President Muhammadu Buhari has expressed concern that the Public Private Partnership approach adopted by his administration to rehabilitate the nation’s existing refineries has taken longer than expected.
Buhari said this yesterday when he received in audience the newly elected national executives of the Nigeria Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas (NUPENG) workers led by its president Comrade Williams Akporeha at the State House, Abuja.
President Buhari however said that he was aware that the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) has concluded the process for selecting the private sector partners that will rehabilitate the refineries.
“I am informed that they are working out finances and hopefully, work will commence soon,” he said.
The highlight of the visit was the conferment of President Buhari the award of Grand Comrade of the Productive Workers of the Nigeria Oil and Gas Industry by NUPENG. Buhari assured the leadership of NUPENG that his administration would continue to support innovative ideas that will bring new refineries investments into the country.
In this respect, Buhari said that he looked forward to receiving suggestions from members of the union “on how we can move forward.”
He said that he agreed with the union that reforming the Petroleum Industry will unlock numerous untapped potentials for the nation.
However, Buhari said these reforms must be well thought out and must have the best interest of Nigeria and Nigerians as its core objective.
“Such reforms cannot and must not be rushed, if we must get it right. We are still suffering from the effects of many legacy policies that were rushed and passed without fully appreciating the consequences the provisions embedded in them.
“Whatever decision we take now will impact either negatively or positively on generations to come.
“The Petroleum Industry Bill was conceived to ensure Nigeria’s future generations are positively impacted by its oil wealth it was never about shod term gains. I want to assure you that dialogue on the Petroleum industry Bill is still ongoing. At the end. we will have a bill that the nation will be proud of.”
The President thanked NUPENG for their unflinching support to his administration over the last three years, saying, “I regularly receive feedback on your positive and constructive engagements with government.
Speaking further, Buhari appealed to the members of the union to continue on this patriotic path while assuring them of government’s support to the course of the Nigerian workers at all times.
The President said, “As one of the architects of the Nigeria Contents Monitoring and Development Act, I am sure NUPENG members appreciate that a key principle of this act is the indigenisation of certain processes and production functions. Indigenisation means local value addition leveraging local resources where possible.
“The Nigerian Content Development and Monitoring Board is fully empowered to ensure compliance. I will direct the Hon. Minister of State Petroleum Resources to review the issues you have raised and take appropriate action to ensure compliance with the Act by operators in the industry.
I urge that you submit any specific petition to the Minister of State with the assurance that such will be looked into diligently.”
On security in the Niger Delta, President Buhari noted that pipeline vandalism has declined.
He further assured that his administration will continue to promote peaceful engagement with the communities while at the same time, “maintain our readiness to respond to any hostile acts of sabotage.”
Earlier in his remarks, the NUPENG President, Comrade Akporeha told the President that they were very proud of his “unparalleled achievement of pulling the country out of recession silently and rigorously laying sound foundation for a new Nigeria of fiscal discipline and prosperity for all.”
The union leader appealed to Mr President to consider overhauling and amendment of the Nigeria Contents Monitoring and Development Board (NCMB) Act for inclusion of dissent jobs and other stakeholders.
“Our refineries for several part of this year have not been working, leaving our members redundant, couple with capital flight occasioned by importation. We are exporting jobs to countries that are refining these products for us,” the president of the union said.
Comrade Akporeha said: “Your administration’s practical steps in bridging the wide gap between the rich and the poor in the country through various initiatives such as Trade Moni, support for farmers, embargoes on luxury/ostentatious goods, TSA, school feeding etc have gone a long way in alleviating poverty in the country.”
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