The Save Ijaw Nation Group (SING) has described the moves by the current administration to construct a petroleum refinery on the border with Niger Republic at $2 billion as a “misplaced priority.”A statement by the deputy director, Communications, SING, Muhammad Bash said with four existing refineries in the country, the federal government opt not to embark on such project. He said for a government that claims to be diversifying the Nigerian economy away from oil dependence, it is rather curious that the administration has embarked on a desperate search for oil in the northern parts of the country, costing the Nigerian taxpayer hundreds of billions of Naira at a time when government revenues were in decline starving more pressing needs of needed funds.
Bash said to the best of his knowledge this search, for a process that had absolutely no transparency, has yielded no results. The statement reads in part: “For same government, that also planned a pipeline from Niger to the Kaduna refinery only to abandon same when it discovered that it made no economic sense, only to come up with this new private sector driven refinery project smacks of disregard for the genuine needs of Nigerians or a lack of capacity to articulate 21st century governance. “It is interesting that, despite the fact Niger having its longest border with Nigeria and having cultural similarities with parts of Nigeria, it chooses to route its imports through Benin Republic due to the shambolic trade policies and inefficient ports and Customs operations in Nigeria.
“If Niger could build a rail line from Porto Novo to Niamey to move its major imports, it is strange that the Nigerian government would be desperate to do oil deals of such magnitude with them, without obtaining any concessions from them on trade at a time when the major economic powers of the world are taking positions in a trade war.”
He said Nigerians will recall that the current administration that raved about a cleanup of Ogoni land that never was, has proven to be less than sincere about its plans for the Niger-Delta.
“SING wishes to place on record our displeasure and disapproval for this project, with such huge financial commitment, at a time when the government claims to be working to diversify the Nigerian economy for self sufficiency,” it added.
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