Local operators query government’s sincerity on establishment of modular refineries
• Community gives firm 21-day ultimatum to address issue of neglect
Operators of illegal refineries in the Niger Delta region have queried the sincerity of the Federal Government in implementing its promise of establishing modular refineries in the region.The local refinery operators noted that the continuous destruction of their facilities might hamper the potential project.
However, an oil expert Chika Onuegbu, has advised the illegal refinery operators to remain calm and be patient with the Federal Government, adding that their activities were not just illegal but failed to comply with any environmental law.
He said that before the boys would be engaged, they would need to undergo training, stressing that the establishment of the modular refineries is not what should be done in a hurry, but a process that requires experts’ handling to ensure sustainability.
One of the youth leaders, Mr. Jolomi Kpokpobe, said the boys had resolved not to go back to the creeks for illegal refining, but stressed that the act of the military destroying their equipment brings to doubt the sincerity in the declaration of the Acting President.
Kpokpobe said: “To show that they are serious with what they are saying, they should call the military men to stop the destruction of this Kpo-fire refineries to help in building that confidence that we will now see in the statement that the Federal Government is ready to partner with us in building modular refineries.”
In another development, the traditional ruler of Gbaramatu Kingdom, HRM Oboro-Gbaraun II, Aketekpe Agadagba, at the weekend averted plan by aggrieved protesters from Kunukunuma Federated community in Warri South-West Local Council of Delta State to shut down the Odidi flow-station, one of the few functioning oil platforms operated by the Nigeria Petroleum Development Company (NPDC).
The community had planned to storm the NPDC platform at Odidi and shut it down over alleged neglect, but the monarch, who recently hosted Acting President Yemi Osinbajo in his palace, sent emissaries to the community, promising to resolve the impasse within a few days.
But rather than shut down the oil platform, the community instead issued a 21-day ultimatum to the NPDC, urging it to address the myriad of neglects or risk shutdown of the facilities after the expiration of the grace period.
According to their leaders, including Chief Clement Aruwei, Yokuare Ejoor, Captain Friday Denkeden and Pena Okrika, the community had been neglected to the level where their rights as host community had been totally lost. They said that all the benefits that used to accrue to the community in the past had all gone.
The chairman of the community, Chief Clement Aruwei, said: “Kunukunuma federated community was recognised by SPDC as one of the hosts and has been giving host-benefits in terms rights and privileges. The community enjoyed both post-primary and post-secondary school scholarship benefits from the SPDC over the years during the period the company was operating OML 42 on behalf of NNPC.”
The youths leader, Pena Okrika, who led the placard-carrying protesters, including women, men, youths and the aged, issued a 21-day ultimatum for the NPDC to right the wrongs and for the monarch, who asked them to sheath their swords, to intervene.