Sunday, March 18, 2012

Let’s Reason Together on Refineries

This Day
11 Mar 2012

Simon Kolawole Live!: Email:

As fuel queues resurface nationwide, my mind keeps going back to three of the most grievous mistakes made by the late President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua during his short time in office. These mistakes set our progress back by many years—and we are suffering the consequences till today. 

The third mistake—and that happens to be the focus of my thoughts today—is the refineries. Obasanjo had sold the Kaduna and Port Harcourt refineries to BlueStar oil consortium owned by Aliko Dangote and Femi Otedola for $721 million. The labour unions kicked against it and threatened to go on strike—obviously on the prompting of some insiders who were benefiting from the hopeless turn around maintenance (TAM) contracts. The Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) went to Yar’Adua and whispered into his ears that if he gave them a few billions of naira, the refineries would start working at optimal capacity by January 2008. Quickly, Yar’Adua handed the loot to NNPC. Five years later, with more billions pumped into those refineries, we are still waiting for them to produce at “optimal capacity”.

If Yar’Adua felt the privatised refineries were undervalued, I believe there was a way a review could have been carried out without cancelling the sale.

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