A former vice president and presidential candidate of the Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP) Atiku Abubakar has criticised the Federal Executive Council (FEC) for its approval of the sum of $1.5billion for the refurbishing of the moribund Port Harcourt refinery.
In a statement made available on Thursday, Atiku condemned the planned rehabilitation as a suspicious gambit saying, “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%, while inflation has hit another record high of 17%.
“To therefore budget the sum of $1.5 billion 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,” he argued.
“First of all, our refineries have been loss-making for multiple years, and indeed, it is questionable wisdom to throw good money after bad. I have counselled that the best course of action would be to privatise our refineries to be run more effectively and efficiently.
He also questioned the basis for the huge sum budgeted for the turn-around maintenance, saying, “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 $1.2 billion.
“We must bear in mind that the Shell Martinez Refinery is more profitable than the Port Harcourt Refinery. 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,” he said
Atiku also revealed that, “Our national debt has grown from N12 trillion in 2015 to N32.9 trillion 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.