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Before we crucify Ibe Kachikwu

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Before we crucify Ibe Kachikwu

Before we crucify Ibe Kachikwu
March 31
08:09 2016

• The petroleum minister’s progressive steps in the troubled oil sector

By Lanre Alfred

It wouldn’t be hyperbolic to say that Emmanuel Ibe Kachikwu has a patriot’s heart and the soul of a revolutionary. Whatever that translates to, this is not to launder the image of Kachikwu, Honourable Minister of State, Petroleum Resources and substantive boss of Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) but to assert the fidelity and stoic perseverance of genius within the footholds of power and a troubled oil sector.

Kachikwu was supposed to be that unsullied force of hope that would endow President Muhammadu Buhari’s patriotic, heartfelt efforts to rid the nation’s oil sector of ineptitude and corruption. He is. More significantly, he is expected to imbue the underperforming NNPC and associated subsidiaries with verve and the efficacy that had always eluded the public institutions. In this respect, the incumbent Minister of State for Petroleum hasn’t fared too badly. He is taken purposeful steps that translates to the advancement of the oil industry.

There is no gainsaying his current charge requires him to revivify the oil sector as a lucrative cash cow and Kachikwu undoubtedly understands his brief and is following it to the minutest detail – considering the decisive and futuristic measures he has initiated in the sector. As you read, Kachikwu isn’t cruising outside the oil sector’s stormy clime, he is riding the tide and this is no doubt encouraging.

Thus it would be too hasty and highly premature to write-off his administration of the oil sector as bereft of ideas. Kachikwu definitely knows his onions. The recent developments in the petroleum sector of our economy, especially with regards to the downstream sub-sector and the reform initiated by the Honourable Minister of State, Petroleum Resources and his team are laudable and should be followed through.

The challenges currently being faced by the downstream sub-sector and the economy in general, a key effect of which is the shortfall in the supply of petrol nationwide, predate the appointment of Dr. Kachikwu as a Minister. However he, as a dogged fighter and a patriotic Nigerian called to serve, is confronting these challenges headlong.

Hitherto, foreign exchange which is the key financial instrument of importation was readily available and marketers easily sourced same to effect payment for fuel imports however, at the moment, things have changed and the entire country is aware of the global crash of oil prices and huge reduction in the revenue accruing to the nation. The resultant effect is that scarce foreign exchange has to be managed for all sectors of the economy.

Aside from the challenges of sourcing scarce forex to import current fuel needs, all the local banks are now saddled with Past Due Obligations (PDOs) to their foreign counterpart banks as marketers in the petroleum sector, currently owe foreign suppliers in excess of US$1.300bn (One billion, three hundred million US dollars) in unpaid but matured Letters of Credit for petrol imported and consumed in the country from September 2014 and December 2015. This is due to shortfall in forex supply. Consequently, oil traders that would normally keep vessels laden with PMS floating around the West African coast have since gone elsewhere.

Dr. Ibe Kachikwu, in an effort to resolve this problem for fuel importers, initiated the usage of NNPC forex sales proceeds by marketers through their various banks and this has indeed helped in averting a complete grounding of the sector. It is also noteworthy that it is the efforts of this team led by Dr. Kachikwu that saved the nation over N200bn naira in subsidy claims through their deft management of the Petroleum Support Fund in the first quarter of 2016.

It is worth mentioning that the international suppliers we depend on, in the month of March, just before the advent of summer, usually divert and focus all supply activities on the North American axis which results in shortfall in supplies to the West African coast, with the result there are either no premium motor spirit (petrol) cargoes or we pay a higher premium to receive any PMS cargo along the West African Coast at this time.

The steps already taken by both the Kachikwu and his principal, President Buhari, whose experience and credentials speak for them, will become manifest by mid April. Thus the imperative that Nigerians cultivate faith in their spirited efforts which are geared towards ensuring that petrol is readily available across the country at affordable price.

Today, Kachikwu’s genius and patriotism is never in doubt; the uncanny coincidence and inconveniences foisted by the lingering fuel scarcity notwithstanding, Kachikwu and his principal, President Buhari, have the interest of the citizenry at heart. The Minister of State, Petroleum Resources is committed to the amelioration of the citizenry’s woes. Like his principal, he understands that, he is answerable to the people and responsible for the development of the nation’s oil sector.

It wouldn’t be too demanding thus to request for the nation’s patience and understanding as he implements his progressive measures geared to reform and enhance the growth of the nation’s oil sector from a slumbering giant to a productive cash cow.

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Mujeeb

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