The minority caucus in the house of representatives says $1.5 billion approved for Port Harcourt refinery repair is an attempt to defraud the nation.
On March 17, the Federal Executive Council (FEC) approved repair of the refinery in Rivers state.
Timipre Sylva, minister of state for petroleum, said the rehabilitation will be done in three phases of 18, 24 and 44 months.
He said the contract, which will be awarded to Tecnimont SPA, an Italian company, will be funded through three components from Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) internally generated revenue (IGR), Afreximbank and budgetary provisions.
In a statement on Tuesday, Ndudi Elumelu, the house minority leader, said the caucus described the approval as outrageous and heavily inflated.
He said the lawmakers reached a conclusion after a thorough evaluation of the proposal.
Elumelu said the caucus rejects a repair of the refinery, adding that the project should be immediately reviewed.
He said the development is “a huge scam and a ploy by unscrupulous elements to hide under the guise of rehabilitation of the refinery to siphon public funds”.
“This over bloated $1.5bn cost has again brought to the fore the prevailing unpatriotic proclivity of treasury looting and criminal diversion of public funds through inflated contracts by officials of government for their selfish interests,” the statement reads.
“It is completely unexplainable that the sum of $1.5bn, belonging to Nigerians, is to be funneled towards the rehabilitation of a non-profitable refinery, which has already been slated to be handed over to private hands.
“As lawmakers, we firmly reject this attempt to use the refineries to further defraud our nation.
“In that regard, our caucus demands an immediate review of the project on a transparent and competitive cost template, while the billions of naira that would be recovered from the surplus, should be directed towards other areas of our national energy need.
“Furthermore, the minority caucus calls for immediate decisive steps towards providing required incentives to private organisations who have shown manifest interest in establishing refineries in our country, as a sure step to meet our national energy need.”