BY BEN OSUAGWU


Nigeria is one of the largest oil producing nations in the world. It is indeed the 5th largest oil producing nations. Prior to the discovery of oil in Nigeria in 1956 at Iho in Ikeduru Local Government Area of Imo State and later at Oloibiri in Rivers State,Nigeria was thriving in various areas of national development such as agriculture, mining and industrialization using local and some imported materials. At the discovery of oil, the Leaders of the country abandoned Agriculture, Mining and other areas of national infrastructural development and focused on oil because it was the easiest way of acquiring legal and illegal wealth. With this oil discovery, the youths joined in the abandonment of handiwork to make a living, All attentions were on oil.and oil bunkering. This situation brought the nation’s Gross National Development and Gross Domestic Products to a monolistic economy.


In doing this, Nigeria started all its budget with other nations currency especially United States of America Dollar.
It became a situation where what the Dollar is in the market that will determine the nation’s economic growth. Unfortunately, the Nigerian-nation’s Economic Planners failed to understand that any country that builds its budget on another nation’s currency hardly makes any development, because other nations manipulate the situations as they favour them.
In 1976, Nigeria hosted the whole world through WHAT was called Africa Festival of Arts and Culture FESTAC. During this period all witches and wizards from across the globe were brought into the country. Many people saw the event as the beginning of the fall of the so called Africa’s most populated giant. It was also at this occasion that the leader of the country then General Yakubu Gowon told the world that Nigeria has money but does not know what to do with it. Thereafter the nation’s economy began to dwindle as the western nations started to teach Nigeria how and what to do with their money. The naira which was a very strong currency over many nations currencies immediately began to fall below other nations currencies. Prior to this period, Nigeria had only one refinery at Alesa Port Harcourt built in 1965 with a capacity of 38,000 barrels per day by the Shell Petroleum and British Petroleum to meet domestic needs. Other refineries came up later.
The refineries were Portharcourt, Kaduna, Warri in Niger Delta. The refineries were to built to commence refining of crude oils locally. Some of the refineries functioned briefly and stopped. Portharcourt refinery was with a capacity of
60,000 barrels per day. Warri refinery in 1978 with a capacity of producing 100,000 barrels per day and later upgraded to 125,000 capacity in 1987. Kaduna refinery was built in 1983 to produce 110,000 barrels per day while the fourth Refinery was the Niger Delta Indorama Refinery built in 2006 with a capacity to produce One thousand barrels of oil per day . This refinery was also meant to produce a variety of products such as polyethene and polypropylene. It was also to produce Butene – One production capacity of 22,000 tones per annum(TPA), Polyethene and production capacity of 270,000 tones per annum. At the end of constructing these refineries, many prominent Nigerians were of the opinion that the four refineries were inadequate for the nation’s oil consumption worth more for exportation. A renowned world acclaimed Engineer and Scientist Engineer Emmanuel Iwuanyanwu at that time called on the Federal Government to construct or build refineries in all the states of the federation. The suggestion was that with such a measure petroleum products would be easily accessed by the people and more so reduce transportation cost and other attendant hazards. Engr Iwuanyanwu believed that having refineries in all the States will facilitate intra and inter State connection such that, If any refinery in a State collapses, it will be easy for the State to go to a nearby State to source for the products. Unfortunately, the cabals in the oil sector and their cohorts in government did not listen to sound advice. Rather they continued to play politics of settlement and ethnicity with the industry. This mess in the oil industry has continued to be a Hydra headed cancer and the easiest way of swindling the country, its citizens and the destruction of the economy.
It is on record that various administrations in the country have spent over three trillions of American US Dollars in the maintenance of these refineries, and all the resources went to the drains without yielding any fruitful results. One question Nigeria ask is- who and who are the drainages sucking away these resources meant for the rehabilitation of the refineries. There is this belief that most of the people who have opportunities to revive the oil industry in Nigeria have their refineries abroad and therefore reviving the nation’s refineries would hinder theirs from functioning. Apparently, since the drainages are from some particular parts of the country, they are untouchables and adored parasites.
Also since the four refineries have become bottomless pits of wastages, most Nigerians especially in the Niger Delta region pulled the Bull by the horn through the production of petroleum products in what is carried Modular Refineries. Instead of Government to encourage and supervise their activities, they resort to destroying them, tagging them illegal refineries.Yet the ones under them have failed to meet up with the standard of what these Nigerians are producing.
