*SAYS IMPORTATION OF FUEL FROM NIGER REPUBLIC AMOUNTS TO ECONOMIC SABOTAGE:
The Prominent Civil Rights Advocacy group-: HUMAN RIGHTS WRITERS ASSOCIATION OF NIGERIA (HURIWA) has condemned the decision of President Muhammadu Buhari to sign a memorandum of understanding with the neighbouring Country of Niger Republic so Nigeria can commence importation of petrol just as the Rights group said the failure of the administration to fix Nigeria’s three or four refineries in preference for patronizing Niger Republic is an act of systemic and systematic economic sabotage against the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
“If Nigeria has an independent National Assembly headed by independent minded patriotic statesmen and not these executive attack dogs, the central legislature would have probed the unbridled enthusiasm of President Muhammadu Buhari to corner the resources of Nigeria to build Railways in that Country and now the signing of the Memorandum of understanding to begin the importation of fuel from Niger whilst our publicly owned refineries are left to rot despite huge investments under the guise of doing turn around maintenance. An effective and proactive national Assembly would have investigated to know why the Executive arm of government in the last five years has not being able to bring into productivity at least one of the three or four state owned refineries. But no, this national assembly of O-YES MEN will not want to provoke their pay master. This is the reason the Country has now gone into two successive economic recession under the same administration and this is why the level of poverty, corruption and violent crimes are on the increase even as the institutions to tackle these problems are systematically weakened through lack of transparency and accountability”.
Besides, the Rights group said the revelation recently that despite processing no crude oil in June this year, Nigeria’s three or four refineries still cost the country N10.23 billion in expenses, a report published by the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) has shown which the Rights group said amounted to massive economic crime of gargantuan dimension.
HUMAN RIGHTS WRITERS ASSOCIATION OF NIGERIA (HURIWA) has also carpeted the current Government for driving the nation into the cesspool of economic downturn due to poor economic plans and implementation that has now resulted in the Country slipping into recession for the second time in the last five years of the President Muhammadu Buhari-led administration.
HURIWA affirmed: “The devastating impact of the economic recession, the second in less than five years shows a central government that has nothing to offer but poverty, high crime rates, destruction of strategic national infrastructures including the refineries just as the ballooning public sector debts are being compounded by the continuous borrowing from all sorts of jurisdictions by the government of President Muhammadu Buhari just as his federal cabinet ministers are grossly incompetent and lack the will to stop the massive corruption taking place right under their noses in the ministries and federal agencies.”
HURIWA recalled that the NNPC reportedly says the three refineries, located in Warri, Port-Harcourt and Kaduna, processed no crude because of the rehabilitation works being carried out on them even as the Port-Harcourt Refining and Petrochemical Company Limited (PHRC) has the capacity of producing 210,000 barrels per day, Kaduna Refining and Petrochemical Company Limited (KRPC) can produce 110,000 barrels per day while the Warri Refining Petrochemical Company Limited (WRPC) has a 125,000 barrels per day production capacity.
The Rights group said the NNPC in it’s report stated as follows: “In June 2020, the corporation’s three refineries processed no crude and combined yield efficiency is 0.00% owing largely to on-going rehabilitation works at the refineries.
“There was no associated crude plus freight cost for the three refineries since there was no production but operational expenses amounted to ₦10.27 billion. This resulted in an operating deficit of ₦10.23 billion by the refineries, according to the report. In an analysis breakdown, Warri Refining Petrochemical Company Limited recorded an operating deficit of N2.68 billion, Port-Harcourt Refining Petrochemical Company Limited recorded an operating deficit of N2.76 billion while Kaduna Refining Petrochemical Company Limited recorded the highest operating deficit of N4.79 billion. The declining operational performance which the group said is “attributable to the ongoing revamping of the refineries are expected to further enhance capacity utilization once completed.”
HURIWA believes that the deliberate failure of the President Muhammadu Buhari government to rapidly and very effectively refurbish the three or four state owned refineries so Nigeria can rely on home made petroleum products to satisfy domestic requirements is an act of economic sabotage by influential persons in the current administration whose major strategic interests is to economically empower Niger Republic making use of Nigeria’s resources which is the reason for the so called MOU between the petroleum ministry supervised by President Muhammadu Buhari himself and Niger Republic the same Country that is earmarked to benefit from the over $1 billion USD RAILWAY lines from Kano state in North West of Nigeria to Maradi deep inside Niger Republic.
