Yenagoa—Foremost Niger Delta environmentalist, Mr. Alagoa Morris, has advised against the use of ‘force’ to stop bush refineries in the Niger Delta.
Alagoa urged the Federal Government to rather redeem its promise of empowering the operators through the issuance of licenses and the establishment of modular refineries.
Vanguard reports that Morris, who is the Head, of Bayelsa Office of Environmental Rights Action/Friends of the Earth Nigeria (ERA/FoEN) stated this in an interview with the newspaper in Yenagoa, Bayelsa State.
He said: “Well, of course they are terming them to be criminals even though the Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo, while holding forth as the acting president, when the president was on a medical trip in the United Kingdom, acknowledged their significance, promising that the government was mulling the idea of grouping the illegal refiners into cooperatives group and issue them licenses to contribute meaningfully to the GDP of the country.
“So, I think one of the best ways is for the Federal Government that has arrogated to itself everything about oil and gas to come down from its high place, keep ego aside and organise stakeholders meeting in Abuja or in any Niger Delta state to take genuine steps with a view to ensuring lasting solution to the issue of bush refineries from a point of win/win.
“Using force did not stop militancy, so it will be difficult to apply the Odi method, where innocent community people were killed. These very persons (operators of the camps) will leave the sites well before security operatives even arrive at the sites.
“Accordingly, some of us have suggested small size modular refineries to be established whereby it would be joint business between the government and local refiners.
“Sadly, a huge amount of money is used to import refined products, the nation’s refineries are in a state of comatose and it is only logical to take advantage of the local technology and improve on it.
“Especially as these persons are amply motivated as stakeholders and not like the usual NNPC staff, who sees his place of work as government property. This has to be jointly owned.
“If the government is not comfortable with this, then the only option left for government is to completely stop the artisanal refiners and I doubt if the capacity and political will are sufficient to do that too.”
Alagoa who is also a human rights activist maintained that by legitimizing oil bunkering the federal government would have succeeded in making bush refineries a formal source of getting crude oil supply at local price instead of OPEC price.
He added that this as a consequence would reduce the rate of unemployment and violent crimes like Sea piracy and kidnapping in the Niger Delta region.