The story and glory of Dangote refinery
By Clement Adeyi
The epic story of Alhaji Aliko Dangote’s journey and or adventure into the business world is not only magnetic to every reader, but could also be compelling so much that if you are into any other well-paying means of livelihood, you might want to venture into business. Reason? It is a story of success and good news that every ear that cares would want to hear.
A story has it that he ventured into the business space with a paltry N500,000 loan and started a petty trading by selling sugar, salt and flour. But the rest is now history.
He has broken record as Africa’s richest man.
Would a serious-minded and ambitious business man that wants to make it big like to start with petty trading? But that was how the multi-billion dollar business magnate started. When he took the steps into the business space that looked like a wilderness, it was like a journey of the foolish. But was he foolish? Certainly not. Even if he was foolish, the foolishness translated to the wisdom in him at the end.
The complex is the world’s largest single-train 650,000 barrels per day petroleum refinery
In his style reminiscent of venturing into business like the foolish, he also ventured into a refinery business in a country that had been condemned by a critic, that only a foolish business man would venture into such mega business in Nigeria.
At a luncheon held at the then Protea Hotel, Ikeja, Lagos, some years ago to mark his 55th birthday, he had invited some media chiefs who, while fraternising with him, went into a discussion on Nigeria, the state of the economy, politics and other sociopolitical issues. In the process, the discussion digressed into the irony of a country rich in crude oil but very poor in refining capacity. They wondered that Nigeria is a major crude oil exporter but a major importer of refined petroleum products, which results in waste of scarce forex.
As they chatted away freely, one of the media chiefs from a major business-inclined newspaper said that the Nigerian environment, following its local factors, was not suitable for any business man who would want to build a refinery in Nigeria. Then, he remarked: “Only a foolish man will build a refinery in Nigeria.”
Dangote, who was listening to the conversation with keen attention, interjected: “I am that foolish man.” He added: “My company has just decided to build a refinery in the country. But we are doing it big.”
He assured that he was willing to spend close to $9 billion on the project.
He explained in detail the dimensions that the project would take. The multi billion dollars business magnate also disclosed that the refinery would be a petrochemical complex. Then the media chiefs were shocked to their marrows.
As it is now, Dangote has proved the “foolish man” he claimed to be during the luncheon chat (“I am that foolish man”), but has ended up as a wise man.
Recently, Lagos Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, reminisced that “Dangote came to Lagos with nothing about 45 years ago, but he is now Africa’s richest man.” The governor jokingly said this in his speech during the commissioning of the refinery.
He described Dangote as a detribalised man who saw the tomorrow of Lagos as a world-class commercial hub where a business in the refinery’s capacity could thrive, contrary to the fears of a media chief’s critic that Nigeria was not a fertile ground for a refinery.
The refinery, according to its fact sheet, can meet 100 percent of the Nigerian requirement of all refined products
The Dangote Refinery was, on Monday, May 22, lunched by President Muhammadu Buhari in a grand style, with presidents of other African countries, scores of creme de la creme in the business world, eminent dignitaries from different walks of life in attendance.
The Insight gathered that it is the biggest refinery in the world and has the capacity to process 650,000 barrels of crude on daily basis.
In a blaze of glory, the staggering project, which cost $15 billion, now sits hugely at the Lekki Free Trade Zone in Ibeju-Lekki. It covers a land area of approximately 2,635 hectares which is seven times the size of Victoria Island, Lagos.
The Insight also learnt that the complex is the world’s largest single-train 650,000 barrels per day petroleum refinery with 900 KTPA polypropylene plant.
It comes with a 435 MW power plant which will be able to meet the total power requirement of Ibadan DisCo of 860,316 MWh covering five states – Oyo, Ogun, Osun, Kwara and Ekiti.
The refinery, according to its fact sheet, can meet 100 percent of the Nigerian requirement of all refined products, including gasoline, diesel, kerosene and aviation jet.
It will also be able to produce surplus of each of the products for export as well as mass employment for people.
Designed for 100 percent Nigerian crude, the refinery has flexibility to process other crude oils, especially due to its proximity to the sea sore.
Another beauty of the story of Dangote Refinery, a baby that came from the womb of the ‘foolish’, birthed on the laps of the wise and became a blessing to a country believed not suitable to nurture it, came during President Buhari’s exit and arrival of the President-elect, Bola Ahmed Tinubu, who provided the enabling environment for it when he was governor of Lagos State.
Kudos to Buhari for ensuring that Nigeria bought a stake in it and not starved of needed foreign exchange. Kudos also to Tinubu who provided the enabling environment for it as governor.
Kudos to Dangote for taking such a giant stride that promises to end fuel scarcity travails in the country. Kudos to him for ending Nigeria’s shame of inability to refine its crude oil but depending on importation perennially.
With Dangote Refinery, Nigeria transforms from the shame of a big crude oil exporter to the glory of a big crude oil importer in a few months time.
Dangote has assured that the first product would hit the market in July.