HURIWA recalled that the ministers of State for petroleum of Nigeria and Niger Timipre Silva and Foumakoye Gado confirmed that Nigeria wants to import fuel from the Soraz Refinery in Zinder, Niger Republic with an installed capacity of 20,000 barrels per day compared to the Niger’s 5,000 barrels per day domestic requirements leaving the nation with 15,000 barrels per day.
Mele Kyari, group managing Director of NNPC signed the MOU on behalf of Nigeria while Alio Toune, Director General of Niger Republic’s National oil company- Societe Nigerienne De Petrol (SONIDEP), signed for Niger. Nigeria’s Petroleum minister of State, Timipre Silva said of the MoU: “This is a major step forward. The Niger Republic had excess products which need to be evacuated. Nigeria has the market for these products. Therefore, this is going to be a win-win relationship for both Countries”.
HURIWA however calls this the greatest disservice to Fatherland Nigeria by the Federal government officials saddled with the responsibility of running Nigeria and for five whole years, the government successfully destroyed the three or four refineries so as to maintain the dubious and vicious circle of fuel importation for self aggrandizement whilst the people of Nigeria are made to pay through their noses for the petrol and other CRUDE oil related products to power their businesses because government would rather let Niger Republic sale to us than fix the three refineries in which billions of taxpayers money have been stolen in the guise of turn around maintenance that has remained perpetually not completed.
HURIWA said it was incomprehensible that the Nigerian government has failed to restore the three or four refineries to productivity and remove any legal obstacles that would keep them running but because of personal benefits of members of the political class, the nation has continued to rely on fuel importation without any visible sign that this parasitic style of governance would stop soon.
HURIWA made citations from authorities to support her claim that there is a systemic plot to undermine the public owned refineries by some top officials of the Federal government and the management of the NNPC thus: ” We have been able to find out from scholars that there is little hope that state-owned refiners will resume production, partly due to Covid-19, while the new Dangote refinery is insufficient to meet demand. Also, Nigeria’s four state-owned refineries have been idle for more than a year as they wait for essential maintenance, with little likelihood of resuming production as cashflow constraints and coronavirus-related movement restrictions hamper repairs. Experts say the four refineries were completed between 1965 and 1989 and have a combined capacity of 445,000bl/d, which should be sufficient to meet around 70pc of daily domestic demand. The quartet registered combined operational expenses of NGN142.1bn ($367mn) in the 12 months to 30 June despite being out of service, according to the country’s NOC, Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC).Consequently, Africa’s top oil producer is entirely reliant on fuel imports, straining government finances and dollar reserves. “Few in the industry expect state refineries to return to capacity,” says Yvonne Mhango, head of research for sub-Saharan Africa at Johannesburg-based investment bank Renaissance Capital. Nigeria will continue to rely on fuel imports in the long term” Nwaozuzu, Emerald Energy Institute. The four refineries, state-owned via NNPC, were flawed from the outset, according to Chijioke Nwaozuzu, a deputy-director with the Emerald Energy Institute at the University of Port Harcourt. The refinery’s management has no control over crude supply, storage, marketing or pipeline maintenance, which is largely handled by NNPC subsidiary Pipelines and Product Marketing Company. “With that kind of structure, it was inevitable the refineries would collapse—it was just a matter of time,” says Nwaozuzu, noting the pandemic has slowed attempts to repair the refineries and that there is no timescale for reopening.”
HURIWA has therefore called on the government to rescind the so called MOU between the petroleum ministry and Niger Republic and concentrate on completing the turn around maintenance of the three or four refineries in the Country to save the Country the much needed foreign reserves which this government is planning to give away to Niger Republic in a way that will further the Economic crisis in the Country.
Alternatively, HURIWA said government should have allowed the local refining of crude as was done By some persons in the Niger Delta Region before those illegal facilities were destroyed on the orders of President Muhammadu Buhari. “It will be more beneficial to sign on these individuals with capacity to refine the crude oil resources to generate petroleum products for domestic consumption than for Nigeria to fritter her scarce foreign reserves buying petrol from Niger Republic. The Federal government could have worked out how to legalize the operations of these small refining facilities set up by some persons in the Niger Delta which the same government destroyed. By this way, both the economy of Nigeria and creation of employment in the informal sector will be boosted”.