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Finally, Presidency approves 2 modular refineries in each 9 N’Delta states

Fresh relief is underway for the nine oil producing states as the Presidency on Thursday said each of the Niger Delta states would host two modular refineries under the Federal Government’s programme to discourage the rising trend of illegal refineries across the region.

However, the said approval was silent on source of funding and ownership.

It was not clear if the decision was in response to the latest position of South East-South South Governors’ Forum (SE-SSG Forum) who after their maiden meeting in Enugu averred that henceforth, any new refinery must be sited in oil producing community to cut the cost of laying pipes over long distance, which they said is enough to build another refinery.

Also, some analysts say the decision may have been to douse tension in the region considering the rising agitation for modular refineries over the years by locals

But the Senior Special Assistant to the Acting President on Media and Publicity, Mr. Laolu Akande, noted that the plan was part of update on the government’s new vision for the region in Abuja just as the Acting President, Yemi Osinbajo, was meeting members of the Edwin Clark-led Pan Niger Delta Forum at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.

Before now, several experts had been calling for legalization of illegal refineries by way of encouraging the trade with cheap technologies so as to keep youths out of trouble of militancy and reduce cases of unnecessary wastages of oil in the region.

According to the presidency, the groundbreaking ceremony for the first set of such refineries would hold in the fourth quarter of the year.

The media aid revealed further that “The Federal Government has started the process of replacing illegal refineries in the region with modular ones, including options on how to involve the communities as shareholders in the proposed modular refineries”.

“In its operations, the Federal Government will supply crude to the local refineries at a reasonably considered price, as an incentive to stop the current practice whereby illegal refiners vandalise and steal the crude. Each Niger Delta State is expected to host two modular refineries each.”

Another decision reached at the meeting with Niger Delta elders include the immediate commencement of opening of the Maritime University at Okerenkoko in Gbaramatu Kingdom, Delta State.

Besides, a five-man inter-agency committee headed by the Minister of Education, Adamu Adamu, was in the final stages for the official opening of the university in the 2017/2018 academic session.

Akande also disclosed that the government had released additional N35bn to step up the Amnesty Programme in the Niger Delta region, saying there was an increase reflected in the 2017 budget with N70bn allocation.

The statement averred that “The Amnesty Office has since paid up all ex-militants backlog of stipends up to April 2017. School fees for ex-militants studying abroad have been paid up to 80 per cent this July while school fees in Nigeria have been paid up to 90 per cent this July.

“Under the President Muhammadu Buhari administration, the Presidential Amnesty Programme has deployed 1,294 beneficiaries in different programmes in different universities across the world. 1,230 have graduated; 196 are maritime engineers, 59 pilots, and 120 automobile engineers,” Akande noted.