Dr Rilwanu Lukman: Oil supremo

OPEC Bulletin Commentary July 2014

It was with the deepest regret that the OPEC Bulletin learned of the untimely death of Dr Rilwanu Lukman, one of the oil industry’s most influential and respected ambassadors and personalities.

The OPEC elder statesman died in the early hours of July 21 at his residence in Vienna, Austria, where he had lived for some years. At the age of 75, his long and distinguished career as one of the longest-serving heads of both the Nigerian oil industry and OPEC spanned five decades.

Within international oil circles, Lukman was known for his peerless prowess and extensive petroleum sector experience. Nigerian President, Goodluck Jonathan, described him as “a brilliant engineer, technocrat and administrator who spent almost all his working life serving his country and the global community in various capacities.”

As OPEC’s website recorded his passing: “Lukman was a servant to the Nigerian government and its petroleum industry and played a major role in the history of OPEC. He was widely recognized and highly regarded in the global petroleum industry; a loyal and dedicated man, who had the best interests of Nigeria and OPEC at heart.

“He garnered great respect among other Ministers and the staff at the OPEC Secretariat that worked with him over the years. His commitment and service to OPEC is something to be praised and admired.”

During his various high-level tenures as Petroleum Resources Minister and Presidential Adviser on Petroleum and Energy, as well as OPEC Secretary General and OPEC Conference President (see story and biography on page 36), Lukman was constantly gracing the pages of the OPEC Bulletin. Whether it was coverage of his speech to an oil forum, him answering questions at an OPEC press conference, or simply his comments on the state of the international oil market, the publication and its readership benefited immensely from his views, which covered a wealth of interesting and topical subjects.

Since his death, the tributes, led by President Jonathan, have been pouring in. There are too many to mention here, but all point to a brilliant and well-liked man who will be sorely missed.

Diezani Alison-Madueke, Nigeria’s Minister of Petroleum Resources, referred to Lukman as a “great Nigerian”, stressing that her country and the global petroleum industry had lost “an astute diplomat, a seasoned technocrat, and a trailblazer, who achieved many firsts in his lifetime.”

In the same vein, Andrew Yakubu, former Group Managing Director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), described Lukman’s death as “a monumental loss to the global oil and gas industry and to Nigeria as a country.”

Another former NNPC Group Managing Director, and former assistant to former Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo on Petroleum, Funsho Kupolokun, said Lukman was “a great man and anybody who worked with him would come to the same conclusion.”

Speaker of the Nigerian House of Representatives, Aminu Tambuwal, saw Lukman as a “thorough-bred technocrat”, who would be remembered for his performance as OPEC Conference President and Secretary General.

And Governor Alero of Kaduna State, where Lukman was born, said his passing was a great loss, not only to Kaduna State and Nigeria, but to the entire world, saying the world would miss his wealth of experience in the energy sector.

Meanwhile, Mohammed Sanusi Barkindo, a former Acting for the Secretary General of OPEC and a close confidant of his, said Lukman firmly believed in Nigeria’s greatness.

“He always talked about how we should join hands to build the nation. Even in his sick bed, no day went by without him calling me to discuss everything Nigeria. He never failed to bring up the challenges of the country and how he thought they should be addressed. He was what Nigerians call ‘something else’!”

Clearly, the oil industry, OPEC and Nigeria has lost a great man.

The OPEC Bulletin wishes to express its sincere condolences to Dr Lukman’s family — his wife, three children and four grandchildren.

Dr. Rilwanu Lukman

Dr. Rilwanu Lukman (1938-2014)

OPEC Bulletin July 2014

Download document