China has been on a roll in dealmaking in Nigeria. Now comes another deal for a refinery. China has signed a deal to build an eight-billion-dollar refinery in Nigeria. The refinery is necessary because while Nigeria is one of the world’s largest oil producers, the country lacks sufficent fuel and electricity. And, Nigeria´s current refineries have been plagued by malfunctioning and corruption. China State Construction Engineering Corporation signed the deal with Nigeria to build the refinery in Lagos. The deal is a three-way arrangement between Lagos State, NNPC (Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation) and a consortium of Chinese investors under the aegis of China State Construction Engineering Corporation Limited.
Many critics say such deals give China too much influence in Nigerian politics, but Mojubaolu Olufunke Okome, Ph.D., Professor of Political Science, African & Women’s Studies at Brooklyn College, CUNY, sees otherwise.
Says Okome, “Beijing/China is aggressively investing in Africa because the West abandoned Africa during the harshest years of its economic crisis–the 1980s and 1990s, sometimes pulling out in an unseemly hasty manner that disrupted economies and the lives of people dependent on such investments. Nigeria’s refined fuel and power deficits are remarkable. Urgent attention is needed to address these problems in order to take care of the welfare and needs of the people of Nigeria.”
Okome also notes that when examining the deals China has made in Africa, and Nigeria in particular, critics should look at deals made by other countries as well.
“I am at a loss at why the question would arise about whether or not this deal gives China too much of an influence, when it does not get raised in relation to Nigeria’s oil deals with Western multinational oil corporations, which have raped, plundered and exploited Nigeria’s natural resources for upwards of five decades. This is not to say that overexploitation is a good thing, but that it is hardly fair to acknowledge the injustice in one respect and ignore it in other instances,” Okome points out. “What Nigeria needs to do, regardless of whom it deals with, is to pass and enforce excellent environmental, securities and finance laws, insist on socially conscious investments, and refuse to participate in the overexploitation of its people through the payment of low wages, poor benefits, and unfair labor practices. Nigeria also needs to ensure that contracts are fulfilled, properly executed, and managed, with cost effectiveness and monitoring to ensure optimal performance guaranteed.”
The refinery will have the capacity to refine 300,000 barrels of oil per day and 500,000 metric tonnes of liquefied petroleum gas per year. According to details of the deal, the Chinese state firm will contribute 80 percent of the capital while the NNPC has the remaining 20 percent. The Lagos state government will oversee the land and infrastructure.