The Federal Government has approved the sum of N22 billion for the construction of a conference hostel facility for the Nigeria Content Development and Monitoring Board.
The facility is to be located opposite the National Content building in Yenegoa, capital of Bayelsa State, Southern Nigeria.
The project was awarded to Megastar technical construction company with a construction timeframe of 24 months.
Minister of State Petroleum Resources, Timipre Sylva disclosed this to State House Correspondents at the end of Wednesday’s meeting of the Federal Executive Council presided over by President Muhammadu Buhari.
He said: “The Federal Executive Council today approved the award of contract procurement for the provision of a conference hostel facility in Yenegoa, adjacent the Nigerian Content Towers for the sum of N22 billion and it is to be constructed in 24 months.”
Sylva also gave an explanation on what is responsible for the current queues witnessed at petrol stations in Abuja, the nation’s capital.
The Minister blamed the scarcity of the product on the selfish attitude of marketers of petroleum products.
He said the Federal Government, through the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) Limited, has ensured adequate supplies of fuel products but marketing outlets bent on shortchanging the populace by hiking the price are largely responsible for the crisis.
He said: “Of course, I was expecting that question. Frankly, it is not a supply issue, as you can also confirm. So it’s not from us. But you know When you have an arbitrary opportunity, people will tend to take advantage of it. These are some of the fallouts of the subsidy regime.
“If you look at it, there are no queues when you leave Abuja, in most places, only in the Abuja metropolis you continue to have these queues.
“Is it that there is less supply to Abuja than to the rest of the country? It is not so. It is because if you go out of Abuja, they can afford to probably sell at higher prices. And I’m sure a lot of you must be buying at higher prices, within Abuja, because of the watchful eyes of the federal government, they cannot sell at those prices.
“So it’s not a very attractive market for them. I think these are all the things that we might have to be dealing with for a while until we’re able to fully deregulate.
“But that actually is the problem, it is not a supply problem from us, but it is the marketers. But we are engaging the marketers and will continue to engage them. In fact, before now the Nigerian Association of Road Transport Owners (NARTO) said, Oh, because diesel prices were now going up and of course, you know that diesel is deregulated already.
“So, because diesel prices have gone up, the cost of their moving product has also gone up and therefore, we must try to do something about the bridging cost. We did that with them, we were able to respond to that and they were able to do something for NARTO. And of course, the rest of the marketers are also saying oh no, we must try to add a few things for them here and there.
“Of course, the rest of the marketers are also saying oh no, we must try to add a few things for them here and there. But we can’t continue as a government to increase the subsidy we cannot continue to do that. Because of that, they are now saying Okay, in this Abuja metropolis where they feel it is right at the centre, they are not probably supplying the product as they are supplying to other places. But you will agree with me that there are no queues outside Abuja.
“I don’t know whether there are queues in some places in Lagos, but the queues are reported mostly in Abuja, and in some parts of Lagos not every part of Lagos, wherever they think they can sell at higher prices. There are no queues.
“But wherever they cannot sell at prices higher than the recommended price there are queues. that is the situation we find ourselves for now.
“We are still dealing with that, we are engaging them. And of course, I’m sure even that is going to be taken care of, but it is not a supply problem from the government”
On the issue of refineries, Sylva assured Nigerians that the ongoing rehabilitation of the national assets would be completed on schedule.
He said: “The rehabilitation of the Port Harcourt refinery is on course. We promised that by the end of this year, the old refinery will be fully operational. That’s what we promised and that is fully on course, I still stand on that. And of course, also Dangote refinery is expected to be on stream by January next year. So, these issues will gradually be resolved and we will get to the point where Nigeria will be fully supplied from in-country refined products.”
Sylva also paid glowing tributes to the late Secretary General of OPEC, Mohammed Barkindo, who died on Tuesday.
He said the late Scribe of OPEC would be remembered for helping to stabilise the oil and gas industry.
“This is quite a sad one. Alhaji Barkindo was a dear friend and really served this country, both in Nigeria and internationally. meritoriously. Yesterday, Mr. President received him in audience and directed that we give him a very benefiting welcome home. Unfortunately, and of course, yesterday he was also at the Nigerian oil and gas conference, I was with him there, and he made a very brilliant speech as was characteristic of him. To hear that by this morning, he was already gone. It’s very sad news for all of us.
“Barkindo has contributed a lot. He was GMD of NNPC, as you know, and he helped to stabilize the oil industry. He is a very, very towering figure in the oil industry. And from there, he proceeded to become the Secretary-General and represented Nigeria very effectively, and served meritoriously for the full two terms, and was coming home, of course, and was here to be received, and we were really trying to roll out the drums for him according to Mr. President’s directive, and unfortunately, this sad event happened last night.
“My heart goes to his family and to all of us and to Nigerians for this very great loss”