Nigeria's former vice president, Atiku Abubakar, has listed at least three reasons why the federal government should abandon its plan to spend $1.5 billion for the rehabilitation of the Port Harcourt refinery.
The minister of state for petroleum, Timipre Sylva, had announced after the Federal Executive Council (FEC) approved the repair work during its meeting on Wednesday, March 17.
However, Atiku in a statement on Thursday, March 18, sighted by Legit.ng queried the federal government's plan. He said the plan is "suspicious at the least".
He listed some reasons why the FG's plan to spend $1.5 billion on Port Harcourt Refinery is "unwise".
1. Loss-making refineries
According to the former vice president, Nigeria's refineries have been loss-making for many years. Therefore, it is questionable wisdom to throw good money after bad, Atiku said.
2. Too expensive
Also, Atiku said the cost is too prohibitive. According to him, Shell Petroleum Development Company recently sold a refinery for $1.2 billion. He said the refinery in question, Shell Martinez Refinery, was even more profitable than the Port Harcourt Refinery.
3. Scarce funds
The former vice president said Nigeria is already battling with revenue challenges and budgeting the sum of $1.5 billion to renovate a refinery would appear to be an unwise use of scarce funds.
He also noted that the country’s debt which has spiked from ₦12 trillion in 2015 to ₦32.9 trillion today, is shocking enough to cause the nation to be more prudent in the way it borrows.
What the FG should do
Having rejected the federal government's plan to renovate the Port Harcourt refinery, Atiku said the best course of action would be to privatize the refineries,
He said privatization will ensure the effective and efficient running of the refineries.
Atiku's statement on the refinery rehabilitation plan has generated heated reactions on social media.
Adolphus Douglas said on Facebook:
"Well said Your Excellency. The Refineries should be privatized.
"Besides, how much does it cost to set up new refineries? This is money going down the drain."
Emmanuel Iwenjiora said:
"I guess this is what happens when the economy is in the hands of financial mis-managers. There is no consideration of the current national or international economic climate."
Moses Oluwole said:
"You and your Boss then Sir, spent billions of naira for the same repairs then, but nothing good come out, maybe because you people don't want them to work again. They're profiting in importation and they were collecting subsidies then."
Sani Arzika commented:
"When they can't turn around our refineries within their first 6 years and we all know how inefficient and sluggish nature of this government, we've all reasons to doubt their sincerity."
Meanwhile, a group under the aegis of South-South Emerging Leaders Forum (SELF) has expressed happiness over the approval of $1.5 billion for the rehabilitation of the Port Harcourt refinery.
The forum described the news as exciting even as it commended President Muhammadu Buhari and the minister of state for petroleum.
In a statement sent to Legit.ng on Thursday, March 18, and signed by its national coordinator Barrister Benjamin Kolowei, the forum said fixing the refinery will positively impact the economic activities in the south-south region.
Nurudeen Lawal is a Legit.ng journalist passionate about fact-checking/verification journalism. He holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Literature-in-English from Obafemi Awolowo University. As Politics Editor, Nurudeen mostly writes on Nigeria’s political and socio-economic developments. He has attended different workshops, conferences and training on fact-checking and digital reporting, among others. Learn more about him on Twitter, @Nurudeen Lawal_