President Muhammadu Buhari, on Tuesday admitted that the COVID-19 pandemic has taught his regime invaluable lessons as he inaugurated the $2.592bn Ajaokuta-Kaduna-Kano Gas pipeline project.
He said the government also learnt from some oil-rich countries that have utilised their crude to achieve economic and industrial diversification.
According to a statement by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina, the President spoke while inaugurating the pipeline project virtually from the Council Chamber of the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
Kogi State Governor, Yahaya Bello; and Kaduna State Governor, Nasir El-Rufai, were, however, present physically at the Ajaokuta and Rigachikun sites respectively for the inauguration.
Buhari was quoted as saying that the pandemic had further underscored his regime’s desire for projects that promote local manufacturing.
“President Buhari announced that Nigeria had learnt invaluable lessons from the global COVID-19 pandemic and some oil-rich countries that have used their crude as a pathway to economic and industrial diversification.
“On COVID-19, the President said the pandemic had further underscored the drive of his administration for export substitution initiatives and projects that promote local manufacturing,” the statement read.
On diversification, the President was quoted as noting that Gulf countries that have similar levels of gas reserves as Nigeria have a strategy centred around gas industrialisation as their foundation towards export diversification.
“This has to be our guiding principle as we seek to attract investment and create opportunities for our people,” he said.
Buhari challenged the private sector to lead the charge in maximising the nation’s gas resources.
According to him, the private sector can create a petrochemical hub that will resurrect the manufacturing industry and put the nation on the path to increased self-sufficiency.
He added, “As the world evolves, we owe our people the responsibility to prepare them for what the future holds. We, therefore, must be bold and fearless and can no longer be incremental in our approach.
“Time is short, and our people’s zeal is strong and palpable. Infrastructure development although long, tedious, and complex remains a cardinal objective of our administration’s drive towards ensuring a stable, sustainable, and more prosperous future for our citizenry.
‘‘Today marks an important chapter in the history of our great nation. It marks the day when our domestic natural gas pipeline networks; from Obiafu in Rivers State, Escravos in Delta State, and Lekki in Lagos State, are being connected through Kaduna to Kano States thereby enhancing national energy security, creating balanced development, and further integrating our nation.”
Buhari affirmed the government’s commitment to ensure timely delivery of the project within budgetary allocation and specifications.
He, therefore, directed the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation and partners to remain focused, noting that the AKK project is part of the delivery of the present administration’s “Next Level Agenda” for sustainable development, enhancement of economic prosperity and increase of the country’s infrastructure assets.