Atiku, Peter Obi, LCCI knocks FG over fixing PH refinery with $1.5bn

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Former Vice-President Atiku Abubakar, former Governor of Anambra State, Peter Obi and the Lagos Chamber of Commerce Industry and Industry (LCCI) have blasted the Federal Government approval of $1.5 billion to renovate the loss bearing Port Harcourt refinery.

Atiku in a statement he personally signed argued that a nation with an unemployment rate standing at 33 percent and inflation at 17 percent, should not waste such a huge sum on a “moribund” refinery.

He said: “The nation must be prudent with whatever revenue it is able to generate. Even if the country must borrow, it must do so with the utmost responsibility and discipline.

“To budget $1.5 billion for renovation or turnaround of the Port Harcourt Refinery would appear to be unwise use of scarce funds at this critical juncture for a multiplicity of reasons.

“Our refineries have been loss-making for multiple years, and indeed, it is questionable wisdom to throw good money after bad.”

He added that he had counseled that “the best course of action would be to privatize our refineries, so they can be run more effectively and efficiently.”

He pointed out that “the cost appears prohibitive, especially as Shell Petroleum Development Company last year sold its Martinez Refinery in California, USA, which is of a similar size as the Port Harcourt refinery, for $1.2 billion.”

Atiku, who was the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) candidate for the 2015 presidential election, said that Nigeria must bear in mind that the Shell Martinez Refinery is more profitable than the Port Harcourt Refinery.

He also doubted if there was any tendering done before the rehabilitation contract was awarded.

Atiku asked: “Given this discrepancy, one might ask if there was a public tender before this cost was announced? Was due diligence performed?”

Read Also: FEC’s $1.5bn refinery fix approval political, unrealistic says Wike

On his part, Obi said approving such an amount for refinery repairs in light of Nigeria’s economic situation is a huge waste. He accused the leaders of worsening the country’s situation by their financial rascality.

Obi said, “The news of the planned expenditure of a whopping $1.5 billion for Port Harcourt refinery repairs is worrisome to well-meaning Nigerians. In light of our precarious economic situation, it is a huge waste.

“Our country on life support, but sadly the managers of our affairs are worsening the situation by their financial rascality.”

LCCI’s Director-General, Dr. Muda Yusuf said the $1.5 billion to be spent on the refinery calls for a rethink because it brings to question, the quality of prioritization of government’s expenditure.

Yusuf said: “The opportunity cost of this proposed spending is very high. Ideally, for a government with limited fiscal space, spending should be focused on projects, which the private sector cannot readily provide.

“For a refinery, getting equity funding from private sector investors should have been ideal. Government should have utilized such resources to fix our roads and railway infrastructure.”

Yusuf lamented that security agencies that have repeatedly lamented poor funding by government should have received attention by making such funds to them.

“Securing the country and ensuring that our schools are protected should be of utmost priority at this time to the government,” he said.