Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Dr Reuben Abati, said yesterday in Abuja that Dr. Goodluck Jonathan had no such plan and had not authorised it.
According to him, if the alleged plan to sell the refineries was the basis on which the oil workers unions – the Petroleun and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (PENGASSAN) and the National Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers (NUPENG) plans to go on strike, government will not dialogue with the unions because there is no basis.
Abati’s statement contradicts the position of Minister of Petroleum Resources, Mrs Diezani Alison-Madueke who said in an interview with Bloomberg TV Africa in London that the refineries would be sold.
She said: “We would like to see major infrastructure entities, such as refineries, moving out of government hands into the private sector. Government does not want to be in the business of running major infrastructure entities and we haven’t done a very good job at it over the years”
The Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE) had also said it was preparing the guidelines for the privatisation of the four refineries in Warri, Kaduna and Port Harcourt 1 and Port Harcourt 2.
Abati said yeterday: “Government is not going to sell any refineries. There is no such plan and there is no presidential approval for such. Nobody, not even the minister of petroleum has the powers to sell any government property”
It will be recalled that a presidential audit team on the refineries led by a former Minister of Finance, Dr. Kalu Idika Kalu, recommended the sale of the refineries due to inadequate government funding and “sub-optimal performance.”
The four refineries have a combined capacity of 445,000 barrel per day (bpd).
Though former President Olusegun Obasanjo tried to sell the Kaduna and Warri refineries, it was reversed by the government of the late Umaru Musa Yar’Adua.