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2023 end of fuel imports; not political but a realistic deadline—NNPC

…But analysts differ, seek deadline not close to election year

In the history of Nigerian government’s deadline setting, history has shown that any project deadline set for an election year rather than a year within the official period of the administration has always failed.

Many a time, the election year deadline is always set as bait by ruling party to ask for votes with the background logic of time to complete the project which is never completed even if the votes are given as asked.

However, in his remarks shortly after the condensate refinery strategy programme Front End Engineering Design, which he said would deliver 20 million litres of petrol when completed, the Group Managing Director, Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Mele Kyari, weekend officially announced that “We have a clear mandate of Mr President to stop fuel importation and we believe this can be done between now and 2023. It is not a political deadline; it is a realistic technical deadline that we can deliver.”

Having seen that the initial deadline announced in February 2017, by the immediate past Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Ibe Kachikwu, that Nigeria would stop importing refined petroleum products by 2019 (election year), Kyari again said he deadline to stop importation of petrol is no more 2019 but 2023(another election year).

Kachukwu had vowed that “By 2019, we should be able to exit completely the importation of petroleum products in this country,” but that never happened.

Whereas the NNPC is currently the sole importer of petrol due to independent marketers’ lost fight in forex access, Kyari decried that “For a country that has been producing oil for over 50 years, it is really a difficulty to explain why we are still importing petroleum products.

Giving a scanty outlay on how to achieve the target, Kyari said the corporation would deliver functional refineries and support partners on projects that would make petrol available across the country.

According to him, “First, we will deliver on our refineries to make them work and significant work has gone into that and we believe that we can deliver on this.

“Secondly, we will support our partners to deliver on their projects that will make gasoline (petrol) and other products available, which are essentially the many other refinery project interventions that are going on that we know and we support all of them.”

Barring their minds on the truism and chances of success of the 2023 fuel import deadline, observers say time has come for a law to be passed against any government in power giving a project delivery deadline within an election year.

According to them, delivery deadlines of project must not fall within an election year but within a time that is not close to an election year so that Nigerians will know the seriousness of the government.