By Elizabeth Chukwuma
The last may not have been heard about the Controversial approval of $1.5billion for the rehabilitation of the 150,000b/d, PortHacourt refinery in the south-south Geo-political region by the Federal Executive Council, FEC.
Kayode Fayemi, a former minister of solid minerals and steel development and now governor of Ekiti state, who incidentally is the Chairman of the Nigerian Governor’s Forum, NGF, based on available information, had disclosed that an Italian firm, E and EPC Company , which was said to have bided for the contract had been selected by by the Authorities to handle the rehabilitation of the PortHarcourt refinery and thus, given the go ahead to mobilise on site to start work immediately.
. The Company may have been given the go ahead to resume work on the refinery because it has only 24 months to Complete the first phase of the Contract which may outlive President Muhammed Buhari, a retired army General, second term in office which expires on May29, 2023.
In giving a breakdown of the work schedule of the PortHarcourt refinery by the Italian Contracting firm,Temipre Sylva, a former governor of the Oil-rich Bayelsa state and minister of state, Petroleum Resources, had said that the Contract was split into phases in order to give the Contractor a breather to plan for each phase of work.
He had said that the final phase of the project will 44 months, fueling speculations making the rounds that the Katsina state born Nigerian President may have shown interest in the rehabilitation of the PortHarcourt refinery when he knew has only about 18 months to the expiration of his second term in office because of his conviction that the APC, will still retain power at the centre in 2023 for continuation of its ongoing projects that the contract have been awarded.
He may have cued into Atiku Abubakar, a former Vice President and Presidential Candidate of the Opposition Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, in the 2019, Presidential election to finally privatize the country’s existing refineries located in PortHarcourt, Warri and Kaduna respectively after their eventual rehabilitation that would gulp billions of dollars, described as a waste by his foremost political rival, Atiku.
Kayode Fayemi , the NGF, Chairman, may have given a hint that the Authorities may have taken the hard decision to go ahead with the rehabilitation of the portHarcourt refinery after years of promise and fail by past Administrations with ’’the intention of engaging a Professional to manage them after the Completion of the rehabilitation work, to oversee it which many see as a clever way of dragging the government back into the business of running and funding of the refinery again into gross inefficiency.
The Ekiti governor, who is being rumoured to have a Presidential ambition alongside Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, a former governor of Lagos state and National Leader of the APC, may have been forced to speak out on the Controversial repair of the PortHarcourt refinery to show that the governors were not Consulted before the decision was taken and the sum of $1.5 billion approved for the work by the FEC, under the Chairmanship of the retired army General, on Wednesday, March 17, 2021.
He had said that the Nigerian President needed to give out more information ‘’to justify the planned rehabilitation of the refineries, which had kick-started with the award of the Contract for the Port Harcourt refinery, believed to be of the same size with the British Oil giant, Shell Petroleum Development Company, SPDC, Owned Martinez refinery in California, home of the Hollywood actors and actresses in the North American Country of the United States US, which was said to have been , sold to a private operator despite its Optimum performance and records of yearly profit flow.
The NGF, Chairman, who may have faulted the planned rehabilitation of the PortHarcourt refinery appears to have told the Authorities in no uncertain terms that’’ there was no basis for the planned rehabilitation of the refinery as a 650,00b/d , private sector-drivenrefinery, at Ibeju-Lekki, owned by the business mogul, Aliko Dangote, will soon come on stream.
Talking tough, the NGF, Chairman, had said that he wouldn’t have ‘’taken the decision if he was in a position to do so given the fact that a big private- sector driven refinery is underway’’.
The erstwhile minister may have Consoled himself with the fact that ‘’when you are outside a decision-making frame, there are some information that may not be available to you if you look at the issue on the pure face value’’, an indication that Buhari and members of the FEC, may have exhaustively discussed the matter before arriving at the decision to rehabilitate the Port Harcourt refinery that had been working in piecemeal over the last 20 years.
He is ight. Hajia Zainab Ahmed, minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning and Sylva, minister of State, in the ministry of Petroleum resorces may have hit the nail on the head on why the FEC, took the decision to go ahead with the rehabilitation of the PortHarcourt refinery for a start.
Hajia Ahmed had explained that the decision to rehabilitate PortHarcourt refinery was informed by the fact that its Premium Motor Spirit, popular, petrol produce, of the refinery will not be sold in the local market but at the International market at the prevailing price.
She may have sent a m signal to Nigerians to prepare their mind that the price petrol, will go up with the coming on stream Dangote refinery and after the Completion of work of the rehabilitation of the PortHacort refinery. Bad News.
Given an anology, she had said that when the state owned Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, places order for supply of petrol from the Dangote refinery, the Corpration is expected to buy it at the prevailing International market price. The private-sector driven refinery promoter and others that are yet to start work on their own refineries were said to have been assured by the relevant Authorities that ‘’they are free to sell their products,particular, petrol at the prevailing international market rate in order to recover their investments and make some reasonable profits’’.
This may have informed why she had said that the NNPC, which currently import s most of the petrol used in the country will be buying petrol at the prevailing international price from the Dangote refinery, noting that the only savings that the country will be making from the transactions is the freight which is the cost of shipping.
However, she revealed thatthere are still other costs that may be borne by the Corporation which includes the landing costand Labour cost, including the marketers own margins which will not be under the control of the government.
Sylva, the minister of state, Petroleum Resources had made clear to those that cares to listen that ‘’the pump price of petrol will not drop significantly even if Nigeria is refining all the Crude oil locally’’.
Accorrding to him, both the locally refined petrol or imported type , will be about the same cost, insisting that theonly difference will be the fright that will not be paid before taking delivery from the local supplier. He noted that the cost of Crude Oil is the same in the International market., meaning that Nigerians will have pay more to enjoy an uninterrupted supplies of petrol, from both the PortHarcourt and the Dangote refineries and other private –sector driven licensed refineries that may come on stream in the country in the future.
The Nigerian President may have allowed Hajia Ahmed, the minister of Finance and Sylva, the minister of state, Petroleum Resourrces, to throw more light on why the FEC, took the decision to rehabiliate PortHarcourt refinery and approved the sum of $1.5 billion for the eproject to avoid being dragged into exchange of words by critics and the likes of Atiku, who be warming up to run for the 2023, Presidential election .
Aminu Marsari, a former Speaker of the House of Representatives and governor of Katsina, home state of Buhari, may have known that the Adawa state born politician and business mogul, may have warmed himself back to the heart of the people by speaking on their side in the recent time on various national issues, that he has started drumming for support for the Presidency to be zoned to the south east in 2021, to ensure that that the former Vice President will not have the Opportunity of ruling the country, let alone digging into the records to get the details of the 1.5 billion, approved Contract for the on-going rehabilitation of the PortHarcourt refinery.