President Muhammadu Buhari on Tuesday affirmed his government’s commitment to ensure the timely delivery of the Ajaokuta-Kaduna-Kano Gas (AKK) pipeline project within budgetary allocation and specifications.
A statement by Femi Adesina, the president’s Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, said Buhari spoke during the virtual flag-off ceremony of the project at the Ajaokuta, Kogi State and Rigachikun, Kaduna State camp sites simultaneously.
President Buhari said the project was very dear to the people of Nigeria and must succeed.
He, therefore, directed the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) and partners to remain focused, noting that the AKK project was 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.
Governors Yahaya Bello of Kogi State and Nasir El-Rufai of Kaduna physically flagged off the commencement of works at Ajaokuta and Rigachikun sites, while the president watched remotely via video-conference from the Council Chamber in Abuja.
President Buhari said: ‘‘we promised the Nation that we will expand the critical gas infrastructure in the country to promote the use of gas in the domestic market.
‘‘These include the Escravos to Lagos Pipeline System – 2 (ELPS-2), Obiafu to Obrikom (OB3) pipeline and AKK.
‘‘These projects are fundamental to our desire to industrialize and energize the entrepreneurial spirit that is ever present in our population.’’
Enumerating the benefits of the project, billed to be completed in two years, the president said it would provide gas for generation of power and for gas-based industries which would facilitate the development of new industries.
It will also ensure the revival of moribund industries along transit towns in Kogi State, Abuja (FCT), Niger State, Kaduna State and Kano State, he said, adding that the cascading effect and impact of the AKK, when operational, will be immeasurable.
His words: ‘‘It has significant job creation potential both direct and indirect, while fostering the development and utilization of local skills and manpower, technology transfer and promotion of 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.
Speaking further on COVID-19, he said the pandemic had further underscored the drive of his administration for export substitution initiatives and projects that promote local manufacturing.
On diversification, the President said: ‘‘Gulf countries that have similar levels of gas reserves as Nigeria, have a strategy centered around gas-industrialization 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.’’
The President also used the occasion to challenge the private sector to lead the charge in maximising the nation’s gas resources.