Former Vice President Atiku Abubakar has chided federal government’s plan to renovate the Port-Harcourt refinery with the sum of $1.5 billion, describing same as “unwise use of scarce funds.”
In a statement he personally signed and made available to journalists, Thursday, Atiku called for prudent management of scare resources given the dire economic situation in the country.
The statement read: “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 per cent.
“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 $1.5 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.
“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 to 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? 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. 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.”