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Published On: Fri, Oct 8th, 2021

N6.3tr Budget Deficit: Onuesoke Backs NASS, Experts On Privatization Of Refineries

LAGOS OCTOBER 8TH (URHOBOTODAY)-Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Chieftain and former Delta State Governorship aspirant, Chief Sunny Onuesoke said he is in full support of the call by Nigeria Senate and experts on President Muhammadu Buhari to privatize the four refineries and other moribund assets in the country in order finance part of its budget deficit of N6.3tn.
Recall that President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), had said on Thursday that his regime would finance the N6.26tn deficit contained in the 2022 budget with N5tn which his regime proposed to borrow from local and foreign sources.
While speaking to journalists in Asaba International Airport, Asaba, Delta State, Onuesoke advised President Muhammadu Buhari to listen to the advise of the Senate and experts on the need for internal revenue generation in order to reduce its spate of borrowing and high deficit financing.
The PDP Chieftain who said the N6.3tn budget deficit is just too large explained that the only way for Nigeria to regain its economic glory is to avoid economic wastage by privatizing the four moribund refineries and other national assets that have become liabilities than assets to the nation.
He recalled that despite guzzling billions in running costs for many years, the four refineries being run by the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC remain in a sorry state, stressing that claims of turnaround maintenance and rehabilitation funded by taxpayers’ money have not helped, rather, the fortunes of the refineries have consistently worsened.
Onuesoke who traced the rot in the refineries to the incompetence of government in managing the refineries said a study carried out by the National Refineries Special Task Force (NRSTF) of 42 oil refineries operating in Africa in 2012, the four refineries in Nigeria recorded the worst performance in both efficiency and utilization capacity with an average capacity utilization of only 18 percent compared to 81 percent and 85 percent respectively for Egypt and South Africa in the period of 2006-2009.
“It is embarrassing that Nigeria being rated as one of the biggest oil producing countries in Africa still imports petroleum products from countries like Brazil and India, which were no where on the oil map of the world when Nigeria discovered oil in Oloibiri in 1956. Absurdly, Nigeria has also been importing petroleum products from Niger, a neighbouring West African country which has a modest refining capacity of 20,000 bpd,” he disclosed.
He advised that the privatization of the refineries would go as far as to minimize the alleged corruption and mismanagement associated with the NNPC in relation to issues such as unremitted subsidy funds, the crude for petroleum products swap deals and also the hollow process that is TAM.
“For years, the Port-Harcourt Refinery I and II, the Warri Refinery and Petrochemical Company; and the Kaduna Refining and Petrochemical Company, have been used as conduits to cream off billions of dollars under the guise of carrying out TAM. The private sector might therefore fare a lot better in terms of transparency if given the chance to take over and maintain these refineries,” Onuesoke advised.

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