Senate to probe N11.35trn spent on rehabilitation of refineries

Senate in session

Senate to probe N11trn spent on turnaround maintenance of moribund refineries

The Senate has raised an ad hoc committee to investigate all the contracts awarded for the rehabilitation of all state-owned refineries, which purportedly gulped N11.35 trillion in 13 years.

It also mandated the panel to interrogate the Ministry of Petroleum Resources, Nigerian Upstream Petroleum Regulatory Commission (NUPRC), Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation Limited (NNPCL) and Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE) on the best approach to commercialising state-owned refineries.

Deputy Senate President Barau Jibrin (APC, Kano), who presided over the plenary, named Senator Isah Jibrin Echocho as the chairman of the committee.

Other members are chairmen of the committees on Petroleum Resources (Downstream, Upstream, and Gas), Finance, Appropriation, and Public Accounts. The committee is expected to submit its report within four weeks.

The resolutions followed a motion by Senator Sunday Karimi (APC, Kogi West) during Tuesday’s plenary.

Nigeria’s four refineries in Kaduna, Warri, and Port Harcourt had become moribund for years despite the series of repairs executed under various Turn Around Maintenance (TAM) contracts that had gulped huge amounts.

Karimi, in his motion, expressed concern that the state-owned refineries in Nigeria have been a serious drain on public finance.

He said since 2010, Nigeria is estimated to have spent N11.35 trillion (excluding other costs in other currencies, which include $592, 976, 050, €4, 877, 068.47 and £3, 455, 656.93) on the renovation of the refineries, which remained unproductive.

He further noted that, despite the moribund state of the four refineries, their operating costs between 2010 and 2020 were estimated at N4.8 trillion.

The refineries are estimated to make a cumulative loss of N1.64 trillion within four years, he added.

He expressed worry that if a thorough investigation of the past and current rehabilitation projects is not undertaken by the Senate, the cycle of awarding unproductive turnaround maintenance contracts may not abate, thereby retaining the status quo where rehabilitation contracts have become conduit pipes for syphoning public funds.

Senators, in their various contributions, said the country could not continue to spend money on an unproductive venture and urged the relevant authorities to ensure that those responsible for the state of the refineries are sanctioned.

Adams Oshiomhole (APC, Edo North) said the Senate must ensure proper oversight functions to make sure that Nigerians enjoy value for their tax.

“The amount so far spent on the refineries can build brand new ones. Senators must take the issue with all the seriousness it deserve,” he said.

Aliyu Wadada (SDP, Nasarawa West) and Adamu Aliero (PDP, Kebbi Central) alleged, respectively, that a high level of corruption and economic saboteurs deliberately frustrated government’s effort to make the refineries work so they could continue to benefit from fuel importation.

Idiat Adebule (APC, Lagos West) wondered why the nation keeps putting money into the rehabilitation of refineries annually when they remain non-functional.

The Deputy Senate President also avowed that, had the refineries been working, the country would not be experiencing the current economic hardship.

“So, it is, therefore, very important that a thorough investigation be done to make sure that everything that we need to know is brought into the open.

“Who are those who are sabotaging the efforts of government? Anyone who has a hand in sabotaging the efforts of the government to bring these refineries into operation and those who have taken money that is meant to turn around these refineries must be brought to book. We must know them and decisive action must be taken,” he said.