Multimillionaire economist Atedo Peterside has advised the Nigerian government to invest the $1.5 billion proposed for rehabilitating the Port Harcourt Refinery into building world-class medical infrastructure.
Instead of pumping the funds into old refineries, he said Nigeria should “allow private sector investors to purchase the refinery and rehabilitate it with their own funds,” The Guardian reported.
According to the investment banker, the $1.5 billion allocated for rehabilitation could build 12 world-class hospitals. He explained that at $125 million two top-notch hospitals could be constructed in each of the country’s six geopolitical zones.
Peterside is the founder of Stanbic IBTC Bank Plc, Anap Business Jets Limited and the Atedo N. A. Peterside Foundation. As of February 2020, his estimated net worth was $120 million, according to Nigerian Infopedia.
The advice comes after President Muhammadu Buhari’s trip to London for a “routine” medical check-up two days before the country’s doctors went on a national strike over unpaid salaries.
Doctors are demanding the payment of salaries and allowances owed for more than five years and a 50-percent upward review of hazard allowances and COVID-19 care incentives. The Guardian also reported that the president and other Nigerians spend more than N576 billion yearly on medical tourism.
On March 17, the Buhari-led Federal Executive Council approved $1.5 billion to rehabilitate the Port Harcourt Refinery, which is the country’s largest refining company. This came after Timipre Sylva, the country’s minister of state for petroleum resources, presented a memo for the repairs. The refinery’s rehabilitation was awarded to the Italian company, Tecnimont SPA. Execution will take place in three phases over 18, 24 and 44 months.
To raise the funds, Timipre Sylva stated that about $800 million would come from appropriation, $200 million from the foreign operations of the Nigerian National Petroleum Commission, and the rest from the African Export-Import Bank, Nairametrics reported. However, Sylva said the project will not significantly add to the country’s debt burden.