Reps stop sales of refineries

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  • set to investigate Electricity Tariff

BY LEVINUS NWABUGHIOGU

ABUJA–The plan by the Federal Government to sell the Nation’s four oil refineries in Kaduna, Warri and Port Harcourt to private investors in the first quarter of 2014 may have been botched by the House of Representatives.

This became evident at Wednesday’s plenary when the House after hearing the issue mandated its Committees on Privatization, Petroleum (Downstream) and Due Process to launch a full scale investigation.

The motion on the matter was moved by Hon. Hassan El-Badawy (Yobe State).

El-Badawy in his prayers noted that the proposed plan to sell the refineries was made even before it was disclosed to the Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE), the agency charged with the responsibility of disposing public assets. He also recalled that “on October 8, 2012, Mrs. Alison-Madueke, at an interactive session with the Senate Committee on Petroleum Resources (Downstream) revealed that the Turnaround Maintenance (TAM) of the four refineries would cost about $1.6bn, an equivalent of N251bn.”

He also noted that the Minister had in November 2013 stated that the TAM of the Port Harcourt Refineries had been completed while maintenance was due to commence immediately on the other refineries to restore commercial value.

The lawmaker said he was “worried that almost one year after expending huge sums of money on the Turnaround Maintenance of the Port Harcourt refineries, the Minister has declared that the refineries would be sold, a move that many Nigerians consider to be suspicious, illegal and unreasonable given the huge sums of money expended on their maintenance and the impact they are expected to make in reducing the challenges in the petroleum industry.”

Continuing, El-Badawy said he was disturbed that “the Minister’s action seems to be in isolation of the regulatory authorities, that is the National Council on Privatization (NCP) and the Bureau of Public Enterprise (BPE).”

It will be recalled that the Minister of Petroleum Resources, Mrs. Alison-Madueke, had in an interview with Bloomberg TV Africa in London on November 18, 2013 revealed the plan by the federal government to sell the refineries.

When put to vote by the Speaker, Aminu Tambuwal, the motion received a unanimous endorsement of the members.

The Committees were given 2 weeks to report back to the House.

In a similar development, the House also mandated its Committee on Power to investigate the actual cost of service charge that consumers of electricity in the country pay per month in addition to the amount of electricity consumed.

This was sequel to a motion titled “Need to Investigate the Recent Increase in Service Charge by Power Distribution Companies” sponsored by Hon. Hassan Seleh (PDP, Benue State).

“Power Distribution companies unilaterally further reviewed the service charge to the sum of N1,500 (from 750), and are still canvassing for further upward review, even though their services are at its lowest point presently as there are no substantial improvement in power supply, as consumers are getting little value for their money”, he said.

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