstream infrastructure that many believe is in even worse condition than its upstream assets.  The refineries dotted around the Niger Delta region are at present producing less than half of the 500,000 barrel per day capacity, with this figure dropping to almost ten per cent late last year.

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New beginnings for NNPC

The man charged with implementing the president’s policy is Mallam Mele Kolo Kyari, who took on the role of group managing director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) early this year. He quickly vowed to reverse the trend of petroleum imports into Nigeria by improving the existing refineries and encouraging private sector investment in the refineries.

“We must end the trend of fuel importation as an oil producing country,” he said at a press conference shortly after taking on the role. “We will deliver on the rehabilitation of the four refineries within the life of this administration and support the private sector to build refineries. We will support the Dangote refinery to come on stream on schedule and we will transform Nigeria into a net exporter of petroleum products by 2023”.

He added that the government’s target of raising crude oil production and reserves to three million barrels per day and 40 billion barrels respectively was possible and that he would galvanise the corporation to achieve it by 2023.

When it comes to rooting out the corruption that has plagued the industry in Nigeria he pointed out how much NNPC had changed over the past three years from the old image of a corruption-laden organisation, stressing that he would continue to entrench the culture of accountability in the affairs of the corporation.

“We are going to work to remove every element of discretion from our processes, because discretion is one of the greatest enablers of corruption”, he said. “NNPC will not be opaque, we’ll be transparent to all so that at the end of the day everyone will be in a position to assess us and say what we have done right or wrong”.

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Support from OPEC

The Secretary General of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), Mohammed Sanusi Barkindo, has commended the NNPC for its ongoing reforms aimed at changing the fortunes of the corporation for the better.

“I am glad that you continue to march on with your projects despite the downturn in the Industry, he said. “We have seen the Industry globally suffer in terms of contraction in investment which affected capacity. You have not only been able to stay on course, but you also continue with these projects which are critical for the development of the corporation and the industry in Nigeria.”

“To lead such a sensitive and capital-intensive industry like oil and gas, you must have transparency and accountability as one of your core principles in order to drive change. I am glad I have known Mele Kyari for a very long time. He is a very capable and straightforward individual with a high level of integrity even as a very junior officer. So, he has a track record. I remain confident that together with his team, and with the support of government, he will accomplish the task”.

Building a Nigerian giant

Key to this strategy of reducing imports is the Dangote refinery that is under construction near Lagos. The 650,000 barrels per day (bpd) integrated refinery and petrochemical project will be Africa’s biggest oil refinery and the world’s biggest single-train facility upon completion in 2020. The facility will be able to process a variety of light and medium grades of crude to produce Euro-V quality clean fuels including gasoline and diesel as well as jet fuel and polypropylene.

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Nigeria in focus at Africa Oil Week

Relations between South Africa and Nigeria have been strained in recent months after several days of riots in South Africa in September that mainly targeted foreign-owned, including Nigerian, businesses.

But following a visit to South Africa by Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari tensions have eased. A further sign of the improving relationship is the visit of Nigeria’s Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Timipre Sylva, to Africa Oil Week (Africa-OilWeek.com), the minister proclaiming himself being excited to be travelling to South Africa.

As the largest upstream event on the continent, Africa Oil Week has enjoyed attendance from the industry’s highest-level decision makers for over 25 years. This year is no different, with Nigeria’s brand new NPCC GMD making his international debut at the 2019 conference in Cape Town this November (4-8).

Mallam Melee Kyari will be setting out the future vision of the NNPC under his leadership and participating in a session titled ‘Atlantic Transform Margin (Liberia to Nigeria)’, where he will provide a deep insight into the current operating landscape in some of the most highly sought-after regions.

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National Issues

Abacha loot: Mai Gaskiya, can you see your world in the open? |  By Festus Adedayo

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late General Sani Abacha

Profound apologies that I chose to do a literal translation of Yoruba into English in the above headline. Can you see your world in the open is a direct translation of the Yoruba se o r’aye e l’ode? It’s deployed at a moment of extreme let-down, incomparable frustration, an intersection where a misdemeanor has absolutely ridiculed and discredited the person in question.

The heist of the late General Sani Abacha, stashed away in different countries of the world, that are coming in droves back to the country, is my subject.

This was a heist which the self-same Nigerian president, Muhammadu Buhari, had persistently denied as non-existent, literally beatifying his late benefactor, Sani Abacha, as above board.

