10 January 2014, Sweetcrude, Lagos – To tackle the epileptic power supply that plagues individuals in Nigeria, at best diesel or kerosene generators are used back-to-back with some costs subsidized by functional inverters. The average Nigerian is not so fortunate and does not have the luxury of choice but has to do with either a hybrid inverter or a kerosene generator. Most Nigerians fall into the category of those who are stranded in badly ventilated environments and can neither afford a generator nor an inverter. They are reduced to suffering the noise pollution as well as the exposure to the cancerous toxins of fumes from their neighbor’s generators. Nigeria leadership must prescribe gas utilisation and zero flare incentives such as those that resulted in viable gas utilisation projects.
The growth and development of natural gas utilisation in Nigeria has been constrained by a lack of political will to put in place the appropriate policy, incentives and fiscal regime that would stimulate domestic gas utilization. It is most appropriate to question the government of President Goodluck Jonathan, his Minister of Petroleum Resources, Minister of Power, Minister of Works, Minister of Interior and Minister of Mines and Steel Development on their inability to deliver developmental assets to Nigerians as promised during the launch of the Gas Revolution in March 2011.
Looking at the colorful and well packaged write up by newspapers as well as the publicity that went with the gas revolution launch, I wonder where the plan got mixed up if at all there was one. President Goodluck Jonathan announced at the launch, the rebirth of Nigeria’s industrialization in Abuja to great applause by industry watchers, emphasizing that it is vital for the diversification of the economy for national development. He assured the investors, notably Xenel of Saudi Arabia, Nargajuna of India and Chevron in Nigeria of Government’s readiness to provide the necessary support. President Jonathan is quoted as saying: “this aspiration to reindustrialize Nigeria is aggressive and can only be achieved through a revolution”.
Not only have these quotes become an embarrassment to the President and his Minister of Petroleum Resources but it is now evidence of the levity with which statements are made by the leadership in Nigeria. To have invited Nargajuna, Xenel and Chevron representatives to a gathering when there was no actual plan in place to ensure that three years afterwards some of the nine (two world-scale petrochemical and fertilizer companies, as well as five fertilizer blending plants, a methanol plant, a Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG) distribution plant) line items of capital investment mentioned exists is such a shame. Key and notable figures at the event include the Governor of Delta State, former GMD, NNPC, Engr. Austen Oniwon, the Vice President of Nigeria, members of the Federal Executive Council etc.
It is no news that all is not well with the Nigerian Oil and Gas industry. If the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and the Commander in Chief of the Armed forces of Nigeria promised that the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) would enjoy a quick passage, in March 2011, not only to Nigerians but to dignitaries from Saudi Arabia and India as well as representatives of a US based International Oil Company, I wonder what credibility we have as a nation if almost three years later the bill has not been passed. Also, the Minister of Petroleum resources is quoted as saying that $1billion was to be spent in 5 years on seismic data gathering, aeromagnetic surveys, exploration and appraisal drilling, gas is not fully monetized and there is no incentive for the exploration and production of non-associated gas. Nigeria desperately needs credible and committed leaders, who not only understand but mean what they say and say what they mean. To accomplish this they need dedicated foot soldiers and not sycophants so that they follow through on their utterances. If our nation must come out of its current state of accelerated regression we not only need a gas revolution but a mind revolution. Can our President and Minister improve the lot of us Nigerians by implementing the various uncompleted plans they have laid out since 2011 and the long awaited gas revolution before it is too late?
*Dr. Ibilola Amao is the Principal Consultant with Lonadek Oil and Gas Consultants Limited, a firm of technical consultants with their core competence in the area of Local Content and Vendor Development.