Post Views: 575 BudgIT, a civic technology organization at the forefront of raising the standards of transparency, citizen engagement and accountabili...
BudgIT, a civic technology organization at the forefront of raising the standards of transparency, citizen engagement and accountability, on Wednesday challenged the Federal Government to probe the abandonment of Nigeria’s greenfield refineries earlier announced for Kogi, Bayelsa, and Lagos States.
Already, feasibility studies on the refineries, which could run into nearly N1tr or more, BudgIT said, had been fully paid for and completed.
The call, it said, is in the light of a proposal by the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) to construct two 100,000 barrels per day greenfield refineries in Delta and Imo States.
A statement by BudgIT, quoted its Principal Lead, Gabriel Okeowo, as lamenting a situation where a government institution will “tease citizens with announcements for greenfield crude oil refineries, award huge sums for feasibility studies, abandon the project when it is time for construction, then repeat the cycle in another state.
“What guarantees do citizens have that taxpayers’ money earmarked for the refineries in Imo and Delta state will not suffer the same fate as those spent on Kogi and Bayelsa States? What are the lessons learnt from Kogi, Bayelsa, and Lagos greenfield projects? Can these lessons be made public?”
NNPC, it continues, exports a large portion of the 445,000bpd of crude oil allocated to domestic refineries through Crude Oil Lifting contracts (COL), largely due to factors such as the inability of the corporation to make existing refineries work – despite monies spent on turn around maintenance, as well as the failure of its new greenfield refineries to materialise– despite the huge expenditure.
In the past, NNPC has been accused of carrying out its export of unused Domestic Crude Allocation (DCA) through politically-connected middlemen – many of whom do not have adequate capacity to handle the volume of crude oil in their Crude Oil Lifting contracts. This middlemen are known to simply extract rent and pass the contract on to those who do, a situation Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Dr Ibe Kachikwu had previously promised to check, Besides cutting off the rent-seeking middle men in the award of Crude Oil Lifting contracts, Kachikwu, who was then Group Managing Director of the corporation, also promised to reduce the number of contractors to 16.
Okeowo recalled that “at the inception of this administration, the government made some effort to cut out middlemen in the award of Crude Oil Lifting (COL) contracts. We observed a drop in the number of COL contractors from about 43 in 2014 to 27 in 2015 and then to 21 in 2016. However, their numbers grew to 39 in 2017 and to 50 in 2018.”
He challenged Nigerians “to pay close attention especially as a part of the Diezani scandal was rooted in the activities of some briefcase companies who got Crude Oil Lifting (COL) contracts.”
BudgIT also urged citizens, civil societies, journalists, and media influencers to #AskQuestions about Nigeria’s greenfield refineries every step of the way, calling on the NNPC to present a weekly or monthly briefing to citizens on progress and challenges of its greenfield projects.
It warned that failure of greenfield refineries to see the light of day opens up many complex loopholes for corruption in the long term, even as it commended the NNPC for publishing its monthly Financial and Operations Report online since the inception of this administration. Such monthly reporting, it admitted, is worthy of emulation by other government agencies in the sector. However, we’d like to call on NNPC’s management to reduce the time lag involved in making these reports available. As at October 30, it stressed, the report for the last four months (June – September) are not yet available online.