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FLASHBACK: In 2014, Fashola persuaded Ibeju Lekki chiefs, residents to accept Dangote’s refinery project

 


On Monday, President Muhammadu Buhari inaugurated the Dangote petroleum refinery, an illustrious project expected to catalyse the transformation of Nigeria’s energy sector.

 

The refinery, owned by Aliko Dangote, Africa’s richest businessman, was initiated in September 2013 and took $19 billion to complete.

 

The Dangote Petroleum Refinery, with a capacity to process 650,000 barrels of oil per day (bpd), sits on 2,635 hectares of land located in the Lekki free zone, and will employ over 100,000 persons directly.

 

The coming onstream of the project is expected to mark Nigeria’s exit from the league of oil-rich nations who are heavy importers of petroleum products.

 

It is expected that the refinery would meet 100 percent of the Nigerian requirement of all refined products and also have a surplus for export.

 

The refinery is also said to be designed for 100 percent Nigerian crude with the flexibility to process other crudes.

 

At the inauguration, Buhari said the facility would enable “our country to achieve self-sufficiency in refined products and even have some surplus for export”.

 

On his part, Dangote promised that petroleum products from the refinery would circulate in the Nigerian market soon.

 

Amid the fanfare and celebration at the inauguration of the refinery, it is easy to forget that the project was met with mixed reactions in its host community when the idea was first floated.

 

There were dissenting voices in the early stages of the project, and it took the interference of Babatunde Fashola, former Lagos government, to quiet them.

 

FASHOLA BEGGED IBEJU CHIEFS TO SUPPORT DANGOTE

In February 2014, Fashola, then governor of Lagos, met with Ibeju-Lekki residents and “handed over” Dangote to them.

 

In a viral clip of his speech at the event, the former governor asked the people present at the event if they want the refinery — and while the majority accepted, a minority disagreed.

 

Fashola then told those who disagreed with the project to leave the gathering.

 

He said Dangote “has begged” the community and sought the support of the chiefs to build the refinery.

 

He warned that nobody should “enter the facility and spoil the equipment”, adding that such action shall trigger his “wrath”.

 

“Do you still want the refinery or should we take it elsewhere,” Fashola said.

 

 “Do you know if we can take the refinery to Badagry? Crude oil is abundant there. Do you want it or not? He(Dangote) has begged you. Those of you that do not want, please stand up and go.

 

“Now, I’m handing Dangote to all these area chiefs, Obas, and other residents. He’s now in your hands.

 

 “It is the Lagos state government that you are dealing with, and if there is any problem, you should come to us. Do not go inside the facility and spoil the equipment if there is any grievance. You shall see my wrath then.”

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