Emmanuel Addeh in Yenagoa
The Ijaw Youth Council (IYC) Worldwide, yesterday lamented what it described as the ‘heart-breaking loss’ of $ 54.6 billion, about N19 trillion, to the importation of petroleum products.
The Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), had recently in one of its publications said that the federal government spent about $54.6 billion bringing in refined petroleum products into the country.
IYC maintained that if the federal government’s promise of setting up modular refineries had been expedited, it would have helped to retain the money in the Niger Delta and create jobs for millions of young people.
Secretary General of the IYC, Mr. Alfred Kemepado, while speaking to newsmen in Yenagoa, Bayelsa State, said that Ijaw youths were sad that “such a whopping sum can be pumped out of the veins of the Niger Delta, yet the region has nothing to show for it.”
“The insincerity of the federal government in not setting up the modular refineries is the root cause of the continuous agitations and restiveness of the region.
“The enlightenment programmes against bunkering activities and pipeline vandalism as promoted by some organisations is helping to mitigate these activities massively, but more still needs to be done.
“The federal government should work hard on delivering on her trailer loads of broken promises and pay more attention to the small developmental details of the region.
“If the government had set up these refineries as promised, it would have helped to refine the oil Nigeria is currently exporting, only to be imported back with huge sums.
“This would have retained these huge amounts of monies in the country and also create job opportunities, which would have in turn engaged the youths and kept them busy working on their jobs and not resort to bunkering activities,” the IYC argued.
Kemepado maintained that the request to facilitate the establishment of modular refineries was not different from the issuance of gold mining licences in the northern part of the country.
“ IYC is urging the Federal Government to review and implement the assertions made by the then acting President, Prof. Yemi Osibanjo concerning the setting up of modular refineries, and not the mere collaborations with multinationals to seek the easy way out, by just awarding surveillance contracts.
“Instead, oil blocks and fields should be awarded to sons of the soil and the pipelines protection jobs given to host communities and impacted communities as this approach would only engender communal ownership of these facilities and would bring an end to the crises”.
IYC maintained that if its recommendations had been implemented, the issues of unemployment, pipeline vandalism, kidnapping, and other forms of unrest in the region would have been a thing of the past.
“Let us remind the Federal Government and Multinationals that the Niger Deltans, particularly the Ijaws are now wiser and are now set to work out their own salvation and also take that long walk to freedom if this oppression continues” he noted.