Commissioning of Dangote Petroleum Refinery
I congratulate my dear friend, Alhaji Aliko Dangote GCON, on the completion of the Dangote Petroleum Refinery (DR) located in Ibeju-Lekki, Lagos, situated on a land area of 2,635 hectares, complete with a Port and six quays; the world’s largest single train 650,000 barrels per day Petroleum Refinery with a 900 KTPA Polypropylene Plant. I attended the commissioning of the Facility last Monday, and indeed, “it was marvellous in our eyes”.
“Nothing is Impossible” – Aliko Dangote
The project which commenced in 2017, has come to fruition. When DR is working at 100% capacity, it is projected that 60% of its production capacity will meet all Nigeria’s requirements of petroleum refined products, while the remaining 40% will be earmarked for export. DR has the production capacity of petrol (53 million litres per day); diesel (34 million litres per day); kerosene (10 million litres per day) and aviation jet fuel (2 million litres per day). The byproducts from the refining process, are also the basic materials of various products including plastics, pharmaceuticals, fertilisers, pesticides and clothing, amongst others.
Alhaji’s goal, in line with the provisions of Section 16(1)(a) of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended in 2023)(the Constitution), is to try to harness some of the resources of the nation to make Nigeria as self-sustaining as possible, by producing here, many of the goods which have hitherto been imported. Worthy of note, is that DR has contributed in no small measure to job creation, as it employs over 33,000 workers directly, not to mention over 100,000 indirect employment retail outlets, and 16,000 trucks for transport which will create additional jobs. DR has also invested in Nigerian youths, by training 900 young Engineers in refinery operations outside the country.
Another important point to note about DR is that, in the face of concerns about pollution, global warming and other related environmental issues, DR’s design “complies with World Bank, US Environmental Protection Agency and European emission norms, and Department of Petroleum Resources emission/effluent norms”.
We keep talking about Foreign Direct Investment (FDI), but we must commend Alhaji on this Local Direct Investment which will match and surpass most other FDI’s! It shows that Alhaji is not only a bold and astute businessman, but one that is fully committed to the industrialisation and progress of Nigeria.
Two Important Facts: Defunct Government Refineries & Inadequate Electricity Supply
However, amongst the things that struck me as I sat through the commissioning event, were two important facts: 1) That the DR project took six years to complete; yet, shamefully, Nigeria as a country has been unable to get any of its own Government refineries to work (thank God we don’t need to wait for Government refineries anymore), neither in the eight years of the Buhari administration, nor in the 16 years of the previous PDP administrations; and 2) That the Dangote Facilities, whether Obajana, Ibese or DR, power themselves in terms of electricity. While the Obajana 135 MW Power Plant which was built in 18 months, and at the time could power the whole of Abuja; DR also has its own 435MW Power Plant.
In essence, this means that, while in a six year period, Alhaji was able to build the largest single train refinery in the world from scratch, and in 18 months, he was also able to build a power plant that was capable of generating enough electricity to power Abuja, the Federal Government couldn’t or should I say, wouldn’t repair its moribund refineries or provide adequate electricity supply in 24 years, that is, if we only start counting from the beginning of the Fourth Republic in 1999!
What else can we call this, in terms of the Section 16 Economic Objectives of the Constitution, if not a colossal failure in governance by successive administrations? Not only have successive governments neglected to deliver on practically all the Fundamental Objectives and Directive Principles of State Policy contained in Chapter II of the Constitution, a good number of Government Officials and Politicians are corrupt, and they have sacrificed the progress, development and welfare of Nigerians on the altar of their greed. Corruption is therefore, one of the main culprits responsible for two sectors as critical as oil (Nigeria’s main source of revenue) and electricity supply, being in such a bad state; in fact, it is a major reason why Nigeria is lagging behind. How does a country become industrialised and developed, when it lacks basic infrastructure like electricity? The incoming administration already has its work very well cut out for it, at least, as far as these two important areas are concerned.
Grand Conspiracy to Keep Nigeria in Darkness
Alhaji built a sizeable power plant in 18 months (another one, more than three times the size of Obajana’s now in DR); if Government had built only one like Alhaji’s Obajana plant every 18 months since 1999, there would be 16 new power stations in Nigeria – each geographical zone could have had at least two new power plants by now, and counting. The truth is that there is no excuse for Nigeria remaining in darkness, or having no functioning refinery if not for DR, despite all the money that has been sunk into both areas by Government over the past few decades.
While the problem of not having an oil refinery has now been solved, as far as our electricity supply is concerned, I believe that there is a grand conspiracy by some to sabotage it and keep Nigeria in darkness, because of the monumental profits they make from the disruption. Millions of Nigerians and foreigners, now make a livelihood out of the fact that Nigeria’s electricity supply is not just epileptic, but poor. From the different foreign companies that manufacture all kinds of generators which are sold on the Nigerian market, creating jobs for workers in their countries, for example, generator manufacturing companies in countries like China, Germany etc; also sadly, because, as much we make use of generators here in Nigeria, we do not manufacture them ourselves (at best, some are assembled here); to the generator retailers who seem to be expanding the frontiers of their businesses in Nigeria daily; to those who sell other types of alternative power sources, like Inverters and Solar Energy Panels which are also gaining ground here these days (also foreign made), to mention but a few. Because of our large population for one, be it by sabotage or economic development, Nigeria remains a fertile ground for profit making.
At the commissioning of the Dangote Obajana Cement Factory in 2012 or so, when we were taken on a tour of the Facility and shown the power plant, it hit me like a bolt of lightening, that Government had simply been deceiving Nigerians about electricity supply all this while – pretending that there had to be some complex plan to provide electricity for Nigerians; that the Obasanjo administration had taken eight years to lay the so-called foundation for better electricity supply (which never materialised). Tah! If Alhaji could do it in a matter of months, what has prevented Government from doing the same? Lack of will!
