By Femi Adesina
President Muhammadu Buhari on Monday inaugurated Dangote Petroleum Refinery in Ibeju-Lekki, Lagos, which is expected to enable Nigeria to achieve self-sufficiency in refined products and even have surplus for export.
Speaking at the occasion attended by Heads of State from Ghana, Togo, Niger, Senegal and a representative of the President of Chad, the President 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.
The President 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 in order 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 barriers to trade and energize our youthful population to scale up our productive capacity.
‘‘We must create necessary conditions for our private sector to grow and partner with the public sector to accelerate economic growth across the continent.
‘‘We must not allow outside powers to use some of our leaders to destabilize our economic and political trajectory,’’ he said.
President Buhari acknowledged the visionary investments made by the Dangote Group, under the leadership of Dangote, in transforming Nigeria’s economy through its involvement in critical industries such as cement and fertilizer.
He noted that investment in these sectors have played a crucial role in shifting Nigeria from heavy import dependence to becoming a net exporter.
President Buhari acknowledged that Nigeria’s economy has faced significant challenges over the years, including deficits in economic infrastructure, insurgency, and external crises such as the Global Financial Crisis, oil price collapses, the COVID-19 pandemic, and the Russia-Ukraine war.
‘‘The consequence of these challenges constitute a severe strain on our economy, limiting Government’s ability to provide basic infrastructure without resorting to huge borrowings.
‘‘Our Government, therefore, took the decision to focus attention on creating an enabling environment for the private sector to thrive and fill the enormous gap in investments not only in infrastructure but also in all critical sectors.
‘‘We recognize that without the active participation of the private sector and a strong commitment to public private partnership, our economy would continue to remain severely challenged and our economic growth impeded.
‘‘Government therefore, will and should continue to provide an enabling environment and encourage innovative public private partnerships in all sectors of our economy,’’ he said.
The President emphasized the administration’s commitment to this approach, citing Executive Order 007 of 2019 which facilitated the rehabilitation/construction of many roads by private sector investors using a Tax-credit scheme.
‘‘It is my hope that the succeeding Administration will continue to apply such innovative schemes in partnership with the private sector to accelerate the provision of critical infrastructure in particular roads, power and gas pipelines,’’ he said.
Alhaji Aliko Dangote emphasised the refinery’s role in fulfilling the group’s corporate vision of promoting self-sufficiency and global competitiveness.
”We have built a Refinery with a capacity to process 650,000 barrels per day (plus 900,000 tonnes of polypropylene) in a single train – which is the largest in the world. We have selected the best plants and equipment and the latest technologies from across the world.
”Our products slate is designed to meet the highest quality standards and high-value products including Premium Motor Spirit (PMS), Automotive Gas Oil (Diesel), Aviation Turbine Kerosine (ATK); all of Euro V Standards that will enable us not only meet our Country’s demand but also to become a key player in the African and global market.
”Our coastal location and offshore loading and offloading (SPM) facilities with a capacity to receive all our crude oil supplies and evacuate up to 75% of our liquid products give us direct access to the rest of Africa and the global market for exports. In addition, 80 percent of our production can be discharged through trucks nationwide.”
He disclosed that the huge investment of over $18.5billion in this industry was prompted by the company’s desire to support and contribute its quota to the Federal Government’s sustained effort to transform the economy and reposition Nigeria as the leading nation in Africa, and a respected member among emerging economies in the world.
According to him, apart from ensuring a consistent supply of high-quality fuels for the transportation sector, the refinery will provide essential raw materials to a wide range of manufacturing sectors, including plastics, pharmaceuticals, food and beverages, packaging, construction, and more.
He further stated that the refinery’s operation and related businesses would generate a substantial number of job opportunities, while the downstream supply and distribution of its products would significantly contribute to the absorption of labor, potentially benefiting hundreds of thousands of individuals.
”Once our plant is fully on stream, we expect that at least 40% of the capacity will be available for export and this will result in significant Foreign Exchange inflows into the country.
Overall, we are committed to operating our Plant in line with international best practice requirements, recognizing the importance of protecting the environment, and putting in place stringent environmental, health and safety policies to ensure that the Refinery operates in a safe and sustainable manner,” he said.
Views exclusive rights: Femi Adesina, Special Adviser to the President, Media and Publicity, May 22, 2023.