Atiku Condemns FG’s Plan To Spend $1.5bn On Port Harcourt Refinery

…Wants Asset Privatised

A former Vice President of Nigeria, Atiku Abubakar, has condemned the Federal Government’s decision to spend $1.5bn on the rehabilitation of Port Harcourt Refinery.

According to him, budgeting the amount 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.”

Atiku in statement noted that it is imperative for a nation such as Nigeria, considering the poor economical status to be prudent with the use of whatever revenue it could generate.

He said, “That Nigeria’s economy is in dire straits is a fact well known both to the nation and to our international partners.

Unemployment has just reached an all-time high of 33 per cent, while inflation has hit another record high of 17 percent.

“At this critical period, we must as a nation be prudent with the use of whatever revenue we can generate, and even if we must borrow, we must do so with the utmost responsibility and discipline.

“To therefore budget the sum of $1.5bn to renovate or turn around the Port Harcourt Refinery would appear to be an unwise use of scarce funds at this critical juncture for an assortment of reasons.”

Atiku who noted that the national refineries have performed below expectation in past years, said that it is questionable wisdom to throw good money after bad projects.

He further said that the best course of action would be to privatize the refineries to ensure it run more effectively and efficiently.

He said, “Moreover, the cost appears prohibitive. Too 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 $1.2bn.

“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 certainly not getting value for money. Not by a long stretch.

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

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

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