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EDITORIAL

Saving Nigeria from worsening illegal refineries plight

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REPORT quoting OPEC that Nigeria lost about $1.22 trillion to deficit quota production, from February to April, cannot be more embarrassing even in the country where insensitive leadership is statecraft. It’s so because taken from every objective viewpoint, under-producing the country’s quota while crude price rallies on daily basis is downright laziness or outright sabotage. And whichever explains it gnaws Nigeria’s economic health.

  THOUGH there are two subthemes, three factors connect to slap the report on Nigeria as a national shame. Not long ago, those calling the shots in the country’s energy sector bemoaned low OPEC quotas. It was so convenient for them to relapse into the excuse that successive administrations resorted to it like a Sword of Damocles. This is why reports that Nigeria was among countries that under produced their quotas qualify for indictment.

  OF COURSE, federal government’s spin doctors have  customised a straw to clutch in recent foggy weather on global energy climate since Russia invaded Ukraine. But this pales into one quick if untenable alibi if interfaced with government’s responsibility of girding its loins against emergencies. Yet, this is as far as the subtheme flies for, if the report is weighed against other socio-economic parameters, it deals even worse indictments, beyond what dismissive sound bites should whitewash.

 For instance, even if Russia-Ukraine war auguries, including logistical hitches in shipping crude to where it’s refined overseas for Nigeria, is stretched further, it will quickly snap on the question over why crude oil cannot be refined here.  This quickly connects Nigeria’s worsening plight of illegal refineries to the country’s loss of oil revenue due to underproduction.

  THE plight is graduating to pandemic because the country recorded three cases of fire outbreaks in just last two weeks with each case exacting egregious cost in human lives during which over 200 persons were consumed in conflagrations, from Ohaji-Egbema in Imo to Owaza in Abia State.

Now, one question races on. If it’s been impossible for Nigeria to establish refineries, how come it’s easy for criminals to illegally build refineries in forests? This puts lie to claims that colossal sums are required to establish refineries as it also debunks fears that refinery technology requires nuclear science. Why then will government not expedite action to set up refineries in Nigeria?

But there are worse fears from other upshots of this plight. Or how would anyone believe these illegal refineries dot forests and grooves not far away from security agencies and communities, thereby lending credibility not only to beliefs that they are not hidden but also bolsters opinion of people such as Gov. Nyesom Wike of Rivers State that those illegally refining oil operate in cahoots with security agents? Yet there is another fear that many more illegal refineries abound, each ready to detonate its own calamities. It also shows that even pipelines are not safe from these easy money scavengers.

This is where zero job creation takes its toll for, in every benchmark of decency, only young men with criminality in their DNAs will resort to hewing oil facilities to eke livelihood when opportunities of legitimate employment are available.

  ALTHOUGH we know the outcry risks degenerating to platitudes, but in governance as it’s in life, it is never late to begin anew. This is why National Light calls for thorough investigation of at least recent cases of illegal refinery fires and explosions with a view to getting to their roots and meting appreciate sanctions. We also call on government to start exploring ways of establishing modular refineries in oil bearing communities as stop-gap mechanism of dis-incentivising  this criminality called illegal refineries.

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