From Femi Folaranmi, Yenagoa
The Federal Government’s peace process in the Niger Delta received a boost recently as local operators involved in the refining of crude oil along the coastal communities of the Niger Delta region have commended the Acting President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, over the proposed liberalisation of modular refineries in the region.
The issue of modular refinery has been a major topic of discussions towards a sustainable peace in the region with local operators clamouring for licensing by the Federal Government.
The local operators in a commendation letter to Osinbajo, noted that the proposed liberalisation of modular refineries is commendable as it would encourage local participation, mass employment of youths and increased production of petroleum product for the nation. The local operators from the nine states of the region under the aegis of the Izon-Ibie Modular Refinery Association in a statement signed by Clever Uyabara and Okia Perez Chairman and Secretary respectively, however warned that the Federal Government should be cautious and not allow politicians hijack the policy.
According to the group the success of the proposed modular refinery is dependent on the transparency displayed to guard against politicisation.
While pointing out that “those of us in business at the local level are aware of the negative impact politicised policies and peace processes in the region, it maintained that “it will be easier to train local operators for the pilot scheme to allow those who are willing to work with government to showcase their skills.”
It commended the Buhari administration for the series of recent attempts to put in place a sustainable peace, development in the region to kick starting the local participation of youths and other stakeholders from the region.
The group explained that the recent visits and interaction between Prof. Osinbajo and stakeholders in Delta, Bayelsa and Rivers states has opened positive tidings to the people of the region, and in particular, the local refinery operators.
The letter read in part “The visits have also led to the unveiling of the 20-point agenda aimed at instituting permanent peace in the oil-producing region through proper local participation in ownership and production of crude oil. To us in the region, the declaration by Acting President, Yemi Osinbajo and the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Dr. Ibe Kachukwu, on the proposed coordination of the perceived‘illegal’refinery operators into owners of Modular Refineries in the States of Niger Delta, is commendable and welcomed. The words, made known in Bayelsa and the states visited, have led to the inauguration a $50 million modular refinery Ikwe-Onna Refinery with a 5000 B/D day capacity in Ikwe village of Onna Local government area of Akwa Ibom State. This is already sending the right signals to local participants such as our group.
“Our group, the Izon-Ibie Modular Refinery Association, is ready and set to key into the new era of proper, safe and environmental friendly proposition from the Federal Government. In our little way, we have contributed to the increased availability of refined products including AGO, DK,PMS and LPFO in the market. In spite of our limited knowledge of crude oil refining, we have absorbed hundreds of thousands of jobless youths including graduates and contributed to peace and security through gainful engagement.”