Ariyomo: Nigeria Needs Local Refinery Construction Expertise

by Adenike Adeodun

Structural engineer and energy specialist Olatunji Ariyomo, emphasised the pressing need for Nigeria’s Federal Government to champion the development of local capacity in oil refinery construction, a move aimed at bolstering national energy sufficiency and stimulating economic growth.

Addressing fellow engineers at the recent 2023 annual event of the Nigerian Society of Engineers (NSE) in Akure, Ariyomo, the event’s keynote speaker, underscored the importance of domestic proficiency over-reliance on foreign expertise for refinery engineering.

According to a report by The Guardian, Ariyomo stated that “Nigeria must pivot from merely importing or striving to construct the largest refinery using technologies dominated by competitors.” “Instead, we should view crude oil as a tool, not the primary focus. The real breakthrough will come when we possess the organic capability to locally design, assemble, and install all facets of refineries.”

Ariyomo’s passionate address emphasised that once Nigeria fully harnesses and controls the technical knowledge, the country wouldn’t just rely on crude oil as a resource within its boundaries. This mastery would enable the nation to cater to its energy needs and even have the potential to export excess.

Drawing attention to the global competitive landscape, Ariyomo pointed out that nations inherently operate in their own self-interest. “Every country is, in essence, a competitor. It’s a misstep to believe any nation assists another without seeking its own advantage,” he cautioned.

Elaborating on this viewpoint, he mentioned that when a nation builds infrastructure in another country, especially financed by its loans, the recipient becomes a market, ensuring future revenue for the lender. “That lending nation wouldn’t naturally want the borrowing country to be self-reliant. They would prefer dependency. So, in some respects, your infrastructure builder could be your strategic adversary,” Ariyomo added.

While acknowledging that borrowing is a necessity in international relations, Ariyomo urged that the paramount goal should always be to secure an advantageous position for Nigeria.

The gathering saw attendance from renowned figures in the engineering domain, including NSE National President Tasiu Sa’ad Gidari-Wudil; past president Ali Rabiu; former Registrar of COREN Kamila Walik; and His Royal Majesty Oba Victor Adetona, the Owa of Ogbagi Akoko, among other dignitaries.

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