Timipre Sylva, minister of state for petroleum resources, says the federal government’s decision to acquire equity in private refineries is to prevent fuel scarcity.
He said this on Thursday in Abuja while receiving an award from a group called “Corruption Reporter.”
The group said the award was conferred on him for his achievements in fighting corruption and the pursuit of transparency and accountability in the petroleum industry.
On Tuesday, Mele Kyari, group managing director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), confirmed that the federal government would acquire a 20 percent equity stake in the Dangote Refinery.
The corporation said to be discussing with African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank) for a loan to acquire the stake.
The NNPC had announced plans to seek equity participation in at least six private refinery projects.
Sylva described the federal government’s intention as “strategic”, noting that private refineries controlled by the opposition may decide to cause fuel scarcity and trigger crises across the country.
“Acquiring stakes in Dangote Refinery and other private refineries was a strategic decision by the government to get involved in the running of these important assets and not allow them completely in the hands of private individuals,” he said.
“Particularly in the absence of strategic security reserves to deploy if the private individual decided, maybe for political reasons, not to supply fuel.
“If the refinery is left in the hands of individuals who support the opposition, they can cause fuel scarcity and trigger a nationwide crisis that can destabilise the country.
“Government should have stakes in the private refineries to protect the citizens’ interest and ensure national stability at all times.”
Sylva proposed that the government should acquire even higher stakes than the proposed 20 percent to protect people and ensure stability.
“Today, petroleum products have to do with energy security and national stability. If there is fuel crisis, it can result in national instability in the society,” he added.
Describing corruption as an evil that must be exterminated, Sylva lamented that the inflated cost resulted in several abandoned projects.
He said that before the coming of the present administration, the government had over 90 accounts opened for the deposit of revenues.
“This administration has been able to control corruption at that level with the introduction of Treasury Single Account (TSA), where all payment of government revenues by ministries, departments and agencies are paid into just one account.
“Today, no more can government monies be swallowed by any snake. Today, if money is earned, it is paid directly into government accounts through the TSA.
“Those entrusted with the management of the monies, like permanent secretaries of ministries and other civil servants who award contracts, cannot have access to those monies as was the case in the past.”
Sylva urged all Nigerians to see the fight against corruption as a collective responsibility by reporting all corruption cases to the government to investigate.