A group of artisanal refiners in the Niger Delta has demanded the establishment of Presidential Crude Oil Refining Development Initiative (PACORDI) as an equivalent of the Presidential Artisanal Gold Mining Development Initiative (PAGMDI) in the North.
The group argued that considering the similarity between artisanal gold mining in parts of the North/Southwest and artisanal crude oil refining in the Niger Delta, the demand for the establishment of a corresponding initiative for artisanal refiners in the region became imperative for environmental sustainability.
It made the call in Port Harcourt, Rivers State at a sensitisation programme on artisanal crude oil refiners in the state organised by the Youths and Environmental Advocacy Centre (YEAC).
They pointed out that failure to heed their request might aggravate insecurity, having realised that the Federal Government had recognised their gold mining counterparts in the North and Southwest through PAGMDI.
Speaking at the sensitisation programme, Executive Director of YEAC, Fyneface Dumnamene, stressed the need for the Federal Government to formalise and integrate artisanal crude oil refining activities in the south into the nation’s economy like what is obtainable with illegal gold miners.
Fyneface said PACORDI was necessary for the region because the environment is polluted by youths who involve in artisanal refining as their activities are contributing to environmental degradation, loss of revenue to government, loss of funds to oil multinationals, who spend so much to fix pipes vandalised by artisanal refiners to access crude for their illegal activities.
He argued that PACODRDI would not only benefit the Federal Government in realising revenue from taxes, royalties and licensing fees, but would also benefit the multinational oil companies that would sell crude to the artisanal refiners.
He said the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) would reserve foreign exchange as the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) and major oil marketers would no longer run to it for foreign exchange, because they would be buying petroleum products hitherto imported from the artisanal refiners in naira, the same way it is being done with the gold miners under PAGMDI.
A participant, Favour Udoma canvassed that the governors of Zamfara and Kebbi states and their Niger Delta counterparts should partner and support YAEC’s proposal to ensure the timely establishment of PACORDI for artisanal refiners in the Niger Delta.
Another participant, Basil Nkpordee, said if the Federal Government could inaugurate PAGMI for illegal miners in other parts of then country, it should also do the same for artisanal crude oil refining in the Niger Delta.
“What is good for the goose is also good for the gander. We are in one Nigeria. If actually we are in one Nigeria, the Federal Government should quickly establish PACORDI for the artisanal crude oil refiners,” he said, adding that failure to do so would contribute to insecurity in the region.