Rilwanu Lukman: The Controversial Mr. Fuel Scarcity

“Time will tell!” This is one of the elder’s saying when there is a major controversy over a particular issue or a person, what they are saying in essence is that there is no offence in waiting for the person to come up with proof and true picture that will provide the basis either for rejection or acceptance of the good or bad allegations against him/her.
This is the case of Nigeria’s longest serving Petroleum Minister, Hon. Minister of Petroleum Resources, Dr.Rilwan Lukman, who was appointed by the present ailing President of Nigeria, Umaru Yar’Adua in the late 2008 after a cabinet shake-up in which 20 ministers were relieved of their positions.
He has a very rich academic background that will earn him accolades anywhere in the world. In Nigeria, his visibility in the corridors of power with one appointment or the other provides support and breakthrough for successive presidents to put him in a sensitive position of higher responsibility.
However, in reality and in practice, the opposite is always the case when it comes to assessment of his performance in office. And that is why most analysts have described him and former governor, Dr. Sam Egwu as the worst ministers in President Umaru Yar’Adua’s cabinet.
Lukman has severally been criticized by eminent Nigerians for accepting to serve as Minister of Petroleum when his name was submitted to the Senate in 2008 because of his long stay in the corridors of power and his health condition which Nigerians don’t know. On his health condition, a petroleum industry insider submitted that “Dr.Lukman must have been really touched by the national embarrassment caused by the fuel scarcity, but I can tell you that nothing will happen to the management of the NNPC even if the scarcity lasts for another 12 months. His ties with the NNPC Managing Director, Mohammed Sanusi Barkindo can be traced years back, and besides, the old man is not exactly in good health shape to take the fuel crisis head on.” He has his excuses, though, of travelling abroad for one international conference or most often for medical check up.
His power acquisition story started when he was appointed by the then former Head of State, General Muhammed Buhari in 1984 as Federal Minister of Mines, Power & Steel. He also lobbied his way into the cabinet of General Ibrahim Babangida as Federal Minister of Petroleum Resources of Nigeria between 1988 and 1989 and as President of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC).
He was Minister of Foreign Affairs of Nigeria,1989-1990, Chairman, Board of Directors, National Electric Power Authority (NEPA), Lagos,1993-1994, Secretary General of OPEC, Austria,1995-2000, Presidential Adviser on Petroleum & Energy, Nigeria,1999-2004, Pro-Chancellor & Chairman of Council, Nasarawa State Univeristy, Keffi, Nasarawa State, Nigeria 2004 – date, honorary Presidential Adviser on Petroleum & Energy, Nigeria, 2007-2008. Chairman, Presidential Committee on Oil & Gas Reform, 2007-2008. Now he is the Minister of Petroleum Resources of Nigeria since 2008 till date.
As at the time of his appointment in 2008, it was exactly five years when former President Olusegun Obasanjo removed him as Presidential Adviser on Petroleum & Energy when he could no longer contain his failed “chicken” policies responsible for the incessant fuel scarcity between May, 1999  and September, 2003, and then the establishment of Petroleum Products Pricing Regulatory Authority (PPPRA).
Suddenly, after his unceremonious replacement with Dr. Edmund Daukoru as Presidential Adviser on Petroleum, fuel began to flow in all the filling stations as marketers embarked on fuel importation to support output of the refineries belonging to the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC). Within a short period, Nigerians, particularly Lagosians forgot the pains of long queues for fuel until recently. We should not forget cases of kerosene explosions in Lagos and Benin during the period and performance of the refineries below 30 per cent which led to the sack of several top shots of NNPC by Jackson Gaius-Obaseki, former GMD. This particular action was carried out by Obasanjo without his consultation. In response to the protest, he was advised to resign.