Just like a few people somewhere are making obscene amounts of money from the fuel subsidy scam and the multiple foreign exchange rate regime, so also are others profiting from the sabotage of electricity and lack of sufficient supply of it – a ‘cash cow’ that corrupt government officials and their cohorts are benefitting from. Successive governments claimed to have pumped billions of Dollars into all these spurious ventures, with little or nothing to show for it.
Well, thanks to DR, we have one less problem, and Nigeria can now channel her scarce resources into other areas, since we now have the best functioning oil refinery in the world!
Law Enforcement Agencies Will Start to ‘Bubble’ Again!
There is therefore, no better time than this, to discuss the fact that as it is usual at the end of one administration going into the beginning of a new one, EFCC, ICPC and other law enforcement agencies will start to ‘bubble’/bustle with activity again, which is usual during this ‘cross-over’ period when many secrets of looting of National and State treasuries, bribery and corruption, awarded contracts which were not performed etc, are discovered. There will be the usual hue and cry by these agencies, about people who are arrested for one corruption charge or the other. Will anything come out of it?
Though Section 15(5) of the Constitution gives the State the mandate to abolish all corrupt practices and abuse of power (and many acts of bribery, corruption, stealing etc all constitute offences under various laws), I’m not sure how much action we will see on the Federal side, since one APC administration is handing over to another, and they will probably cover up for their party members (unless of course the personalities involved may have fallen out of favour); we are more likely to see more activity connected with the States, where another political party is taking over from the incumbent.
Bringing the Corrupt to Justice
This time around, how serious will the fight against corruption be? We have seen the major part corruption has played, in thwarting our economic growth and development; will Nigeria continue to make choices which benefit only corrupt decision makers, and not the country? How will the new administration fight corruption, in order to grow our economy and develop our country? Are we going to continue to use unlawful things (or those that the Legislature has hurriedly given a semblance of legality overnight) like ‘Ways & Means’ Advances to prop up our economy, until we end up like the Uganda of Idi Amin, where their currency became worth nothing more than ‘toilet paper’ (as their then Central Bank Governor, was alleged to have claimed)?
What system will be deployed to bring the corrupt to justice, like those who pocketed the monies provided for revamping the refineries or the electricity sector, or those who made illegal profits from the fuel subsidy scam? Will Government waste time on trials with shoddy or compromised prosecutions that will go nowhere, or those which accused persons end up escaping justice and going scot free with all their loot, either because of technicalities (see the case of Ude Jones Udeogu v FRN, Orji Uzor Kalu & Slok Nigeria Limited SC 622C/2019) or because the prosecution was unable to prove its case beyond reasonable doubt? See Section 270(2)(a) of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act 2015 (ACJA).
Or will they deploy the ‘Plea Bargain’ option which is provided for and the process of its use set out in Part 28 Section 270 of the ACJA to recover as much funds as possible from corrupt officials from the get-go, since the country is in dire need of money, and under this plea bargain arrangement, money, assets and property are forfeited to the victim, which in corruption cases, would be the Government/Nigeria?
Black’s Law Dictionary Ninth Edition defines Plea Bargain thus: “A negotiated agreement between a Prosecutor and a criminal Defendant whereby the Defendant pleads guilty to a lesser offence or to one of multiple charges in exchange for some concession by the Prosecutor, usually a more lenient sentence or dismissal of the other charges”. See the case of John Yusuf Yakubu v FRN (2022) LPELR-57749 (SC) per Helen Moronkeji Ogunwumiju, JSC where the Supreme Court held that “….a criminal must not be allowed to benefit from the proceeds of his or her crime, the criminal must be stripped of all perceived proceeds of crime in his possession. It is reckless, outrageous and immoral to allow a criminal fling plea bargain as an instrument for retaining proceeds of crime. I think the time has come for us as a nation to embark on a meticulous scrutiny of proceeds of crime in the hands of offenders to ensure that they go home dry with nothing, this will show that there’s no incentive in stealing public funds” I concur. Also see the case of PML (Securities) Ltd v FRN (2018) LPELR-47993(SC) per Mary Ukaego Peter-Odili, JSC.
I know that many are sceptical about the incoming administration fighting corruption; but, whichever method they choose to fight it, corruption must be fought vehemently to ensure Nigeria’s advancement, failing which our country will simply continue to degenerate and breakdown.
Presidents of other African countries, Captains of Industry (as they are called), Governors and many top Government functionaries were present at the commissioning, including President Muhammadu Buhari GCFR, under whose administration this fantastic edifice was completed and who of course, commissioned the DR, and the new Vice President, Senator Kashim Shettima. DR will enable Nigeria earn about $21 billion per annum, which will be a big boost to our economy. It is our hope that the new administration will not only cooperate with DR to make petroleum products readily available and affordable for Nigerians, so we can truly start to enjoy the benefits of being an oil producing nation, but that it will support DR to reap the fruits of its labour and investment, which will serve as an incentive to others, both local and foreign, to also come and sink investments here. Hopefully, the new administration will also encourage other manufacturers and industrialists in their own fields of endeavour, and create an enabling environment for them, so as to build a more industrialised Nigeria that will also be known for the export of other products, aside from Petroleum. Kudos to you, Alhaji, for putting Nigeria on the world map with this Refinery.
P.S. Gender Discrimination Even in the Award of National Honours
Congratulations to those who were awarded National Honours last week. Can I ask why less number of women are awarded national honours, and even when they are, many of them who are more deserving are given the lower honours, while the men who may not even merit it, get the higher honours? It appears that even when it comes to the country showing appreciation to the people, the womenfolk are discriminated against as usual.