Paul Osuyi, Asaba

Immediate past governor of Delta State and All Progressive Congress (APC) senatorial candidate for Delta South in 2019, Dr. Emmanuel Uduaghan has, again, echoed the need to encourage youths engaged in illegal refining of petroleum products by giving them official recognition through licensing.

He said illegal refineries in the Niger Delta region was a sign of technological ingenuity of the operators which should be encouraged by building their capacity in line modern technology, noting that this will reduce criminality and provide employment opportunities.

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The former governor who made his submissions on Wednesday in a facebook post, said if elected as senator, he will passionately pursue law to legalise local refineries in the country.

According to him, “About 6,000 illegal refineries, operational in the country, were reportedly destroyed by the Joint Military Task Force (JTF) in 2015.

“Some of these ‘refineries’ were actually rickety ‘science projects’ being over-glorified by calling them ‘oil refineries’.

“Be that as it may, among existing thousands of illegal refineries, there is likelihood that there will be a good number of well set up refineries among them.

“The illegal refinery industry has been around for years now, and has grown a little. So can a country that is trying hard to manage its four legal refineries afford to destroy ‘illegal refineries’?

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“The poorly set up makeshifts contraptions are dangerous and should be done away with, but those youths should be engaged in better set up refineries. If there are good ‘petroleum product factories’ out there, then why should they be destroyed?

“This is the origin of the call for the upgrade of the so-called ‘illegal refineries’, and if possible, they should be licensed.

“The illegal refineries that are being destroyed offer a lot of employment for the youths, which relieves government of the burden of providing jobs for them.

“Is the government not simply shortchanging the country with the sustained posturing and grandstanding of describing the local refineries in the Niger Delta as illegal and criminalizing their operations?

“There has to be a rethink towards the ‘illegal refineries’. By and large, the illegal refineries are a testimony to the ingenuity of Nigerian youths and their ability to creatively innovate despite the challenges of their existence.

“The ingenuity that has been exhibited by the operators of the so called ‘illegal refineries’ should constitute the foundation of technological breakthrough.

“As a former Governor and APC Senatorial Candidate, I fully appreciate this reality and on arrival in the Senate as Senator representing Delta South Senatorial District of Nigeria, my mandate include pushing for legislative backing to recognize and reform non-conventional refineries in the country instead of the present practice of destroying them.”

Uduaghan stressed that if the local refineries are legalised, it will help in creating employment for more youths in Delta South Senatorial District of Nigeria and Niger Delta, and that it will also reduce the level of crime and criminality in Delta South Senatorial District of Nigeria and Niger Delta.

He added that the legalized refineries will provide a platform to promote local technological innovation in oil refining in Delta South Senatorial District of Nigeria and other Niger Delta states.