The Federal Executive Council (FEC) rose from its weekly meeting Wednesday at the State House, Abuja with the approval of a total sum of N2.449 billion for projects in the Ministries of Environment and Petroleum Resources.
Speaking to newsmen at the end of the meeting presided over by President Muhammadu Buhari at the Council Chambers, Environment Minister, Muhammed Abdullahi, said the Council awarded the contract for consultancy services and design of Centre of Excellence for Environmental Restoration with an Integrated Contaminated Soil Management Centre at the sum of N449,250,040.50 (VAT inclusive).
According to him, the establishment of the Centre was in fulfilment of the president’s promise to the Ogoni people and was meant to impact on them in terms of employment generation and laboratory tests for land remediation efforts on the site contaminated so that it could be made easily cultivatable by the people for their fisheries, farming activities and access to water.
Also speaking, the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Timipre Sylva, said FEC approved the award and procurement for the provision of a Conference Hostel Facility in Yenagoa, adjacent to the Nigerian Content Towers at the sum of N22 billion to Megastar Technical Construction Company with completion period of two years.
Asked about the persistent fuel queues in Abuja and some other parts of the country, the minister said that the situation, particularly in the FCT, would persist for a while until fuel is finally deregulated.
He explained that the fuel queues were not caused by shortages in supply of fuel but the reluctance of petroleum marketers to sell at the recommended retail price.
According to him, there were queues in Abuja because selling at the recommended N165/litre of fuel was unprofitable to the marketers who resolved to take the advantage by diverting products from the city centre to where they could sell above the recommended retail price.
He said: “If you look at it, there are no queues when you leave Abuja. In most places, only in the Abuja metropolis you continue to have these queues. So, is it that there is less supply to Abuja than to the rest of the country? It is not so. It is because if you go out of Abuja, they can afford to probably sell at higher prices. And I’m sure a lot of you must be buying at higher prices.
“But within Abuja, because of the watchful eye of the federal government, they cannot sell at those prices. So it’s not a very attractive market for them. I think these are all things that we might have to be dealing with for a while until we’re able to fully deregulate.”
Giving an update on the rehabilitation of the nation’s refineries, Sylva said the Port Harcourt refinery would soon become operational, adding that the Dangote Refinery would commence operation by January next year.
“So, these issues will gradually be resolved and we will get to the point where Nigeria will be fully supplied from in-country refined products,” he stated.
On why Kaduna and Warri Refineries’ workers were still drawing salaries even when they were not producing anything, the minister of state explained that most of the workers have been redeployed to other units of the Nigeria National Petroleum Company (NNPC) with a few others doing skeletal services to prevent pilfering at the facilities.