The Presidency on Thursday said the Federal Government had no plan to sell any of the nation’s refineries contrary to the news making the rounds about the imminent sale of the facilities.
The Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Dr. Reuben Abati, said this in an interview with State House correspondents on Thursday.
It will be recalled that the Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria and the Nigeria Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers had threatened to embark on an industrial action this month if the Federal Government refused to drop the idea of selling the refineries.
In declaring the date for the commencement of the strike, National President, PENGASSAN, Mr. Babatunde Ogun, had said, “Our message is very clear; if between now and December 24, 2013, the government fails to cancel the planned privatisation of the refineries, we will wait for the Yuletide period to come and then mobilise between that time and the first week in January 2014; the entire oil and gas workers in Nigeria will go on a total strike and shut down the economy.”
But Abati on Thursday said there was no endorsement from President Goodluck Jonathan for the planned sale of the refineries.
He added that the Minister of Petroleum Resources, Mrs. Diezani Alison-Madueke, could not singlehandedly sell any government property without the President’s approval.
“The Federal Government will not sell the refineries. There is no authorisation for anybody to do so; there is no presidential endorsement. Even the minister does not have the powers to sell government’s property,” Abati declared.
The Head, Public Communication, Bureau of Public Enterprises, Mr. Chigbo Anichebe, had said through a statement in Abuja on December 20, 2013 that Jonathan had approved the constitution of a steering committee for the sale of the nation’s four refineries.
Anichebe had said the President also approved the commencement of the privatisation of the refineries.
The four refineries are the Port Harcourt Refining Company Limited I; Port Harcourt Refining Company Limited II; Kaduna Refining and Petrochemical Company Limited; and the Warri Refining and Petrochemical Company Limited.
Anichebe had said, “In furtherance of the economic reform programme of his administration, President Jonathan has approved the commencement of the privatisation of the nation’s four refineries by the BPE.
“This is in keeping with the transformation agenda, which seeks to catalyse and provide an enabling environment for the private sector to be the driver of economic growth in the country.
“The President has also approved the constitution of a steering committee on the privatisation process that involves all relevant stakeholder ministries and agencies.”
The members of the steering committee, which is chaired by the Minister of Petroleum Resources, are the ministers of Finance, Power, Labour and Productivity, National Planning, Mines and Steel Development and Justice.
Other members are the Chairman, Extractive Sub-committee, National Council on Privatisation; Special Adviser to the Vice-President on Economy; Group Managing Director, Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation; Director-General, BPE; Group Executive Director (Refineries), NNPC; Managing Directors of the refineries and the Director (Oil and Gas), BPE, who will serve as the secretary.