By Emman Ovuakporie & Johnbosco Agbakwuru
THE House of Representatives Committee on Privatisation, yesterday, stopped the proposed sale of the nation’s three refineries by Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC. They are Port-Hacourt, Kaduna and Warri refineries.
The committee made the pronouncement after engaging officials of the NNPC and the Bureau of Public Enterprises,BPE, on the exercise and declared that NNPC violated the provisions of BPE Act Section 11 of 2009.
During the interactive session, members of the committee accused the NNPC of acting unilaterally by going ahead with the exercise without involving other stakeholders as contained in the Act.
Exchange of words
Before making the declaration, chairman of the committee, Ahmed Yerima, said there was an exchange of words between the Group Executive Director of the NNPC in charge of refineries, Mr Anibor Kragba, and the members of the committee which led to abrupt adjournment of the sitting.
Before the sitting commenced, members of the committee were not particularly happy when informed that the Group Managing Director of the NNPC, Dr Ibe Kachikwu, who is also Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, was being represented by the Group Executive Director, Anibor Kragba.
Most members of the committee kicked against the arrangement, insisting that the Minister of State should appear personally at a later date to explain why the NNPC was planning to sell the refineries without following due process.
The lawmakers said their action was based on past experience with the corporation when its chief executives failed to honour invitations extended to the organisation. However, after assurances from the corporation’s Group Executive Director that he had the mandate of the minister to represent him and was competent to handle the matter in question, he was allowed to represent Kachikwu.
No plan to privatise refineries —NNPC
Kragba was allowed to make his presentation along side Acting BPE Director General, Mr Vincent Akpotarie, during which he denied that the corporation was out to privatise the refineries. According to him, the NNPC is only sourcing for core investors to invest in the refineries, since their rehabilitation was capital intensive.
The committee demanded to know who authorised the corporation to embark on such an exercise without the knowledge of the National Assembly and the BPE. Kragba, however, said he needed to clarify the information, stressing that he was just appointed. This did not go down well with the lawmakers, who challenged him on his earlier claim that he was competent to handle the matter to their satisfaction. Kragba interjected, saying: “With due respect to this Honourable Committee, I was appointed into office by Mr President, who believed in my competence.”