Key stakeholders in the Nigerian economy have demanded urgent realization of the Ajaokuta-Kaduna-Kano (AKK) pipeline project as potent strategy for rapid industrial development and economic diversification agenda. Panelists drawn from the petroleum industry, academia, organized private sector and regulatory agencies who participated in a business webinar hosted by Valuechain Magazine urged the federal government to expedite the realization of the full AKK project scope in order to provide the critical infrastructure for industrialization.
The Rector of the Kaduna Polytechnic, Prof. Idris Bugaje, who sounded a note of urgency on realization of the project declared that “AKK should be completed in 18 months” in order to pave way for activation of the second phase of the Trans-Nigeria gas pipeline which would run from Eastern Niger Delta through South-East and Middle Belt to North-East. He pointed out that speedy delivery of the project would compensate for its late conceptualization, explaining that the AKK pipeline was coming 25 years late after numerous textile, manufacturing, and agricultural enterprises in the northern parts of the country collapsed under costly, unstable and inefficient industrial fuel.
Bugaje linked the collapse and relocation of industries from northern Nigeria to Lagos with the rising spate of banditry and insurgency in the region. He also added that the social crisis in the northern part of the country was a result of worsening business environment and consequent surge in the number of unemployed youths. He lamented that withering of industries, Boko Haram insurgency and growing banditry could be efficiently addressed by restoring industrial vibrancy in the region which, according to him, hosted the largest textile industries in the past.
He also noted that the military campaigns against insurgency have remained costly and ineffective because of the failure to adopt economic measures in the prevailing counter-insurgency efforts. Stressing the role of gas in economic growth and development, Prof. Bugaje compared the poverty level and low industrial activity to the economic boom and industrial vibrancy in Lagos State which, according to him, has become the preferred regional investment hub due to abundance of gas flowing through robust distribution infrastructure to industrial clusters.
Heavy fuel cost killed most of the textile industries in the north, he argued, adding that gas has become critical to their revival. He urged all the governors in the north to adopt measures used by the Lagos State government in attracting investments that create jobs and grow the state’s economy. He listed investment opportunities surrounding the AKK pipeline to include businesses in Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG), Compressed Natural Gas (CNG), petrochemical and fertilizer plants, and captive and embedded power production.
He however warned against regulations that would limit power producers to the national power transmission grid currently managed by the Transmission Company of Nigeria (TCN), which, according to him, has proved inefficient and commercially unviable.