Nigerians will come hard on the Federal Government, especially Timipre Sylva, Minister of State for Petroleum, if the Port Harcourt Refinery fails to deliver at optimal capacity after $1.5 billion is spent on its rehabilitation.
Prof. Itse Sagay (SAN), Chairman of the Presidential Advisory Committee Against Corruption (PACAC), who said this exclusively to Daily Independent, said he was shocked when he heard the refinery would be repaired with $1.5 billion.
According to him, he believes that Nigeria could get a brand new refinery with $1.5 billion rather than spending the huge sum on the Port Harcourt Refinery, which is more of a scrap.
While praying for the refinery to function effectively as the minister has promised, Sagay said Nigerians might even call for his prosecution if the refinery failed.
He said: “I want to take refuge in my ignorance because I was shocked when I heard the amount to be used in repairing the refinery. $1.5 billion just to repair? Honestly, I was shocked.
“I thought we could get a brand new, excellent refinery with that money. I also listened to the Minister of State for Petroleum and others who are in support, telling us that the whole refinery will be totally overhauled and what we are going to get after the repair will be as brand as new at the rate of 90 percent. I pray for their sake that it is true.
“If after that huge sum of money had been spent on revamping it and then production commences and it becomes epileptic, I don’t think they will be able to survive the barrage of attacks that will be landing on them.
“In fact, it will be more than that because people will call for them to be prosecuted for misleading the public and investing so much money in the refinery.
“Why I’m not worried so much is that we have a cabinet which holds a weekly Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting of about 50 to 60 people.
“If they are able to carry all those people, maybe they must have made some cogent points.
“That is the way I comfort myself. We will just wait for the next three to four years whether they will be proven right or not.
“I pray for their sake that they are proved correctly that we are going to have a refinery that is brand new, even though it is an old one that is fixed.
“What they are telling us is that this is not turnaround maintenance, but total rebuilding.
“I’ve also read the opinion of some people who said instead of repairing the refinery, why can’t they sell it in the present state and then allow the buyers to repair it themselves?
“I think that is being too clever because who will now want to pay $1.5 billion or more for a refinery that they know was scrap before and someone has just tried to fix it?
“I think it is better for him to aim to be able to produce the 90 percent capacity and produce with it for about five years without question.
“Otherwise, I don’t think he is going to have any peace on this matter. The money is just too much. $1.5 billion is a huge sum of money.
“We are not talking of N300 million which they used for their turnaround. $1.5 billion is a huge sum.
“So, I pray for his sake that all they have promised will come to pass.”