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Incompetence Writ Large: Ibe Kachikwu’s Scorecard of Failed Promises

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Incompetence Writ Large: Ibe Kachikwu’s Scorecard of Failed Promises

Incompetence Writ Large: Ibe Kachikwu’s Scorecard of Failed Promises
April 19
08:38 2019

By Bidemi Alonge

He came into office as Minister of State for Petroleum Resources with all the bluster and brilliance of a successful technocrat. Indeed, Dr Ibe Kachikwu is everything described above and more. Before venturing into public office, Kachikwu, who has a PhD in law from Harvard University, had made good in the oil industry where he rose to become Executive Vice Chairman at Exxon Mobil.

So, his emergence as a junior minister under the austere President Mohammed Buhari as substantive minister in the ministry was fancied and fantasised by Nigerians to bring an end to the age-long troubles bedevilling that sector. It would turn out to be a mere fantasy after all. Kachikwu had, in an interview with the BBC in 2017, vowed to resign if Nigeria continued to import fuel by 2019.

In the interview, Kachikwu promised to deliver on the completion of the refineries, noting that he was committed to delivering a future for oil in Nigeria. “2019 is the target time… I target 2019. If I don’t achieve it, I will walk (resign)…I put the date and I will achieve it,” the minister had said.

Alas, by the end of 2018, Kachikwu sheepishly recanted, saying that Nigeria’s desire to achieve fuel sufficiency may not be realisable in 2019 but in 2020. According to him, 10 out of over 20 private modular refineries of about 400,000 refining capacity have shown serious commitment, three of which he said may come on stream in 2019 while the Dangote refinery is expected to be operational in 2020.

While Kachikwu failed to deliver on this particular promise, he has sadly continued with the despicable practice of oil swap deals, which involved Nigerian oil traders who wish to exchange their crude oil for equivalent petroleum products. It was a practice taken to a whole different level by former Minister of Petroleum, Mrs Diezani Allison-Madueke.

A report released recently by the Nigerian Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative, NEITI, disclosed that through the controversial crude oil swap deals, Nigeria lost $723 million (N221.5 billion) in opaque, fraud-prone arrangements to foreign and local firms. Specifically, the report said the losses occurred through the Offshore Processing Arrangement that involved the allocation of crude oil to select oil firms and traders, under swap contract terms in exchange for those firms to supply refined petroleum products for local consumption.

A source informed The Capital that Nigeria cannot be independent of oil imports as Kachikwu promised because “The reality on the ground is that the reconditioning work is far from finished. The lack of progress can be largely pinned down to a governmental failure to reach an agreement with the Indian firms that had wished to invest up to $15 billion in Nigeria’s existing refinery units .

Kachikwu was unable to conclude the partnership, bowing to pressure from the Nigerian traders that have a very strong interest in continuing to import petroleum products to the country.” Further, the source disclosed that another possibility for ramping up petroleum product output is through the modular refineries in the Niger Delta but are a long way off being able to make up for the low output of the existing refineries. This is why different respondents have averred that his handover notes to the president should be boldly captioned ‘Incompetence Writ Large.’

 

 

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