Excluding tranches of the loot recently returned to Nigeria, the countryside’s has, in the past 18 years, recovered $4.6 billion (1.4trn) of her treasury looted by Abacha. While the United States Embassy in Nigeria recently announced the sum of $319m (N121bn) loot repatriated from the United Kingdom and France and handed back to Nigeria, this repatriated fund was different from one of about a week ago where the sum of $311 million Abacha loot from the US and the Bailiwick of Jersey were also funneled back into the country.

In a statement last week, the embassy said: “The funds returned last week are distinct and separate from an additional $167m in stolen assets also forfeited in the United Kingdom and France, as well as $152m still in active litigation in the United Kingdom.”

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At every point of the looted funds’ repatriation to Nigeria, these countries where the looted funds were earlier domiciled diplomatically but unambiguously made it known that they do not trust Nigerian leaders not to re-loot the looted funds. In fact, their trenchant shouts while returning the funds are revelatory of their disposition.

The one of February, 2020 even came with the caveat and a tripartite agreement signed by Nigeria with the US government and the Bailiwick of Jersey that upon the return of the money, it would be spent on specific infrastructure projects, to wit the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway, Second Niger Bridge and the Abuja-Kano Expressway.

 At another point, there were frenetic moves by the US and United Kingdom governments against the plan of the Nigerian government to gift Abubakar Atiku Bagudu, Kebbi State governor, who was alleged to be an enabler and accomplice of the laundered money, the sum of $110 million out of the recovered funds.

Recently too, a warning came from the United States Justice Department that, should Nigeria fail to spend the repatriated funds on the agreed public projects, she would refund the money.

I don’t know if you know that these veiled threats didn’t come without an underlining perception or intelligence reports about our government’s disposition to public funds in its care. Nigerian governments, the so-called Mai Gaskiya’s inclusive, are known to the globe to be rapaciously corrupt, adding to this corruption medal another medallion of shamelessness. The way the globe polices monies that are Nigeria’s but stolen by a Nigerian despot of incomparable filching mentality, is embarrassingly unprecedented. Can Mai Gaskiya see his world in the open is the most fitting epithet to describe this shamelessness

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COVID-19: Time to go Madagascar | By Festus Adedayo

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Like many other societies in the world, Africa boasts of a past that is ambivalent, a mixture of the good, the bad and the ugly. She had villains, despots, tyrants, developmental leaders and all sorts as rulers. As she had a ruthless hero in leader of the Zulu Kingdom, Shaka kaSenzangakhona, better known as Shaka the Zulu, who reigned from 1816 to 1828, so also did Africa have 16th century notorious Basorun Gaa of the old Oyo Empire Army (Oyo Ile).

 

In modern time, Africa had Ugandan Joseph Rao Kony, leader of the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), a Ugandan guerilla group. Kony was queer and weird. He proclaimed to the world that he was the spokesperson of God on earth and the spirit medium through which He could be reached. He also claimed that he was always host to thirteen multinational spirits that included a Chinese phantom.

 

He led a syncretic mix that included the usage of Christian fundamentalism, mysticism, Acholi nationalism and claimed that he was establishing a theocratic state, based on the Ten Commandments. He was subsequently indicted by the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague for the abduction of 66,000 children who were turned into child soldiers, as well as sex slaves and causing the internal displacement of two million people from 1986 to 2009.

 

This is not to talk of the Alaafin of old Oyo who ordered the head of his father-in-law brought on a platter because, while helping to scrub his back in the bathroom, his new wife had jokingly teased his limp manhood thus: “Kabiyesi, so you are this small, yet the whole world is afraid of you!”

 

Pre-colonial Africa was equally very rich. Egyptian civilization, for instance, has been held to be a major gladsome past of Africa, even from prehistoric times. Agricultural irrigation method that flourished in the deployment of the Nile for agricultural purposes, as well as Egyptian architecture are major sources of study in strides of prehistory. This is not to talk of Egyptian science of embalmment.

 

This method gained wide mention in its unique system of preserving the dead called mummification so as to achieve some measure of immortality, even in death. Deploying herbs and locally sourced chemicals, Egyptian native doctors dispossessed dead bodies of all moisture, leaving dried flesh that could not decay. With this, many Pharaohs were preserved for centuries and archaeologists claim to have excavated centuries-old bodies preserved with leaves and still effusing scents of embalmment.

 

On a visit to the Alaafin of Oyo, Oba Lamidi Adeyemi, some years ago, he told me of two scientific strides bequeathed by his forefathers. One was that of a fascinating palace environmental science wizardry. According to the Alaafin, no matter how heavy a downpour was in the palace, within a few minutes, you can never find its trace in the palace.

