Atiku Abubakar Criticizes NNPC’s Decision to Privatize Port Harcourt Refinery After Rehabilitation

Former Vice President and the Peoples Democratic Party’s candidate in the 2023 presidential election, Atiku Abubakar, has voiced his concerns over reports of the Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited (NNPCL) planning to privatize the recently rehabilitated Port Harcourt refinery.

Earlier reports indicated that the NNPCL, on Monday, disclosed its intention to hand over the operation and maintenance of the Port Harcourt Refining Company to private entities. The company, in a statement published on its website, outlined its search for reputable operations and maintenance companies to manage the refinery.

In response to this development, Atiku Abubakar took to Twitter on Tuesday morning, expressing his belief that it would have been more prudent for the NNPC to have sold the refinery before undergoing rehabilitation. Atiku, a proponent of privatizing the oil sector, called on the NNPCL to provide explanations to Nigerians regarding the anticipated benefits of privatizing the refinery.

He stated, “I have always advocated for far-reaching reforms to reposition Nigeria’s oil sector and, indeed, other sectors of our economy. In particular, I had consistently called on the Buhari administration to break its monopoly in all infrastructure sectors, including the refineries, and give investors, both foreign and domestic, a larger role in funding and management.”

Atiku highlighted his previous recommendations, which he outlined in “The Atiku Plan (2018)” and “My Covenant With Nigerians (2022),” and expressed disappointment that these suggestions were not heeded. He criticized the delay in privatizing the refineries, their prolonged idle state, and the subsequent decision to contract a $1.5 billion loan for rehabilitation.

The former vice president concluded, “Without prejudice to the terms of the agreement between the NNPC and the private operators, it would undoubtedly have been better if the NNPC had sold the refinery, pre-rehabilitation, to avoid the burden of debt.”

Quest: Cris-Edesiri Odjomah

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