Ndigbo Unity Forum (NUF), a pan-Igbo socio-cultural group, has lauded the Federal Government and the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) for the abundant availability of fuel in the South-East during the yuletide.
The President of NUF, Mr Augustine Chukwudum, gave the commendation while speaking with newsmen recently in Enugu.
“NUF wishes to commend the Federal Government, especially President Muhammadu Buhari, for ensuring that Nigerians do not face hardship and disasters associated with fuel scarcity.
“We also commend the NNPC for making sure that the nation does not experience fuel shortage at petrol stations nationwide, especially in the South-East, as it used to be in past years during the yuletide.
“We are happy that those who traveled this time around to their various villages, communities and states have no complaint about fuel,’’ Chukwudum said.
He, however, urged the Federal Government to create an enabling environment and give more licenses to those wishing to build refineries (modular refineries).
This he said was necessary so that more companies or individuals could refine fuel locally to check all forms of shortage of the product.
“We call on Federal Government to give more licenses to people who want to refine petrol locally, by so doing government will solve the problem,’’ he said.
The NUF boss, however, decried the increase in fare prices, by 100 per cent, by transporters in some routes in the country.
“We are calling on Federal and State governments to checkmate the excesses of transport companies who castrate people during festive period. It must be stopped.’’
Group Hails New Policy On Gas Retailing
A group known as the Association of Surface Tank Oil and Gas Retailers (ASTROGEN) has hailed the new policy on gas retailing introduced by the Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR) which encourages the use of domestic gas in the rural areas.
Rivers State Chairperson of the group, Comrade Patience Uche said the policy was in line with, “the vision and strategic target of the group to promote the direct involvements of the people in surface tanks oil and gas retailing business.”
She urged the DPR to allocate more operational licenses to its members to own and operate surface tank business in the rural areas.
She pointed out that the initiatives will, “ promote entrepreneurial development in the rural areas, reduce petroleum and gas supplies from foreign marketers through importation of products and reduce bunkering.”
She said the group was ready to partner with the DPR and other stakeholders in the down stream sector, especially in the mobilisation of the grassroots to key into the policy and domesticate the use of gas in their homes.
It would be recalled that the authorities of DPR recently announced the introduction of a new policy on the use of domestic gas.
The DPR in a press statement said the new gas policy would introduce the use of domestic gas in the rural areas, through the building of surface gas tanks in the rural areas for retailing.
The statement also encouraged the use of domestic gas, rather kerosene in homes.
Expert Decries Abuse Of MoUs By Oil Firms
The brewing conflicts between oil companies and their host communities in the Niger Delta over the breach of agreements signed by the corporate partners are generating concern among stakeholders.
Worried over the increasing spate of disagreements between oil firms and their host communities, an expert in the oil and gas sector, Dr Eddie Wikina has called on all multinationals and corporate organisations operating in the Niger Delta to implement the Memorandum of Understanding (MOUs) signed with their host communities.
Wikina who spoke with The Tide in an exclusive interview, recently said IOCS and other multinationals operating in the region mostly flout MOUs signed with host communities, leading to conflicts and absence of sustainable development in the communities.
He pointed out that; “modern industry practices require that both the oil firms and the host communities operate in mutual agreement and synergy through a well community engagement model that would be subject to upward reviews to suit evolving developments to avert crisis.”
He noted that oil related conflicts have been a predominant feature of the Niger Delta over the years and urged prospecting oil firms and other corporate organisations in the Niger Delta to learn from the experiences of the past to improve their host community relations by contributing meaningfully to the development of their host communities.
The expert in Petroleum Engineering said host communities were major stakeholders in the oil and gas business, noting that their active participation in the sector was an elixir to smooth business operation.
“It’s certain that business activities can’t strive in an environment where their is mutual disagreement and incessant conflicts. Global standards in oil and gas business require that host communities be given their due sense of belonging to promote peace and development. The business concern must be accommodative of the development interest of the host communities, any company that glosses over the interest of its host communities is bound to face challenges,” he said.
He cautioned against the influx of substandard oil firms in the Niger Delta and called on the federal government to enact laws that will compel multinationals to implement all agreements signed with their host communities.
“Not all companies that prospect for oil in the Niger Delta have the capacity for effective business operation, some of them don’t have the industry experience and lack the potency to make the right impact,” he noted
According to him, the implementation of the Petroleum Industry Bill will address the inherent challenges in the oil and gas sector, especially in the development of oil and gas producing communities.
‘FG Loses N5.9bn Annually To Illegal Bunkering, Pipelines Vandalisation’
A group known as the Association of Surface Tank Oil and Gas Retailers, (ASTOGRN) says available statistics have revealed that oil bunkering activities and pipeline vandalisation in the Niger Delta costs the Federal Government about N5.9 billion annually.
Chairperson of the Rivers State chapter of the association, Comrade Patience Uche, made the disclosure during an exclusive interview with The Tide in Port Harcourt, at the weekend.
Apart from the huge loss in revenue, she said oil bunkering and pipeline vandalisation had also resulted in the colossal loss of lives as most of the vandals were always consumed in pipeline explosions during the bunkering activities.
Comrade Uche, who decried the increasing involvement of youths in illegal bunkering, advocated for a more proactive and corrective measure to bring lasting solution to the vice.
According to her, part of the solution is the building of modular refineries in the Niger Delta and the engagement of the youth in the oil and gas sector.
“Most of the youths who got involved in illegal oil bunkering and lost their lives in the process could have played a more creative and productive role in the oil and gas industry if they were functionally trained.
“The Federal Government should be serious about the establishment of modular refineries and the training of youths to participate in the process, this will go a long way to tackle the challenges of illegal bunkering in the Niger Delta, she said.
Comrade Uche said the major drive of the association was to make oil and gas business rural based, “to improve the socio-economic and general living conditions of its members”.
She was optimistic that the association will achieve the targets by encouraging its members to get licences from the Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR) to be actively involved in the oil and gas business.
She pointed out that the initiative would also reduce petroleum supplies from foreign marketers through importation of products, kill the spirit of bunkering and increase the federal government’s revenue on surface tank retails business in the country.
By: Taneh Beemeneh
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