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There is an inscrutable and undecipherable flood control network in the palace which ensures that it can never be flooded. The palace is centuries old. The second, as told me by the Alaafin, is an African DNA system in the palace which enables an Alaafin to identify whether children born to the palace were genuinely of the monarchy. The third, as related by the revered monarch, is a potent local cure for cancer of the prostrate. The Alaafin told me that if local traditional doctors treat such a patient of prostrate, he will, in Alaafin’s words, “die with prostrate but never of it.”

 

There is no doubt that African medicine was potent and was efficient for centuries in treating sicknesses like cancer, diabetes, malaria, stroke, epilepsy, benign prostatic herperplasia, gout and all manner of ailments. Traditional African medicine involves indigenous herbalism that is many times mixed with African spirituality.

 

Its own doctors were known as diviners, herbalists and midwives. They are reputed to have cured complex ailments, even psychiatric disorders. I was a living witness to a then three-year old boy who was, seventeen years ago, treated for asthma. The local traditional doctor never came in contact with his patient. He merely asked for the presentation of this ailment which had taken the child’s parents to different orthodox hospitals without any remedy, handed them two bottles of herbal potion and in the last seventeen years, the parents have reported no manifestation of the sickness. To the best of my knowledge, Western medicine has no cure yet for asthma.

 

The recent altercation over the claimed remedy to the raging COVID-19 pandemic by the government of Madagascar was what propelled the above narratives. Madagascar, which is officially known as the Republic of Madagascar, but which before now was known as the Malagasy Republic, is an island.

 

A country in the Indian Ocean, Madagascar is said to be approximately 400 kilometres off the coast of East Africa. It is reputed to be the world’s second largest island country. As is known with all island countries, the desire for survival usually forces them to take initiatives about their existence.

 

So when Madagascar was said to have thought out of the box, not tying its fate to the fate of a world that is hopelessly bayoneted by a tiny microscopic virus which had to date killed over 200,000 people, to those who know the initiative-driven existence of island countries, they weren’t taken aback by the Madagascar innovation.

 

When the country launched Covid-Organics (CVO) which is reportedly effective in the treatment of this strange disease, it naturally raised some dusts, especially from the World Health Organization (WHO). Since the virus cast a spell on the world, killing global compatriots like chickens, Madagascar is yet to record any death, even when it had 193 cases.

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This stride has confounded the world, especially many African countries who are said to be seeking Madagascar’s intervention. Explaining how the country got to this ennobling cusp, Marcel Razanamparany, who is the President of the Academy of Medicine in Uganda, said it was an initiative of the work of Malagasy Institute of Applied Research (IMRA) researchers, who he said had conducted clinical study into herbs in the quest for a connect between modern and traditional medicine.

 

In the process of seeking cure for the coronavirus, Madagascar was reported to have made use of its biodiversity by embarking on a therapy protocol that uses an admixture of chloroquine and the antibiotic azithromycin, as well as deployment of medicinal plants. IMRA and the National Pharmacology Research Centre of Madagascar were said to have depended heavily on the usage of artemisia plants hitherto renowned for the cure of malaria.

 

Indeed, Madagascar, since 1975, was said to have begun researches into the potency of this artemisia annua, a research said to have been pioneered by a Professor Albert Rakoto Ratsimamanga. The result is that today, even when WHO is ululating over this splendid outcome, the world is giving thumbs up to Madagascar and the country is able to rescue her citizens from the pangs of coronavirus. Since then, the road to Madagascar has become the path to tread.

 

Madagascar has since introduced the native-brewed but effective medicine it christened COVID Organics to Guinea Conakry, Equatorial Guinea and Guinea-Bissau, with Tanzania about to place its order. Nigeria’s Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF) has also indicated that Nigeria might also follow suit.

WHO’s reaction to the Madagascar road that has become the path to tread, was predictable. In a statement, it warned against the use of traditional herbs by African governments, saying that as “efforts are underway to find treatment for COVID-19, caution must be taken against misinformation, especially on social media, about the effectiveness of certain remedies.”

 

No one should need to tell Africans that even though colonialism ended some decades ago, neocolonialism is still ravaging Africa. While it is true, as propounded by Italian Antonio Gramsci, that physical coercion as a system of control of man had died a natural death, control of the mind of the African has hugely deputized for physical force. And because African leaders are a bunch of simpletons who have no minds of their own, they are easy recruits into the war to enslave the minds of their people.

 

Their poverty of materials and lack of the mind have ensured that they are appendages to the west. In spite of his penchant for thieving the resources of his people, Sani Abacha was about the only Nigerian leader who called the bluff of the west and who can be compared to Andry Nirina Rajoelina, current Madagascar president. The ones before and after him appear to be mere agents of the colonizers.

