The Federal Government has reiterated its commitment to completing the rehabilitation of the Port Harcourt Refinery, saying it would be functional within 18 months.
“Port Harcourt Refinery will work, and certainly within the next 18 months,” the Minister of State for Petroleum, Timipre Sylva said in an interview aired on Channels Television’s Sunday Politics.
The former governor of Bayelsa State equally added that the Nigerian government also plans to rehabilitate other refineries in the country, stressing that the move is not a waste of funds as believed in some quarters.
“There are plans to also fix the Warri Refinery and Kaduna Refinery and then we would get all those staff to work,” he added.
The Nigerian government had on March 17th approved $1.5 billion for the rehabilitation of the Port Harcourt Refinery, an amount which many had described as too much for the project.
But speaking during the interview, the minster debunked insinuations that the rehabilitation could have taken less than N500m.
“You see, Nigerians like to bandy figures,” Sylva stated. ” I can tell you, that that cannot be true. We are talking with the professionals.”
While many including members of the opposition have raised eyebrows over the funding for the project, with fears that borrowing for the rehabilitation would future mortgage the country’s future, he said borrowing will only form a part of the project.
“Let me tell you how this rehabilitation is going to be funded; it is not going to be all debts, we are not going to borrow all the monies that are going into the rehabilitation (project),” he added.
“Some of the money will come from NNPC’s internally generated revenue – from NPDC, some of it will come from the Federal appropriation, and just a little fraction will come from the African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank).”
No Hallelujah Yet
The governor of Rivers State, Nyesom Wike had following the approval of the renovation project, said he is not excited over the development but admitted that if completed, it would boost economic activities in the oil-rich state.
“If the refinery is going to work, it will improve a lot of economic activities, there will be employment for the people of the state,” Wike added.
“We will be happy but I am saying that we have had these promises and promises and nothing has happened. So, I don’t want to begin to say hallelujah. Let us wait and see what will happen based on the approval and the statement made by the minister of state, petroleum. We will hold him accountable for it.”