Dangote Refinery: FG should feel ashamed – Akpabio

*The governor of Lagos State, Mr Babajide Sanwo-Olu (1st left), chairman of Dangote Group, Mr Aliko Dangote (3rd left) and senate president, Mr Godswill Akpabion (4th) from left) during the visit to Dangote Petroleum Refinery in Lagos.

The senate president, Mr Godswill Akpabio said successive administrations in Nigeria should hang their heads in shame for failure to make its refineries function in Kaduna, Port Harcourt, and Warri.

Akpabio stated this yesterday when he led the leadership of the 10th senate on a facility tour of the 650,000 barrels per day (bpd) Dangote Petroleum Refinery in Lagos.

The senate president said the refinery had taken away the shame that came with the discovery of oil in Nigeria in 1958.

“The inability of the nation to refine its oil has brought untold hardship on Nigerians so much so that the Belgian government recently banned the exportation of dirty and condemned fuel to West African countries just because we can’t refine our own products,” he said.

While commending chairman of Dangote Group, Mr Aliko Dangote for completing the largest single train refinery in the world in a record time, Akpabio noted that the country is so laid back that successive governments could not complete the vice president’s residence of until after 14 years.

Akpabio who described the refinery as the ninth wonder of the world said the national assembly would give it what it takes to protect the project, adding that the facility is what Nigeria and indeed Africa should take the ownership of and protect from jealousy.

The senate president did not spare the doubting Thomas who never thought the project would come to fruition.

“They told us in Abuja that Dangote Refinery is a farce but we have come here and see for ourselves that the refinery is alive and running. Dangote has put to shame a lot of people.

They are wondering how it will be possible for a single individual to accomplish what a whole nation could not accomplish; what 240 million people could not maintain; what a continent could not do and then one person builds a 650,000bpd project.

“They keep wondering how one person can succeed where nations have failed; where the continent failed. But Dangote has done it. It is highly commendable.

“We came to see the refinery because we in the current Senate believe in the Nigerian dream. We didn’t come as a doubting Thomas but we came because we believe in the project; we came to rekindle the hope of Nigerians and the Nigerians’ can-do spirit,” he added

He also promised that the national assembly would come up with robust legislation that would protect the project and others like it.

Responding, Dangote said the refinery will help boost Nigeria’s economic growth, with the creation of thousands of direct and indirect jobs.

“During the construction stage, it supported over 150,000 jobs, made up of mostly Nigerians. These Nigerians in the process acquired various skills that are still useful in other construction projects.

“The capacity of the refinery is enough to satisfy domestic demands for refined products. The refinery will export about 50 per cent of its production thereby generating foreign exchange for the country. It will lead to growth in adjacent sectors such as logistics, shipping, engineering, and servicing.
“The refinery has the requisite capacity to provide energy security both by providing a ready home for our crude and in ensuring steady availability of petroleum products for all. Nigerians will also get to partake in the financial returns once we list the Refinery on the NGX.

“We are thus making an important contribution to this administration’s plan to grow our GDP to $1 trillion.

“Our group is at the vanguard of job creation and employment generation in Nigeria. We are the biggest employer of labour after the federal government. Dangote Cement sustains about 70,000 (direct and indirect jobs across Africa, while the refinery, petroleum chemical complex and fertiliser will be able to create over 150,000 direct and indirect jobs.

“We have remained one of the biggest contributors to government coffers as our three subsidiaries, Dangote Cement, Dangote Sugar Refinery and NASCON Allied Industries paid a total of N788.98 billion as tax and N276 billion in VAT in three years.

“We envision in Nigeria the equivalent of Jamnagar in India where crude oil refining is the backbone of specialised industrial zones, transportation networks, and ancillary industries, contributing to the overall industrialisation of the region. Or Saudi Arabia’s Jubail Industrial City, which is also undergirded by large scale petrochemical complexes,” he said.

He called on the legislature to support local businesses as it is done in other countries.

“The legislature has a great role to play in this. Globally, the legislature plays a great role in protecting and supporting domestic industry.

“I am sure that the members of the 10th national assembly are more than equal to the task. Supporting the refinery secures the benefits. It will ensure energy security.

“As co-creators of value, we appreciate and acknowledge your consistent efforts in ensuring the enactment of vital laws promoting a conducive business environment in the nation,” he said.

With ThisDay report