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Spending $1.5b on refinery is a misplaced priority- Atiku, LCCI

Following the Wednesday’s approval of $1.5 billion by the Federal Executive Council’s (FEC’s) for the rehabilitation of the Port Harcourt Refinery, many reactions have followed.

Below are the comments and reactions from Former Vice-President Atiku Abubakar, and the Director-General of Lagos Chamber of Commerce and  Industry (LCCI) Dr. Muda Yusuf and others.

Atiku Abubakar, stated in a statement he personally signed on Thursday, 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.

Part of the statement reads:

“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 turn around 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.”

Comparing the Port Harcourt Refinery to Shell Martinez Refinery, he said that although the latter sold its California outlet last year, it is still way more profitable than the former.

He also expressed doubt of any tendering done before the rehabilitation contract was awarded.

On similar note, LCCI’s Director-General, Dr. Muda Yusuf, said that the nod for 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.

According to Yusuf,

“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 utilised such resources to fix  our roads and railway infrastructure.

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

On the other hand,  the Ijaw Youths Council (IYC) Worldwide described the FEC approval as a sign that the Federal Government has woken up from its slumber.

IYC President, Peter Igbifa, declared that though reviving and optimising the refinery was long overdue, it was better late than never.


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