The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Tajudeen Abbas, has pushed for the privatization of Nigeria’s oil refineries as a means to enhance their operational efficiency. This recommendation surfaced during his meeting with the management of NNPCL, headed by the Group Managing Director, Mele Kyari, in Abuja on Thursday.

Abbas lamented the sorry state of the refineries, criticizing the considerable expenditure on workers’ salaries and allowances for minimal productivity. He emphasized the urgent need to diversify the refineries’ functions to ensure active engagement of workers even in the absence of crude oil.

“The privatization of these refineries is imperative. For years, we’ve deceived ourselves that some businesses can be effectively managed by the government. However, it’s become apparent that certain sectors of NNPC’s business, including our refineries, require private sector management,” Abbas declared.

Highlighting the impending competition with the Dangote refinery, Abbas stressed the necessity of restructuring the refineries to compete effectively in the market.

Expressing the House of Representatives’ commitment to supporting NNPCL’s success, Abbas highlighted concerns about rampant oil theft, attributing it to revenue loss, decreased forex availability, and inflationary pressures in the country. The House inaugurated a special committee on oil theft to address this critical issue.

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Mele Kyari, in response, outlined plans for all refineries to become fully operational by the end of 2024, positioning Nigeria as a net exporter of petroleum products. He attributed past inefficiencies in government-owned refineries to subsidies and affirmed that their removal had spurred private sector investments.

Kyari assured that the Port Harcourt Refinery would commence operations by December, followed by the Warri Refinery in early 2024, and the Kaduna Refinery by the end of the same year. These efforts, coupled with initiatives such as the rehabilitation of refineries and the Dangote Refinery’s emergence, aimed to make Nigeria self-sufficient in petroleum products by 2024.

Additionally, Kyari highlighted the company’s shift towards transparency, with financial statements from 2018 now available to the public. He projected government revenue from NNPCL to reach N4.5 trillion by the end of 2023, aligning with the Petroleum Industry Act’s objectives.

Assuring the nation of a robust fuel supply during the Christmas season and beyond, Kyari emphasized that no entity could hold the country to ransom in terms of fuel shortages.