By Patience Omoha
Alhaji Muhammad Saleh-Hassan, an oil and gas stakeholder and Chairman, Skymark Energy and Power Ltd, says Nigeria will become Africa’s hub for refined petroleum products within the next two years.
Saleh-Hassan made this assertion in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) and some select newsmen in Abuja on Friday.
According to him, the feat will be achieved due to the efforts made by President Muhammadu Buhari’s Administration.
He said that the energy sector would soon change for the better, particularly with the ongoing efforts like refurbishing and rebuilding the nation’s petroleum refineries by the Federal Government.
According to him, President Buhari being the Minister of Petroleum Resources and Mr Mele Kyari, the Group Managing Director of Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) are already on the brink of turning around the oil and gas sector for optimal benefits to Nigerians.
“The refineries will certainly soon begin to operate in full swing and fulfill the yearnings of the populace. It is expected that by 2023/2024, Nigeria would become Africa’s hub of refined petroleum products.
“This is the direction of NNPC Limited and it is focused on this feat, which is achievable. Whatever pains that Nigerians are passing through now is a matter of time. As it is now, it is a no pain, no gain situation.
“Nigerians should be rest assured that the perennial crisis in the oil sector will soon be over.
“This is sequel to the Federal Government’s ongoing efforts to rebuild the refineries and transform Nigeria to Africa’s hub of refined oil products and export nation,” he said.
Saleh-Hassan explained that under Buhari and Kyari, the oil sector is witnessing a massive turn around by their proactive and meticulous efforts which transformed the NNPC to a limited and profit-oriented company.
He noted that the corporation’s new business-inclined status had seen it declare profits, which also culminated in ensuring its stability and contributed massively to the nation’s economic growth.
The Skymark Energy boss expressed his dismay that trillions of naira had in the past been wasted on the refurbishment of refineries under different administrations but they failed to function maximally.
“For the first time, the three refineries in the country in Port Harcourt, Warri and Kaduna have witnessed some measures of stability, compared to the past administrations when they were in a comma with attendant perennial crisis in the nation’s oil sector.
“But currently, all the refineries have been functioning consistently due to some degrees of turn around maintenance, inspired by the Buhari-led administration, as well as Kyari’s leadership as the NNPC’s helmsman,” he said.
According to him, NNPC Limited has been completely turned around through the strong synergy between them.
“In other words, the insinuations in the public domain that refurbishment of Nigerian refineries is a cheer waste of public funds due to past failures do not hold waters.
“What NNPC Limited and the Federal Government are doing is not just refurbishment but rebuilding of the refineries. Obviously, 21st century technology expertise is being put in place by the current leadership to achieve the purpose.
“So, Nigerians should put the worries of the past behind and look forward to new development being inspired by the current government’s concern and sincerity,” Saleh-Hassan said.
Saleh-Hassan also explained that the difference in leadership and expertise, meant that what had failed to work over the years could now begin to work because there was a new Sheriff in town.
The oil industry expert explained that the refineries might currently appear to be functioning at a low ebb due to the increased population of the country, compared to the ‘70s and ‘80s when they were built.
He added that the population boom also occasioned increased number of vehicles and other oil consumer facilities, coupled with the fact that some African countries also depend on Nigeria for refined petroleum products, putting pressure on the refineries.
The energy industry player said that the Dangote Refinery, which would soon come on stream would go a long way in bolstering domestic refining of petroleum and boosting its domestic supply.
He said, “There are indications that NNPC Limited has about 20 percent stake at Dangote refineries being built in Lekki, Lagos. It is Nigeria’s crude oil that will be channeled there for refining.
“By the time all the three Nigerian refineries and Dangote’s refinery synergise, the Nigeria would no longer export crude oil to foreign countries to be refined and brought back to us at exorbitant prices.
“Refining will be done locally here to inspire affordable and stable oil price. Importation of refined oil shall become a thing of the past.
“This is a legacy that Buhari’s administration and Kyari’s leadership at the NNPC Limited would be remembered for. So, I encourage Nigerians to be patient as better days are ahead for us in the oil sector.
“Interestingly too, huge employments would be generated for Nigerians when all the refineries are fully put in place.”
Saleh-Hassan also justified the money being spent by the Federal Government on fuel subsidy, stressing that removing oil subsidy would shake the nation’s economy and negatively impact the masses.
He explained that retaining the subsidy was synonymous with the federal government paying the people’s bills.
According to him, while the world is currently groaning due to the rise in oil prices, due to the Russia-Ukraine war, Nigerians are not feeling the pains as much due to the steady subsidy in place, adding that the Federal Government is the one bearing the burden.
“One gallon of PMS is about N3,000 dollars per litre in Europe, but a litre is still N165.00 in Nigeria. It is the subsidy that guarantees this huge relief for Nigerians.
“For me, Buhari and Kyari deserve applause for this gesture. They are geniuses for guaranteeing the subsidy in the interest of the masses.
“If refineries begin to function after rebuilding them and subsidy is removed, then there would be no need for the subsidy.
“Then taxes could be removed from other products and services and prices would drop and Nigerians’ living conditions would improve significantly,” Saleh-Hassan added.(NAN)(www.nannews.ng)
Edited by Mark Longyen/Isaac Aregbesola