“The opportunity to serve one’s country is unique. It is a special privilege, which one should be thankful for—a call which one should always be willing to accept.”
Today is Monday, the 4th of May, 2020. We are grateful to God for giving us this day, and seeing us through years past.
Finally, after a brief hiatus from my social media platforms, I’m resuming my interactions in these online communities.
Since I left public office in May 2019, after serving as Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, I took a break from the public eye. This has attracted many speculations and enquiries about my whereabouts. We will get to that soon enough.
Let me thank Nigerians for their unwavering support, while I served in that office. As my team and I worked, we effected bold transformations in the Petroleum sector, crossed many turbulent bridges, and tasked the tolerance of Nigerians. From the fuel price adjustment, to deregulation and introduction of a modulation policy, early lease renewal programs, the popular 7 Big Wins project, the restructuring of NNPC, etc., we got your unequivocal support, and I am most appreciative.
Of course, there were many dreams we had that never quite materialised, like the refinery revamp and passage of the PIB. For this country to be economically stable, these are still critical must dos. I do hope that the Government will continue to focus on them and many more.
Let me also thank President Muhammadu Buhari who gave me the opportunity to serve; for his guidance and support all through my service as Minister. The Vice President also has my gratitude, as well as the Federal Executive Council, and many of my colleagues.
I cannot forget the selfless support of a few notable Nigerians whose recommendations got me to Mr. President for the appointments, and who continued to render me much needed advisory and political support throughout my service. I remain indebted to them.
Since leaving office, I have been off the radar, owing to the need to depressurize after four years of constant public exposure and the resultant stress. Although many Nigerians focus on the glamour of public office, the truth is that public office, for those who want to make a real difference, is challenging and stressful.
However, the opportunity to serve one’s country is unique. It is a special privilege, which one should be thankful for—a call which one should always be willing to accept.
I will be returning to provide private consultancy service in the Energy sector around Africa, where hopefully, I can use the immense expertise garnered during my time as Group Managing Director NNPC, Honourable Minister of State Petroleum, President of African Petroleum Producers Organisation, and President of OPEC, to help the sector do better.
I will also be serving as visiting professor in some world renowned institutions in Nigeria and USA to further push the envelope on my intellectual pursuits. In my four years of serving in the capacities mentioned above, the experience allowed me to author six books between 2015 and 2018. These books are:
Compendium of Oil and Gas Cases in Nigeria (vols 1-4)
The Petroleum Industry Bill: Getting to the Yes
Legal Issues In the Petroleum industry
Forms and Precedents in the Oil and Gas Industry
Environmental Law and the Niger Delta Imperatives
Rethinking Gas: A directional roadmap for Nigeria’s development
In 2019, I also completed work on additional 4 books based on my experience. These books will be unveiled as soon as the dust settles on the pandemic.
The books are:
The Nigerian Petroleum Industry: 2015 to the Future (Restructuring & Reforming for growth)
Nigerian Law of Contract: Study Companion
Nigerian Foreign Investment Law and Policy
The Development of Gas in Nigeria: Legal and Policy Framework
These books, together with earlier ones published before I became a Minister, will help shape my guidance of research students, and people consulting in this field.
One other reason for my absence was the need to convalesce after undergoing a prostate surgery. I have since made full recovery and am thankful to God for that. I am also thankful to the doctors and healthcare professionals who worked with me during that challenging period. I am grateful to family and friends who prayed for and supported me.
I am also grateful to some of my former colleagues in NNPC, the Ministry of Petroleum and some parastatals, who continued to follow up on my progress and rendered me so much support. One such colleague even took the unbelievable step to come visit me in California. How can one begin to appreciate such consideration?
NOW FOR TODAY AND THE FUTURE
What’s with COVID-19 and its beastial destruction of human life and existence as we knew it? The “new normal” of lockdowns, restrictions and social distancing is necessary but exacting; we are no longer who we used to be just a few months ago. There have been many theories flying around, with many social experiments being carried in various countries, all in the attempt to tackle this novel pandemic. I have my thoughts and my suggestions, and will explore all with you soon. For now, I commend all Government functionaries in the Health, Petroleum and Financial sectors, and many private sector captains who led the intervention so far recorded. A lot more targeted efforts need to be done by all sectors and I will be discussing this soon. We have made a good beginning though.
