Former President Olusegun Obasanjo praised President Muhammadu Buhari for awarding refinery operational licences to 22 firms.
One of the 22 firms granted the refinery operational licenses has successfully set up a private refinery, Azikel Refinery, in Bayelsa.
He spoke at the groundbreaking ceremony of one of the licensees, Azikel Refinery in Bayelsa state over the weekend.
The former president said past administrations, including his, failed in this regard, adding that none of the 18 licenses earlier awarded by his administration was successful.
The former president described the Buhari administration’s effort in the establishment of modular refineries as “commendable”, while congratulating the owner of Azikel Petroleum, Eruani, for being the first to set up a modular refinery in the country.
He said that 18 operational licences were granted during his own administration but none was actualised.
Recall that Obasanjo had in a 13-page special statement released on January 23 asked Buhari not to seek reelection in 2019 on account of alleged non-performance.
There appears to be a twist of narrative as former President Olusegun Obasanjo at the weekend turned around and praised President Muhammad Buhari for achieving huge success in an area where previous administrations, including his, could not make headway
However, speaking at the ceremony, he said, “I have been told that President Buhari and his government gave 22 licences and that Azikel Petroleum is the only license out of the 22 that is really actualised.
“Before then, we gave 18 and not one was actialised. They gave all manner of excuses, including insecurity and oil prices. But those excuses they gave are still there. But they were not genuine entrepreneurs. They were after collecting licences to get crude oil. And that is why in an occasion like this, we should pay special tribute to people like Eruani.
“I join you all in thanking President Buhari for giving four licences more than we gave. And he (Buhari) is lucky that he has a man like Eruani to be the only one to actualise.”
He also commended the Bayelsa state government under Governor Seriake Dickson for creating the enabling environment for the take-off of the modular refinery project.
In his remarks, Governor Dickson said Azikel Refinery was very important to Bayelsa as the government had shown its commitment to creating the conducive atmosphere for private sector investment to thrive.
Earlier in his welcome address, Azibapu Eruani, the president of Azikel Group, thanked President Buhari for issuing the licence and expressed hope that the refinery project would mitigate the frequent scarcity of petroleum products and curb youth restiveness in Bayelsa and in the entire Niger Delta region.
Eruani disclosed that some youths who would work at the facility were currently undergoing fabrication engineering training in the United States, and noted that construction and production phases of the refinery project would provide about 1,000 jobs.