Opinion / Editorial

The Scam called Turn Around maintenance (TAM) and How it Began


Nigerian Refineries have been for decades the source of slush funds for government and NNPC officials. The rot began under IBB; while TAM was supposed to be carried out every two years, under Babangida’s regime Nigeria never carried out TAM on any of the refineries for about six years. Instead, the evil genius gradually presided over the decline of Nigeria’s refining output efficiency from 90% to 60% average.

Enter Sani the Klept

Hence when in 1994, General Sani Abacha sought to do the same, the rot they met gave him the ideas for the scam of the decade with a massive TAM program (done by Primlaks) that gulped almost $300 million up to 1999 and went no where. Part of the money ended up in various foreign accounts some of which are being repatriated today, even as NNPC officials led by one Dr. Owolaku was found culpable in mismanaging the contract — probably a scape goat- in which equipment costing hundred dollars were sold to NNPC for millions and then left to rot. The refinery operation capacity tumbled from 60% to 30% after the 1996 TAM.

This was the sorry state of Nigeria’s refinery industry until 1999, when Chief Olusegun Obasanjo took over and decided to kick off an importation mania (import receipt tripled overnight when he became president) while handing over Nigeria’s refining future to Chrome oil — the company owned by Emeka Offor and major financier of PDP who have deployed to site since 1999 and fixed nothing while over $800 million (264 billion naira) was paid for repair work that never happened despite lofty promises.

OBJoke Rules

According to Daily Trust, “The $1.746bn TAM investments were different from the sum of $308 million reportedly spent for the same purpose by the military governments of late General Sani Abacha ($216 million) and General Abdusalami Abubakar (rtd) $92 million.

One report quoted a GMD of NNPC Funsho Kupolokun saying more than $1bn was committed to refineries repairs between 1999 and 2007.”

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The situation was so bad at the end of Obasanjo’s tenure that he finally decided to sell to a consortium — Blue Circle- led by Dangote and Otedola. This was quickly rushed out of the door, and the deal was cancelled thereafter by President Yaradua who now carries the cross for the continued plundering that resumed shortly after he died in office and was succeeded by his Vice President- Goodluck Jonathan.

Jon the Plunderer

In 2013 when their incompetence was becoming too obvious to ignore (Emeka Offor promised miracles in 2007, 2009 and 2012- just Google it), the government contacted the original equipment manufacturer (OEM) and original refinery builder (ORB) of PH refinery (Nigeria’s largest), Japan Gas Company (JGC) who declined but instead gave the design materials to Tecnimont of Italy- that designed Warri Refinery, who then carried out a study and stated that “the original TAM proposal for Port Harcourt was initially submitted to NNPC in 2013 at a cost of $297 million by Tecnimont but some of its (NNPC) officials opted to inflate the cost to almost $600 million” — all these even while declining to pay Tecnimont the $2.5 million owed it for the study

The Jonathan government made no pretense that it favored subsidy scam over refining but it nevertheless continued subsidizing the lifestyle of Emeka Offor while Nigeria imported. The refining output capacity declined from 30% to 0%. Yes, zilch!

Even after the study under President Jonathan, Tecnimont have since contacted NNPC that it is willing to work with several financial partners to revive the PH refinery in 6 months provided it is given the free hand and allowed to develop a Commerical model to recoup the sum invested by its consortium in such venture. The response to date from the powers that be has been Silence. The latest news however is that the Feds are seeking $1.8bn to fix our moribund refineries ; is the scam about to get a new lease of life?


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