President Muhammadu Buhari has on Monday, May 22, commissioned Dangote Petroleum Refinery at Ibeju-Lekki, Lagos, which would enable Nigeria to achieve self-sufficiency in refined products and even have surplus for export.
While speaking at the well attended event, Buhari described the feat as a significant milestone for Nigeria’s economy and a game changer for the downstream petroleum products market in the entire African region. ‘‘This mega industry we are commissioning today is a clear example of what can be achieved when entrepreneurs are encouraged and supported and when an enabling environment is created for investments and for businesses to thrive.
‘‘I am confident that my successor, His Excellency Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, will sustain the improvement in our economic and business environment and strengthen the framework of our public private partnership policies to accelerate the pace of our economic growth and development.
‘‘I am happy to leave our economy in very competent hands,’’ he said.
He commended Aliko Dangote’s leadership in executing the 650,000 barrels per day refinery and urged other entrepreneurs to emulate him in the effort to drive economic growth and realise Nigeria’s economic potentials. The presidents from other African countries who attended agreed with Buhari on the need for African countries to come together, integrate their economies, eliminate trade barriers, and rally their populations to achieve Agenda 2063 for the continent’s prosperity.
President Buhari said, “When I travel around Africa and meet and engage my brother Heads of State (and I am delighted some of their Excellences are here) I often sense a quiet expectation that our country is blessed with resources and human capacity to lead Africa’s rise to economic prosperity and the attainment of Agenda 2063 – ‘The Africa we all want.’
He added, “We must create necessary conditions for our private sector to grow and partner with the public sector to accelerate economic growth across the continent.
‘‘We must not allow outside powers to use some of our leaders to destabilize our economic and political trajectory,’’ he said.
President Buhari acknowledged the visionary investments made by the Dangote Group, under the leadership of Aliko Dangote, in transforming Nigeria’s economy through its involvement in critical industries such as cement and fertilizer.
He noted that investment in these sectors have played a crucial role in shifting Nigeria from heavy import dependence to becoming a net exporter.
While acknowledging that Nigeria’s economy had faced significant challenges over the years, including deficits in economic infrastructure, insurgency, and external crises such as the Global Financial Crisis, oil price collapses, the COVID-19 pandemic, and the Russia-Ukraine war, the president said his government weathered the storm by “creating an enabling environment for the private sector to thrive and fill the enormous gap in investments not only in infrastructure but also in all critical sectors.”
He emphasized the administration’s commitment to this approach, citing Executive Order 007 of 2019 which facilitated the rehabilitation/construction of many roads by private sector investors using a Tax-credit scheme.
Aliko Dangote, president of Dangote Group, in his speech, emphasised the refinery’s role in fulfilling the group’s corporate vision of promoting self-sufficiency and global competitiveness.
He said, “We have built a Refinery with a capacity to process 650,000 barrels per day (plus 900,000 tonnes of polypropylene) in a single train – which is the largest in the world. We have selected the best plants and equipment and the latest technologies from across the world.
”Our products slate is designed to meet the highest quality standards and high-value products including Premium Motor Spirit (PMS), Automotive Gas Oil (Diesel), Aviation Turbine Kerosine (ATK); all of Euro V Standards that will enable us not only meet our Country’s demand but also to become a key player in the African and global market.
”Our coastal location and offshore loading and offloading (SPM) facilities with a capacity to receive all our crude oil supplies and evacuate up to 75% of our liquid products give us direct access to the rest of Africa and the global market for exports. In addition, 80 percent of our production can be discharged through trucks nationwide.”
He said that the huge investment of over $18.5billion in this industry was prompted by the company’s desire to support and contribute its quota to the Federal Government’s sustained effort to transform the economy and reposition Nigeria as the leading nation in Africa, and a respected member among emerging economies in the world.
He stressed that, apart from ensuring a consistent supply of high-quality fuels for the transportation sector, the refinery will provide essential raw materials to a wide range of manufacturing sectors, including plastics, pharmaceuticals, food and beverages, packaging, construction, and more. The refinery’s operation and related businesses would generate a substantial number of job opportunities, while the downstream supply and distribution of its products would significantly contribute to the absorption of labor, potentially benefiting hundreds of thousands of individuals.
”Once our plant is fully on stream, we expect that at least 40% of the capacity will be available for export and this will result in significant Foreign Exchange inflows into the country.
“Overall, we are committed to operating our Plant in line with international best practice requirements, recognizing the importance of protecting the environment, and putting in place stringent environmental, health and safety policies to ensure that the Refinery operates in a safe and sustainable manner.”
African heads of states in attendance include President of Ghana, Nana Addo; the President of Niger Republic, Mohammed Bazoum; the President of Chad, Mahamat Derby.
Others were – the President of Senegal, Macky Sall and his Togolese counterpart, Faure Gnassingbé who sent a representative.