The Minister of State for Petroleum Resources and former Governor of Bayelsa State, Timipre Sylva, has said that the Federal Government’s decision to acquire 20 per cent equity stake in all private refineries is to guarantee energy security and stability in the country.
Sylva spoke while receiving an award from a group called “Corruption Reporter,” on Thursday in Abuja in recognition of his fight against corruption and the pursuit of transparency and accountability in the petroleum industry.
The Federal Government recently announced plans to acquire a minimum of 20 per cent equity stake in Dangote Refinery and other private refineries established in the country.
His words, “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.
“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,” he said
He further said that government should acquire even higher stakes than the proposed 20 per cent, as it was important to protect its 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.”
Sylva commended the youth for recognising him and conferring the award on him adding that the future of the country belongs to them.
Describing corruption as evil that must be exterminated by all means, Sylva restated President Muhammadu Buhari’s quote that corruption would kill the country if we do not kill corruption.
He named layers of corruption in the country to include inflated project cost that makes projects unaffordable, resulting in projects being stalled.
This, he said had made the country littered with several abandoned projects.
According to him, “In the corruption chain, there are three levels the evil manifest – at the level the government is earning funds; at the level the funds are being managed in the award of contracts, and at the level of expenditure of the funds,’’ he said.
He added that prior to the coming of the present administration; 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.”
He urged all Nigerians to see the fight against corruption as a collective responsibility, by reporting all corruption cases to the government for action.
“We cannot afford to sit back and be trading blame. We must join hands to fight the menace of corruption. Together we can exterminate this evil, to allow the country progress and move forward,” he said.
In his speech earlier, the leader of the group and member, Board of trustee, Adaora Onyechere, noted the role played by the minister in helping the country navigate the challenges of unstable crude oil price in the international market.
Onyechere added that the role of the minister during the global crisis in the wake of the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, lifting poor state of the country’s refineries, the problems of community hostilities in the Niger Delta and the quest for energy transition from fossil fuel to gas-renewable energy cannot be over emphasised.
“ His other achievements include the recent final investment decision by partners in the Nigeria LNG Train 7 project; the commencement of the Ajaokuta-Kaduna-Kano gas pipeline project and the discovery of over 206 trillion cubic feet of gas reserves in the country,’’ she said, adding that these achievements spurred the group to recognise the minister with an award.