The minority caucus in the House of Representatives has rejected the $1.5bn approval for rehabilitation of the Port Harcourt refinery, describing the figure as ‘outrageous and heavily inflated’.
The caucus, therefore, demanded an immediate review of the cost.
A statement issued on Tuesday by the Minority Leader of the House, Ndudi Elumelu, said the caucus reached the conclusion after a thorough evaluation of the proposal.
The statement was titled ‘Reps Minority Caucus Demands Review of $1.5bn for Port Harcourt Refinery Rehabilitation.’
The opposition lawmakers said a critical cost analysis of the project indicates ‘a huge scam and a ploy by unscrupulous elements to hide under the guise of rehabilitation of the refinery to siphon public funds’, adding that the project could be transparently executed at a far lesser amount.
The caucus noted that while it was in support of any genuine effort to bridge energy deficit in Nigeria, such should not be used as a ploy by corrupt individuals to fleece the nation.
The lawmakers said, “This over bloated $1.5bn cost has again brought to the fore the prevailing unpatriotic proclivity of treasury looting and criminal diversion of public funds through inflated contracts by officials of government for their selfish interests.
“It is completely unexplainable that the sum of $1.5bn, belonging to Nigerians, is to be funneled towards the rehabilitation of a non-profitable refinery, which has already been slated to be handed over to private hands.
“As lawmakers, we firmly reject this attempt to use the refineries to further defraud our nation.
“In that regard, our caucus demands an immediate review of the project on a transparent and competitive cost template, while the billions of naira that would be recovered from the surplus, should be directed towards other areas of our national energy need.
“Furthermore, the minority caucus calls for immediate decisive steps towards providing required incentives to private organisations who have shown manifest interest in establishing refineries in our country, as a sure step to meet our national energy need.”
The lawmakers urged the Federal Executive Council not to release any funds related to the inflated rehabilitation costs until after the review.
The House had on March 24, 2021, resolved to investigate the fresh $1.5bn recently approved by the Federal Executive Council to rehabilitate the Port Harcourt refinery.
The House would also be probing into the rehabilitation and maintenance exercises on other refineries in the country, which had reportedly gulped billions of dollars.