Former Nigeria’s Minister of Petroleum Resources and erstwhile Secretary General of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), Rilwanu Lukman is dead. He died aged 75 after a career spanning five decades.
Dr. Lukmam, who died in the early hours of today, July 21, at his residence in Vienna, Austria after a brief illness, was born on August 26 1938 in Zaria, Kaduna State and left behind a wife and 3 children.
Dr. Lukman had played a key role mending fences in the often fractious Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries as well as in Nigeria, where it worked to reform the oil industry and resolve a conflict with militants.
“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,” OPEC said, without expanding on the cause of his death.
Dr. Lukman had been oil minister between 1986 and 1990, and then again between 2008 and 2010, in addition to heading state-run Nigerian National Petroleum Corp. between 1999 and 2003.
During his last tenure as a minister, he tried to reform Nigeria’s troubled oil industry, working to cut its bloated fuel subsidies and to find private finance for its state companies. But he also assisted the government in brokering an amnesty with militants that had crippled the country’s oil industry.
The seasoned official is best remembered internationally as one of the most experienced heads of OPEC, where he served as a secretary-general between 1995 and 2000, and as president three times between 1986 and 2002.
He was known as a skilled, soft-spoken diplomat, helping steer the group toward consensus, particularly during the Asian financial crisis in 1997 and 1998. “Whoever is president has to get people to work together,” he told The Wall Street Journal in a 2008 interview. [myad]