By Udora Orizu
The Minority Caucus in the House of Representatives yesterday described the approval of $1.5 billion for the rehabilitation of the Port Harcourt refinery as a ‘huge scam and a ploy by unscrupulous elements to siphon public funds’.
The Federal Executive Council (FEC) at its virtual meeting recently presided by President Muhammadu Buhari approved $1.5 billion for the rehabilitation of the refinery.
But the House Caucus in a statement issued by its Leader, Hon. Ndudi Elumelu, while rejecting the amount, said the figure is outrageous and heavily inflated, demanding an immediate review of the cost.
The lawmakers noted that while they are in support of any genuine effort to bridge energy deficit in Nigeria, such should not be used as a ploy by corrupt individuals to fleece the country.
The caucus called for immediate decisive steps towards providing required incentives to private organisations, which have shown manifest interest in establishing refineries in the country, as a sure step to meet the national energy need.
It said: “This over bloated $1.5 billion cost has again brought to the fore the prevailing unpatriotic proclivity of treasury looting and criminal diversion of public funds through inflated contracts by officials of the government for their selfish interests. It is completely unexplainable that the sum of $1.5 billion, which belongs to Nigerians, is to be funneled towards the rehabilitation of a non-profitable refinery, which has already been slated to be handed over to private hands.
‘’As lawmakers, we firmly reject this attempt to use the refineries to further defraud our country. In that regard, our caucus demands an immediate review of the project on a transparent and competitive cost template, while the billions of naira that would be recovered from the surplus should be directed towards other areas of our national energy need.’’
The lawmakers thereby urged the Federal Executive Council not to release any funds relating to the ‘inflated’ rehabilitation costs until after the review.