Rivers State-born oil magnet Tein Jack-Rich is one of the contenders for President Muhammadu Buhari’s seat in the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC). In this interview, the 47-year-old candidate says he has the magic wand to revive the country’s comatose refineries, boost production and end the oil subsidy regime.
OWhy do you aspire to the presidency?
I think the most important thing that brought us here is the country Nigeria. It belongs to all of us.
For people of the caliber of former Bauchi State Governor Malam Isa Yuguda, Senator Abubakar Gada and their ilk across the country to agree to be part of this project, it means we are going somewhere . For us, our country needs people like us and we love the country. 2023 will be a spectacular year in the history of Nigeria. You heard that Emmanuel Macron just won his second term and this guy is only 43 years old. France is the third largest economy in Europe; and if the world’s largest economies can put their national security in the hands of 43-year-olds, why would it be hard for Nigeria to believe a 47-year-old who produces what the country consumes? Someone who understands the economic engine that generates profitable growth through private sector involvement should be considered for the position. God has given us everything we need, the challenge is how to produce it, how to grow it and how to use it for the benefit of all.
We need someone who understands the engine called production, what government does is tax and what government does is distribute it to stimulate the economy, but where do you get to tax, where can you earn boost? It’s the private sector, so as a private sector guy, I’m a big believer in the engine called private sector growth and they’re the best guys who can employ and put food on the tables of families.
As a player in the oil and gas industry, how do you plan to address the production problem where we export crude and import refined products?
The truth is, you are preaching to a preacher; what I do is oil and gas, I’ve been in the upstream for 24 years, and the main thing is that I understand the game, I understand the plots, I understand the dynamics, I strongly believe that I can increase production to 3 million barrels per day.
What about ongoing vandalism?
It’s like someone saying that because you’re a writer or an editor, the pain it takes to produce your impression is so difficult and all that. It’s what we do for a living, so these guys vandalizing oil and gas infrastructure are the ones we strongly believe understand our language and that language is the way to create employment opportunities. When you create a job for a hungry guy, he won’t be angry anymore. So the first stimulus is to create job opportunities for these guys and then move them from the left wing of life to the right wing. I already did it between 2008 and 2010, during the time of President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua.
By the way, you mentioned that you are going to increase our production to three million barrels a day. How do you plan to achieve this while the refineries are in a coma?
I can get our domestic production up to 3 million barrels per day, right now I think we’re struggling with 2.2 million barrels per day. I have the capacity to go to 3 million barrels per day, I understand the language, it’s technical.
Apart from that I can show that whatever we consume we will refine, when we do that the amount of money spent on grant money will be converted into other engines for us to gain skills, so that we can forge other economic engines that are important for the industrialization of this country.
This country needs to industrialize, but before industrializing, you need skills, you have to develop the right skills, you have to put in place the right know-how. We don’t have the resources to do that because we are draining our resources a lot.
The swamp that drains our ability to have this surplus is what I will block, when you block the swamp that drains our economic surplus there will be an overflow, and that overflow is what I will use to transform our country.
The other aspect is our daily consumption. Today, NNPC will tell you that one million liters are consumed daily, tomorrow it will be different, what do you know?
Well, I think consumption is based on market data, but you know we have one or two leaks because we have neighboring countries and all that. Some products come in and out through the back door, but the most important is the market led by the private sector.
In the private sector-driven market, you know how much you earn every day because you know how many sales you make every day, you know how much production you make every day. The most important thing we do is run and drive a private sector-led economy, and the data the private sector provides becomes the data you take to the bank. So economic liberalization is very important, you liberalize the economy, then you bring in the private sector, then you wrap it up. All you have to do is just tax, tax revenue. I won’t go into details because it’s sensitive, but when we get there, you’ll see the other side of me. It’s knowledge-based leadership that we’re trying to promote right now.
Can you resist Asiwaju Ahmed Tinubu, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, Rotimi Amaechi and other popular candidates?
These guys are great, I will approach this from an intellectual perspective, Nigerians are looking for content, they are looking for success stories. I come with my success story, I come with my content, I come with my know-how, I come with my experience, I come with what I’ve done before. I am a producer, I am not a consumer.
Nigerians are looking for a leader who is a producer, a leadership that produces what it consumes and not a leadership that consumes what it does not produce. So my pedigree and background is there for Nigerians to make their choice and decision. I’ll tell you: we’ve had different political directions over the years – at the state level, at the local government level, consuming what they haven’t produced. I belong to that generation that believes in productivity, we have lived a life of debt, you have to think how much leadership has contributed to the state.
Over the past few years, I have paid taxes worth over 300 million naira – personal income tax in my state. So out of what I won, I paid mine. Now, do you need someone who is a producer or someone who spends what he doesn’t produce? The whole world is going through economic turmoil. We need to review our strategy.