The survival of Nigeria as a sovereign country is largely dependent on the petroleum sub-sector, as it derives its revenue mainly from crude oil exports. Indeed, Nigeria runs a monocultural economy whose economic lifeline is basically predicated on the exploration and exportation of 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 uninterrupted supply of crude oil to various refineries across the country.
Over the years, particularly during the Olusegun Obasanjo, Umaru Yar’Adua and Goodluck Jonathan administrations, there has been a consistent threat to oil and gas installations in the country arising from the activities of Niger Delta militants. The militants have been advocating resource control. But there are also criminal elements who engage in malicious vandalism of the oil assets in furtherance of their illegal bunkering business.
However, the advent of the present administration under the leadership of President Muhammadu Buhari has ushered in a new dawn in the petroleum sub-sector of the Nigerian economy.
The appointment of Dr. Ibe Kachikwu as Minister of State for Petroleum Resources 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, Buhari deserves commendation for the meritorious appointment of Kachikwu. Mr. President, in his determination to ensure that round pegs are put in round holes, was not in any way swayed by sentiments or emotions in assigning the petroleum portfolio to Kachikwu.
So far, the comprehensive reforms undertaken by Kachikwu in repositioning the petroleum sector has been very far-reaching and producing the desired results. There is steady and continuous production of crude oil at the refineries and supplies to the various outlets has been very smooth.
Under the watch of Kachukwu, the oil and gas sector, particularly the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, is beginning to live up to its mandate of producing fuel for local consumption and export.
The speed at which Kachikwu is going about delivering on his responsibility leaves no one in doubt about his focus and clear vision of changing the ugly narrative associated with the production and supply of petroleum products in the country.
On the global scene, the influence and connections of Kachikwu have brought the much desired respect and regard to Nigeria in the comity of nations. Right now, he is a personality to be reckoned with in the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries.
A cursory analysis of the performance of ministers in the federal executive council point in one direction: that is, Kachikwu is undoubtedly ranked as one of the best performing ministers in the Buhari administration.
As for the NNPC, the solid foundation laid by Kachikwu when he held sway as Group Managing Director has taken the organisation to the next level of utmost efficiency, accountability and profitability. 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 would be recalled that before now, it cost the country a huge chunk of 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. At the moment, there is 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.
Kachikwu should be applauded for the unpopular but plausible decision he took to partially remove fuel subsidy 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 heart-warming to note that at present, the build-up of tension and hostilities in the Niger Delta is beginning to give way for constructive dialogue. This cheering news can only be attributed to the untiring efforts of Kachikwu to ensure that there is sustainable peace and stability in the Niger Delta.
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 visit of Vice President Yemi Osinbajo to the creeks and other Niger Delta communities has gone a long way in providing a formidable platform for the federal government and concerned interests to discuss the issues. Without doubt, this is a noble idea of the Buhari administration facilitated by Kachikwu.
Indeed, to the glory of God, Kachikwu is working, the petroleum sector is becoming more efficient, while Nigeria is moving towards economic progress and prosperity – for the good of all and sundry.
–––Odoigbe is of the Joint Professionals Training and Support International.