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$1.5bn for P/Harcourt refinery renovation suspicious- Atiku



Former Vice President Atiku Abubakar has said the $1.5 billion earmarked by the Federal Government for the renovation of the moribund Port Harcourt refinery is suspicious.

According to him, the nation cannot afford such a huge allocation to the comatose refinery considering the poor economy with the unemployment rate standing at 33 percent and 17 percent inflation.

In a statement on Thursday, which he personally signed, Atiku said: “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 a multiplicity of reasons.

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

“At other times, I have counselled that the best course of action would be to privatise our refineries, so they can be run more effectively and efficiently.

“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 $1.2 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 certainly not getting value for money. Not by a long stretch.

“We cannot as a nation expects 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 ?12 trillion in 2015 to ?32.9 trillion today. Surely 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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