Obasanjo begs FG to support private sector as Osibanjo inaugurates Petrolex tank farm
Vice – President, prof. Yemi Osibanjo, Tuesday, said the Federal government is committed to providing incentives to enable petroleum and petro – chemical industries to thrive and attract more genuine investors in the sector. Vice President Yemi Osinbajo with Fmr President Olusegun Obasanjo; Fmr US Amb. to Nigeria, Mr. Walter Carrington & Chief Kensington Adebutu. The Vice – President who inaugurated 300 million litres tank farm at Ibefun in Ijebuland, Ogun State, said from “credible, independent and third party evidence” Nigeria is on the right track of economic recovery. Osinbajo stated this during the commissioning of Petrolex Oil and Gas’ Mega oil city, a 300million litre capacity tank farm in Ibefun, Odogbolu Local Government Area of Ogun State. The mega ultra-modern oil city is the brain child of Segun Adebutu, son of the business mogul, Sir Kesington Adebutu. Osinbajo who arrived the site around 1:20pm, inspected the phase one of the world class tank farm in Sub Sahara Africa, and inaugurated it about two hours later. The tank farm has 30 loading facilities, 300million litre capacity storage, 26 barges, vessel, residential quarters, army barracks and automated 4,000 – truck capacity trailer park with accommodation for drivers. According to Osinbajo, the gesture would lessen the burden of Petroleum products distribution in Nigeria and create 10,000 jobs. Osinbajo revealed that the government is also working out ways to help investors and local manufacturing industries access cheap credit facilities within shortest time to grow their capacity. Osinbajo, who described the project “as of special significance and testimony to power of vision”, said the tank farm will reduce the pressure on Apapa tank farm and ease the gridlock on the Apapa expressway. He expressed optimism that the project will not only help the FG’s target of reducing fuel importation to 20% by 2019, but also improve retail distribution across the country. “This project by Petrolex is indeed a testimony of power of vision, this is of special significance. When fully operational, it will no doubt go a long way in helping the federal government to achieve its target of reducing fuel importation to 20% by late 2018 and first quarter of 2019. “Project of this nature will also improve retail distribution throughout the country, while the proposed refinery of 250,000bpd, will no doubt hinge us closer to total independence on local refining of petroleum products. “Local investment such as this will surely send a strong signal to foreign investors that our country is open and safe for business. This also represents massive job creation and the FG’s belief that industrialization is key to Nigeria’s economic growth. We will continue to provide incentive regime to accelerate industrial growth and create safe and conducive ambience for investment to thrive in Nigeria. “From point of view of government downstream objectives in the petroleum sector, this investment is of special significance. It takes the burden of strengthening our distribution infrastructure for Petroleum products and meeting the target at the end of 2018 and first quarter of 2019 for reducing importation of Petroleum products and PMS to less than 20 percent. “We expect that this pace will be filled by investments and facilities such as this and this why we are delighted that this facility has capacity to store 300m litre of petroleum products, the largest of its kind in the country and I am told, the largest in sub-saharan Africa, and conveniently holding 4,000 trucks at a time and a gantry capable of brething about 30m metric tons of cargo. “This will substantially improve retail distribution in Nigeria, increase domestic storage of petroleum products and the cargo coming in from larger vessels will be stored and loaded from the gantry right here. It will decongest Apapa and Ibafo tanker traffic, facilitate the distribution from here to anywhere in the country. “But perhaps for greater importance as future of our national economic objectives is that this facility again bears out a philosophical plan of our economic recovery and growth plan which is that private capital must lead Nigeria’s economic revolution and this is right. “Private sector is the nation’s major economic source and also the primary business of government is to create the environment that enables commerce thrive unhindered. “Importantly also is the fact that significance of local investments such as this send the strongest possible signal to foreign investors that not only is the government safe but Nigeria is indeed investment designation in Africa. “May I also say that there is credible independent third party evidence that we are on the right path. A month and half ago, the World Bank adjudged to be one of the tenth most improved economies in the world, this year, from the point of view of our business and investments plans. “This facility also represents jobs, 10,000 direct and indirect jobs. Each of these jobs will support not just workers but their dependers. Apart from its significance impact in the local economy here by away of increased income for traders, farmers, artisans and land owners and economic activities where there were no activities hitherto. “The federal government believes that industrialisation is key to achieving economic development growth and creating jobs for millions of our people,” Osinbajo said. Also, former President Olusegun Obasanjo urged the federal government to support such private initiative such Petrolex represented, saying without government encouragement, the efforts may come to nought. Obasanjo urged the Federal government and Nigerians to leverage on the tank farm to tackle supply and distribution of petroleum products in the country as non – utilisation of it could result in colossal waste. Obasanjo however, lauded the initiative of Petrolex and urged the federal government to provide the necessary support in order to maximize the facilities. According to him, “If this huge facility is not utilized, it is a waste to the nation”. “We should make use of this facilities. If not utilized, it will be a waste to the nation and a waste of investment put into it. Government should support private sector initiative. “Private sector initiative without government support will amount to nothing. I will urge Segun Adebutu to hold the government on their promise to help private sector initiative,” Obasanjo said. In his brief speech, Segun Adebutu, said no nation or society can develop without the private investors, adding that the government or the legislators should not be left with the task of building a nation. He urged other private investors and entrepreneurs to follow suit by coming to Ibefun in Ogun state to invest their capitals. Also speaking, the Minister of State, Petroleum Resources, Ibe Kachikwu, said the tank farm which is the largest in Nigeria and sub-saharan Africa, will be a perfect distribution centre in Nigeria. He added his ministry will work with Petrolex to ensure petroleum products are delivered to Nigerians. In his remarks, the Group Managing Director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Maikanti Baru, said the project will help in reducing challenges being faced by Nigerian in terms of delivery of petroleum products. Baru, added the inauguration of the facilities has clearly demonstrated the resilience of indigenous companies to offer solutions to economic and energy problems if Nigeria. The NNPC GMD, who noted the tank farm will ease the pressure on Apapa, disclosed the slight scarcity of petroleum product being experienced in the country, was due to hoarding by independent marketers as a result of the perceived price hike. He, however, warned that the Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR), will be more aggressive adding “any erring marketer will have his or her product dispensed free of charge to members of the public by DPR”. In his address, Ogun State governor, Senator Ibikunle Amosun, assured that his administration will continue to provide a conducive environment and infrastructure for investment to thrive in the state. Represented by the Secretary to the State Government (SSG), Taiwo Adeoluwa, Amosun, urged intending investors to choose Ogun as their preferred investment destination of choice. In his welcome address, the Chairman of Petrolex, Segun Adebutu, said the project was conceived to ease the pressure on Apapa tank farm. He added that the project will create thousands of direct and indirect jobs, saying “it will also change the energy landscape of Nigeria”. Among dignitaries at the event are the Ooni of Ife, Oba Adeyeye Ogunwusi, the Alake of Egbaland, Oba Adedotun Gbadebo, the Oba of Lagos, Oba Rilwan Akiolu among others. Among the prominent personalities who grace the occasion were Governors of Oyo and Benue, Senator Abiola Ajimobi, Samuel Ortom, Senator Dino Melaye who represented Senate President, Dr Bukola Saraki, Ondo Deputy Governor, Ajayi Agboola, Ooni of Ife, Oba Enitan Ogunwusi, Oba of Lagos, Rilwan Akiolu, Alake of Egbaland, Oba Adetoun Gbadebo and Obi of Onitsha, Alfred Achebe.