Itse Sagay, the chairman of the Presidential Advisory Committee Against Corruption, has stated that there will be prosecution of the Minister of State for Petroleum, Timipre Sylva, and other actors if the $1.5 billion to be spent by the Nigerian government to repair the refinery in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, is mismanaged.
Sagay, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, added that he was shocked when he heard the Minister of State for Petroleum saying $1.5 billion would be spent by the government to repair the refinery.
In an interview with Daily Independent, the PACAC chairman said he hoped the minister was being honest with the country; otherwise, there would be consequences if the refinery repair turned out to be a scam.
He said, “I want to take refuge in my ignorance because I was shocked when I heard the amount to be used in repairing the refinery. $1.5 billion just to repair? Honestly, I was shocked. I thought we could get a brand new, excellent refinery with that money. I also listened to the Minister of State for Petroleum and others who are in support, telling us that the whole refinery will be totally overhauled and what we are going to get after the repair will be as brand as new at the rate of 90 percent. I pray for their sake that it is true.
“If after that huge sum of money had been spent on revamping it and then production commences and it becomes epileptic, I don’t think they will be able to survive the barrage of attacks that will be landing on them. In fact, it will be more than that because people will call for them to be prosecuted for misleading the public and investing so much amount of money on the refinery.
“Why I’m not worried so much is that we have a cabinet which holds a weekly Federal Executive Council, FEC, meeting of about 50 to 60 people. If they are able to carry all those people, maybe they must have made some cogent points. That is the way I comfort myself. We will just wait for the next three to four years whether they will be proven right or not.
“The money is just too much. $1.5 billion is a huge sum of money. We are not talking of N300 million which they used for their turn around. $1.5 billion is a huge sum. So, I pray for his sake that all they have promised will come to pass.”
While speaking on the likelihood of fuel prices increasing according to the insinuations by the Group Managing Director of Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, Mele Kyari, Prof Sagay noted that he would not be surprised if the prices were increased.
“I will not be surprised but I will be very upset. But the way economic theory has turned it round that the less NNPC earns in terms of crude oil, the more it should be able to subsidise the users to the extent of almost paying nothing for it.
“But when it is earning huge sums; when it has the money to actually do the subsidy, then it should also increase the price. It makes no sense. The illogic of it arises from the fact that they say that it is a theoretical thing. We are now earning $60 per barrel. So, if we give away crude oil for refined one, it must be at that rate because that is the rate it is being sold.
“If we give it at a lower rate, we are losing money at the international level. I think that is stupid economics. In my view, the more you earn, the lower the price of petrol because you are having more money now from the industry, which can enable you bring the price down for the benefit of the people. The less you earn, the more difficult it should be for you to subsidize. That is when the price should go up. So, for me, the economics is upside-down economics,” he added.