The founder of Stanbic IBTC, Atedo Peterside, has decried the attempt by the Nigerian government to rehabilitate the Port Harcourt refinery.
Mr. Peterside, co-chair of the Nigerian government’s Vision 2050 committee, called on the government to halt the plan.
The Federal Executive Council on Wednesday approved $1.5 billion (about N600 billion) for the rehabilitation of the Port Harcourt refinery.
The FEC approved the amount at its virtual meeting held Wednesday and presided by President Muhammadu Buhari.
The approval comes amidst a controversial price increase in the pump price of petrol that was later reversed.
Although Nigeria has four refineries, all government-owned, it currently imports virtually all its refined petroleum products.
The approval has expectedly been greeted with mixed feelings as the country has in the past spent billions of dollars on refinery maintenance.
Despite such expenditure, however, the refineries have not worked with many experts calling for their privatisation.
Mr Peterside, who was on the National Council on Privatisation (NCP) between 2010 and 2015, said the decision should be subjected to “an informed national debate.
“FG should halt $1.5bn approval for repair of Port Harcourt refinery and subject this brazen & expensive adventure to an informed national debate,” he tweeted Sunday morning.
FG should halt $1.5bn approval for repair of Port Harcourt refinery and subject this brazen & expensive adventure to an informed national debate. Many experts prefer that this refinery is sold “as is” by BPE to core-investors with proven capacity to repair it with their own funds
— Atedo Peterside (@AtedoPeterside) March 21, 2021
“Many experts prefer that this refinery is sold “as is” by BPE to core-investors with proven capacity to repair it with their own funds.”
Earlier, a former vice president, Atiku Abubakar, had described the decision as “suspicious.”
The PDP presidential candidate in the 2019 general elections had wondered if there was a public tender before the cost was announced, or if any due diligence was performed.
“We cannot as a nation expect to make economic progress if we continue to fund inefficiency, and we are going too deep into the debt trap for unnecessarily overpriced projects,” he said.
“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.”