In November 2020, the former Group Managing Director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Company- NNPC Dr Mele Kyari shut down all the four refineries on the premise that they could no longer be sustained. That year alone Nigeria spent eight billion naira on Kaduna refinery which yielded zero profit.
Furthermore, in March 2022, the Federal Government released one point five billion dollars for the rehabilitation of the Port Harcourt refinery. Till date no one can say what happened with the huge amount of money. During the period under review, the NNPC assured Nigerians that the Port Harcourt refinery would start production by the first quarter of 2023. The whole episode has turned out to be a fairy tale in the banana city. While Nigeria as a nation has been dilly-dallying on the rehabilitation of the refineries, an individual Alhaji Dangote under two years has built and commissioned his personal refinery located in Lagos. This situation proves to all right thinking Nigerians that something sinister is happening in the nation’s oil sector and that those at the helm of affairs are not ready to rehabilitate the refineries. It is also being alleged that the nation’s leaders have pecuniary interest or investment in the Dangote refinery. However many people have clearly supported licensing individuals who are interested in the oil sector/refineries. A school of thought has suggested that what happened in the cement sector should not be allowed to happen in the oil sector. According to the school of thought, them, licenses for cement were given to many people for cement manufacturing and importation but immediately one man went into cement manufacturing other people’s licenses were withdrawn and the price of cement went so high and has remained there till date. Efforts should be made to reduce the cost of cement and other building materials. The Monopoly in that sector should be withdrawn without hesitation and also on other building materials.Nigeria as a nation is too big for one man to monopolise its investments and industrial sector.The situation leaves all Nigerians at the mercy of an individual who dictates the market of any products in his hands.
Unfortunately as Nigerians were waiting to breathe fresh air as a result of the end of tenure of the Muhammadu Buhari Led administration, the Bola Ahmed Tinubu government threw a “mortar bomb” on the doors of Nigerians by removing fuel Subsidy without discussing it with Nigerians. Truly speaking, Nigerians are not averse to the removal of the oil Subsidy. They are only complaining that the timing was ill timed and disastrous. It is a well known indisputable fact that the oil subsidy was a scam through which a cabal is milking Nigeria dry. Majority of the opinions believe that it should have been done some months later after the new government must have studied the files and records of the Scam. How can one believe the story from one of Ministers that 19 billion dollars was spent in the past eight years and yet nothing positive came out of it or even the revelations from the suspended CBN Governor Godwin Emefiele on the gross irresponsibility of money withdrawal of five hundred billion from the Central Bank on monthly basis to an unexisting project only heard in name among Others. All these and more are the reasons why the present regime should study every file on Oil Subsidy and other Ministries. There is no gainsaying the fact that the corruption witnessed in the past eight years has been the worst in the history of Nigeria.
As a way of cushioning the ugly effect of the oil subsidy removal, government should without further delay issue licenses to Nigerians willing to invest in the Oil Sector and importation of Petroleum products pending the rehabilitation of the four abandoned refineries Monopolistic approach of investment must be discouraged. Government should also approve the setting up of modular refineries by individuals and State governments.
Federal Government should as a matter of utmost urgency and importance ensure not only the diversification of the economy but encourage the return of those industries that
left the country because of poor production atmosphere for other West African countries and provide them enabling environment to begin to thrive once again. Their return will boost the economy of the country as well as create opportunities for massive empowerment of the youths and therefore reduce crime rate in the land. Over taxation should be discouraged. The borders should be thrown open for sometime. It should also as a matter of urgency subsidize and release buses to all the State Governments for transportation in their various States and the local governments. If the salaries of workers are to be reviewed Upward, , government should also adjust upward the allowance of Pensioners some of who are still receiving between one thousand and five thousand naira monthly. In developed climes, whenever salaries are reviewed, those of Pensioners are also reveiwed. But in Nigeria, in as much as such a thing is in the rules and regulations, the governments turn black eyes over such. The time to put Nigeria in a proper prospective is now. Nigerians have suffered enough over these years. Their condition should be ameriolated with improved better living standards, good governance and adequate enabling environment to breathe free fresh air given to them by God. .

FROM BEN OSUAGWU
FMR STATE CHAIRMAN NIGERIA n UNION OF JOURNALISTS, IMO STATE COUNCIL.

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