President Muhammadu Buhari today flagged off a 614km pipeline to wheel gas from Ajaokuta to Kano, a project he said will usher in economic prosperity in Nigeria.

He performed a virtual flag-off monitored at two locations in Ajaokuta (Kogi State) and Rgachukun (Kaduna State) for the project which would provide gas for power stations and industries along the Kogi-Ab-Niger-Kaduna- Kano business belt.

He affirmed that his government is poised to harness and commercialize gas reserves to rapidly develop and diversify the economy.

“Today marks an important chapter in the history of our great nation … when our domestic natural gas pipeline networks from Obiafu in Rivers State, Escravos in Delta State and Lekki in Lagos State, are being connected through Kaduna to Kano states thereby further enhancing national energy security”, he said.

The president noted that the project will not only create “numerous direct and indirect employment opportunities” but will also foster development of local manpower, enable technology transfer and promote local manufacturing.

“We promised the nation that we will expand the key 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 – Obrikom – Oben (OB3) pipeline and the AKK.

“I therefore directed NNPC to ensure that these critical projects are completed on time, within budget and specification,” he said. 

While commending the NNPC and others for going ahead with the project in spite of Covid19, he said the effort underscores the lesson learnt from the pandemic which is to search for export substitution initiatives that will promote local manufacturing.

The project is being handled by a Chinese firm and is supported by the Government and the Bank of China.

In an address at the event, NNPC’s Group Managing Director, Mallam Mele Kyari, appreciated the firm support of President Buhari and the unique way he is harnessing revenues from oil and gas to grow non-oil sectors of the economy.

He said NNPC has borrowed a leaf from this mindset to transform into an Integrated Energy Company as it diversifies into domestic gas business, especially through the Trans-Nigeria Pipeline Project.

Included in the pipeline project are the Escravos to Lagos Pipeline System (ELPS) 2, the Obiafu-Obrikom-Oben (OB3) gas pipeline and the Ajaokuta-Kaduna-Kano (AKK) gas pipeline which the President launched.

He said that the NNPC is confident that the EPC contractors will deliver the project on time, within budget and to specifications.

Governors of the two states where the flag-off took place, Yahaya Bello (Kogi) and Nasiru el Rufa’i (Kaduna) expressed happiness at the takeoff of the project which the Kaduna Governor said has created high hopes “because of the enormous benefits the project would bring to the state.”