Perhaps, in some quarters these days, they prefer to call Lukman “Mr. Fuel Scarcity” and to support that label, he travelled out of Nigeria during Christmas holiday despite the directive of the then Vice President, Goodluck Jonathan that he should stay back during the holidays so as to ensure improvement in fuel supply. His cronies that cut across both upstream and downstream sub-sectors of the Nigerian oil and gas industry fear him like God to avert his wrath on suspicion of disloyalty. And to compensate loyalty, he is good at giving them appointments that will sustain the relationship. One of such loyalty appointments recently was the confirmation of Dr. Bello Gusau as executive secretary of Petroleum Directorate in January 2009, even though the National Assembly is yet to pass into law the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) that gave birth to the directorate. Today, Gusau, a member of the Oil and Gas Implementation Committee (OGIC) is a senior government official managing an illegal office not approved by law yet.
Another beneficiary of Lukman’s loyalty is Dr. Barkindo Sanusi Mohammed, GMD of NNPC, who was technical assistant and later acting secretary general of OPEC. The controversy still rages in the petroleum ministry over his appointment by Lukman as governor of OPEC along with his position as GMD of NNPC. This position since joining of OPEC by Nigeria is reserved for the permanent secretary of the Ministry of Petroleum Resources. And for protesting against the appointment of Barkindo as governor, the former permanent secretary was redeployed and later retired last year. It is also good for the record to mention the recent appointment of former Head of Media at OPEC secretariat in Vienna, Austria of Mr.Umar Farouk as his special assistant on media and communications. The appointment, according to industry sources, is temporary because the actual target is for him to be the spokesman of the NNPC.
To ensure that he has his boys in control of the downstream sub-sector, Dr. Abiodun Ibikunle, technical assistant was also appointed recently as the executive secretary of PPPRA. And that is why the ostentatious stakeholders forum organized by the NNPC having Lukman as Chairman barely a week after the forum organized by Mr.Odein H. Ajumogobia, Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, who was saddled with the responsibility of downstream sub-sector a week before the departure of Yar’Adua for medical treatment in Saudi Arabia. However, three weeks after the forum, Nigerians now stay longer at the filling stations to queue for petrol.
And for those that refused to play along with him, the reward is denial of appointments. Indeed, he always ensures they are far from getting any key position and that is the case of Dr. (Mrs.) Donu Kogbara, former member of OGIC from Rivers State.
If his refusal to honour  the invitation by the Senate on four occasions and the fine of =N=4,000 he was asked to pay last year is an indictment that will remain in his file, what will be the fine for supporting the NNPC to create shortfall in fuel supply? If in reality, it is clear that NNPC can only supply 47 per cent of the daily demand requirement of fuel, why will Lukman support several lies of former TV talk-show hosts on NTA – “The Sunday Show,” Dr.Levi Ajuonuma, Group General Manager (Public Affairs) that the corporation has 31 cargoes of fuel on the high sea when there is actually none.
If all is well in the oil industry, National Assembly should ask “Mr. Fuel Scarcity” why NNPC cannot support multi-national oil companies in early completion of damaged gas pipelines after the amnesty deal so as to increase gas supply to the power generating stations of the Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN)? It is clear that the failure of the Federal Government to achieve 6,000mega watts (mw) target on December 31, 2009 lies with the NNPC under the direct supervision of Dr.Rilwan Lukman. He should be held responsible for the failure of the 6,000 mega watts (mw).
At this stage, what is good for him is to resign voluntarily because when the pressure of problems created by his expedition for power becomes too much for him with his fragile health condition, the beneficiaries of his office, would not be able to help him hedge on to power. The sudden withdrawal of support by former President Obasanjo for Yar’Adua should serve as a lesson.
The feeble Dr.Rilwan Lukman will do better as an adviser and therefore it is better for him to join the Eminent Elders Group and allow talented, skillful, agile and energetic young Nigerians like Kola Karim, Femi Otedola, Uche Ogah, Sayyu Dantata and the amiable Wale Tinubu to manage the petroleum industry. He should stop providing cover for NNPC in the mismanagement of our crude oil resources. There are several Nigerians from the North if Yar”Adua must insist on producing a Minister of Petroleum for the region. And that is why the Senate should take the lead to sustain the plans to move Nigeria forward by taking a cue from the success of Oando PLC, Shoreline Energy Int’l by young Nigerians. The hope of Lukman lies in the quick recovery of the ailing President for him to remain in office. Lukman should quit the stage while the ovation is loudest.

