Speaking the Nations Mind

Kachikwu: A Prophet Home And Abroad By Bukar Raheem

Those who attempt to ridicule Nigeria or berate Nigerians for failing to provide progressive leadership do so on account of deliberate destructive campaigns. Nigeria is immensely endowed. And one of the areas Nigeria is profoundly gifted in is human resources.
Nigeria flaunts professionals in all specialties and they are not pushovers anywhere they compete with their counterparts in the world. No field of human endeavor that Nigerians have not measured their cups uniquely to the fullest to earn admiration. Even in the management of the nation’s resources there are proficient hands, with competence to turn bronze into gold, or salvage a seemingly irremediable situation.

Nigeria’s wounds are self-inflicted; but there are some Nigerian professionals who have refused to be part of the national morass. There are many more patriotic Nigerians committed to the national cause.  Before the ascension of President Muhammadu Buhari as leader of Nigeria, the Nigerian National Petroleum Company (NNPC)  or the whole oil and gas industry in the country was enmeshed in years of total mess.  There was the seemingly intractable problem of mindless militancy in the Niger Delta that disrupted crude oil exploration and exportation. Kidnappings/abductions of oil workers and blowing up of oil facilities by militants badly hampered Nigeria’s progress; hence its mono-economy depended on oil revenues to thrive. Funeral dirges were bellowed for all refineries in Nigeria.

The NNPC was a cesspit of mess with years of unaudited accounts and leakages in accruable revenue to the national oil company.   Nigerians were from time to time inundated with mind-boggling revelations of missing billions of dollars of oil revenues.
A cabal in Nigeria controlled the politics of oil so criminally and raised monsters in different images such as the dubious oil subsidy claimers. Scarcity of petroleum products had no limitations and with black marketers of Premium Motor Spirit (PMS) everywhere, more Nigerians became proud owners of “filling stations” in their small huts or backyards and damned the consequences.
But the narrative has changed. And it took only the decision of President Buhari to appoint one Nigerian, Dr. Emmanuel Ibe Kachikwu as the Group Managing Director (GMD) of the NNPC , who was later upgraded to the position of Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, in November 2015 to sanitize the industry. President Buhari retained the substantive portfolio of Minister of Petroleum. Dr. Kachikwu was burdened with the day to day running of NNPC, reported directly and only to the President.
Kachikwu,  with first class degrees in Law and biases in petroleum law  at all strata of learning, home and abroad   was saddled with the herculean task of cleaning the Augean stable in the oil and gas industry. He had succeeded elsewhere, so this assignment was heavy burden, but not beyond his competence.
The Minister instituted reforms that restructured and transformed the NNPC nay the petroleum sector previously abused.
The NNPC wore the new face of a viable and profit- yielding enterprise for Nigeria. He has been able to implant and impose compliance  with the creeds of accountability, transparency, and probity in the administration of the Ministry of Petroleum Resources and Nigeria’s  oil and gas sector.
And the positive results have been marvelous. Glaringly, Nigerians of whatever persuasions can fairly attest that Kachikwu’s reforms in the oil and gas sector have largely curtailed the multifaceted problems and the opaqueness’ which surrounded operations in the oil and gas sector of the economy.
Somewhat incredibly, Dr. Kachikwu has successfully enforced the Liberalization of the Downstream Oil Sector tethered to numerous problems including huge oil subsidy debts. He instantly diversified product sourcing, attracted the downstream oil sector to private investors and introduced Price Modulation Mechanism (PMM), and eventually, adopted the Appropriate Pricing Framework (APF).
And the policies have erased the tears of Nigerians, tortured by fuel scarcity; long queues at filling stations, diversion and adulteration of petroleum products and criminal profiteering at the expense of the masses and Nigeria. Part of the multiple benefits relished by Nigerians is the noiselessly total removal of oil subsidy and the channeling of the proceeds to   developments in other needy sectors of the economy.

