By SOLOMON AYADO, And AHURAKA ISAH, Abuja
The Senate yesterday put on hold the planned concession of the Port-Harcourt Refinery to AGIP and OANDO oil companies by the federal government.
The halt, the senate said, is owing to adverse corruption due to the non-transparent transaction relating to the conceding of the refinery by the federal ministry of petroleum resources.
An Ad-hoc committee is to be constituted immediately by the senate to investigate how and why the deal was sealed and to determine the cost and timeframe, as well as find out the criteria used to select AGIP and OANDO oil companies for the maintenance and operation of the Port Harcourt refinery.
This followed a motion raised by Senator Sabo Mohammed (Jigawa South) which was presented during plenary, alleging that the planned concession was not only without recourse to due process but however, illegal.
Sabo stated that the plan to concede the refinery was a clear attempt to ridicule Nigerians and that such would definitely create a big vacuum that can be difficult to fill in the anti-corruption crusade of the president Mohammadu Buhari administration.
It will be recalled that the federal government had recently entered into an agreement with AGIP and its partner OANDO oil company to repair, operate and maintain the Port Harcourt refinery company.
The minister of state for petroleum resources, Mr. Ibe Kachukwu had stated that the agreement was meant to be part of a broader plan by the FG to increase capacity for local production and consumption of petroleum products to ending fuel importation in Nigeria by the year 2019.
The Minister had stated in Vienna, Austria during the 172nd OPEC meeting that the refineries concession cannot be done in an open bidding process, said, “Is a highly technical area.”
At the moment, the planned concession by the Federal government has further revealed its ineptitude to bring to an end the subsidy controversies hence the earlier declaration by government that by the end of 2015, the refineries in Port Harcourt, Warri and Kaduna would be working at 90 per cent capacity.
However, the motion by Senator Sabo further stated: “the partners were not selected through open and competitive bids, prepare the business for sale, market the business, buyers selection and close the transaction.
Any procedure that does not follow the procedure was hatched in the dark without the knowledge and participation of relevant stakeholders such as BPE that was empowered by law to conduct such exercise and labour unions are not aware,” it stated.
In his contribution, Senator Dino Melaye (Kogi West) said the executive arm of government was taking Nigerians for granted. He argued that the concession of electricity to GENCOS, the concede of Ajaukuta and Delta steel companies has rather resulted to the total decay of the industries, a situation he said was not necessary to be replicated to the Port Harcourt refinery.
In his ruling, the senate President Bukola Saraki held that “all processes and transactions to the concession should be put on hold pending the completion and submission of report by the investigating committee.”