The Presidential Crude Oil Refining Development Initiative (PACORDI) has been requested by a group of artisanal refiners in
the Niger Delta as an equivalent of the Presidential Artisanal Gold Mining Development Initiative (PAGMDI) in the North.
The group argued that the need for the establishment of a corresponding initiative for artisanal refiners in the region became imperative for
environmental sustainability considering the similarities between artisanal gold mining in parts of the North/Southwest and artisanal crude oil refining in the Niger Delta.
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 could aggravate insecurity, realizing that their gold
mining counterparts in the North and Southwest via PAGMDI had been recognized by the Federal Government.
Speaking at the YEAC awareness program, YEAC Executive Director Fyneface Dumnamene stressed the need for the Federal Government to formalize
and incorporate artisanal southern crude oil refining activities into the nation’s economy, as can be done by illegal gold miners.
Fyneface said PACORDI was important for the region because young people involved in artisanal refining pollute the environment because their activities lead to environmental destruction, loss of
government revenue, loss of funds to multinational oil firms, who invest too much on repairing pipes vandalized by artisanal refiners to access crude for their illegal activities.
He argued that PACODRDI would not only benefit the Federal Government from excise, royalty and license
fee income, but would also benefit foreign oil companies that would sell crude to artisanal refiners.
He said that, as the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) will reserve foreign exchange and major oil marketers would no
longer be running for foreign exchange because they would be purchasing petroleum products previously imported from craft refiners in Naira, just as PAGMDI gold miners are doing.
However, Fyneface added that, under PACORDI, illicit refiners will no longer indulge in illegal activities that would
make security operatives chase them around or lead to instability by proliferating small arms and light guns.
Favour Udoma, a participant, assessed that the governors of the Zamfara and Kebbi states and their counterparts in the Niger Delta
should collaborate with and endorse YAEC’s proposal to ensure the timely establishment of PACORDI in the Niger Delta for artisanal refiners.
Another member, Basil Nkpordee, said that if PAGMI could be inaugurated by the Federal Government for illegal miners in
other parts of the country, it could also do the same in the Niger Delta for artisanal crude oil refining.
“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.
SOURCE: THE GUARDIAN