Nigeria’s minister of state for petroleum, Ibe Kachikwu has insisted that the country would stop importing refined petroleum products in 2019, noting that the country “must process rather than ship out oil.”
Kachikwu said he would walk away from his job if the 2019 target, which he claimed he set for himself, is not achieved.
“2019 is the target time…I target 2019. If I don’t achieve it, I will walk…I put the date and I will achieve it,” the minister told BBC’s Stephen Sackur on ‘Hardtalk’.
But he did not state when in 2019 the target would be met and how and why he would have to “walk away” since the tenure of the present government ends on May 29, 2018.
Part of his plans includes reshaping the almost ‘comatose’ refineries, which he said have been able to produce seven million litres since 2015. He also hopes the construction of a new refinery, for which an MoU has been signed, would help achieve his target.
In spite of the government’s effort to ensure the oil and gas industry is reformed to achieve self-sufficiency, better performance and reduced corrupt practices, Kachikwu says Nigeria could not afford to continue being a monolithic economy, especially in view of the slump in the price of oil.
“I look at the positive side of oil also in terms of what it’s done to a country over the years. But when the price slumps, it’s dangerous,” he continues.
“But we will love to see a lot more diversification, a lot more efforts going into agriculture, emphasis on tourism.”
He concedes that militancy in the Niger Delta had dented, albeit temporarily, his projection for Nigeria’s oil self-sufficiency.
Nigeria normally produces around 2.2 million barrels per day (BPD), but output dropped to a low of 1.4 BPD this year due to militants’ attacks. The attacks were also largely responsible for the country’s negative economic growth.
Efforts by the government are on-going to ensure the relative peace in the region continues. Such efforts are devoid of buying off the militants, Kachikwu says.
Late 2016, he told a press conference in Abuja that he expected zero shutdowns of oil production as a result of militancy in 2017, hanging his optimism on “fairly good, fairly civilised dialogue” held with the militants.
“The militants in the Niger Delta disrupted production and got us this longer to solve…and it is taking a lot of work from me, some in the Niger Delta…and the vice president to get back on track,” he says.
But with a new attack on a pipeline operated by the Nigerian Gas Company Limited, a subsidiary of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, on Saturday, Kachikwu’s dream maybe on the line.