Wednesday, November 25, 2015


Acute scarcity of petroleum products in Nigeria dates back to the early days of oil production in the country. It tends to be frustrating to know that many factors are responsible for the scarcity of petroleum products, however it placates that the solution is always simple- adequate supply of petroleum products to the nation’s fuel service stations.

Nigerians are yet again currently suffering from this problem. Being a former minister of petroleum who understands the complexity of the oil and gas industry in Nigeria, President Buhari is in the best position to find a solution to this problem

There are two ways through which Mr. President can tackle this menace- the short term and the long term. With the presentation of a bill to the National Assembly seeking its approval to spend N413 billion for fuel subsidy payment to oil marketers for their outstanding subsidy claims, President Buhari has solved the crisis in the short term.

The long term solution to the recurrent scarcity of petroleum products in Nigeria is what is critically needed. The long term is double-pronged; complete removal of fuel subsidy and bringing Nigeria’s refinery capacity to what oil refining experts call a high Nelson Complexity Index. A Nelson Complexity Index of 10 or above is indicates a refinery has high potential in value addition and high value products.

Complete removal of subsidy means higher prices. President Buhari may not be quick to remove subsidy because of the resultant harsh economic effects that will affect majority of Nigerians. So, President Buhari may be more tilted towards improving Nigeria’s refining capacity.

With the right approach, coupled with the available cheap and easily accessible crude oil; competent manpower and funds, Nigeria’s refineries would operate at near 100 per cent utilization with minimal downtime. What is that right approach? – effective management of Nigeria’s 5,120km pipelines network, efficient management of the nation’s four refineries and building of new refineries.

The biggest problem facing the oil pipelines in Nigeria are: incessant illegal tapping by oil thieves, sabotage, right-of-way incursions, slow detection of leaks and in-line equipment failure due to inaccessible sites, including the old-fashioned method of managing the pipelines. However, there are advanced technologies that can successfully tackle these problems: SCADA- Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition, Fiber Optic Cable (FOC) and Go-devils /scrapers or Smart pigs (also known as intelligent pigs). SCADA or FOC provide advanced warning in real time which helps pipelines companies to take quick action to protect long-stretch of pipelines network, even if it is located in inaccessible areas where visual inspection might be difficult. The impressive aspect of the SCADA and FOC technologies is that they sense and locate interference before the pipelines damage takes place. Smart pigs are used for detecting anomalies in pipelines or other mechanical damages. As for right of ways incursion, experts argue that the best way to tackle it is via community involvement through sustainable CSR projects and programmes. In addition, a robust standby force is needed to effectively man the security of the pipelines.

Our refineries are not working because of poor management system. Since government will not privatize them, let the government put up effective conditions for their operations: the four refineries should be granted full autonomy to cater for themselves- pay their bills and dividends to the government. When the workers know that the refineries output will determine their take-home pay; things may change.

Buhari being very passionate about reforming the oil and gas sector, he will definitely build more refineries. To increase our refinery capacity, government should go modular, mini and mobile refineries: There are affordable 1,000 bpd – 30,000 bpd Modular refineries whose equipment units are pre-fabricated on skid-mounted structures prior to shipment to any location. If this is done, the only lasting solution to the recurrent scarcity of petroleum would have been found.

Zayyad I. Muhammad writes from Jimeta, Adamawa State,, 08036070980.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Buhari, Magu and the New EFCC

President Muhammadu Buhari’s well-known no-nonsense stance on corruption and the appointment of Mr. Ibrahim Mustafa Magu as the new Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has signaled the start of the much-expected change in the Commission as well as a new beginning in the war against corruption in Nigeria.

Some observers are of the view that Mr. Magu is very lucky, because President Buhari will always be there for him, but for Magu to truly portray the EFCC in a new light; he must do some ‘big thinking’. 

The ‘new’ EFCC should explore the multilateral technical co-operation on corruption to develop mechanism that will help Nigeria have a system that discourages outright stealing of public fund, and develop an anti-corruption war that relies on forensic evidence, well-trained personnel and free of unnecessary controversies. The EFCC should effectively utilize the provisions in the National Assembly Act 2004, establishing the EFCC. For instance, Part III, section 12, subsection 1(c) and subsection (2), which provides for establishment of Research Unit; and any committee to assist the commission, are good avenues for the commission to explore in order to bring the commission at par with Nigerians’ expectations and global best practices.

Mr. Magu should take the EFCC to a new level- EFCC as an institution responsible for fighting the war against corruption should remodel its strategies for prosecuting accused persons. Situations such as slamming 120 count charges on a person accused of being corrupt while in public office, without being able to establish any of these, should be replaced with a fact-based process of prosecution, where the Commission gets its solid facts before charging accused to court. 

The Commission should be driven by a new approach that is multifaceted, multidisciplinary and knowledge-driven; an approach that would assist all institutions of government in re-establishing norms and standards of governance, assist the public, NGOs and even the legislature in monitoring of compliance with the standards. The core of the ‘new’ EFCC should be centered on restoring social order especially to governance; and promoting advocacy and capacity building among genuine whistleblowers. 

In short, Nigeria’s anti-corruption war should not only be limited to celebrated arrests, arraignment of the accused in courts of law. The EFCC should serve as the change agent in establishing systematic and systemic approaches that will educate the public on the ills of corruption and beauty of doing thing as they ought to be done.

Mr. Magu should also know that public trust is the key in his new job. Anti-corruption czars rarely talk in public, but when they do, they carefully choose their words. Anti-corruption czars do not wine and dine with corrupt politicians, attend their lavish wedding ceremonies, be present at their extravagant traditional title investiture or personal project fund raising ceremony, then expect complete public trust. When one accepts to be the head of an institution like the EFCC, he or she has chosen to be a ‘saint’, and must labour to appear as one, though, as human, we have our weaknesses, but the point is, anti-corruption czars can’t preach fasting in the morning and practice gluttony in the night.

Corruption is one of the most widespread social evils in Nigeria; it is seen as a main threat in the public and private sphere. Corruption undermines fragile democratic systems by fuelling popular disillusionment with politics and politicians; it also undermines trust and confidence, which are necessary for upholding and development of sustainable economic and social order. Corruption is not only peculiar to Nigeria, it is a global phenomenon. However, anti-corruption war in Nigeria is like a gun-war being fought with bows and arrows, it is a war that can turn its fighters into victims and those being fought into heroes, it is a war that both sides manipulate to gain personal and political points, it is a ‘world' of controversies, politics, extensive debates and high public expectations. Nigerians have no second thought on President Muhammadu Buhari’s ability to fight corruption; this is the best stimulant Mr. Ibrahim Magu needs. 

Zayyad I. Muhammad writes from Jimeta, Adamawa State,, 08036070980.