By Justus Odoigbe
The survival of Nigeria as a sovereign nation – state is largely dependent on the petroleum sub – sector as she derives her revenue majorly from crude oil exports.
Indeed, Nigeria is a mono – culture economy whose economic lifeline is basically predicated on the exploration and exportation of its black gold, popularly referred to as crude oil. As it stands, the most critical national infrastructure of Nigeria are pipelines that have been designed to ensure and guarantee uninterrupted supply of crude oil to various refineries across the country.
Overtime, particularly during the Obasanjo, Yar’Adua and Jonathan administrations, there has been a consistent threat to oil and gas installations in the country arising from the activities of Niger Delta Militants who have been advocating for resource control and other criminal elements who engage in malicious vandalism of the nation’s oil assets in furtherance of their illegal bunkering business.
However, the advent of the present administration under the dynamic leadership of President Muhammadu Buhari has ushered in a new dawn in the petroleum sub-sector of the Nigerian economy.
The appointment and subsequent assumption of office by Dr. Ibe Kachikwu as Nigeria’s Minister of State (Petroleum) has turned-out to be the magic wand needed for the stability and effective sustenance of crude oil production in the country.
If the truth must be told, President Muhammadu Buhari deserves commendation for the meritorious appointment of Dr. Ibe Kachikwu. Mr. President, in his determination to ensure that round pegs are put in round holes, was not in anyway swayed by sentiments or emotions in assigning the petroleum portfolio to Kachikwu.
So far, the comprehensive reforms undertaken by Dr. Ibe Kachikwu in repositioning the petroleum sector has been very far reaching and producing the desired results to the extent that there is steady and continuous production of crude oil in our refineries and supplies to the various outlets has been very smooth.
Under the watch of Dr. Ibe Kachikwu, the oil and gas sector, particularly the NNPC is beginning to live up to its mandate of producing fuel for local consumption and export to the international market – for the economic survival of the Nigerian nation.
To every discerning mind and keen watchers of the petroleum sector, the speed at which Kachikwu is going about delivering on his responsibility does not live any one in doubt that he is well focused and has a clear vision of changing the ugly narratives associated with the production and supply of petroleum products to a new order of efficiency and sustainability of the gains achieved thus far.
At the global scene, the influence and connections of Kachikwu has brought the much desired respect and regard to Nigeria among the comity of nations. Right now, he is a strong personality to be reckoned with in the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Nations (OPEC).
As for the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), the solid foundation laid by Kachikwu when he held forte as the Group Managing Director (GMD) has taken the organization to the next level of utmost efficiency, accountability and profitability.
It is to the credit of Kachikwu that after six years of the comatose state of the nation’s crude oil pipelines, it took his bold intervention for the Federal Government to engage the professional expertise of an indigenous oil and gas outfit to successfully remediate, repair and maintain and provide security services on the Bonny to Port-Harcourt and Excravos to Warri pipeline segments.
It will be recalled that before now, it cost the nation a huge chunk of its hard-earned resources to sustain the engagement of marine vessels to transport crude oil to the refineries; more so, when there was a sharp drop in the price of oil at the international market which adversely affected accruable revenue to the federation account.
At the moment, there has been seamless and continuous pumping of crude oil through the aforementioned pipelines. The only interruption till date has been the criminal activities of some faceless militant groups, including the illegal bunkering activities being undertaken by oil thieves and other economic saboteurs.
For many Nigerians, Dr. Ibe Kachikwu should be applauded for the unpopular but plausible decision he took for the partial removal of fuel subsidy sometimes in 2016. This was one painful reality that Nigerians never wanted to experience, but today, the Nigerian people are happier for it as they can now drive into any petrol station of their choice with ease and get products without stress or having to wait endlessly on queues to be served.
It is heartwarming to note that at present, the build-up of tension and hostilities in the Niger Delta Region is beginning to give way for constructive dialogue.
The confidence and peace – building initiatives embarked upon by the federal government through the engagement of relevant stakeholders in the Niger Delta and the recent visits of Vice President Yemi Osinbajo to the creeks and other Niger Delta communities has gone a long way of providing a formidable platform for the federal government and concerned interests to sit down on the round table to discuss all the issues arising. Without doubt, this is a noble idea of the Buhari’s administration facilitated by Dr. Kachikwu.
Indeed, to the glory of God, Dr. Ibe Kachikwu is working, the petroleum sector is becoming more efficient, while Nigeria is moving towards economic progress and prosperity – for all and sundry.
Justus Odoigbe is of the Joint Professionals Training and Support International.