By Omuboye Sukubo
Mr Ojukaye Flag-Amachree, an All Progressives Congress (APC) chieftain in Rivers, says the establishment of modular refineries in the Niger Delta will reduce insecurity, illegal bunkering and environmental challenges in the region.
Flag-Amachree in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Port Harcourt said that there was the need for stategovernments to critically consider it.
He said that insecurity and environmental degradation in Rivers, especially the riverine areas would not end unless conscious and deliberate steps were taken.
“The truth is that, until criminality and piracy issues in the riverine areas are eliminated, development will continue to elude us, and the state will not have peace because of insecurity.
“Look, the insecurity in the riverine areas started with post-1999 Democracy, I recall that the whole issue started from youths’ agitation, resource control and snowballed into what it is today.
“When it metamorphosed into armed struggle, kidnapping and illegal oil bunkering, that was when we started having criminality and piracy within our doorstep,’’ he said.
According to Flag-Amachree, the insecurity in the riverine areas sometimes also spill over to the upland area of the state.
“So until you solve it, you can’t guarantee security in the state, and the only way to solve the problem is not by using force.
“But to know what the real problems are, government needs to see it from the point of neglect of the region and environmental degradation.
“If you look at the pollution from oil activities in the creeks, you will understand that beyond insecurity, the aquatic environment is threatened and the air is polluted that is why we inhale soot,’’ he added.
The immediate past chairman of APC in Rivers said that to resolve these compound issues, there was need for a conscious policy on Modula Refinery to engage the youth involved in oil bunkering.
He said the youth addressed as criminals should be engaged to become entrepreneurs with the establishment of modular refineries, and also save the environment.
“The people we call oil bunkering criminals are a class of people that were denied basic social amenities by government in spite of the many years of oil exploration at their backyard.
“I don’t even want to say they are stealing the oil from Federal Government because the oil actually belongs to the Niger Delta people.
“I’ll say they are picking the oil from the Federal Government and refining it locally to earn money for living and take care of their families,’’ he said.
Flag-Amachree urged the government to create a legitimate and legal process for the youth to buy the oil from the government and refine it to solve their problems.
“With the Federal Government Modular Refinery Policy, state governments have to step in, form corporate bodies, get international partners, and secure license to operate a modular refinery.
“With this, the problem of unemployment will be solved, pollution of the environment and insecurity will be fixed.
“Until this is done, there is no immediate thing that could resolve the insecurity challenges in the state, and if we fail to do this, we will be joking,’’ he said. (NAN