21 July 2014, Sweetcrude, Lagos – Tributes are pouring in for departed former Petroleum Resources Minister and ex-president and secretary general of the Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries, OPEC, Dr Rilwanu Lukman.
Lukman passed on in the early hours of Monday at the age of 76 in an undisclosed hospital in Vienna, Austria of a yet to be disclosed ailment.
Tributes have come from President Goodluck Jonathan, OPEC Secretariat, Mr. Funsho Kupolokun, erstwhile Group Managing Director of the NNPC and former assistant to President Olusegun Obasanjo on Petroleum matters; Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon. Aminu Waziri Tambuwal; Governor Mukhtar Ramalan Yero of Kaduna State, the International Institute for Petroleum, Energy Law and Policy, IIPELP, among others.
In a statement issued by Dr. Reuben Abati, the presidential Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, President Jonathan condoled with the deceased’s family, the government and people of Kaduna State as well as his friends, associates and those he mentored both in the Nigerian and international oil industry.
Describing the former minister as a brilliant engineer, technocrat and administrator, he noted that he spent almost all his life serving Nigeria and the international community, in various capacities.
“As Alhaji Lukman’s soul returns to its Maker, President Jonathan joins all who knew him in giving thanks to God Almighty for bestowing him on the nation and for the great intelligence, integrity, competence and humility with which he distinguished himself in all his national and international assignments,” the statement read.
It added: “Nigeria, the President firmly believes, will always owe a huge debt of gratitude to the late Petroleum Minister for his very significant contributions to the development of the country’s oil and gas industry, and for serving with acclaimed distinction as the nation’s representative at the helm of OPEC affairs over many years.”
In a statement issued in Vienna, OPEC said its departed former president and secretary general was highly regarded in the global petroleum industry and had the best interests of Nigeria and OPEC at heart.
It commiserated with the government and people of Nigeria over the death. “Our thoughts and prayers are with Dr. Lukman’s family at this difficult time.
“He was widely recognized and highly regarded in the global petroleum industry; a loyal and dedicated man, who had the best interests of Nigeria and OPEC at heart. His service to OPEC is a very long list.
“He was OPEC Secretary General for six years between 1995 and 2000 and served as President of the OPEC Conference on a record number of occasions between 1986 and 1989 and in 2002,” the statement by the OPEC Secretariat said.
It listed Lukman’s achievements as secretary general to include steering the Organisation through the Asian financial crisis in 1997 and 1998, managing OPEC’s participation with member countries in the very early United Nations COP meetings, overseeing the second OPEC Summit of Head of State and Government in Venezuela in 2000 and helping evolve the producer-consumer dialogue.
In his reaction, Mr. Funsho Kupolokun, erstwhile Group Managing Director of the NNPC and former assistant to President Olusegun Obasanjo on Petroleum matters, said Dr. Lukman ‘was a great man and anybody who worked with him would come to the same conclusion’.
“We worked together when I was at the NNPC and he was a minister, he did quite a number of things and the NNPC made significant progress.
“We worked together again when he was made Adviser to the President on Petroleum Matters between 1999 and 2003. During this period we worked very closely and he was the gentleman of the house. He was Chairman of the Board of NNPC and Adviser to the President and he excelled in these roles.
“I spent a night at his place in December 2013, but then his health was already a challenge. God gives and God takes, so it is with everybody and so it is with Dr. Lukman,” Kupolokun said on telephone t0 SweetcrudeReports.
Reacting to the development, speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon Tambuwal, said he was shocked by the news. Tambuwal, according to a statement issued by his Special Adviser on Media and Public Affairs, Malam Imam Imam, described the former minister and OPEC guru as a thorough-bred technocrat.
Lukman, he said, would be remembered for his performance as OPEC President between 1986 and 1994 and later as its secretary general between 1994 and the year 2000.
Governor Alero of Kaduna State, in his tribute, described the passing of Lukman as a great loss not only to Kaduna State and Nigeria but to the entire world, saying the world would miss his wealth of experience in the energy sector.
The governor, in a statement by his Director-General, Media and Publicity, Ahmed Maiyaki, recalled the persistent effort by Lukman at reforming the petroleum sector especially during his second stint as Petroleum Minister during the administration of the late President Umaru Yar’adua.
Also reacting, the International Institute for Petroleum, Energy Law and Policy, IIPELP, expressed sorrow at the death of Lukman.
The Institute said in a statement obtained by SweetcrudeReports in Abuja: “We are deeply saddened at the sudden passing on of Lukman, we will miss him and his leadership a great deal.” According to the statement, Lukman was a trusted advisor and worthy ambassador to the institute.