More than ever before, Dr. Kachikwu sauntered on the management scene of Nigerian oil and gas sector at a time insecurity in the Niger Delta had reached its apogee, with militants blowing up and vandalizing oil facilities. Oil theft reigned supreme and cumulatively affected national crude oil production, as it consecrated Nigeria on the path of an inevitable economic retardation. 

The Minister of State committedly sought to alter the equation by pursuing the cause of  enduring peace and stability in the Niger Delta. The resultant dialogue with President Muhammadu Buhari by Niger Delta communities and wide spectrum of leaders under the auspices of the Pan Niger Delta Forum led by Chief Edwin Clark has entrenched peace, security and safety in the formerly  restive region for the implementation of development initiatives in the Niger Delta.
Kachikwu laid the template conducive enough for the Acting President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo to interact with host Communities in all the oil producing states to enable security and protection of oil infrastructure in the region. This was followed with the interface with International Oil Companies (IOCs) on  greater involvement over oil infrastructure security. Nigeria is experiencing a near zero level of militancy; development has hit the Niger Delta region amazingly and Nigeria’s crude oil production has been stabilized.
Furthermore,  Kachikwu  initiated a new strategy for funding the Joint Venture Cash Call to surmount the problem of  huge cash call arrears and poor investment drives which plagued the sector. He has fruitfully adopted the alternative funding for the cash call obligations of the NNPC under the Joint Venture Agreement (JVA) on petroleum production in the country.
The Minister of State has not only increased positive visibility of Nigeria on the international energy space, but has never failed to utilize his expertise and international connections at every opportunity to earn for  Nigeria enhanced value for its oil and gas industry.
Through him, Nigeria was reportedly a vocal voice in rallying OPEC and Non-OPEC members in leading successful discussions on stabilization of the global oil market in Doha and Algiers. Through his bargaining prowess, Nigeria held to its strings by fruitfully negotiating exclusion from the 600,000 barrels/day oil production slash. He has also positively attracted such favours to Nigeria in similar areas.
He piloted the affairs of major international energy organizations and gracefully bowed  out, unblemished to the credit of Nigeria. These include, the Gas Exporting Countries Forum (GECF), Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), African Petroleum Producers Association (APPA) and West African Gas Pipeline Authority (WAGPA). The emergence of  Alhaji Mohammed Sanusi Barkindo of Nigeria as the Secretary -General of  OPEC is attributed largely to his shadowy negotiations  with key stakeholders.
Dr. Kachikwu has successfully enunciated the “ Nigerian Petroleum Roadmap,” (NPRm)” and  Medium Term Priorities to enliven Nigeria’s oil and gas Industry spanning 2015 to 2019. The NPRm is a document which contain series of initiatives and actions encapsulated under the “Seven Big Wins,” which President Buhari has already commissioned.
And so far and, in policy and regulation; a new National Oil Policy, National Gas policy and Fiscal Reform Policy have been formulated.  The Senate has passed the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) pregnable with reforms that would sanitize the operations of the oil and gas industry in Nigeria. Also, plans are in the offing to boost local refining capacity with the comprehensive rehabilitation and revamping of existing refineries in the country. This is targeted at pulling Nigeria   completely out of importation of petroleum products by 2019.
The improvements recorded in this area cannot be exhausted, but suffice to say, it has witnessed an impressive touch for the better, confirming Kachikwu’s versatility in the management of oil business. His knack for accountability and transparency are added ingredients, which have powered his successful outings in Nigeria’s oil and gas industry in the last two years.
No doubt, an impressive impact has been recorded in Nigeria’s oil and gas industry with Kachikwu’s application of expertise and decades of managerial experience. But the pending work to fully sanitize and reposition the industry for optimum performance and benefits to the Nigerian people is still understandably much.
Based on Dr. Kachikwu’s  commitment to liberate Nigeria’s  oil and gas sector, coupled with his selfless contributions to job creation in the private sector, it would be better  if President Buhari crowns his efforts by appointing him a substantive minister of Petroleum Resources. This would raise a pedestal for him to speedily do more for Nigeria, by   fast tracking   the implementation of the laudable reforms in the oil and gas industry.