Privatisation Of Refineries: Need To Follow Due Process


Since the idea of privatising the refineries in the country was mooted, it has been generating serious debates. Many are disturbed that privatising the refineries might not bring about the intended positive result. This calls for caution and transparency on the part of the Federal Government to avoid  mortgaging the refineries.

The Bureau of Public Enterprises, BPE, announced last year that it would privatise the four refineries this year. Chigbo Anichebe, the Bureau’s Head, Public Communications was reported to have said the privatisation was part of the ongoing oil sector reforms. As much as this present administration wants the refineries sold for reasons they have defended, the process must be done with utmost transparency to avoid a repeat of what happened in the past when President Olusegun Obasanjo approved the sale of the refineries during his administration but which was reversed in 2007 by the late President Umaru Yar’Adua for lack of transparency in the transaction.

Privatising the refineries should be in the interest of the nation and to make the refineries more efficient, well equipped and function at full capacity rather than transferring a national asset to certain powerful individuals or enriching some desperate investors. Government must ensure the investors have the financial and technical competence to handle the refineries.

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Nigerians are also interested in the work plan for the privatisation processes and how the interest of the nation will be protected in the contractual agreement regarding the privatised refineries. Privatising the refineries might not be a bad idea if it will achieve the same result and benefits the privitisation of the nation’s telecom sector brought for Nigerians. We expect the privatisation to generate more employment opportunities for the teeming unemployed youths when the refineries are expected to work at full capacity.

We also expect that if the refineries are privatised and they work at optimum capacity and new ones are built, there will be an end to importation of petroleum products that has been mired in massive corruption through the so-called subsidy payments to the importers of the petroleum products. It is shameful that a country that is the sixth largest producer of crude oil in the world imports the finished products while its refineries cannot produce to meet local consumption. Even less endowed countries don’t import petroleum products. They have refineries that work at full capacity.

Nigerian leaders are reputed for being in a hurry to start a policy without seeing the process through to achieve the desired result. The recent electricity privatisation exercise has been marred by poor electricity supply around the country. That should not be the case with the privatisation of the nation’s refineries. Competent investors must be allowed to bid for the refineries and they should be allowed to build new ones so as to refine crude to meet local consumption. Anything short of this will amount to an exercise in futility.