Nigeria’s President Bola Ahmed Tinubu, has taken issue with former President Olusegun Obasanjo over his comments regarding the petroleum refinery in Port Harcourt, Rivers State.
In a recent interview with TheCable, Obasanjo had emphasised his belief that the nation’s refineries would never function efficiently as long as they remained under government ownership.
“Someone told me Tinubu said refineries would work by December. I told the person the refineries would not work. This is based on the information I received from Shell when I was president,” he said.
But responding through Tope Ajayi, his Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Tinubu said Obasanjo is not an engineer, therefore he shouldn’t make such comments.
“Former President Olusegun Obasanjo, with due respect to him, is not an engineer. He’s not the engineer working at the refineries. So, the engineers and the NNPC gave the president a report and they have said that it will work by December this year,” he had said while speaking on Daily Trust space themed: ‘Analysing the First 100 Days of President Tinubu’.
“We still have like four months to go. I will say that with all due respect to the former president, who is an elder statesman and our father, that what he said is his personal opinion and view. I will rather rely on the judgment of the engineers who are working at the refinery. So, I think we should wait until December.”
In August, President Tinubu had said the petroleum refinery in Port Harcourt will start production by December 2023 after the completion of the ongoing rehabilitation contract between the Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited (NNPCL) and Italian firm, Maire Tecnimont SpA.
The resuscitation of the refinery, if completed as promised by Tinubu, will lessen Nigeria’s reliance on oil importation and dependence on foreign refineries.
NNPCL said it has been working to revamp the refineries, which were shut down entirely in 2021 and produced little or no fuel over the past decade.