Nigerians are awaiting the fulfillment of President Bola Tinubu’s promise that the Port Harcourt Refinery will resume production by December 2023, amidst ongoing Senate investigations into contracts for rehabilitating the country’s refineries. This situation arises as the Senate probes contracts estimated at over N11.35 trillion awarded for the renovation of four moribund refineries since 2010, which have remained unproductive.
Senator Sunday Karimi (Kogi West) revealed that the Nigerian government had spent a staggering N11.35 trillion, along with additional costs in foreign currencies, on refurbishing refineries over the past decade. Despite this massive expenditure, the refineries have failed to produce any results, leading to significant financial losses.
The Senate has set up a seven-member ad-hoc committee to investigate these contracts, with a deadline to submit their findings by November 21, 2023. This probe has been met with skepticism and disappointment by stakeholders and industry experts, who criticize the Senate’s history of inconclusive and ineffective probes in the oil and gas sector, as well as the Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited (NNPCL).
Previous Senate probes into entities like the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) and the NNPCL have often been marred by controversies and have not yielded concrete problem-solving results. Incidents like the collapse of the acting Managing Director of NDDC before television cameras during a Senate hearing in 2020 and the diversion of focus due to revelations of lawmakers’ involvement have contributed to the public’s dwindling confidence in Senate probes.
Moreover, Nigerians are questioning the credibility of the Senate, led by Ahmed Lawan, in effectively conducting these investigations. There is a general belief that the findings of these committees are often obscured or compromised, leading to a lack of public confidence in the Senate’s ability to hold accountable entities responsible for financial mismanagement and inefficiency.
As Nigerians await the outcome of both the refinery’s promised revival and the Senate’s investigation, there is a growing sense of anticipation mixed with skepticism. The results of these investigations and promises could have significant implications for Nigeria’s oil and gas sector and its overall economic health.