100-Day In Office: Refineries Won’t Work By December, Obasanjo Hits Tinubu

100-Day In Office: Refineries Won’t Work By December, Obasanjo Hits Tinubu

Fawaz Adebisi 

Former President Olusegun Obasanjo has criticised President Bola Tinubu’s 100-day performance in office, especially his promise to make the Port Harcourt Refinery operational by December 2023.

Obasanjo, in an interview, said he was doubtful that the refinery, which is undergoing a $1.5 billion overhaul funded by AfricaExim Bank, would be ready by the end of the year.

According to him, the government-owned refineries would never work efficiently adding that he had tried to privatise them when he was in power.

“They will not work as long as the government is keeping hold of them,” he stressed.

He revealed that, while in office, he had a meeting with Shell executives and asked them to take over the management of the refineries, but they refused.

Giving the reasons they rejected the offer, they listed four reasons.

He said, “one, he said, is that Shell makes its money 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 and that globally, companies are going for bigger refineries because of the economics of refineries. Four, he said there is too much corruption in refineries.”

Obasanjo said he was disappointed by their response and had almost lost hope for the refineries until two businessmen, Aliko Dangote and Femi Otedola, offered to buy 51 percent stakes in Port Harcourt and Kaduna refineries for $761 million.

He said he was happy to sell them and relieve the government of the burden, but his successor, President Yar’Adua, reversed the deal and returned the refineries to NNPC.

He said that was why the refineries were still in a bad state today.

Tinubu, who became Nigeria’s 16th president on May 29, 2023, has not responded to Obasanjo’s criticism.

He was sworn into office at a ceremony held at Eagle Square in Abuja, amid tight security and a national public holiday.

He won the presidential election with just 37 percent of the votes¹, the lowest of any elected Nigerian president since 1999.

He faces huge challenges such as a fractured nation, an ailing economy and spiraling insecurity.

He has said he would unite the nation and implored those who did not support him to rally behind his agenda.


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