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Over $9.5bn wasted on moribund refineries—TUC

Oluwasina Phillip

The Trade Union Congress (TUC) has lampooned the Federal Government for flaunting dead refineries after wasting $9.5 billion on them in the last 10 years in the name of Turnaround maintenance.

National President of the TUC, Quadri Olaleye, also frowned at what he described as deep-seated corruption and legendary tardiness that ruined the nation’s refineries, which left the country with no option but to become a massive importer of refined petroleum products.

Olaleye, who spoke in Abuja at the inauguration of new executives of Independent Petroleum Marketers Association (IPMAN), tasked the federal government to take pragmatic steps to put the ailing refineries in order and ultimately encouraging private sector participation in establishing modular refineries to mitigate the huge cost of importation of refined Petroleum products.

He said:” Even with Nigeria’s status of being one of the largest oil producing countries, the energy crises that have befallen us as a nation are well known and this is solely due to the incompetence and corruption of the government. The fuel subsidy and the proposed hike in fuel price is a rather prominent and recurring one. Nigeria is the only OPEC member country that imports more than 90 to 95% of refined petroleum products for consumption.

“Nigeria has a total of 5 refineries in the country of which four are owned and managed by the government, and one by NDPR.

“It might interest you to know that none of the government owned refineries is functioning, yet in the past 10 years alone, the government has wasted about $9.5billion for turnaround maintenance of the moribund refineries.

“Please note that TUC is not against the removal of the fuel subsidy if it will yield positive results. Rather, we are inquisitive as to what the government has to offer following the removal. How can we trust the government and be certain that they will actually remove it this time around, because in the past, they have claimed to remove the so-called ‘subsidy’, so how can what has been removed be removed again? Will there be construction and utilization of modular refineries as the government has previously promised and failed to deliver? Will there be rehabilitation of existing moribund refineries? What will the government do to put an end to dependence on imported fuel? It is imperative to note these questions because we need adequate answers on what the government has to offer as failed promises from the government have become the order of the day.

“To conclude, I hereby demand that if the subsidy is eventually removed, the government should engage more on expenditures that are beneficial to the economy rather than projects that generate losses. There should be establishment of modular refineries and construction of functioning refineries in the country. Proactive committees must be set up to check, balance, and ensure successful execution of projects and to generally oversee activities. The moribund refineries must be active and we must put an end to the counterproductive acts of importing petroleum products when we can refine here and sell at a competitive price. You will agree with me that Nigeria has the capacity to meet these demands and even diversify like advanced countries but that will not happen because the current political class does not want it.”

Earlier in his acceptance speech, the new president of IPMAN, Alhaji Debo Ahmed, pleaded with the management of the Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited to ensure prompt payment of outstanding bridging claims owed marketers. He also identified insecurity across the country and  incredible bottlenecks being encountered by his members in lifting petroleum products from depots.

He said:” The nation is facing a huge insecurity threat. As IPMAN, we need to address this issue and the effects on our business and the environment where we operate.

“The COVID-19 pandemic is with us. What advice have we given to our members and their staff on the need to take COVID-19 shots to improve their body immunity so that they can be productive to their family and community?

“Our members have billions of naira as transport claims with the defunct Petroleum Equalisation Fund now the Nigerian Midstream and Downstream Petroleum Regulatory Authority (NMDPRA) that are outstanding. As a united association, we have to follow up to make sure our members are paid unconditionally.

“The new Customer Service Department in Petroleum Products Marketing (PPMC) is another bottleneck tying down members billions of Naira for product payment without supply.

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