Don’t hand over P’Harcourt refinery to cabal, NLC warns FG

The Nigeria Labour Congress has warned against a possible takeover of the Port Harcourt Refinery by cabals of government.

The union also demanded an audit of the refinery and called on the Federal Government to purge the refinery of “elements” that led to its collapse in the first instance.

NLC Head of Information, Benson Upah, made this known in an interview with our correspondent in Abuja.

Saturday PUNCH reports that the Federal Government on Thursday announced the “mechanical completion” and the “flare start-off” of the country’s biggest crude refinery in Port Harcourt.

The Minister of state for Petroleum Resources (Oil), Heineken Lokpobiri, made the announcement during a media tour of the Port Harcourt refinery on Thursday.

“Just to announce to Nigerians the fulfilment of our pledge to bring on stream Phase One of the Port Harcourt refinery by the end of 2023 and the subsequent streaming of Phase Two in 2024. We happily announced the mechanical completion and the flare start-off on the 20th of December 2023,” Lokpobiri said on Thursday.

The Port Harcourt Refinery comprises two units, with the old plant having a refining capacity of 60,000 barrels per day and the new plant 150,000 bpd, both summing up to 210,000 bpd.

The facility shut down in March 2019 for the first phase of repair works after the government secured the service of Italy’s Maire Tecnimont to handle the review of the refinery complex, with oil major, Eni, appointed as technical adviser.

Speaking on Thursday, the minister explained that production of petroleum products at the refinery would commence after the Christmas break.

Commenting on the matter, NLC’s Upah said, “Indeed, if it has commenced operation after countless rescheduling, it will be a plus for this government.

“As you graciously pointed out, we have over the years rooted for domestic refining for obvious advantages; cheaper products, multiplicity of products, jobs, product security/availability and more income.

“Some privileged Nigerians routinely sabotage our local refineries for their personal gains so they could be richer than our country makes Nigeria a paradise of crimes and sins with no redeeming qualities.

“While we at the Nigeria Labour Congress would like to commend the authorities for resumed operations, we would like to make the point that it is not enough to resume operations, the place must be purged of the people, habits and crimes that brought it to its knees in the first place.

“We must also warn against the implementation of devilish designs by the all-too-familiar cabal to start operations, collapse the refineries as inoperable to sell them off as scraps to themselves.”

On his part, the National Deputy President of the Trade Union Congress, Tommy Etim, said, “I cannot confirm whether it is true until we visit the Port Harcourt refinery as agreed with the Federal Government.”

On whether a date has been fixed for visitation, Etim said, “no date fixed yet.”

(Punch)

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