Sources close to the presidency have disclosed that the decision to deny the planned privatisation was linked to the 2015 elections.
According to the sources, with the opposition mounted by the oil workers, any attempt to proceed with the exercise would spell doom to the chances of the president in the 2015 elections.
One of the sources, who preferred anonymity, told Thisday that it was a smart move for the president to pull back in view of the threat by the oil workers.
“The bottom line is that it is getting to the election year and the president has gone too many strikes and crisis and he will be shooting himself in the foot to generate another crisis. Diezani (Alison-Madueke) is not going to run for elections. So, she can go about making any pronouncement but the president, who will run for elections, is the one that will be affected.
“It is not a smart politics for Jonathan to sell the refineries now. Obasanjo decided to sell the refineries when he was about to hand over to Yar’Adua. If Jonathan sells the refineries now, it will cause too much damage to his re-election bid. If oil workers go on strike in an election year, it will cause scarcity of fuel and too much hardship. And instead of Nigerians to praise him for selling the moribund refineries, they will be angry with him because of the hardship his decision has caused,” he said.
According to him, the best time to sell the refineries would be during President Jonathan’s second tenure, adding that he will also remove subsidy during the period.
“When he gets to his second tenure, he will remove subsidy and sell the refineries. If he fails to do that, Dangote will help Nigerians to sort out the problem because with his new refineries, the NNPC refineries would be of no use,” he added.
Minister of Petroleum, Mrs. Diezani Alison-Madueke, was first to announce the planned sale as she appeared on Bloomberg Tv in London. The Director General, BPE, Benjamin Dikki also in December last year, disclosed in a statement signed by the agency’s spokesman, Mr. Chigbo Anichebe that President Goodluck Jonathan had finally directed the privatisation agency to commence the process of the privatisation of the nation’s four refineries. A steering committee was also alleged to have been constituted “on the privatization process of the refineries that would involve all relevant stakeholder, ministries and agencies.”
The BPE in the statement said: “The directive we have is to conduct the privatization process transparently, complying with due process and international best practice. We are expected to improve on the high standards set in the power sector transaction, which has received accolades all over the world as being very transparent.”