Nigeria has been in a season of anomie for decades. From one generation to another, the only synonym with governance in our clime is decadence. Nothing said or done has pricked the conscience of many in the ruling class to rise above the pervasive thieving culture that has pinioned the nation and stunted its growth. Still fresh in our collective memory are stories of how protagonists in successive governments stole hefty sums that could have helped Nigeria into prosperity.
But from this dark cloud appeared a silver lining this week. A serving Minister in the President Muhamadu Buhari government, Dr. Ibe Kachikwu, announced calmly in a documentary on the oil and gas sector aired on NTA on Thursdaythat his team had achieved a breakthrough in their quest to beat down the cost of oil production in Nigeria. He was even contrite rather than chest-thumbing as he made the momentous announcement, pleading with Nigerians to be patient and understanding!
Said the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, “One of the achievements we have recorded is a very integrated work done to build data that will enable us to force down cost (of production). We’ve come down from $32 (to produce a barrel of oil) to $23. The model should be between $15 and $10.”
Yet, this was not the only profound achievement Kachikwu announced. For years, Nigerians have become serial wailers, bemoaning our inability as a nation to ascertain precisely how many barrels of oil the country produces because of lack of metering and effective monitoring. In a few days, this will be history. Kachikwu stated that Nigerians who are interested can now track virtually all the oil production platforms in the country real time to monitor the production process at such facilities. It is indeed a new dawn for transparency and accountability in the oil and gas sector.
The implications of all these momentous achievements are far reaching. For instance, the savings to the nation on every barrel of oil produced now is $9. If Nigeria produces on the average two million barrels of oil per day, that is a saving of $18 million daily for the nation and $6.6 billion in a year. By the time Kachikwu and his squad achieve their target of producing a barrel of oil in Nigeria at $10, the savings to the nation will be $16 billion annually if the production capacity remains at two million barrels per day. The allure will be too sweet for any oil producer anywhere in the world, major or minor, to ignore. It may spur the re-emergence of Nigeria as the beautiful bride in the petroleum sector and help the country achieve its goal of ramping up daily oil production to four million barrels.
At the exchange rate of N360 to $1USD, the savings to be made from the feat accomplished by Kachikwu and his team on an annual basis will stack up to N2.4 trillion. Even after netting off what will be remitted to other stakeholders, the rest can still help Nigeria to build modern hospitals and stop medical tourism on which it spends over N360 billion annually. It will also help us to invest more in education, revamp our derelict infrastructure and empower government to spread the greatest good to the greatest number at the shortest time possible. The base annual savings of $6.6 billion (N2.4 trillion) is more than double the combined provision for Health and Education in the 2018 budget. That is how significant this is. That is why it is monumental.
This milestone achievement provides yet another golden opportunity to the President Buhari administration to uproot the deep-seated pessimism in many Nigerians about national service and supplant it with an allegory that will project Nigeria as a nation which deeply treasures and honours exceptionally patriotic deeds. We must as a nation relentlessly stress the message to every serving or potential official of state that there is no greater honour than in serving one’s nation selflessly and dutifully. We must do more to amplify a narrative that will fire the zeal of every person in government to passionately believe that every cent, penny or kobo he makes or saves for the nation is worth the sacrifice.
This is why we strongly recommend that President Buhari should, at the earliest convenience, decorate Kachikwu and any of his top aides who merit the distinction with the highest national award applicable. We harbour no doubt that honouring the dramatis personae who made this gargantuan achievement, which impact will touch every Nigerian, possible with national awards will fire the patriotic zeal of a new generation of leaders and drive them to do good for their country and its people.
This feat, therefore, must not slip by unacknowledged. When as a nation we embrace the culture of celebrating exceptional leaders, the leaders and governed will find inspiration to serve their fatherland with dignity. For then they will know their sacrifices will never be in vain.