President Muhammadu Buhari on Monday inaugurated multi-billion dollar Dangote Petroleum Refinery located in Ibeju-Lekki, Lagos, which is reckoned as the largest petrochemical company in the world.
The company is expected to make Nigeria self-sufficient in refined petroleum products and have surplus for export.
Speaking at the occasion, the president described the feat as a significant milestone for Nigeria’s economy and a game changer for the downstream petroleum products market in Africa.
According to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), the event was graced by Heads of State of Ghana, Togo, Niger and Senegal and a representative of the President of Chad.
President In his open letter, President Buhari said: ‘‘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.’’
Buhari commended Alhaji Aliko Dangote’s leadership in executing the 650,000 barrels per day refinery, urged other entrepreneurs to emulate his example in driving economic growth and realizing Nigeria’s economic potential.
He stressed 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.
‘‘I urge and encourage our other great entrepreneurs to emulate this iconic Nigerian industrialist and join the Government in accelerating our growth in order to realize our country’s globally recognized economic potential.
‘‘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.’
‘‘But to achieve the goals of Agenda 2063, Africa must come together – we must integrate our economies, eliminate barriers to trade and energize our youthful population to scale up our productive capacity.
‘‘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.
Buhari acknowledged the visionary investments made by the Dangote Group in transforming Nigeria’s economy through involvement in critical industries such as cement and fertilizer.
He noted that investment in these sectors had played a crucial role in shifting Nigeria from heavy import dependence to becoming a net exporter.
The president acknowledged that Nigeria’s economy has faced significant challenges over the years, including deficits in economic infrastructure and insurgency.
He added that the country also faced external crises such as the global financial crisis, collapse of oil prices, massive disruptions caused by COVID-19 pandemic, and the Russia-Ukraine war.
‘‘The consequence of these challenges constitute a severe strain on our economy, limiting Government’s ability to provide basic infrastructure without resorting to huge borrowings.
‘‘Our Government, therefore, took the decision to focus attention on 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.
‘‘We recognize that without the active participation of the private sector and a strong commitment to public private partnership, our economy would continue to remain severely challenged and our economic growth impeded.
‘‘Government therefore, will and should continue to provide an enabling environment and encourage innovative public private partnerships in all sectors of our economy,’’ he said.
Buhari emphasized the administration’s commitment to this approach, citing Executive Order 007 of 2019 which facilitated the rehabilitation and construction of many roads by private sector investors using a Tax-credit scheme.
‘‘It is my hope that the succeeding Administration will continue to apply such innovative schemes in partnership with the private sector to accelerate the provision of critical infrastructure, in particular roads, power and gas pipelines,’’ he said.
In his remark, Dangote said that the refinery fulfil’s the group’s corporate vision of promoting self-sufficiency and global competitiveness.
”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 disclosed that the huge investment of over 18.5billion dollars in the industry was prompted by the company’s desire to support and contribute to transforming Nigeria’s economy and reposition the country as a respected emerging economy in the world.
According to him, apart from ensuring 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.
He further stated that the refinery’s operation and related businesses would generate a substantial number of job opportunities.
He stated that 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,” he said.
Also speaking, the Lagos State Governor, Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu said the stories of President Muhammadu Buhari; President-elect, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu and Chairman of Dangote Group, Alhaji Aliko Dangote are a testament that prosperity can be achieved when leaders have shared vision for the people they are leading.
Sanwo-Olu narrated three different stories on how President Buhari, Asiwaju Tinubu and Dangote are connected to the inaugurated first privately owned refinery saying the three leaders have shown Nigerians that leadership is about consistency and commitment to Nigeria’s economic growth.
He said: “The vision of Aliko Dangote, President Muhammadu Buhari and incoming President Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, is a story of possibility when men have a shared common vision, purpose and they have the possibility that things can happen, things can change and things can be prosperous for the people they are leading.
“These three men; Aliko Dangote, President Muhammadu Buhari, and President-elect Bola Ahmed Tinubu epitomise all the great qualities of great leadership. They have shown us that nothing can be something. They have shown us that leadership is about consistency. It is about showing that whatever it is that you believe in, give it all it takes and at the end of it you will see the results coming out.”
Governor Sanwo-Olu while commending Dangote, said the business mogul is a completely detribalised Nigerian who has impacted many lives positively.
He said: “To our son Alhaji Aliko Dangote, we are indeed truly proud that you have put Nigeria and indeed Africa on that world map in which you have done the very first. We are proud of your belief in your country and your belief in the youth that you are giving the opportunity to. We are proud of the fact that you are a Nigerian that is completely detribalised and you have imbibed it in many ways.
“It is about the opportunity this (refinery) has provided for all the youth and young people of our country. It is about the fact we can say to them the work these three men – Mr. President, Alhaji Dangote, and our incoming president have done and will continue to do.
“It is about our future. It is about providing an opportunity for the youth because over 150,000 direct and indirect jobs that will be created are for our youths; young leaders that are in their 20s and their 30s for them to believe that indeed Nigerian is a place for them. Nigeria considers them as an important and veritable tool in developing and ensuring the very best.
“I want to also thank our President-elect who propelled a vision of what we are enjoying today. As governor and as Lagosian, he was the main architect of the modern history of the trajectory of Lagos and we are hopeful and praying that when he comes in as president, all of those additional vision that he has will come to reality.”
Governor Sanwo-Olu, who was part of the birth of the Lekki free zone in 2006 during the tenure of Tinubu as Governor of Lagos State, praised the host communities for showing hospitality to investors in the area.
“I want to use this opportunity to thank our host community. This community has been the host to several firsts in our country and I want to thank all of them; from the traditional rulers to all of the indigenous citizens that have continued to reflect the true spirit of Lagos to be able to show hospitality and accommodation in everything that we are about,” he said.
Governor Sanwo-Olu also commended President Muhammadu Buhari’s eight years in office, saying the people of Lagos State are proud of what the President has done for Nigeria.
He said: “You (President) have spent 2,915 days out of 2,922 days that you have. Mr. President, you have spent 99.98 percent of your time. Mr President history will certainly judge you well. We in Lagos are happy. This is your third trip to the Lekki Free Zone in less than a year.
“We are proud of you. We are indeed excited that you have thrown everything you have into it and as you bow down, I might not have the opportunity of holding a microphone again, I want to say to you, that on behalf of Lagos State, we are truly proud of the things that you have done for us in this country.”
Additional report: NAN