Says govt did not pay militants money to ceasefire
Chineme Okafor in Abuja
The Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Dr. Ibe Kachikwu, on Monday said he would â€˜walkâ€™ (away) from his appointment as a minister of the federal government if in 2019 Nigeria does not quit importation of petrol.
Kachikwu, who spoke in a BBC talk programme, â€˜Hardtalkâ€™ in London, United Kingdom, stated that he was absolutely certain his plans to get Nigeria to stop importation of petrol in 2019 would work out fine.
He however explained that if in any case it failed, he would resign, adding that it was an honourable thing to do as a public office holder.
A podcast of Kachikwuâ€™s interview on the programme anchored by Stephen Sackur, was obtained by THISDAY in Abuja.
He also disclosed that the government did not involve any monetary incentive in its ongoing negotiations with militants in oil-rich Niger Delta. The negotiations, he added, was being conducted on mutual respect and understanding of the positions of parties involved, and had also ensured that oil production in the region has remained uninterrupted for a couple of months now.
Accused by Sackur of making quite a lot of promises, but yet to really fulfill them, Kachikwu refuted the claim and posited that every promise he had made since he assumed office, he had achieved them.
Asked when Nigeria would be self-sufficient in terms of refining petroleum Products as well as how concrete the targets are, Kachikwu said: â€œI have targeted 2019, that is the target that I gave.â€
He was also reminded that time was running out on the target and that a failure could perhaps come with a costs, but the minister interjected: â€œDonâ€™t worry, I put the date, I will work it.â€
The anchor further asked him: â€˜And if you donâ€™t achieve it, you will walk (away)?â€™ to which he said: â€œYes, of course, thatâ€™s the reason why you are in government.â€
He said on Nigeriaâ€™s continued importation of petrol and the plans of the government to end the practice: â€œIt is wrong, we ought to process rather than ship out crude oil.â€
â€œIf you look at the efforts I have made in the last few months, it include major efforts working with investors to begin to reshape the refineries that were comatose for many years.â€
â€œSince coming, we have been able to get them (refineries) back to produce seven million litres versus zero that is not the 90 per cent template, we are now refurbishing the refineries, I have just signed an agreement with Agip to build a new refinery in Nigeria, we are focusing on multinationals,â€ he added.
He further stated: â€œI have delivered on everything I promised when I took office. First, I took NNPC and moved it to a profit-making organisation, first time in history, I reshaped the organisation and I removed cash call deficit of over $6 billion and have re-negotiated it; everything that I have promised, I have delivered.
â€œI will deliver on the refineries and I am committed to that, and I will also deliver a future of oil that makes sense for Nigeria, but bear in mind that one is being there for one and half years, the president is being there for two years, I canâ€™t pretend that we are going to solve in one day all the problems that happened in Nigeria in the past; we will solve the Niger Delta militancy problem, it was there, we sorted it out in one year.â€
On the question that the government perhaps paid militants in the Niger Delta to ceasefire on disruption of oil production, Kachikwu said: â€œWe donâ€™t even have the money to feed anybody. I have always said that what the situation demands is simple engagement and respect. I have been very intensive about engagement since I was appointed and the vice president has joined me on that recently; the president has authorised it and weâ€™ve seen a dramatic volte-face as soon as we did that.
â€œWhat has happened in previous times is that the militants felt nobody was taking them serious; nobody was listening to their complaints, and I am going to be doing that engagement continuously in terms of providing some economic blueprint.â€
He said Nigeria had not focused enough in terms of long terms plan, long term investments, long term infrastructural rebirths for her oil industry, hence, its poor contribution to her Gross Domestic Products (GDP) ratio.