Former President Olusegun Obasanjo has said that the nation’s refineries, as they presently are cannot be made to function properly.
Obasanjo in the second part of an interview granted Channels television TV on Wednesday stated that two of the refineries were sold to Africa’s richest man Aliko Dangote by his administration, because the government could not make them work.
He lamented however, that his successor, the late President Umaru Yar’Adua reversed the sale under pressure.
Obasanjo, while explaining some of the contents in his three-volume autobiography, My Watch, spoke about his efforts to get people to invest in the oil sector and how the country eventually secured buyers for two of its four refineries.
He said, “Eventually Aliko Dangote led a group that paid $750m for the privatisation of two of the refineries – 51 per cent privatisation – and my successor (Yar’Adua) came (in), he turned it down. In fact, he paid back the money because they (investors) had paid the money.
“And I went to him; I said ‘look, do you know…? And he said well, he did it because of pressure. I said ‘pressure?’, so to you what matters is pressure, not what is in the best interest of Nigerians. I said, but you know it will not work. Then I said in 10 years, if you continue, you would have spent two times the amount that these people had paid and it still would not work. And that is what happened.
“Today those two refineries, you can never make them work. And if we are going to sell them, we would be lucky to get $250m out of them because they have become a huge scrap. Now, why shouldn’t I explain that (in my book)?”
The former President, who denied leaving out parts that painted him in a bad light in the book, said he cared less what critics said about him or his book.
Obasanjo said people were often quick to form opinions about him without taking time to know him, making reference to a lawyer, Mr. Tunji Braithwaite; and the Publicity Secretary of the Afenifere, Yinka Odumakin, who had written a rejoinder to his book. The rejoinder is titled, Watch the Watcher.
He said, “When I wrote a book, Braithwaite, it was My Command, he condemned my writing the book and they asked, have you read the book? He said ‘No. Once it is written by Obasanjo, it cannot be a good book. Now what do you say to that?
“People have invariably made up their minds (on) what they would do and what they would say. Why should that worry me? Why should I allow your own opinion, which you have formed, advertently or inadvertently, and wrongly to worry me?
“Your opinion which you have formed because you are being paid to write to castigate a book that you virtually didn’t read. So, why should I allow that to worry me?
“If I would read all the criticisms people write about me, most of which are not true, then I would not have time to do anything really useful and good for humanity. If I can be sent to jail wrongly, then anybody can do anything to me wrongly and I could jolly well have been killed wrongly.”
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