LOKPOBIRI, KYARI AND THE REVIVAL OF REFINERIES
By Sabiu Abdullahi
One cheering news for Nigeria is the renewed move by the Federal Government, through the NNPC to finally revive the nation oil refineries.
Minister of Petroleum, Mr. Heineken Lakpobiri and the NNPCLtd GCEO – Mele Kyari have joined hands to make a final push for returning the Nigerian refineries back in full swing. Guided by Kyari, who has been on the project for quite a while, the Petroleum Minister kick-started the effort by breathing life into the Refineries Rehabilitation Steering Committee of Warri, Portharcourt and Kaduna, to ensure the timelines are met.
The latest developments is coming in the heels of the the recent facilities tour in the Niger Delta, by the Minister and other key relevant officials led by NNPC’s Kyari.
The Minister asked contractors handling the projects to redouble their effort by increasing the pace of work, to ensure the deadlines are not missed.
The latest move by the Federal Government through the NNPC has been described by industry watchers as a game-changer in the history of the oil sector. Commentators, sometimes motivated by political sentiments, have taken a swipe at either the nation’s Presidency or the NNPC management over the rehabilitation of refineries. Such commentators are widely believed to have overlooked the news to cross-check with the NNPC before jumping to conclusions on the pages of newspapers. Some even proceeded to conclude that the NNPC had abandoned the entire rehabilitation project. The unfolding official moves to quicken the pace of the project may leave such armchair critics dumb-foundes.
The Lokpobiri/Kyari Masterstroke, as some analysts describe it, was one synergy with the capacity to turn around the fortunes of the national economy dramatically. The Minister himself has spoken glowingly of the partnership.
“After my first inspection of the Port Harcourt refinery in August, I revived the Refineries Rehabilitation Steering Committee and scheduled a routine monthly meeting with members of the committee and series of meetings to further the move.
“After my first inspection of the Port Harcourt refinery in August, I revived the Refineries Rehabilitation Steering Committee and scheduled a routine monthly meeting with members of the committee.
“ Consequently, I was joined by the Group CEO of the Nigeria National Petroleum Company Limited (NNPC), Mr. Mele Kyari, for the scheduled meeting, during which we reviewed the quick-fix work progress on the refineries across the nation,” he narrated.
The minister also disclosed that his choice of the facilities as the venue of the committee meetings on a rotational basis was to ensure immediate inspection of reported progress.
Additionally, Lokpobiri delayed no action in stressing that the Federal Go would remain committed to delivering on the promises of the ‘Renewed Hope’ agenda of President Bola Tinubu. He said this was moreso as Nigerians eagerly await the commencement of operations at the refineries to address Nigeria’s local fuel consumption needs.
Let’s hear him: “We want to see how these refineries can be fully rehabilitated so that we can stop or reduce the quantity of product imported into the country and free our forex for more productive purposes for the betterment of our economy.
“So, these projects are so important to the government and that’s why as a steering committee we are going to be rotating our meetings. Today, we have come here for that meeting”, he emphasized.
As a demonstration of this administrations seriousness, both the Minister and the NNPC GCEO resolved to do the needful by seeing things directly for ourselves. The next step will be to visit the Kaduna refinery, do same for Port Harcourt, to fasten the pace of work.
The Minister again: “Government is not doing it directly, the contractors are. So, we are engaging the contractors who have given us timelines and our staff are on the ground who are giving us periodic reports and this is what we can do. I assure you that in no distant time, these things will be sorted out”.
One thing that is so clear about the Nigerian refineries rehabilitation is that it has a good precedent because when President Tinubu was briefed about the project and how to fasten its pace, he officially welcomed it.
It would be recalled that only recently, the President gave instant approval for the NNPC and other authorities to fix the refineries, assuring the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and the Trade Union Congress (TUC) that the refineries would be functional before the end of this year – precisely December. The action has the potentials to reduce the pains of fuel subsidy removal.
The state of the refineries has over the years compelled Nigeria to imports almost all its products and renews vigor with which their rehabilitation is now being pursued by the Federal Government and NNPCL as an enterprise looks set to swiftly change the narrative.
It is evident that the latest move for revival of the Nigerian refineries can completely change the nation’s national economic strength and, by extension, the image of Nigeria in the comity of nations. Observers of the progress in the oil industry forecast an economic future so bright, as the outcome of the ongoing rehabilitation.