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Ogun State Land Scare! Government Blackmails Estate Developers, Land Owners

Volume II, Issue 20

Volume II, Issue 20

Last Monday, 8 June, 2009, the Ogun State Bureau of Lands and Survey, under the insignia of the State Government, had caused the publication of what it described as a “Final Warning” ostensibly directing the attention of individuals and corporate bodies to activities of estate developers and promoters in about 14 locations in the state where real estate development seems to be intense. The Bureau of Lands and Survey described the activities of the estate developers as illegal.

The second of such publication in two weeks, the last of the same half page public notice, did get the attention of the target population it was intended for; a hail of panic seized the community of estate developers and subscribers to the former virgin lands belonging to Ogun State but which have found new attraction in value because of their proximity to Lagos State. As affected estate developers became restless, so were subscribers, they became distressed. (Read More)

BGL still upset with underwriting AIT, Honeywell public offers

It is just as well that the Securities and Exchange Commission has decided to adopt the recommendation of the Oladotun Sulaiman’s Nigeria Capital Market Reform Committee on the reversal of compulsory underwriting of public offerings.

BGL Securities Limited, one of Nigeria’s lead issuing houses and brokerage firms, is said to still be smarting from the downside effect of underwriting two public offerings last year. BGL Securities was part of the underwriters of the public offering of Daar Communications and Honeywell.

Others –

Losses, Debts Force Sale of Zain

Transcorp To Lose Hilton Hotel, Abuja

Politicisation of Nigeria’s Capital Market …Why AP Shareholders will not get justice over Share Manipulation

There are growing worries by capital market stakeholders and, especially, …continues here.

World’s Richest List: Why Mike Adenuga, Jimoh Ibrahim didn’t make it

In a direct confirmation of Fortune&Class Weekly news report of last week, the Forbes magazine, the United States of America’s compiler of the annual list of the world’s richest, Mr. Femi Otedola, Chief Executive Officer of Zenon Oil and Gas and largest shareholder of African Petroleum joined Alhaji Aliko Dangote on the world’s richest […]

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OTEDOLA, DANGOTE’S RELATIONSHIP GETTING MESSIER: AP N40BILLION PUBLIC OFFER MONEY TRAPPED IN BANKS

When a very top official of the National Accounting Standard Board told a gathering that a total N40billion being part of the money raised during the public offer of African Petroleum is trapped in some Nigerian banks, then there must be a cause for concern.
The offer which had closed since September last year has […]

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2009 Forbes Profile of Billionaires: Femi Otedola joins Dangote on World’d Richest List

Femi Otedola(l), Aliko Dangote(r)

Femi Otedola(l), Aliko Dangote(r)

Nigeria may have the honour of having two of its citizens listed in the 2009 edition of the annual Forbes list of the world richest. Fortune&Class Weekly can report that Mr. Femi Otedola, Chairman of African Petroleum Plc and Zenon Oil and Gas would join Alhaji Aliko Dangote, the first Nigerian on the list […] Continue reading here.

Jimoh Ibrahim barred from meeting Yar’Adua

Despite the seeming success of Barrister Jimoh Ibrahim, the Group Managing Director of NICON Insurance Plc, he seem to be having challenges breaking the barrier of easy access to relate with the President, Alhaji Umar Yar’Adua.

This became evident during the inauguration of the new Ghanaian President in Accra, Ghana.

Ibrahim was not privileged like Femi Otedola and Aliko Dangote who were part of the presidential entourage aboard the presidential jet. He arrived Ghana via a commercial flight.

While Yar’Adua was meeting with Musiliu Obanikoro and another diplomat in the Presidential lounge at the airport, Barr. Jimoh Ibrahim made frantic efforts to meet with him but the President’s aides would not permit the unscheduled meeting.

While Ibrahim was trying to persuade the aide, President Yar’Adua and his team decided to move. Ibrahim and others were courteously shoved to pave way for the President.

It is believed that Barr. Jimoh Ibrahim made the Ghana trip after efforts to connect the President in Abuja failed.