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If not, a government that has a mind of its own shouldn’t be deterred by the threats of the west, especially in the quest to rescue its own people from the pangs of a global pandemic. It is apparent that finding cure to a global ailment by any common African country is an effrontery, indeed insolence by Africa against her masters. How could those black niggers who cannot fend for themselves without the help of their white slavers, be the ones to find medical rescue to the problems of the world and end a superior white race’s medical agony?

 

That would surely be racial impudence. To worsen matters, what that also means is that shipment of cash from all the nooks and crannies of a world that is in search of stoppage to this colossal death, would go to Africa. Absolutely nauseating!

 

If the Nigerian government encourages traditional medicine practitioners and departments of botany of different universities to find cure to COVID-19, I am sure remedies could be found to this fiery disease and we would jump up in the estimation of the world. Yes, traditional medicine practice has been infiltrated by mediocrities, charlatans and fraudsters, but there is still a tiny window inhabited by genuine traditional practitioners. Gladsome is the news that the Federal Government, through the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Health, Mashi Abdullahi, has directed the National Agency for Foods Drugs Administration and Control (NAFDAC) to carry out necessary procedures to assess plant-based cough mixture as a possible treatment for COVID-19.

 

Government should go a notch higher. All efforts must be made for Nigeria to follow this laudable road to Madagascar. It is a road that leads to self-sufficiency and homegrown solutions to continental and international malaises.

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COVID -19: Time to diversify Ngeria’s economy | By Abba Dukawa

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Following the collapse of crude oil prices from 2014 to date , which triggered unpleasant memories to  Nigerian government which  found itself in unchartered waters. Since then Nigeria continues to struggle to revive the economy amidst dwindling oil revenues compounded by unemployment, poverty and insecurity all due to over dependant on one major government revenue, the country   remains weak and fragile -being outstripped by population growth.

 

Who is to be blamed for this mess ?   Provocative policy of the Nigerian government is the dependence on oil resources as a source of foreign exchange earnings to the detriment of agriculture despite the fact that the country is blessed with untapped  mineral resources. With  outbreak of the coronavirus, which has puts global economy in uncertainty again, Nigeria’s economy is being caught in the cross-hairs.

 

Nigeria the so called  Africa’s largest economy cannot currently fund its budget due to Covid – 19 because the budget passed with a benchmark oil price of $57 per barrel—nearly double its current price of around  $28, knowing fully well that the government relies heavily on petrodollars. It is now unarguably, the collapse of oil prices not only pose a strategic danger to the global economy but it has been danger to Nigeria’s economy development and also a  catalyst behind national  domestic predicaments.

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Absolutely there is lack of foresight from our leaders for not  save as much as possible especially when the crude oil price reached its peak but Nigeria Forex reserve is about  $37billion and can finance 4months of imports max.  Even  before Covid -19 pandemic Saudi threw OPEC members under the bus because Russia refuses to cut production to prop price up.

 

Saudi flooded the market and offered discount to buyers. Russia refused production costs because it thinks; cuts empower Shale producers in America. Now Nigeria have about more than 50cargoes of oil floating on international waters without buyers. A cargo contains about 2 million barrels of oil.

 

Now Nigeria is facing severe  challenges. Oil price volatility is accentuated by rising commodity prices, possibly  the devaluation of the naira against the U.S. dollar. It s time for economy diversification.

 

Regards to diversification of the economy there is need for Federal government to develop the country untapped minerals.   Despite this huge opportunity still   domestic mining industry is underdeveloped, leading to Nigeria having to import minerals that it could produced domestically. With recent economy woes  federal government should, as a matter of fact shift from mono economic policy to ensure that non-oil sector growth has  translated to improvements in government revenue.

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Had it  been that past and present  leadership prioritise other non oil sectors with the way the nation’s telecommunications sector liberalize definetly the country economy will improve because  there is no state in Nigeria with less than 10 untapped different  mineral resources.

 

Had it been that they did the needful for long the country will set itself free unless federal government  develop the country untapped mineral  industry, modernise the agricultural sector and  develop the tourism industry. Just from  iron ore , expert says Federal Government can make $280 billion from the mineral annually more than what the country earned from crude oil.

 

According to 2018 report of geology and mineral resources of Nigeria  estimated Nigeria’s iron ore deposit to reach three billion tonnes, coal, three billion tonnes while lead and zinc are to reach 10 million tonnes each. Federal Government can make a lot of money from mining, if it is exploited and  invest into   coal, gold, tantalite, and cassiterite to shore up revenue.

 

 

 

Dukawa, a public affairs analyst, writes from Kano

 

 

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