Chineme Okafor in Abuja
The Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Dr. Ibe Kachikwu has said that the federal government may sell the three refineries in Kaduna, Warri and Port Harcourt after they have been fixed and certified operationally efficient.
Kachikwu disclosed this at a post-event press briefing he held with reporters at the State House in Abuja shortly after President Muhammadu Buhari unveiled his administration’s policy document for the petroleum sector – the seven big wins.
He said Buhari and other members of his government were of the opinion that selling the refineries at their current operational states would not be valuable to Nigeria on the basis that potential bidder could offer very low prices to acquire them.
He explained that the government has thus opted to fix them first and then consider selling them at optimum values.
The minister also said apart from this, there were other issues that could determine the final decision of the government on the refineries, he said labour issues are some of the issues that must be addressed if such proposal would sail through.
“The feeling of the Federal Executive Council (FEC) and the President is that we should first get the refineries to be efficient before we talk about privatisation, otherwise we will be selling scraps,” said Kachikwu.
He further explained: “In their present state nobody is going to offer you serious money. A huge amount of investment is going into this.”
“Secondly, there are union issues; we do not just take decisions, not recognising that people work there. If you privatise in a hurry and be sucked into union issues that close the place and it does not function for years,” the minister added.
According to him, the government has thought out other possible means of getting the refineries back to full productivity level, adding that the government would be shopping for investors who are willing to invest money and competence in the refineries.
“We have got to take the realities on ground. The decision therefore was to find investors who are willing, almost on a loan structure basis to put money, put the technical skills, work with our people who are there and we have very many skilled people, but let us face it, the fact that they are working today is because they are local people, they are local engineers who are able to resuscitate them. There is a capacity efficiency that we are not just tapping into now,” Kachikwu stated.