the past fortnight no issue has captivated the attention of
Nigerians more than the important milestone of President Muhammadu
Buhariís first 100 days in office as the democratically elected
leader of the nation. In the rabid debates that have ensued,
opinions were sharply divided between those who insist on holding
the president to account for the many things he allegedly promised
to deliver with the period, and those who swear that he gave no
particular deadline to deliver on anything.
could be expected in any public debate in the post-Jonathan era, not
a few commentators especially those sympathetic to the opposition,
still appear to be shell-shocked at the outcome of the elections.
Slander, invariably floored commonsense in their jaundiced
contributions to what, ordinarily, should have been a civilized
discourse determined by facts and available statistics. Even so, a
few facts were generally thought to be incontrovertible for their
prevalence in the last 100 days, by an overwhelming majority.
Those facts include, the widely acknowledged improvement in the
electricity supply situation in the country; the steady availability
of petroleum products at the approved pump prices, as well as the
undeniable progress in the ongoing military effort to degrade the
capacity of Boko Haram to wage war on the country, which has seen
the cowardly terrorist group resort to sneaky attacks on soft
targets in the Northeast.
fourth, and arguably the most significant achievement, was
succinctly captured by my good friend the Special Adviser to the
President on Media the other day. The piece he wrote to commemorate
his principalís 100 days in office titled ďA new Sheriff is in
townĒ, Femi Adesina, correctly attributed the modest progress that
has been achieved so far to attitudinal change we have witnessed in
the conduct of public officers to the aura of competence and
incorruptibility President Buhari has brought to the corridors of
power in the past three months.
one area in which the presidentís aura and body language appears to
have produced significant results is in the oil sector, particularly
in the sudden turn-around in the fortunes of the nationís
refineries. Only yesterday, the Kaduna refinery was reported to have
resumed production, almost three months after the successful
Turn-Around Maintenance (TAM) of the one at Port Harcourt.
all the refineries are fully back in production, the nation should
be able to meet a large percentage of its daily domestic consumption
requirements. The improved supply of petroleum products in turn is
expected to impact on almost every sector of our economy including
our capacity to generate sufficient gas to feed our thermal power
Already, the long fuel queues Nigerians had become accustomed to in
the recent past which paralyzed economic activities for prolonged
periods, have disappeared, along with the perpetual threats from
fuel marketers who held the previous government to ransom whenever
they wanted for the non-payment of their subsidy rents. A chance
meeting with a reliable insider with the Port Harcourt refinery in
particular provided me with multiple and spectacular perspectives on
how the remarkable improvements were achieved.
was told, for instance, that before the outcome of last presidential
elections, morale of the management and staff of the nationís four
refineries was at rock bottom. They were aware that a large colony
of emergency contractors that lived on the rent from the dubious oil
subsidy regime had not only evolved over time, but were also
incredibly influential. They almost determined how the sector was
same oil marketers also knew that their very survival depended on
the total collapse or dysfunctional national refineries to justify
the fuel import regime. The various unions were aware of this. They
also knew that the Jonathan administration had no inclination to
repair the refineries. In fact, the former president was predisposed
to sell-off the refineries, and even to have a clear strategy on how
to achieve the goal using the dubious privatization program.
Using the profoundly corrupt but deadly efficient Nigerian
privatization template, the refineries, which, under normal
circumstance, were supposed to undergo TAM every two years, were
allowed to rot and decay with the ultimate goal of selling them off
as scrap to carefully chosen proxies. Those plans failed because of
the close scrutiny of industry experts, including opposition from
the various petroleum industry unions whose members would have been
speedily laid off if the sales had gone ahead.
Having failed in the effort to sell-off the refineries, the same
unions were left perplexed when, suddenly, in the lead-up to the
last general elections, a plan was hatched out of nowhere to conduct
the Turn-Around-Maintenance (TAM) of the Port Harcourt refinery
which was neglected for more than six years at the astonishing cost
of 297 US dollars. Mercifully, the plan failed to sail only because
of the security concerns raised by the same Italian company selected
for the job. Luckily for Nigerians, President Jonathan lost the
elections in spectacular fashion.
the specter of the potential sale of their beloved refinery suddenly
removed, a combined team of local contractors and indigenous
engineers in the Port Harcourt refinery, commenced the TAM of the
facility on the 14th of May, 2015 even before the Buhari
administration was inaugurated under its current management led by
the Managing Director Engr. Bafred Audu Enjugu who was appointed to
the post in March, 2014. The team successfully completed the job in
July. Even more significantly, the entire repair of the refinery
cost the nation less than 10 million dollars!
two Port Harcourt refineries, I reliably gathered, are well ahead of
schedule towards achieving their installed capacity for refining a
combined total of 210 barrels of crude oil per day following their
successful TAM. They are also on scheduled to commence the
production of high-grade jet A1 aviation fuel this month. When the
upgrade is completely, the refinery will have the capacity to
produce 700 million liters of aviation fuel annually.
Presently, the refinery is supplied with crude from barges through
the Okrika jetty, but plans are also at an advanced stage to
rehabilitate the dedicated pipelines laid to supply crude to the
facility. Like the refinery itself, the pipelines also suffered from
vandalism and neglect in the past.
source was full of praise for the current Management of the refinery
particularly the new MD who has shunned the hotel suite he is
entitled to and now lives permanently in Life Camp in the refinery
complex from where he monitors the improvement efforts round the
MD also earned the respect and affection of his colleagues through
the various change management initiatives he introduced to transform
the refinery from a major cost center to one that is also capable of
operating like a commercial enterprise. Key to those initiatives has
been the recourse to the automation of key processes and staff
motivation through various welfare platforms, including the
rejigging of shift system that has enhanced individual staff
productivity by three hours.
Needless to add, of course, that the management of the refinery is
lucky because the new Group Managing Director of the NNPC, Dr.
Emmanuel Ibe Kachikwu is someone whose private sector mentality is
considered a monumental asset that will be crucial in the
comprehensive reform of the sector. Without his support and
encouragement, I reliably gathered, the current efforts to infuse
life into the refineries using local content would have been
Adesina may have been too modest to state the obvious, but the
election of President Buhari, also triggered a virtual domino effect
which has generated its own momentum. The momentum has delivered a
devastating uppercut to all nuances of incompetence and mediocrity
in appointments to public offices in the current dispensation.
a leader is not corrupt, or susceptible to corrupt influences, he is
able to do the right things such as the appointment of the right
people to fill important public institutions. Inevitably, his
appointees also know that they must avoid putting round pegs into
square holes. As we await the next Petroleum Minister, the ongoing
reforms in the sector which is reliant on the use of our local
engineers and contractors for the overhaul of the refineries has
already inspired confidence.
is a win-win situation for the country.