‘Nigeria, Niger refinery, train link favours North against South’

A South-west socio-political group, Yoruba Ronu Leadership Forum, has queried the rationale behind the train link contract to the Niger Republic.

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In a statement yesterday, the President of the group, Mr. Akin Malaolu, urged the Federal Government to explain its policy of promoting import-driven deregulation for Southern Nigeria, whilst at the same time encouraging the building of a private refinery in Mashi, Katsina State.

“There is a private sector-driven refinery billed to be completed in 2021 in Mashi, Katsina State, facilitated by the Niger Republic at a cost of $2 billion, which has a capacity for 150,000bpd. The Federal Government, in a bid to link the refinery to crude feedstock in Agadem, Niger Republic, announced the construction of Kano-Jigawa-Katsina-Jibia to Maradi rail line in the Niger Republic. Maradi is about 759 kilometres from Agadem.

“This rail line will serve the dual purpose of transporting the crude feedstock from Agadem oil fields to the Mashi refinery. At the same time, it will also distribute the refined petroleum products from the Mashi refinery to other parts of the North. A whopping sum of $1.96 billion is to be borrowed and spent on the railway. This will ensure a steady supply of petroleum products to the North at stable prices.

“In contrast, the southern part is being encouraged to embrace import-driven deregulation, which has the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) as the sole importer of petroleum products and will have to determine the price of the products for its marketers. When the price of crude falls at the international market, the rate of foreign exchange will be devalued and the price of petroleum products will rise. Likewise when the price of crude rises in the international market, it will be passed on to the consumers in the name of deregulation at higher prices,” the statement said.

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The forum also wondered why a government that has not been able to privatise the railways in six years and has not been able to repair the refineries in Warri, Port Harcourt, and Kaduna, is now in support of Mashi refinery taking off in 2021.

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