As the Dangote Group officially opens its refinery today, the ruling class has rolled out drums to celebrate. Many working-class people also hope that this will put an end to the on-and-off regime of fuel scarcity.
Some ruling class members believe refining oil in Nigeria will end the subsidy regime and bring prosperity. But this claim is at best a half-truth. It is clear enough that despite local production, the ruling class will still ensure that fuel price will eventually be sold at so-called internationally competitive prices. A clear insight into this is the perennial argument raised that cheap fuel in Nigeria drives smuggling to neighbouring African countries. So, petroleum products will not be sold at prices that will be “cheap” enough for the poor people in Nigeria to afford.
It is also important that we ask the question; why is it that the refineries owned by the government have not been able to meet up with production for domestic consumption despite the huge amounts spent on their turnaround maintenance and other forms of upkeep?
The federal government has spent N4.15 trillion since 2015 on refineries repairs of the three refineries that have a combined 445,000bpsd capacity. Port Harcourt refinery complex (old and new site) has 210,000bpsd, Warri has 125,000bpsd and Kaduna has 110,000bpsd capacity, to no avail. But it is now committed to helping private refining thrice!
Meanwhile, the same federal government has pumped billions of naira into supporting the coming on stream of the Dangote refineries. Privatisation of state-owned enterprises is the favoured policy of the ruling class because it enables the accumulation of private wealth for the corporate sector of moneybags. In the oil sector, this means putting the oil resources of Nigeria in the hands of a few billionaires who only care about making billions. That is the motive force for the Dangote refinery which many of the richest people in Nigeria will benefit from, but not the poor masses.
by Osatohamhen EBHOHON