The Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Dr. Ibe Kachikwu, has said he would resign if Nigeria continues to import oil by 2019.
Kachikwu said this in an interview on BBC’s programme, Hardtalk with Stephen Sackur on Monday (today).
As part of the BBC’s Trading Fortunes season focusing on global trade, Sackur had spoken to Kachikwu.
In the 23-minute encounter, Sackur had noted that when President Muhamadu Buhari won the Nigerian presidency two years ago, it seemed like Africa’s most populous nation had turned a corner.
He said that a first ever peaceful, democratic transition brought a promise of cleaner, better governance, and major economic reform.
Then the question, “Two years on, how has it gone? Can oil-dependent Nigeria transform itself into a modern trading economy? Nigeria remains dangerously over-reliant on oil…
Kachikwu responds: “Oh, yes, clearly over-reliant, but whether that is dangerous… I look at the positive side of oil also in terms of what it’s done to a country over the years. But when the price slumps, it’s dangerous.
“But we’ll love to see a lot more diversification, a lot more efforts going into agriculture, emphasis on tourism and services…”
When reminded that despite Nigeria’s growing reputation as a rising global economic power, it has entered a recession, Kachikwu posits that the numbers are actually getting better
“When is Nigeria going to be sufficient in terms of refined petroleum?” Sackur asked, to which Kachikwu replies, “2019 is the target time.”
The minister said, “I target 2019. If I don’t achieve it, I will walk (away). I put the date and I’ll achieve it.
“I have delivered on all that I have promised when I came into office. First, I took Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation and made it a profit-making organisation. This is the first time such is happening. I reshaped the organisation.
“I removed cash call deficits of over $6bn and renegotiated it. I will deliver on the refineries and I’m committed to it. I will deliver a future for oil that makes sense for Nigeria.
“I can’t pretend that we’re going to solve in one day all the problems that happened in Nigeria in the past…”
“You’re running out of time,” Sackur reminded the minister, to which Kachikwu says, “Don’t worry; I put the date, I’ll work it.”
“And if you don’t achieve it?” asks Sachur. Kachikwu replies, “I’ll walk. That’s accountability.”
He added that he had already begun the process required for him to achieve this set objective, saying, “We have been able to get them to produce 7m litres of oil versus zero. That’s not the 90 per cent template, we are now refurbishing the refineries.
“I have just signed an agreement with Agip to build refineries in Nigeria and we are focusing on multinationals…”
Kachikwu expressed regrets that Nigeria still imports crude oil, instead of exporting at this point in time.
“We ought to process rather than ship out crude; and if you look at all the efforts that I have made in the last few months, including major efforts working with investors to begin to re-shape the refineries…”
Earlier, the interview had delved into President Muhammadu Buhari’s health. Sackur asked, “What is the state of Buhari’s health: have you seen him, have you heard anything about him…?
Kachikwu responds, “Well, he is in London; he’s undergoing hospital treatment. I don’t know the details of that. I obviously wouldn’t know. But let me say this… he’s back in London, he’s continued some levels of meetings… He has a very efficient vice-president who is sitting in for him in his absence…”