Former vice president, Atiku Abubakar has advised the Federal Government to, instead, use the $1.5bn proposed for the rehabilitation of the Port Harcourt Refinery to build hospitals for Nigerians.
“Rather than spend $1.5 billion on a loss-making refinery, would it not make better economic sense, as well as ensure social justice, to use that money to build mass hospitals for our people,” Atiku tweeted on his official handle on Thursday evening, restating his disapproval over the matter. “And provide our doctors with better working conditions, so every Nigerian has access to quality healthcare?”
The Federal Government last month announced plans to rehabilitate the refinery. Nigeria’s Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Timipre Sylva had explained that the first phase of the rehabilitation will be completed in 18 months which takes the refinery to a production of 90 per cent of its capacity.
According to him, the second phase will be completed in 24months, while the final phase will be completed in 44months.
The move generated controversy with critics saying it is not the right step.
Atiku had earlier said that “to therefore budget the sum of $1.5 billion to renovate or turn around the Port Harcourt refinery would appear to be an unwise use of scarce funds at this critical juncture for a multiplicity of reasons.”
But despite fears over the project, the government has assured that every cent of the $1.5 billion proposed for the rehabilitation will be accounted for.
“I can look at the camera; they (Nigerians) can hold me accountable and hold this government accountable for every dollar, every cent on this project and ensure that we deliver a refinery that works,” the minister added.
He also explained that the move will not significantly add to the nation’s burden, stressing that the government does not intend to borrow all the funds to rehabilitate the refinery which he said would be functional in 18 months.