Rilwanu Lukman steered the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) through the 1997-1998 Asian financial crisis, when crude fell to $10 a barrel. He presided over a record number of OPEC conferences and was the group’s secretary-general for six years until 2000. Lukman was Petroleum minister from 1986 to 1990 and again for a two-years from 2008.
Born in Zaria, on Aug. 26, 1938, Lukman trained as an engineer to work at tin mines in the country’s central plateau around the city of Jos. After several promotions, he had risen by 1979 to become chief executive officer of Nigerian Mining Corp. He achieved university degrees in both Nigeria and the U.K.
Lukman served four different Nigerian leaders either as minister or energy adviser during more than two decades until he left office in 2010. He was also named the West African nation’s mining and steel minister in 1984.
He put reforms in place to change the way Nigeria regulated and funded its oil and gas industry, overseeing the drafting of the first Petroleum Industry Bill sent to lawmakers in December 2008. The legislation remains stalled in parliament over differences between the government and energy companies including Royal Dutch Shell, Exxon Mobil and Chevron Corporation.
“Lukman’s professional longevity will be hard to match,” Rolake Akinkugbe, vice president and head of energy at Lagos-based FBN Capital Ltd., the investment banking arm of FBN Holdings Plc, said in an e-mailed response to questions. “He was one of the most influential consensus builders within OPEC in the past two decades. In person he cut a diminutive figure, but you never doubted his industry clout and insights.”
A statement from OPEC didn’t give a cause of death.