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Don’t sell off public assets, Expert urges Buhari

Benjamin Omoike, Lagos

As President Muhamadu Buhari takes oath of office for a second term next month, the Executive Director of Pecmee Omotola International limited, Engineer David Opatola, has urged the president to resist recommendations for sales of public assets to those he termed as economic predators.

Opatola, who stated this while speaking with newsmen in Lagos, urged the president not to hesitate to formulate policies that will quicken the struggle to banish poverty and stabilise the political economy of the country.

He urged the Federal Government to hasten arrangements for the establishment of modular refineries in at least 10 locations in Nigeria in addition to existing ones.

Opatola, who is one of the few Nigerians sponsored by the Commonwealth in machine design and manufacturing, said he had submitted a document to President Muhammadu Buhari, tagged: “Springboard of Economic Development Towards Industrial master Plan for Nigeria’s Active and Meaningful Industrialisation”, to set the agenda for the government.

While frowning at the habit of selling the country’s sensitive assets to people and or organisations whose knowledge in such field is unknown and to those who lack the capacity to run such, Engineer David Opatola suggested that every State asset should henceforth, be made public through the stock exchange.

He said: “The entrenched trend of allowing individuals whose financial background cannot be known to buy our assets has done a lot of damage to the economy of the country and has denied her the chances and opportunity to generate employment and create wealth for the country.

‘’Nigeria, with a population of about 200 million and still dependent on oil which today remains fragile in the international market, there is an urgent need for the president to put in place structures that can springboard the country’s economic development towards an industrial master plan, so as to make the citizens enjoy good life, get employed, banish poverty and grow the country’s GDP.

“The president should challenge every tier of government to put things in order for the survival and stability of Nigeria, now that a new political dispensation for another four years will soon start.

I have a strong belief that if we springboard the economic development towards industrial master plan, active and meaningful industrialisation is around the corner,” he stated, adding that Nigeria needs to plan to have an estimate of five million barrels of crude oil per day for both local consumption and export.

According to him, since none of those that got the licenses for the construction of Modula Refineries have demonstrated their willingness to hit the ground, the Federal Government may need to get involved in providing initial backing to ensure the Modular Refineries are actualised.

He averred that the huge sum being spent and wasted on subsidy every time will be eliminated once the modular refineries are on board, saying the issue of bunkering will also be stopped once these structures are laid properly.

Opatola further advised the president to approach countries that have vast experience in modular refinery technology for their constructions which he said should not take more than 18 to 24 months to complete.

“As practiced in the advanced nations, the countries or firms so contracted for the constructions of the modular refineries must provide technical assistance for at least five years as part of the contract, supply at least two years spare parts, materials with preventive maintenance, must provide mini-repair shops and should also be built on solid ground that requires little or no sand filling to avoid delay in construction.

“Another major raw material that needs urgent development in larger scale which can generate employment opportunities in Nigeria is cassava chips and ethanol, which have large potential export to China, especially if well planned,” he said.

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