Governor of Nasarawa State Criticises Buhari refinery repair expenditure and supports fuel subsidy removal
In an interview with Channels Television, the governor of Nasarawa State, Abdullahi Sule, expressed his dissatisfaction with the results of the Nigerian government’s efforts to repair the country’s refineries.
He claimed that over $19 billion was spent on repairing the refineries during the eight-year tenure of the Muhammadu Buhari administration without achieving the desired outcomes.
Governor Sule, who formerly served as the Managing Director of African Petroleum (AP), stated that the process of fixing the refineries was severely mismanaged. He criticised the lack of transparency in the scheme and expressed support for the removal of fuel subsidy.
Nigeria’s refineries, constructed in the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s, have received significant investments through Turnaround Maintenance (TAM) projects. However, the expected results have been largely disappointing, despite the substantial financial allocations. It should be noted that the claim made by Governor Sule regarding the $19 billion expenditure during the previous administration could not be independently verified.
Governor Sule explained that he has always advocated for the removal of fuel subsidy due to his belief in massive fraud within the process. He recalled expressing concerns over 22 years ago when he served as the Managing Director of AP, stating that it was implausible for Nigeria to consume 30 million liters of petrol per day at that time. According to him, the daily consumption has now risen to about 70 million liters, a figure he considers impossible.
He further highlighted that the Nigerian National Petroleum Company (NNPC) Limited only possesses data on the volume lifted from the depots and lacks actual consumption figures. Governor Sule argued that Nigeria has been subsidising petrol for neighboring countries, leading to an energy crisis in those countries when Nigeria withdrew its subsidy.
Governor Sule emphasised that previous attempts to construct refineries through issued licenses have failed due to the nature of the industry. He stated that the removal of subsidy should have been implemented in 2015, when crude oil prices plummeted. Comparing the cost of fixing the refineries to the construction of Dangote’s refinery, he claimed that the Buhari administration spent more than $19 billion on maintenance without achieving significant results.
According to Governor Sule, the release of funds intended for one component of a refinery often resulted in minimal progress since the funds were shared among all the facilities. He described this practice as “zero work” and admitted that the management of refineries has been inadequate.
The governor expressed support for President Bola Tinubu’s recent decision to remove the fuel subsidy. He lamented the lack of reliable data on Nigeria’s fuel consumption, which he believed strengthened the argument for subsidy removal. The determination of consumption by lifting, rather than actual usage within Nigeria, has contributed to the inability to confirm the figures accurately.
Governor Sule argued that the Dangote refinery would reduce fuel prices by eliminating freight charges and other associated costs related to petrol imports. He emphasised that market forces determining prices would promote accountability and discourage smugglers from purchasing fuel from Nigeria, allowing the country to establish its actual consumption figures.