The Ijaw Youths Council, IYC, has appealed to the Federal Government to allow local refineries to operate in the Niger Delta region.
The Chairman of the council, Udengs Eradiri, made the appeal in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria in Yenagoa on Sunday.
Mr. Eradiri also urged government to harness the potential of the operators of the local refineries and help in perfecting them to ensure production of high quality petroleum products.
He said formalising the operations of the local refineries would help curb the frequent scarcity of petroleum products in the country and create jobs in the region.
According to him, if legalised, the local refineries will also curtail oil theft and make petroleum products available.
“Licensing modular refineries will reduce the pressure on the naira as the foreign exchange spent on importing the products will be conserved.
Mr. Eradiri commended the Minister of Solid Mineral, Kayode Fayemi, for encouraging illegal miners to form cooperatives for the formalisation of their activities.
He said that such an arrangement should be extended to the operators of illegal refineries in Niger Delta who had exhibited ingenuity in refining the products in makeshift refineries.
The IYC chairman, however, said that the illegal refineries had adversely impacted on the environment of the Niger Delta region, but said that legalisation of their operations would prevent this.
“We welcome the idea being mooted by the minister of solid minerals, and urged the Federal Government to also extend such gestures to the people involved in illegal refining.
“If the skills of these people are further developed, they will be adding to the local refining capacity of the country.
“All that is required is for government to train them, licence them and set the standard for the operation and thousands of jobs will be created.
“We are supporting the idea and shall shortly commence the collation of data on the operators of these ‘bush refineries.’ We will bring them together for government to work with them.
“It is going to block the crude oil leakages and the NNPC will get revenue from the supply of crude to the proposed modular refineries.
“The required environmental standards should be introduced to make their operations safe,” Mr. Eradiri said.
He also urged the Federal Government to sustain the amnesty programme, which he said, had guaranteed peace for optimal oil output in the past four years.
“Sustenance of the programme is better than deployment of more troops to the Niger Delta.
“The deployment of troops heightens anxiety and creates disequilibrium in the psyche of the people. The soldiers’ presence leads to conflict with the people and increased violence and crime.
“We recommend that rather than spend funds on deployment of more troops, the amnesty programme which has proved a huge success should be sustained.”