Kachikwu: X-Raying Ex-Minister’s Giant Strides In Oil Sector

  • Jun 12, 2019
  • Daily Independent

LAGOS – Unlike many of his colleagues in the President Muhammadu Buhari cabinet, the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Dr. Emmanuel Ibe Kachikwu was focused on results and results earned. Described as a silent achiever, many believed that Kachikwu;s exceptional managerial qualities greatly assisted Nigeria which depends on oil as its main source of revenue.

As the only Minister under the direct supervision of the President, who took over the role of Minister of Petroleum Resources when announcing his portfolio, Kachikwu performed his role creditably well and instituted credible reforms in the credible sector. This has led to clarion calls by some Nigerians that he should be allowed to take the reforms to the next level in the current political dispensation.

For a lot of reasons, the oil and gas sector is unlike the other sectors in the country. One, it accounts for the biggest revenues in the country and two, there are contending interests, a majority of which sees it as the nation’s cash cow from which they must cash out.

Also, from the facts available, Nigeria’s oil and gas and renewable energy reserves have not been sufficiently translated into desirable economic growth and understandably so. This is not to add that many of the efforts designed to properly maximise the resources of state for the good of the people have not really hit their targets.

Thus, from inadequate electricity supply, infrastructure deficit and widespread poverty, the signs are everywhere. And shamefully, Nigeria is a gross importer of petroleum products with its attendant negative impacts on national economy and growth.

Those in authority never feigned ignorance about the state of affairs in the petroleum sector and how it could contribute in no small measure to revamping the moribund Nigerian economy if properly managed.

Thus, the introduction of an industry roadmap tagged: ‘Short and Medium Term Priorities also known as 7 Big Wins (2015-2019)’ by the Ibe Kachikwu leadership, not only came handy, it served as the much needed interruption for the breakthrough in the all-important sector.

The policy programmes, focused on seven thematic areas, were designed to grow the oil and gas industry to enable it serve Nigerians better and it came into effect on October 27, 2016 after it was launched by President Muhammadu Buhari.

This covers aspects of Policy and Regulation, national oil policy, national gas policy, downstream policy, fiscal reform policy, petroleum industry reform bill, business environment and investment drive; Accelerated Income Streams, upstream, midstream, downstream; Gas Revolution, gas infrastructure development, gas revolution projects, promotion of domestic ultilisation of LPG and CNG, reduction of gas flaring, gas commercial framework implementation and gas to power.

The objective of the gas revolution agenda was to transform Nigeria from an oil-based economy to gas-based through the development of robust gas infrastructure that would ensure improved power availability and drive the establishment of gas-based industries.

Under Kachikwu’s highly strategic roadmap, the government proposed to shift the focus from government built infrastructure to investor built infrastructure.

Specifically, the government would provide incentives for the building of infrastructure to supply gas from the Eastern parts of Nigeria to commercial demand centers in the Western and Northern parts. A key short-term objective was to introduce a regulatory framework for commercial pipeline investment with clear tariff methodology.

The focus on gas also involved the development of gas-based industries and the utilisation of gas hubs near central processing facilities (CPF). These CPFs were a key part of the Gas Master plan but are yet to be built.

Other outlined aspects of the programme were Refineries and Local Production Capacity, which covered comprehensive rehabilitation and revamp of existing refineries and expansion of domestic refining capacity (co-location, greenfield, modular); Niger Delta and Security, environment and security, infrastructure interconnection, capacity building and economic empowerment.

There was also Transparency and Efficiency, transparency, capacity building, institutional strengthening and governance model, ICT and automation and Performance Management, which was to ensure stakeholders management and international coordination, communication strategy, stakeholder relationship building and management, international energy relations and bilateral cooperation.

Working in partnership with several international organisations such as FOSTER, European Union (EU), DFID, the federal government through the Ministry of Petroleum Resources, recorded commendable successes in actualising most of the policy directions.

