The Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Chief Timipre Sylva, has said the Port Harcourt refinery rehabilitation project will be jointly funded by the Federal Government, the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) and the African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank).

Sylva urged Nigerians who are opposed to the project to hold him accountable for every dollar that will be spent on rehabilitating the 210,000 bpd refinery.

Last week, the Federal Executive Council (FEC) approved $1.5 billion for the rehabilitation of the refinery, a development that has received flaks from many Nigerians including Atedo Peterside, Peter Obi and Atiku Abubakar.

“They (Nigerians) can hold me accountable and hold this government accountable for every dollar, every cent on this refinery and ensure that we deliver a refinery that works,” he said.

Sylva noted that the rehabilitation will take 18 months and the first phase will get the refinery to 90 percent operational capacity, stressing that President Muhammadu Buhari was bent on leaving a legacy including making sure that the refineries are working. He said: “It is not going to be all debts; we are not going to borrow all the monies that are going into the rehabilitation. NNPC is going to spend about $200 million from its internally generated revenue sources, while the federal appropriation will put in about $800 million and it is already broken down into three parts. The 2020 appropriation will give $350 million, 2021 appropriation will give another $350 million, and 2022 appropriation will give another $100 million, making it all $800 million from appropriation, and then the rest of it will now come from Afreximbank.”

He maintained that the project would be in three phases, adding that the first phase was going to be within the tenure of this administration. “You should hold us. It is 18 months and we are going to take the refinery to 90 percent of its main capacity and that is what you should hold us to,” he said.

While defending the project, Sylva noted that the federal government also plans to rehabilitate other refineries in the country, explaining that the move is not a waste of funds as believed by many Nigerians.

According to him, the refinery will benefit Nigerians and be commercially-viable to return profits for the government and satisfy the domestic needs of the country, especially in addition to the Dangote refinery.

“This rehabilitation will bring a lot of gains for Nigerians. First, we are gaining from savings in the foreign exchange end, savings from importation of premium motor spirit (PMS); and we will gain from the operations of the refineries itself,” he said.

The minister also debunked insinuations that the rehabilitation could have taken less than N500 million, saying that the rehabilitation of the refinery was being handled by professionals.

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