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Engineers task FG on private sector funding for infrastructure

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The Nigerian Academy of Engineering (NAE) has asked the federal government to consider the use of private sector funding in reviving the nation’s moribund refineries.

NAE stated that the impacts of non-operation of the refineries are felt in the destruction of competence in the sector and increase in cost of importing fuel to government as about 95per cent of domestic consumption are imported.

Speaking during the academy 2019 yearly lecture, life achievement awards and induction of new fellows, an executive partner at the African Capital Alliance, Nigeria, Afolabi Oladele lamented that private sector funding in a market environment that allows adequate return to capital is still foreign to our national debate adding that its absence was affecting performance of the oil industry.

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He emphasised that it is pervasive in the debate relating to infrastructure development that could drive economic prosperity for the people.

Those inducted at the ceremony include, past president of the lnternational Federation of Consulting Engineers, Gregs Thomopulos, the Group Managing Director of NNPC, Dr. Maikant Baru, immediate past minister for water resources, Suleiman Adamu, Muhammed Wudil, Onochie Anyaoku and Mrs. Christiana Adelowo, among others. While life achievement awards were given to, Prof. Suleiman Adeyemi, Prof. Sambo Balogun and Prof. Buba Bajoga.

Oladele, an expert in petroleum economics and management who spoke on the lecture, entitled, “Fuelling the Nigerian economy, state of domestic refining and distribution facilities” observed that the Nigerian banking system can’t help in fixing the inactive refineries. However, he charged authorities to create the right environment that would bring in Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) into the sector.

“ The Dangote refinery great as it is, will not solve our problem in terms of adequate supply of fuel. If private capital comes, the competence that is needed we come too, but the longer we delay the more the cost because advancement in technology will make it more difficult and the competence of the people required are rusty due to the fact no one is going through any training .So you need a complete refurbishment of the refinery to bring them up to date and train people who will manage them. Policy needs to be strengthened to reduce burden on government and for price of fuel to be competitive to similar markets”.

He stressed, “The nation has to make up its mind, the modular refineries are just temporary situation, and they are not cost effective. Yes, we may do them, but we need those big refineries that government has, nobody is going to put money behind them as long as government is a party”. We have said at one point that the way to go is to give the refineries away but make it mandatory that whoever you are giving it to has a period of time within which they are fixed them and make them working”. Whoever that refines can sell at a free market price and no control price but competitive price that would make it profitable”.

He urged the government to muster sufficient political will that would allow private funding in the industry and also reduce unnecessary regulatory policy.
 
President of the academy, Prof. Fola Lasisi said the choice of the theme, is in furtherance of avowed commitment to positively impact the economy and social life of Nigerians stressing that the challenges of effectiveness of refining impact directly on all lives at all levels. He said the association is committed to ensuring advancement of engineering education and practice throughout the engineering family. This he noted is achievable through continuous learning, advocacy and strategic collaboration with relevant professional associations, government, and industry.

“Our academy has developed templates for development of outcome based engineering curriculum for all aspect of the profession on the basis of the Washington, Dublin and Sydney academies. Adoption of these will enable the Nigerian engineering graduate meet global standards and our engineers will be able to work globally”, he stated.
 
The GMD of NNPC Mr. Baru who spoke on behalf of the inductees/award recipients thanked the NAE for the confidence reposed in them pledging to uphold the virtues of the academy. In a remark, the special guest of honour, Senator Olabiyi Durojaiye challenged Nigerian engineers to help the country in designing lasting solutions to its infrastructural shortfalls especially as it concerns road, refinery and power supply.

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