The Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Timipre Sylva, says the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), wants to leave functional refineries as the legacy of his eight-year regime.
The minister spoke while featuring on Channels Television’s ‘Sunday Politics’ programme monitored by Us.
We had earlier reported that the Federal Executive Council last Wednesday approved the plan by the Ministry of Petroleum Resources to rehabilitate the Port Harcourt Refinery with $1.5bn.
Speaking on Sunday, Sylva said, “We are focusing now on the rehabilitation now that the FEC has approved the rehabilitation. The discussion on the management of the refinery will commence and that will be another discussion for how long the contract for operations and maintenance will last and then the next step – are you going to privatise, are you going to commercialise, are you going to concession. There are a lot of options opened to government but we can’t discuss that now.”
The Federal Government’s plan to spend $1.5bn on the facility have come under intense criticisms by many Nigerians but the minister said Nigerians should hold the All Progressives Congress government responsible for the rehabilitation of the Port Harcourt refinery.
He said, “We are not lying to Nigerians. We have told them that this is going to be in three phases and the first phase which is definitely going to be within the tenure of this administration and you should hold us to it is 18 months and we are going to take the refinery to 90 per cent of the nameplate of its capacity and that is what you should hold us to.”
“What President Buhari wants to leave as a legacy are refineries that are functional. That is really what we are looking at because what is going to happen to those refineries later will be decided by Nigerians and by future administrations,” Sylva added.
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Nigeria, Africa’s biggest oil producer with four non-functional refineries, has for several years been importing the bulk of its refined petroleum products as a result of the inability of its refineries to refine crude oil produced within the country.