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Those Illegal Refineries in Imo/Rivers States & Consequences of Illegality

By Fred Chukwuelobe
Over 150 lives lost. Properties destroyed. People’s livelihood shattered. Yet, the nation is not mourning. The people are tired of mourning. Lives have become so cheap. Nobody cares anymore. What we care about now is who becomes which in 2023.
President. Governor. Senator. Representative. Minister. House member. Name them. That’s our preoccupation.
People knew the illegal refinery existed there.
They didn’t care about the potential tragedy and this tragedy.
They didn’t see it coming because they were blinded by quest to cheat the system than the consequences of cheating. They have been cheating and getting away with it. They have been making easy money, money that brings them respect as the society worships it and respects the rich.
Petroleum products are both flammable and inflammable. It moves and spreads with the air. Once fire is ignited by the smallest of spikes, it burns fast. People don’t know this, don’t care or don’t bother.
Similar fire incidents had consumed lives elsewhere due to same carelessness and quest to cheat the system rather than help the system. People scooping fuel from fallen petroleum tankers had been consumed in the past and nothing happened.
In civilised world, citizens will report this to the authorities to forestall this calamity. The authorities will take action to set examples.
In ours we’d rather kill ourselves because we want to cheat a system that cheats us.
Now, see the consequences.
And who are the victims? The angry people who decided to cheat because they’re being cheated.
When will we learn? When?
If they like let them declare the owner of the illegal refinery wanted up to the UN. Nothing will happen. Na today?
Even if he is arrested, tried and jailed, would that bring back these lives? Will that close many of such illegal refineries still existing elsewhere? Will that stop people from scooping fuel from fallen tankers? Will it stop our penchant for easy money? Third world countries?
It will take us many more lives, many more destructions and many more years to get civilised and frown at such illegality.
For now, it is money at all costs. Everybody wants to cheat the system because they believe the system does not care about them.
And the government? What has it done? What will it do? Nothing other than mere rhetoric, visits to the gory site. Then long, superfluous grammar. And life goes on.
Watch out for a two-week outrage. That’s all.
May the souls of the dead rest in peace. May the living learn from this monumental tragedy and learn to walk away from such illegality.
Life is worth more than easy money. Live it well.

*Chukwuelobe, a veteran media executive, wrote in from Lagos

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