President Muhammadu Buhari is not just a leader, but a politician whose leadership is translucently exemplary. He assumed leadership of Nigeria at a time the country had been mindlessly raped by rapacious leaders and dumped to lick its wounds. President Buhari came with the assurance of hope on the premise of change, what most Nigerians have come to dub as the “Change mantra,” of ruling party, the All Progressives Congress (APC).
The first appointments of the Buhari Presidency reflected his mind set. It indicated the direction and destination of his intention for Nigeria. Among the pioneer appointees of the Buhari Presidency was a globally recognized administrative icon in the oil industry, Dr Ibe Kachikwu. President Buhari first appointed him the Group Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer (GMD/CEO) of NNPC to clean the inherited mess in the oil and gas sector.
Some Nigerians doubted President Buhari’s independent choice of Kachikwu, to head its main oil company, as he retained the petroleum ministry portfolio. Nigeria, a country which has operated on a mono-economy for decades depended solely on oil to earn its revenues to fund national expenditure and service her foreign reserves. But the sector was in complete mess. Exported crude oil revenues had plummeted dangerously. A barrel of crude oil sold at less than $40 by end of year 2015. And kept fluctuating and further dropped to $28 per barrel.
Again, heightened militancy in the Niger Delta slashed Nigeria’s daily crude oil export quota significantly. From 2.2 million barrels per day, it dropped to about 1.2 million. So, what changed was not just the quantity, but also the price. Leakages’ in crude oil revenues further compounded the problem and with dead refineries, Nigeria found herself in a fix at the break of dawn. That was the burden placed on Dr Kachikwu’s shoulders.
Dr Kachikwu’s new job was to fix all these problems. An expert in the administration of the oil industry per excellence, he recorded impressive impacts from the outset. And an impressed President Buhari elevated him to the position of Minister of State for Petroleum and member of the NNPC board. By his new briefs, he was responsible for the minute by minute supervision of the administration of the oil sector and reported directly to the Presidency.
The minister launched amazing reforms that installed sanity and probity in the oil and gas sector. And at the turn of 2017, Dr Kachikwu had etched bold imprints in the management of the oil industry in Nigeria. Every Nigerian can now attest that the oil sector, Nigeria’s cash cow has experienced relative stability in 2017. Kachikwu has been able to quell the tension orchestrated by militancy in the Niger Delta; he has been able to improve Nigeria’s exportable crude oil quota as assigned to Nigeria by OPEC from the less than 1.2 million to about 2 million barrels per day.
The minister has been able to sustain domestic refining of crude oil, which is stored in national reserves for any emergency. He has been able to calm restive unions in the oil industry. NUPENG or PENGASSAN have ceased to disrupt the supply of petroleum products, as potentially explosive issues are promptly resolved to forestall strangulation of the system and disruption in the public supply of petroleum products.
The policies initiated and implemented by Dr. Kachikwu ensured stability in the pricing of petroleum products and its availability in the market. Scarcity of Premium Motor Spirit (PMS), a perennial plague of Nigerians, and long fuel queues at filling stations have all disappeared across the country. There has been no such incident in 2017, which is very unusual with Nigeria.
And quite magically, and in spite of the economic depression, Dr. Kachikwu has been able to restock Nigeria’s foreign reserves,’ from an empty account to over $31 billion by June 2017. The feat was accomplished on account of his reforms in the oil sector, which minimized oil theft and other illegal activities that curtailed national income from crude oil sales.
There is no gainsaying that the Minister of State for Petroleum has been able to raise a platform in the oil and gas sector that has made every Nigerian a proud beneficiary of the country’s oil resource. And the effects have been marvellous.
Acting President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo disclosed during the 2017 Democracy Day celebration that Nigeria has become a country which is not just saving, but also investing for the future.
He echoed that “…We have in the last two years added US$500m to our Sovereign Wealth Fund and US$87m to the Excess Crude Account. This is the very opposite of the situation before now, when rising oil prices failed to translate to rising levels of savings and investment.”
That Nigeria is attempting to diversify its economy, through agriculture is understandable. Agricultural produce are now being exported. But while it is yet to take firm roots, prudent management of revenues from the oil industry has been handy in funding national expenditure. And the credit goes to the minister of State for Petroleum, Dr Kachikwu whose administrative acumen is gradually rescuing Nigeria from the pit of economic recession.
Agbese wrote from United Kingdom.