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Failure to fix refineries provides alibi for subsidy scam, says Tam David-West

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Port Harcourt Refinery

Former Minister of Petroleum Resources, Prof. Tam David West, has said that failure of President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration to prioritise rehabilitation of refineries provides alibi for huge fuel subsidy scam.

David-West, who served as Minister of Petroleum when Buhari was a military Head of State, said budgetary allocation for petroleum subsidy is a fraud that should not be tolerated.

The former petroleum minister, who spoke with The Guardian, alleged that certain cabals had deliberately sabotaged the country’s refineries not to work for them to continue to rip the nation off through fraudulent importation of petroleum products, which provides them alibi to claim subsidy.

He said he was surprised that President who had been a military minister of petroleum and is knowledgeable about the sector has not given priority to fix the almost moribund refineries.

According to him, some Nigerians are benefiting immensely from the comatose state of the country’s refineries with a combined installed refining capacity of 445,000 barrels per day.

He, therefore, recommended that the Federal Government should invite original builders who designed the plants to handle the repairs because they could easily get the requisite parts required for a proper Turn Around Maintenance (TAM).

On the assurance by the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, that the Ninth Assembly will ensure the passage of the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) into law, the former petroleum minister urged the lawmakers to make public the version of the PIB they intend to pass into law.

He tasked the lawmakers to be thorough, as the first version of the PIB had given more power to the minister of petroleum resources such that the minister can give oil bloc without reference to the President.

He advised that such obnoxious clauses should be expunged.

He, therefore, cautioned the National Assembly not to pass a PIB that will make Nigeria’s business climate hostile to multinational oil companies because they could easily leave the country and go elsewhere, adding: “If the bill makes it too difficult for the JV partners, they will leave the country and the economy will collapse.

Shell and Mobil are operating all over the world. If Nigeria makes things difficult for them, they will withdraw their assets from Nigeria; the economy will collapse and they will not come back. They should make the environment conductive so that companies can invest in Nigeria.”


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