Buhari Laments Poor Investment in Petroleum Infrastructure

Nigeria’s substantive Minister of Petroleum, President Muhammadu Buhari on Tuesday declared that the petroleum policy of the Olusegun Obasanjo’s military era of the 1970s would continue to be a reference point as it remains the best Nigeria has ever had. The president made the declaration in Abeokuta, the Ogun State capital, while speaking at the luncheon organised in his honour to conclude his two-day official visit and commissioning of projects to mark the 40th anniversary of the creation of the state. Buhari, who acknowledged the quality of jobs executed by the Ibikunle Amosun-led administration to transform the state, explained that the Obasanjo military administration in the 1970s, invested more in the petroleum industry, during which three refineries were built in Warri, Kaduna and Port Harcourt.

He stated that the petroleum policy of that administration was the best in the country as it guaranteed enough products not only for local consumption, but also for exportation. The president however, expressed regret that the country’s oil wealth was fast thinning out as it had become unable to produce enough refined petroleum products for domestic use. While lamenting the lack of investment on infrastructure in the petroleum sector since the 1970s, Buhari however, queried what led to the sorry situation of the industry today. He said: “I don’t want to comment on that for now. I appreciate President Obasanjo for making me the minister of petroleum. For three years, he tolerated me. “During that period we built Warri and Kaduna refineries. We laid so many pipelines and then we were exporting refined petroleum products. But what do we have today? I want to stop here.” The president said Ogun State was lucky to have leaders like Amosun to administer its affairs since its creation 40 years ago.

While describing the legacy projects as “confusing and disorientating”, Buhari, who said Abeokuta was his first station as a Commission Officer of the Nigerian Army in 1963, confessed that what Amosun had done as governor has distorted his knowledge of the then Ogun State as he could not find his ways around. He lauded the governor for the transformation and urged him to continue the good work. Earlier in the day, the president had inaugurated some of the Legacy Projects, including a flyover bridge at Sapon, a model school at Itoku Elewe, the judiciary complex and unveiling of the 40th commemorative logo for the state. Meanwhile, former President Obasanjo, Prof. Biyi Afonja as well as Olori Yetunde Gbadebo were among the six prominent sons and daughters, who bagged prestigious awards for their roles in the creation of the state in 1976. Obasanjo, who bagged “Icon of all the Time” award, was the Chairman of the Committee on the Creation of States, established by the then Supreme Military Council of the Murtala/Obasanjo administration in 1976. Two living members of the committee that prepared proposals for the creation of Ogun State: Prof. Afonja and Olori Gbadebo were also honoured.

Three other eminent citizens of the state: Prof. Wole Soyinka, Dr. Obafunke Otudeko as well as Sir Kensington Adebutu were also honoured by the state. Obasanjo, who responded on behalf of the recipients, commended the government for the honour, noting that the effort towards the creation of the state was collective. The former president also reacted to the accusations indirectly levelled against him by the Awujale and Paramount ruler of Ijebuland, Oba Sikiru Adetona, and a section of the state that he influenced the choice of Abeokuta as the capital of the then new state. Awujale had earlier in his goodwill message, enjoined Obasanjo to back the demand for the creation of Ijebu State out of the present Ogun State. The monarch reiterated his relentless demand for the creation of Ijebu State, stressing that Obasanjo’s support was crucial, urging President Buhari to grant the request of his people for a state of their own. But Obasanjo said he would only support the creation of Ijebu State, provided the Ijebu people would agree to make Ikenne the capital.

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