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‘Why Tinubu Cannot Deliver Port Harcourt Refinery By December’ – Obasanjo

The Minister while addressing journalists assured that the refinery would be up and running by December…

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Obasanjo Tinubu
Olusegun Obasanjo and President Bola Ahmed Tinubu

Nigeria’s former President, Olusegun Obasanjo, has said that the promise made by the Federal Government that the Port Harcourt refinery would start working by December 2023 is not realisable.

VerseNews reports that the former president said this while reacting to claims credited to the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Mr Heineken Lokpobiri during a facility tour to the Port Harcourt refinery.

The Minister while addressing journalists assured that the refinery would be up and running by December.

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But the elder state man who has been in the country’s helms of affairs twice gave cogent reasons why the refinery would not be up and running at the stipulated time said that the expatriates during his tenure gave up taking over the refinery due to the dynamics of the global oil industry.

He explains, ”They will not work as long as the government is keeping hold of them. When I was president, I invited Shell to a meeting. I told them I wanted to hand over the refineries for them for help us run. They bluntly told me they would not. I was shocked.

“I repeated the request and they stood their ground. When the meeting was over, I asked their big man (MD) to wait behind for a little chat. Then I asked him why they were so hesitant on not taking over the refineries.

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“He said did I want to hear the truth? I said yes. He listed four reasons. One, he said Shell makes its money from upstream and that is where its interest lies.

“Two, he said they only do downstream or retail as a matter of service. Three, he said our refineries would be bad business for them, that globally, companies are going for bigger refineries because of the economics of refineries. Four, he said there is too much corruption in refineries.

“I thanked him for his honesty. I knew we had a big problem in our hands. I had virtually give up hope on the refineries when God did a miracle. Alike Dangote and Femi Otedola approached me and said they would be interested in buying two of the four refineries.

“They said they would buy 51 percent stake in Port Harcourt and Kaduna. I was over the moon. I said, finally, this burden would be taken off the neck of the government. They offered $761 million and paid in two instalments. Unfortunately, Umaru (President Yar’Adua) cancelled the sale and returned the refineries to NNPC. Today, we are still where we were.”

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