When I was told that Tinubu said refineries would work by December, I told the person the refineries would not work based on the information I received from Shell when I was president, Said the former President, Olusegun Obasanjo.
“They will not work as long as the government is keeping hold of them, When I was president, I invited Shell to a meeting. I told them I wanted to hand over the refineries for them to help us run. They bluntly told me they would not. I was shocked.
“I repeated the request and they stood their ground. When the meeting was over, I asked their big man (MD) to wait behind for a little chat. Then I asked him why they were so hesitant about not taking over the refineries.
“He said did I want to hear the truth? I said yes. He listed four reasons. One, he said Shell makes its money from upstream and that is where its interest lies. Two, he said they only do downstream or retail as a matter of service. Three, he said our refineries would be bad business for them, that globally, companies are going for bigger refineries because of the economics of refineries. Four, he said there is too much corruption in refineries.
“I thanked him for his honesty. I knew we had a big problem in our hands. I had virtually give up hope on the refineries when God did a miracle. Alike Dangote and Femi Otedola approached me and said they would be interested in buying two of the four refineries.
“They said they would buy 51 percent stake in Port Harcourt and Kaduna. I was over the moon. I said, finally, this burden would be taken off the neck of the government. They offered $761 million and paid in two instalments. Unfortunately, Umaru (President Yar’Adua) cancelled the sale and returned the refineries to NNPC. Today, we are still where we were.”