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Dangote Refinery a game changer – Buhari

President Muhammadu Buhari has expressed confidence that the 650,000 barrels per day Dangote Petroleum Refinery in Lagos will enable Nigeria to achieve self-sufficiency in refined…

President Muhammadu Buhari has expressed confidence that the 650,000 barrels per day Dangote Petroleum Refinery in Lagos will enable Nigeria to achieve self-sufficiency in refined products and have surplus for export.

Given its processing capacity, the refinery is more than able to meet all of Nigeria’s domestic fuel consumption, which is about 450,000 barrels per day whilst the excess will be available for export.

Speaking at the commissioning of the refinery in Lagos, which was attended by Heads of State of Ghana, Togo, Niger and Senegal and a representative of the President of Chad, Buhari described the feat as a significant milestone for Nigeria’s economy and a game changer for the downstream petroleum products market in the entire African region.

‘‘This mega industry we are commissioning today is a clear example of what can be achieved when entrepreneurs are encouraged and supported, and when an enabling environment is created for investments and for businesses to thrive.

‘‘I am confident that my successor, His Excellency Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, will sustain the improvement in our economic and business environment and strengthen the framework of our public-private partnership policies to accelerate the pace of our economic growth and development.

‘‘I am happy to leave our economy in very competent hands,’’ he said. Buhari, who commended Alhaji Aliko Dangote’s leadership in executing the 650,000 barrels per day refinery, urged other entrepreneurs to emulate his example in driving economic growth and realizing Nigeria’s economic potential.

He stressed the need for African countries to come together, integrate their economies, eliminate trade barriers, and rally their populations to achieve Agenda 2063 for the continent’s prosperity.

‘‘I urge and encourage our other great entrepreneurs to emulate this iconic Nigerian industrialist and join the government in accelerating our growth to realize our country’s globally recognized economic potential.

‘‘When I travel around Africa and meet and engage my brother Heads of State, and I am delighted some of their Excellences are here, I often sense a quiet expectation that our country is blessed with resources and human capacity to lead Africa’s rise to economic prosperity and the attainment of Agenda 2063 – ‘The Africa we all want.’

 ‘‘But to achieve the goals of Agenda 2063, Africa must come together – we must integrate our economies, eliminate trade barriers and energize our youthful population to scale up our productive capacity,” he said.

While calling on African leaders to create necessary conditions for the private sector to grow, and partner with the public sector to accelerate economic growth across the continent, he urged that ‘‘we must not allow outside powers to use some of our leaders to destabilize our economic and political trajectory.”

Africa’s richest man and the President of Dangote Group, Aliko Dangote, disclosed that the newly commissioned refinery would employ over 100,000 Nigerian youths as well as generate over $21 billion, saving the country huge forex that would have been used for fuel importation. The company, he said, now has over 33,000 employees.

Much to the excitement of Nigerians, Dangote said the commissioning has marked the beginning of the new journey of self-sufficiency in refined petroleum products and exportation of the same just as achieved in cement and lately fertiliser.

Dangote, who lamented that the current fuel crisis has had a negative impact on the nation’s economy, highlighted events leading to his firm deciding to build its refinery after his attempt to acquire one of the existing moribund refineries did not materialise.

He stressed that he decided to change his marketing strategy and settle for the gigantic project ever undertaken by an individual the world over.

According to him, the refinery plant would be run at the highest effective and efficient level for maximum benefits to all Nigerians, adding, “We will replicate what we achieved in cement and fertiliser by attaining self-sufficiency and becoming a net exporter.”

Dangote assured Nigerians that 40 per cent of the production capacity will be available for export with the coming onstream of the plant guaranteeing raw plastic materials, and pharmaceutical industries.

The Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Godwin Emefiele, while commending Dangote for the successful completion of the refinery project, said it would not only aid the nation’s domestic petrol needs but also help in generating export revenues.

He said the project, which was initially estimated to cost about $9 billion when it started in 2013, was completed with a total of $18.5bn with funding distributed into 50 per cent equity investment and 50 per cent debt finance.

He noted that the commercial loan component of the project was financed majorly by domestic banks with the balance sourced from foreign banks while the CBN provided about N125 billion to cover domestic currency requirements for the venture.

“What you may not be fully aware of, Your Excellences, is that the Dangote Group has started repaying some of the commercial loans even before the commissioning of this facility.

“This reflects the commercial capability of the group and its chairman. I am pleased to inform everyone today that, following extensive repayments, outstanding debt has dropped appreciably from over US$9 billion to US$3 billion,” he said. 

African company for Africa by African entrepreneur 

The Group Chief Executive Officer of the Nigerian National Petroleum Company Ltd (NNPC), Mele Kyari, said the NNPC was happy to partner with Dangote Refinery because the project has the potential for a smooth supply of petroleum and would guarantee healthy competition for the benefit of the nation’s economy.

He said the NNPC Ltd was committed to value addition to the potentials of the project, noting that the new Petroleum Industry Act will provide security of supply of refined products and protect the plant.

The NNPC boss added that he was happy the refinery is coming on board at a time the subsidy on imported products has become unbearable for the government.

In their respective goodwill messages, Presidents of Ghana, Nana Akufo-Addo; Senegal’s Macky Sall, Niger’s Mohamed Bazoum, Benin Republic and Chad expressed satisfaction that the Dangote Refinery will serve the West African region and their countries would be beneficiaries.

They stressed that the Dangote Refinery is an African company for Africa by an African entrepreneur. The Governor of Lagos State, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, who commended Dangote on the opening of the refinery at Ibeju-Lekki, said the state is proud of his achievement.

He said, “A young Nigerian 45 years ago who came to Lagos from another megacity in our country, Kano; who saw the prosperity, the diversity in our country, who came with nothing 45 years ago but has now built the biggest empire in the world for Africa.”

The President-elect and former governor of Lagos state, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, was represented at the event by the Vice President-elect, Senator Kashim Shettima

 

Buhari to flag off oil drilling in Maiduguri today 

Meanwhile, President Buhari is set to flag off the resumption of oil drilling at the Lake Chad Basin (Wadi-B Well) in Maiduguri, Borno State today.

The Group CEO of NNPC, Kyari, told Daily Trust recently that preparations have been made for the spud-in of the Wadi-B Well.

NNPC also discovered oil in viable commercial quantities in the Kolmani River (upper Benue trough) between Gombe and Bauchi states in November 2022 after months of drilling.

Also in March 2023, it did a spud-in at the Ebenyi A well in Obi LGA of Nasarawa State and has been drilling for oil there.

Kyari, who was at the Daily Trust head office in Abuja, penultimate Monday, said, “It was the Kolmani that helped us to locate a position in Nasarawa State. It is the same reason that has now taken us by very soon. By next week, we’ll spud in another well in the Chad Basin.

“Mr President directed us over a year ago that we should go back to the Chad Basin and continue exploration work.”

The NNPC head also assured that the coast was clear for the exercise in the insurgents’ affected area.

For the spud-in of the Wadi-B Well on Tuesday, President Buhari is expected to join in virtually and may delegate the Governor of Borno State, Prof. Babagana Zulum, to do the physical spud-in on his behalf just as he did at the spud-in of Ebenyi-A well in Nasarawa State in March 2023.

 

From Abiodun Alade, Jide Olasunkanmi (Lagos) & Simon E. Sunday (Abuja)

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