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The Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (PENGASSAN) on Thursday urged the Federal Government to review its decision to sale the nation’s refineries proposed for the first quarter of 2014.
Mr Oluwaseyi Gambo, the National Public Relations Officer of the association, made the call in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Lagos.
Gambo urged the government to fast-track the passage of the Petroleum Industry Bill rather than outright sale of the refineries.
He said that the bill had provisions that would address and proffer solutions to the problems of the ailing refineries.
NAN reports that the Minister of Petroleum Resources, Mrs Diezani Alison-Madueke, had on Nov.18 announced that the four ailing refineries would be privatised by the first quarter of 2014.
Also, Mr Chigbo Anichebe, the Head of Public Communication, Bureau of Public Enterprises, had said that the privatisation of the refineries would be part of ongoing oil sector reform.
However, Gambo said that the association was not averse to the sale of the refineries, provided it would be the best option.
“But we are saying that it is not the best option and it is not the best solution.
“Nigerians will not get the best out of this; it will just enrich some individuals to the detriment of others.
“That is why we are advising the Federal Government that it is not the best option for the country.
“But, if the Federal Government insists on privatising our refineries, it should be transparent and should do it through the Nigerian Stock Exchange where everybody will participate in the process.
“We are saying that there should be transparency in the process of selling the refineries, because selling them without following due process will amount to enriching some individuals.”
He urged government to grant incentives for the development of private refineries alongside the existing ones.
“A framework should be articulated to ensure the availability of the required crude for effective functioning of the refineries,” he said.
Gambo also urged the Federal Government to make adequate fund available for regular Turn Around Maintenance (TAM) of the refineries and provide adequate security to guarantee safety of the workers.
“We have the best refinery engineers in the world and these engineers can work anywhere in the world.
“It is when you give them adequate supply of crude that they can refine, but when there is nothing to work on they cannot do anything.”
Gambo also urged the Federal Government to also address the challenges of pipelines vandalism that had hindered effective supply of crude oil to the refineries.
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