Any time from now, the Federal Government of Nigeria will commission a private Petroleum Refinery built by a Nigerian citizen, Aliko Dangote. It has been described as the biggest refinery in Africa, with the capacity to produce 99 million litres of petrol daily, which is enough to meet the country’s demand for petrol.
But anyone thinking that the building of this refinery, will end the problems of the country in the petroleum sector, will soon realize that such a hope is not realizable as the refinery will be selling its product at market rate. The Nigerian Government will also buy from the refinery and then sell at subsidized rate.
The only positive in all this for the government is that it will spend less in buying petroleum products as it will do so within the country. Also, Nigerians will benefit from the refinery being here by getting employed in it, while sundry other related businesses will spring up around the refinery and empower more Nigerians.
But the fact that an individual has built such a big capacity refinery is a big slap on the Government of Nigeria which has failed over the years to repair its own refineries which have since stopped working. This has made the country, ranked the sixth biggest oil producers in the world, to be importing fuel; a development that is as absurd as it is shameful.
It also says much about the kind of leadership we have in the country which is rudderless and without vision. It is also part of the corruption rocking the country. Many people in power prefer to be importing fuel because they make much money from it to reviving the nation’s refineries. This is very shameful.
Again some people have wondered why Dangote should seemingly enjoy a monopoly of certain privileges from the Federal Government, while others are excluded. Remember that Dangote has been enjoying the monopoly of producing cement in the country, while others like Ibeto Cement and Eagle Cement have since packed up. There have been allegations that some people in the power corridors are using Dangote as a conduit pipe. But these remain in the domain of speculations until proved.
Nevertheless, we do not think many Nigerians would complain if the prices of cement and petroleum products became cheap and affordable for the common man, no matter who produces them. But a situation where those products are beyond the reach of the common man, because of the monopoly does not augur well for anybody. No one should enjoy such monopoly to the detriment of others doing same business. But that is a topic for another day.
For now, though, we urge the Federal Government to revamp the moribund oil refineries in the country as a matter of urgency to reduce the suffering of the masses.