Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Dr. Ibe Kachikwu, on Monday said Nigeria could not totally end pipeline vandalism in the Niger Delta without creating opportunities for militants within the oil sector. The minister, who spokein Uyo, the Akwa Ibom State capital at the South-South region Town Hall Meeting organised by the Ministry of Information and Culture, also said that the effects of vandalism of pipelines in the Niger Delta will be with the country for 15 to 20 years, just as he clarified that President Muhammadu Buhari has not allocated oil blocs to any individual since he came into office.
He also promised to ensure the establishment of an oil depot in Akwa Ibom, saying “More than just the depot, I think Akwa-Ibom deserves more. I’m talking with those who are producing oil here to begin to look at the possibility of modular refineries,” he said. “Modular refineries are going to be the answer to our problems in the future. We talk about the militants and their agitations, the reality is that until we begin to put things in place that would have these so called ‘militants’ find opportunities in the sector, the destruction is going to continue.”
He added that any solution to these problems must find long lasting ways of putting opportunities on the tables of any citizen of a state that produces oil. “Floating filling stations, modular refineries, gas bleeding systems; all of these are what we are targeting for,” he said. “We are developing a document basically dealing with our relationship for oil producing states, so we can find a direct link between what we do and the oil that we produce.
Then the restiveness will go. “I have appealed to those who are breaking oil pipelines for now, the Niger Delta Avengers and everybody else, and as you know we are engaging in negotiations for us to find peace this week and be able to enter truce relationship that stops all the destruction. “When we destroy pipelines, we destroy our environment. Even when we make up the pipeline, it takes an average of 15 to 20 years to get those infrastructures and those climatic effects on the environment to go away.”
There have been series of oil installation bombings of late by the Niger Delta Avengers, with whom the federal government is currently trying to initiate peace talks. On oil blocs, the minister, while responding to questions by some aggrieved participants from the region over alleged un-equitable distribution, said that the Federal Government would be fair and just in giving out such advantages. “Since we came into office, the government has not allocated any oil bloc. “The president has said that he will need to correct the mess created by the past administrations before we begin to think of giving out such advantages.
“The president has emphasised to us, the ministers that there should be no unjustifiable favour and any action we take we must be able to defend it. “When the time for the oil bloc allocation comes, it will follow very clear due process,’’ he said. Kachikwu stressed that he was one of those who believed that the South-South people should benefit from oil blocs because it would be part of “giving back to the chicken that laid the eggs.’’
He said it would go a long way to empower the people and make them to engage in genuine oil deals, rather than being contractors to oil companies. The minister, however, reiterated that when government wants to consider the allocation, it would be given to those who have skills and the finance to develop the blocs. Kachikwu said that the Federal Government had finalised the Integrated Power Project with Mobil Oil Company that would produce 500 megawatts of power as well as gas pipeline project in Akwa Ibom.
He said the total investment for the project, including provision of infrastructure in the area of locations, was seven billion dollar. Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, who was also at the Town Hall Meeting, assured that the Federal Government would deliver on the developmental projects it promised Nigerians. According to him, “it is time to end the blame game and move forward to concentrate on the delivery of democracy dividends.’’
He said government would deliver the Calabar to Lagos coastal rail line project, the Calabar to Porth Harcourt, and Lagos to Kano rail projects to ease movement of people and goods. Responding to an allegation from a member of the audience, Amaechi said he did not influence the appointment of the Director-General of Niger Delta Development Commission, Mrs Ibim Seminitari. He said the insinuation that he lobbied the president to take the position from an indigene of Akwa Ibom for Seminitari in negation of zoning arrangement was wrong. The minister said that the president had noted the zoning arrangement and correction would be made