For instance, the key element of National Oil Policy already contained in the gazette, was to move Nigeria beyond crude oil exports into value-adding activities such as refining and petrochemical industries, while the National Gas Policy was designed to address the continued wastage of gas resources and instead maximize the country’s gas resources.

Also, in their thirst for radical reforms in the petroleum sector, the Ministry of Petroleum and its agencies collaborated very closely with the National Assembly on the Petroleum Industry Bill. The Bill currently awaits President Buhari’s assent.

The ministry did not also relent its efforts in working with the federal lawmakers to facilitate the passage of the four bills that constitute the PIB. They are Petroleum Industry Governance Bill, Petroleum Industry Administration Bill, Petroleum Industry Fiscal Bill and the Petroleum Industry Host Communities Bill.

As part of efforts focused on boosting the business environment and improving investment in the oil and gas sector, the shift towards improved governance and transparency, renewed approach to addressing militancy in the Niger Delta region where Nigeria’s oil reserves are situated, deregulation of the of the downstream sector as well as policy, fiscal and regulatory reforms have been encouraging potential investors into the industry with healthy and diversified returns.

Some of the outlined initiatives designed to boost the business environment were initiating capital investments into midstream and downstream assets such as pipelines, depots and refineries; review of government equity in Joint Ventures (JVs), conducting early lease renewals, ensuring payments of outstanding royalties by oil companies, re-finance NNPC loans, implement target borrowing, restructure JVs to IJVs and review and update all fiscal type guidelines to bring them in line with best practices.

Aspects of establishment of mini/modular refineries, prospects for NNPC refineries rehabilitation, establishment of large spectrum greenfield refineries, co-location of refineries (capacity expansion), were all concepts that would ultimately actualise the set goal of moving Nigeria beyond crude oil export and into the realm of adding value.

It would not be out of place to underscore the fact that every achievement in the oil sector was predicated on a well-planned development agenda for the Niger Delta, which was encapsulated under the Niger Delta Development Compact (Strategic Implementation Work Plan (SIWP).

Added to that, the series of visits to the region by Vice President (Prof.) Yemi Osinbajo (SAN), which were facilitated by Dr. Kachikwu, went a long way in re-affirming government’s commitment to walk its talk in the region.

These efforts have helped to address militancy, eliminate bunkering and illegal pipeline tapping of crude oil as well as increase government earnings.

Further still, the NNPC management has replaced Offshore Process Agreement (OPA) with the Direct Sales and Direct Purchase (DSDP) scheme with reputable refineries to ensure product availability and this resulted in saving about $1bn. Isn’t that commendable?

Also worthy of note was the fact that with the implementation committee set up to monitor the implementation of ministerial directives on cost reduction headed by the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Petroleum Resources, the cost of crude oil production has come down from over $32.00 in 2015 to $22.00 in the last quarter of 2018. This was a quantum leap in achievement.

On the international scene, Nigeria’s Mohammed Sanusi Barkindo was appointed the Secretary-General, Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) in 2016, Nigeria was exempted from oil cuts, the country successfully reconciled its crude oil data with the OPEC and also spearheaded the transformation of African Petroleum Producers Organization (APPO).

Suffice it to say, therefore, that these modest achievements in three and a half years were not accidental but results of the hard work and meticulous planning by Dr. Kachikwu, who knew from day one what he wanted. And in making sure that the oil and gas sector retained its pride of place, he has designed a sector that can effectively function as an institution, bearing also in mind that a future without oil is inevitable.

Indeed, Kachikwu has not only proven that he is of a different breed, he has shown with the benefit of hindsight that a man actually makes the office and not the other way round. Not only that, he’s proven to be of a class of distinction with eyes constantly on the ball.

Little wonder he continued to win big in the oil and gas sector till his very last day at work, just by being diligent, resolute and determined, despite the challenges posed in his way. No doubt, he’d go down in history as one of the many prides of the Buhari government.