The $10 million (USD) Edo Modular Refinery is mired in heated controversy over its ownership status. Upbeat about the realization of the project, the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP-controlled Edo State government is flaunting it as one of its legacy projects to gain political mileage ahead of the September 19, 2020 governorship election in the state. But the major opposition party in the state, the All Progressives Congress, APC, insisted that the modular refinery was facilitated by the Federal Government, and privately owned with little contribution by the state government.
A Federal Government delegation had Thursday last week during an inspection visit to the 6,000 barrels per day refinery in Ologbo, Ikpoba-Okha local government area of the state, disclosed that it had achieved 95 per cent completion in terms of mechanical works, noting that on completion, it would attract more investments in modular refineries in Nigeria, generate employment, and reduce youth restiveness in the Niger Delta.
Senior Special Assistant to the President on Niger Delta Affairs, Edobor Iyamu, who spoke during the visit, commended the state government for ensuring that the modular refinery came on stream. He said the establishment of the refinery in the state is in line with the new vision for the Niger Delta, ensuring that the people benefitted maximally from the wealth in the region.
Iyamu said the project was aimed at promoting the establishment of modular refinery projects in the area to attract investment into the oil and gas sector.
Chairman, Edo Refinery and Petrochemical Company, Michael Osime, who was represented by the company’s Global Advisor, Frans Ojielu, said the company was being supported by Edo State Government with a N700 million project support fund. Osime recalled how “In 2016, the Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osibanjo embarked on tour of the region where he met with key stakeholders to deliberate on issues on improving the social-economic well-being of the people of Niger Delta region, which is in line with the six-point agenda of Mr. President,” stating that “This is one of the products of that tour”.
Since that visit, both the state government and the PDP had been in a frenzy, celebrating what they considered an industrialisation “feat”. State publicity secretary of the PDP, Chris Nehikhare, who spoke to some journalists in Benin City on behalf of the PDP Campaign Council, said: “Apart from reducing the pressure on the demand for foreign exchange to buy finished products from overseas, the Edo Modular Refinery will create employment opportunities for the citizens of the state.”
According to Nehikhare, “The Modular Refinery, which is the outcome of a Memorandum of Understanding between the Governor Godwin Obaseki-led administration and a Chinese consortium, is 70 percent completed”. Counting the gains of the modular refinery, the PDP publicity scribe said “When completed, it would produce from its feedstock, 50 percent of diesel (500,000 litres), 25 percent of naphtha (300,000 litres), and 20 percent of fuel oil (200,000 litres). The crude will be sourced from the Nigerian Petroleum Development Company (NPDC)’s facility – oil mining lease (OML) 111, near Benin City”.
But the APC at a media briefing on Sunday condemned what it described as the governor’s “irresponsible and mischievous” latching on to the project to enjoy undeserved plaudits and challenged him to publicize the contribution of his government to the success of the project. John Mayaki, the Chairman of the Edo APC Media Campaign Council, posited that the modular refinery is a Federal Government-backed privately-funded project undertaken by the AIPCC Energy Limited in a joint venture between AFCOM and Peiyang Chemical Equipment Company of China. He also challenged Obaseki to name at least five projects that had emanated from the MOUs he “nomadically” signed in four years.