The Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Timipre Sylva, has clarified that the Federal Government’s decision to acquire 20 per cent equity stake in all private refineries was to guarantee energy security and stability in the country.
He explained acquiring stakes in Dangote Refinery and other private refineries was a strategic decision by the government to get involved in the running of the important assets and not allow them completely in the hands of private individuals
The Minister noted that it was important for the government to have stakes in the private refineries to protect the citizens’ interest and ensure national stability at all times, adding that leaving it to private owners may spell doom in the nearest future.
According to him, 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.
“Particularly in the absence of strategic security reserves to deploy if the private individual decided, maybe for political reasons, not to supply fuel,” Sylva disclosed this when he received an award from a group called “Corruption Reporter,” on Thursday in Abuja.
He further said that government should acquire even higher stakes than the proposed 20 percent, 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 said.
Describing corruption as an 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.
“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; 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,” he said
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.