By Omeiza Ajayi
A regional think-tank, the South-South Emerging Leaders Forum SELF has expressed delight at the decision of the Federal Executive Council FEC approving $1.5 billion for the rehabilitation of the Port Harcourt refinery.
The forum in a statement Thursday in Abuja, signed by its National Coordinator, Barrister Benjamin Kolowei, commended President Muhammadu Buhari and the Minister of State for Petroleum, Chief Timipre Sylva for the decision which it said will positively impact economic activities in the South-South region.
Sylva had after the FEC meeting on Wednesday announced that the rehabilitation will be done in three phases of 18, 24 and 44 months.
According to the Minister, the funding of the repairs will be from many components including the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation NNPC, Internally Generated Revenue IGR, budgetary provisions and Afreximbank.
The forum however expressed confidence that apart from improving economic activities in the region, the refinery when repositioned, will also create massive direct and indirect employment for the people.
“Our forum received the news to fix Port Harcourt refinery with great joy. The move shows the commitment of the current administration to tackle the challenges facing our oil sector head-on.
“We believe that if the refinery starts operating at its capacity, it will improve a lot of economic activities in the South-South region especially and the country at large will benefit from the project. Specifically, there will be employment not only for the people of the region but Nigerians generally.
“We are happy that the administration has taken a bold step not only to fix the refinery but the operations and maintenance, which are the major issues considered in the approval”, SELF-stated.
The forum specifically hailed the Minister of State for Petroleum for “his dedication, commitment, leadership and vision to bring about a turn-around in the Nigerian oil industry.”