Dangote Refinery: Stakeholders, Unemployed Nigerians excited about Job Opportunities

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…As Osinbajo says No $25 billion contract was awarded by NNPC***

The fast pace of work at the Dangote refinery may have begun to tickle and excite Nigerians, particularly the stakeholders as well as the unemployed.

The Dangote Refinery is an integrated petro-chemical complex which will, apart from refining crude oil to petroleum products, have petrochemical and fertiliser plants. It is expected to slash the pump price of fuel in addition to offer jobs to several thousands of people.

A cross section of Nigerians in the FCT, said they they were hopeful the mogul’s words that petroleum products would begin to see a significant drop in prices would soon be actualised.

Mrs Anyalewa Okewu, a business woman who brings yams into the FCT from Benue, said ”if the refinery takes off and the price of petrol can drop, food prices will drop too”.

”If this happens, everyone will begin to sing praises of the President Muhammadu Buhari-led administration.

Once food is cheap, I believe life will be a lot easier,” she added.

Mr Kwame Mathews, a science teacher, said ”the news that the refinery will also have extra volume for export to other countries is good.

”Nigeria is the big brother of the continent and should live by example.

All the incessant fuel shortages is a big embarrassment but I’m expecting that this refinery will address those issues once it begins operations”.

An unemployed graduate, Kafila Ogunturoti, expressed the hope that the refinery would directly impact on employment opportunities by creating jobs;  while appealing to others in the private sector to emulate such ‘laudable projects’ to aid the unemployed.

”If the refinery will generate over 100,000 employment opportunities like you said, then there is hope for the unemployed. That is great news.

“I say kudos to Dangote and pray the handlers will employ based on merit,” Ogunturoti added.

An independent petroleum products marketer on the Suleja-Kaduna highway, who preferred anonymity, said the refinery’s take-off would bring relief to dealers, who had shut down operations due to shortage of products.

”I had to lay off my staff for a while. This recession, coupled with other pressing reasons, had caused many of us to shut down.

”With this good news, 650,000 barrels of refined products is huge and we can begin to take loans to begin again.

”I think it’s a good project and I commend Buhari for giving us hope again,” he said.

The project is located in Lekki Free Trade Zone on a vast land mass of 2,200 hectares, an area eight times bigger than the entire Victoria Island in Lagos.

The refinery is expected to produce 650,000 barrels per day of refined petroleum products to meet all the country’s refined petroleum products needs.

The first phase of the plant is expected to be ready by the end of 2017, the second phase by the end of 2018, while the third and the commencement of its operation  would be in 2019.

In the meantime, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo yesterday maintained that the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) did not award $25b contracts.

In a letter to President Muhammadu Buhari, Minister of State for Petroleum Resources Ibe Kachikwu made the allegations, stressing that the contracts did not follow due process.

A statement  by his Senior Special Assistant, Laolu Akande,  titled ”It is Important to set the records straight”, said: “Claims on social and traditional media that $25b worth of oil contracts were awarded by the NNPC or that $25b in NNPC funds is missing are both false.

“No contracts were procured by the NNPC based on the leaked memo of the Petroleum Resources Minister of State, even though such impressions have been maliciously created in the past few weeks.”

He said that a closer look at each of the said projects indicated clearly that “these are not procurement contracts”.

He added “When I tweeted on Thursday morning last week, I had indicated that the Vice President, while acting as President approved Joint Venture Financing arrangements. But for some curious reasons, a few media reports used that tweet to report that I said the then Acting President approved N640 billion worth of oil contracts. Such reporting is both false and misleading and therefore ought to be completely ignored by all seekers of truth.”

“What is more important is that when you look diligently at the referenced projects/transactions one by one, you will see, as NNPC has shown, that none of them was actually a procurement contract.”

“Take both the Crude Term Contract and the Direct Sale, Direct Purchase (DSDP) agreements, for instance; these are not procurement contracts involving the expenditure of public funds. Both transactions are simply a shortlisting process, in which prospective off-takers of crude oil and suppliers of petroleum are selected under agreed terms, and in accordance with due process.

“It is therefore wrong and misleading to refer to them as though they’re contracts involving the expenditure of NNPC funds, or public funds of any sort. As you now know, the Honorable Minister of Petroleum Resources himself has in fact clarified that he meant to focus on administrative and governance issues, not red-flag any fraud – because no fraud exists in this matter.”

For both transactions, Akande said it was not true and also inaccurate to attach $10b and $5b values on them.

“Attaching monetary values to these contracts is an arbitrary act that completely distorts understanding of the situation.” he said

According to him, Nigerians ought to be informed clearly that “whenever there is a monetary value on any consignment of crude oil lifted in this country by any firm, the proceeds go directly to the Federation Account and not to any company. In fact, the Buhari administration in the implementation of the TSA has closed down multiple NNPC accounts in order to promote transparency and probity.”

Akande also explained that even in compiling the shortlisting for the prospective off-takers of crude oil and suppliers of petroleum under agreed terms, “there were public placements of advert in the mass media seeking Expressions of Interest (EoI). Bids were publicly opened in the presence of NEITI, DPR, BPP, Civil Society groups and the press. In some cases even, these events were televised live.”

“For the sake of emphasis, let me state clearly that both the Crude Term Contract and the Direct Sale and Direct Purchase agreements are not contracts for any procurement of goods, works or services, and therefore do not involve the use of public funds. Instead, they are simply a shortlisting of off-takers. And unlike what has been reported in the media so far, it is important to set the records straight that the list of approved off-takers does not carry any financial values but simply states the terms and conditions for the lifting and supply of petroleum products.”

He also disclosed that the Ajaokuta-Kaduna-Kano (AKK) Gas Pipeline Contract “is a contractor-financed contract which has not yet been finalized or awarded; it is still making its way to the Federal Executive Council, FEC.”

He noted that there were also three presidential approvals given on Joint Venture financing arrangements, meaning loans to cater for cash call obligations. One of these was okayed by the President in 2015, and two by the then Acting President in 2017.

Lastly, on the NPDC, he said there is no contract in the $3BN to $4BN range as reported in the media.

“You can then see from the foregoing that the $25BN being bandied in the media does not exist. There is no $25BN missing,” Akande concluded.

Additional report from Nation