MALLAM ABBA KYARI
Whilst on this COVID-19 pandemic, nothing brought home more frighteningly the loss that Nigeria has suffered and may continue to suffer to this plague, than the death of Abba. I reached out to him often while he was in hospital, and didn’t see the end coming. My heart goes out to his lovely wife and children whom I have had many opportunities to meet previously. May God give the family the courage to bear the loss and may Abba’s soul Rest in Peace.
ON THE BUSINESS OF OIL AND WORLD PRICING
There is a lot to worry about, and a lot of urgency needs to be given to the tasks needed to save this sector. If you followed me in my twilight years in office, you will remember my famous ‘URGENCY OF NOW’ clarion call and the speed with which I raced to seek solutions for this sector as though time was running out! And time is truly running out. I know that those at the helm of affairs in this sector, both public and private, are doing a lot to stabilise it.
Nigeria needs to go back to the drawing board to figure out the right approach to this sector. It cannot be business as usual anymore and some of the new bold decisions being taken reflect this. However, the time has come to be BULLISH, or the sector will collapse.
I will stop here… for now… and until next time, I will say again a big “Thank You” to all Nigerians.
Stay safe, stay socially distanced, mask up, wash your hands, eat healthy and engage in physical workouts…
I will end with a COVID lingo I picked from somewhere. Very creative, though I know not where it came from, but enjoy it like I did. Cheers!
Lockdown lingo – are you fully conversant with the new terminology?
The ups and downs of your mood during the pandemic. You’re loving lockdown one minute but suddenly weepy with anxiety the next. It truly is “an emotional coronacoaster”.
Experimental cocktails mixed from whatever random ingredients you have left in the house. The boozy equivalent of a store cupboard supper. Southern Comfort and Ribena quarantini with a glacé cherry garnish, anyone? These are sipped at “locktail hour”, ie. wine o’clock during lockdown, which seems to be creeping earlier with each passing week.
Blue Skype thinking:
A work brainstorming session which takes place over a videoconferencing app. Such meetings might also be termed a “Zoomposium”. Naturally, they are to be avoided if at all possible.
Le Creuset wrist:
It’s the new “avocado hand” – an aching arm after taking one’s best saucepan outside to bang during the weekly ‘Clap For Carers.’ It might be heavy but you’re keen to impress the neighbours with your high-quality kitchenware.
As opposed to millennials, this refers to the future generation of babies conceived or born during coronavirus quarantine. They might also become known as “Generation C” or, more spookily, “Children of the Quarn”.
Wine consumed in an attempt to relieve the frustration of not working. Also known as “bored-eaux” or “cabernet tedium”.
An overdose of bad news from consuming too much media during a time of crisis. Can result in a panicdemic.
The elephant in the Zoom:
The glaring issue during a videoconferencing call that nobody feels able to mention. E.g. one participant has dramatically put on weight, suddenly sprouted terrible facial hair or has a worryingly messy house visible in the background.
An attention-seeker using their time in lockdown to make amateur films which they’re convinced are funnier and cleverer than they actually are.
Covidiot or Wuhan-ker:
One who ignores public health advice or behaves with reckless disregard for the safety of others can be said to display “covidiocy” or be “covidiotic”. Also called a “lockclown” or even a “Wuhan-ker”.
The sudden fear that you’ve consumed so much wine, cheese, home-made cake and Easter chocolate in lockdown that your ankles are swelling up like a medieval king’s.
Using health precautions as an excuse for snubbing neighbours and generally ignoring people you find irritating.
Someone so alarmed by an innocuous splutter or throat-clear that they back away in terror.
Extra make-up applied to “make one’s eyes pop” before venturing out in public wearing a face mask.
The 10lbs in weight that we’re all gaining from comfort-eating and comfort-drinking. Also known as “fattening the curve”.
Ibe Kachikwu is a former Minister of State for Petroleum