Dear Compatriot and Friend of Nigeria,
You will agree that after nearly five decades of producing crude oil in our country, we are yet to realize the dreams of our founding fathers in development terms. It is sad and disheartening that our country has fallen into the group of countries for whom oil wealth became a curse, with the country languishing in underdevelopment and our hardworking people mired in poverty.
Unfortunately, the problem of underdevelopment despite oil wealth has lingered for far too long and many are even worried that the reserves are running out with nothing to show. So many opportunities have been lost and many well intentioned policies have either been poorly implemented or not implemented at all.
Also, there have been no lack of meetings, workshops and conferences to discuss many of these issues – in fact, the Abuja Petroleum Roundtable may not really be raising any issues that have not been raised before. What we hope will be different, with your support, is that we will look at the problems in a realistic manner and build a simple, implementable roadmap, which becomes a working tool for leaders at every level – in government and the private sector. Thus, we are hoping that our efforts will lay a concrete foundation for a national business plan, which will empower Nigerians to realize the greatness God has bestowed on us through bountiful hydrocarbon and other mineral reserves, fertile expansive land, abundant water resources and picturesque landscapes. An example of where this approach has worked is Malaysia, where I happened to have played a key role. In the first place Malaysia started producing oil ten years after Nigeria. Secondly she produces less than a quarter of Nigeria’s output. So what magic did they perform to be where they are now in terms of development and global competition?
An example of where this approach has worked is Malaysia, where I happened to have played a key role. In the first place Malaysia started producing oil ten years after Nigeria. Secondly she produces less than a quarter of Nigeria’s output. So what magic did they perform to be where they are now in terms of development and global competition?
All they did was to implement a three phased development strategy:
• Short-term: (0-5years) – BUILDING THE FOUNDATION
• Mid-term: (5-15 years) – LEVERAGING TECHNOLOGY
• Long-term: (beyond 15 years) – GLOBAL COMPETITIVENESS
Abuja Petroleum Roundtable 2007
APR 2007 is focused on building the foundation, a strategy that should target development of value addition through minerals and agro processing. These are niche advantages for Nigeria, a country that is endowed largely with fertile land and a rich array of mineral deposits.
For instance, a concerted effort to develop local expertise and local companies to extract and process minerals such as gold, platinum, anthracite, bitumen, tantalite-columbite, tin, and even hydrocarbon resources where some Nigerian companies have made in-roads, will create huge real industries around these activities. The spin off will be employment and higher income for more Nigerian families. The effort can be replicated in agriculture and agro processing. Take bitumen for another example – Nigeria has enough reserves around the Okitipupa axis to repair all existing roads and export large volumes to regional markets, thereby creating massive employment opportunities.
Nigeria is like a two year old child who is still crawling and not able to even stand on its feet. It is the responsibility of the child’s parents to worry and seek every medical remedy possible. The remedy for Nigeria’s development paradox starts with a national road map - a comprehensive national business plan, with the above mentioned three phase implementation strategy.
God has been kind to me and I have played important roles in helping many other countries grow their economies using their oil revenues. I feel a sense of responsibility for my own country Nigeria, and like the worried parents in the illustration I have given, every serious Nigerian professional and indeed stakeholder in her development must join hands to find a way out of this problem!
Why not join me and other promoters of this project in taking the first steps towards our national aspirations.
Dr. Emmanuel Egbogah, P.Eng, OON
Chairman, Abuja Petroleum Roundtable Advisory Board,
and Director, Africa Region, Society of Petroleum Engineers
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