By Harry Awurumibe, Editor Abuja Bureau
Spending a whopping $1.5 billion on mere rehabilitation of the moribund Port Harcourt Refinery by the Federal Government does not make any economic sense.
This was the verdict of a renowned Political Economist, Professor Patrick Utomi while analysing the Economics of the Federal Government’s move to embark on the complete rehabilitation of the abandoned Nigeria’s biggest
refinery with a mind-buggling sum of the $1.5bn.
Utomi who was a guest of Channels Television current affairs programme ‘Politics Today’ which aired Monday night argued that, “It’s a complete waste of money for the Federal Government to embark on such projects which has no economic benefits for the country after spending such huge amount of money on rehabilitation of the moribund refinery”.
Asked if he does not think that it is a smart idea by the government to rehabilitate the Port Harcourt Refinery before putting it up for sale or concession, Utomi disagreed with the move, saying the best step is to sell it off.
The Political Economist insisted that;” it’s foolhardy to fix Port Harcourt refinery with the huge amount of dollars recently approved by the Federal Executive Council (FEC) before selling it. Again, it does not make economic sense at all”.
Utomi who was a former member of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) argued that the functionality of the refinery is in doubt after spending such huge amount of money to rehabilitate it.
He therefore advised government to sell not only Port Harcourt Refinery but the other three refineries in Nigeria, pointing out that, “in just few years now the world will move into the use of fosil fuel and leaving Nigeria behind”.
The Delta-born Political Economist revealed that his old student had once shared his nightmare about Warri Refinery which is also in comatose, saying “one of my Old Boys once narrated his nightmare while working with Warri Refinery.
“He had painted a pathetic picture of how components of the refinery were falling and somebody will enter flight to overseas countries to go to someone’s garage to get parts to repair the refinery and they will stop working again almost immediately after repair.
“Therefore, it’s my opinion that government should sell the refineries. Period”, Utomi concluded.