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$1.5 Billion To Renovate Port Harcourt Refinery Is Suspicious – Atiku Blows Hot

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Atiku Abubakar, a former vice-chairman of Nigeria, has faulted the Federal Government’s approval of $1.5 billion for the renovation of the Port Harcourt refinery, The PUNCH reports.

According to him, budgeting the quantity for the renovation of a refinery at a critical period of increased unemployment and inflation “would appear to be an unwise use of scarce funds.”

He said this during a statement titled ‘$1.5 Billion To Renovate The Port Harcourt Refinery Is Suspicious At the smallest amount .’

The statement read, “That Nigeria’s economy is in desperate straits may be a fact documented both to the state and to our international partners. Unemployment has just reached an all-time high of 33%, while inflation has hit another record high of 17%.

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“At this critical period, we must as a nation be prudent with the utilization of whatever revenue we will generate, and albeit we must borrow, we must do so with the utmost responsibility and discipline.

“To therefore budget the sum of $1.5 billion to renovate or rotate the Port Harcourt Refinery would seem to be an unwise use of scarce funds at this critical juncture for an assortment of reasons.

“First, our refineries are loss-making for multiple years, and indeed, it’s questionable wisdom to throw good money after bad. At other times, I even have counseled that the simplest course of action would be to privatise our refineries to be run more effectively and efficiently.

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“Moreover, the value appears prohibitive. Too prohibitive, especially as Shell Petroleum Development Company last year sold its Martinez Refinery in California, USA, which is of an identical size because the Port Harcourt refinery, for $1.2 billion.

“We must bear in mind that the Shell Martinez Refinery is more profitable than the Port Harcourt Refinery.

“Given this discrepancy, might we ask if there was a public tender before this cost was announced? Was due diligence performed? Because we are never getting value for money. Not by an extended stretch.

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“We cannot as a nation expect to form economic progress if we still fund inefficiency, and that we are going too deep into the debt trap for unnecessarily overpriced projects.

“Our debt has grown from ₦12 trillion in 2015 to ₦32.9 trillion today. Indeed that’s shocking enough to cause us to be more prudent within the way we commit future generations into the bondage of bonds and debt.”

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