From Romanus Ugwu, Abuja
Former vice president, Atiku Abubakar, has described as ‘suspicious’, plan by the Federal Government to spend $1.5 billion on the renovation or turnaround of Port Harcourt refinery.
Atiku, in a statement, said given the dire state of Nigeria’s economy hallmarked by an all-time high unemployment and inflation rates,it would be unwise to spend such amount on the Port Harourt refinery.
Atiku said: “That Nigeria’s economy is in dire straits is a fact well-known both to the nation and to our international partners. Unemployment has just reached an all-time high of 33 percent, while inflation has hit another record high of 17 percent.
“At this critical period, we must be prudent with the use of whatever revenue we are able to generate, and even if we must borrow, we must do so with the utmost responsibility and discipline.
Reacting, the umbrella of South South Emerging Leaders Forum (SELF) commended President Buhari and Sylva.
SELF expressed confidence that apart from improving economic activities in the region, the FEC approval will also create massive direct and indirect employment opportunities for the people.
“We believe if the refinery start operating at its capacity, it will improve a lot of economic activities in the South South, especially and the country at large will benefit from the project. Specifically, there will be employment not only for the people of the region but Nigerians generally.
“We are happy the administration has taken a bold step not only to fix the refinery but the operations and maintenance, which are the major issues are considered in the approval,” he said.
Commending the president and the FEC for the approval, SELF singled out the minister of State for Petroleum for “his dedication, commitment, hardship and vision to bring about turn-around in the Nigerian oil industry.”