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RIVERS: $1.5bn refinery renovation fund can build 12 hospitals – Peterside

THE founder of Stanbic IBTC Bank Plc, Atedo Peterside, has faulted, for the umpteenth time, the Federal Government’s move to spend $1.5b on the renovation of the Port Harcourt refinery.

Peterside, who had earlier described the refinery as moribund, stressed that it is misplaced priority to spend such huge amount on the PH refinery when  the money could instead build 12 world class hospitals at $125m dollars each.

In a Twitter post on Thursday, he advised the government to instead sell the refinery to private sector investors that could rehabilitate it with their own funds, citing successful core investor sales like Eleme Petrochemicals sold to Indorama and Nafcon sold to Notore.

“The $1.5bn earmarked for PH refinery rehabilitation by NNPC could build 12 world class hospitals costing $125m each – two in each geopolitical zone. We could then allow private sector core investors to purchase the refinery and rehabilitate it with their own funds,” he said.

Peterside criticised the government for putting the refinery revamp project ahead of the country’s poor healthcare, especially after Covid-19  had exposed the weakness in the sector.

Earlier in an interview with AIT, he had  called the FG myopic for prioritising fossil fuels, which he said were going out of fashion, rather than things like compressed natural gas for cars or the country’s health sector.

“At a time when people are moving to compressed natural gas or thinking about electric cars, that’s when Nigeria is going to make a massive investment with borrowed funds in fossil fuels in a country that has no healthcare,” he said.

Peterside lamented what he described as an embarrassing healthcare situation in the country which forces  even the most senior officials in Abuja had to run to Lagos or go abroad to treat some healthcare challenges.

He said, “How can we be in a country where even our federal capital does not have quality healthcare. How do we put things like broken refinery ahead of healthcare that we don’t have. What lessons have we learnt from Covid?

“We are severely myopic in Nigeria because we are rushing to make investments in a sector that is fading out. Fossil fuels are going out of fashion so if Nigeria already had Dangote refinery, I thought its priority will be things like healthcare. I thought NNPC’s priority will be things like compressed natural gas for cars.”

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