From Tony John, Port Harcourt
Rivers State governor, Nyesom Wike, has urged traditional rulers in the state not to allow illegal crude oil artisanal refining activities to take place in their domains anymore. He gave the charge at a meeting with traditional rulers in the state at the Banquet Hall of Government House in Port Harcourt, yesterday.
Heads of the security agencies and chairmen of the 23 local government areas of the state also attended the meeting. Governor Wike told them that those involved in illegal refinery activities are sabotaging the national economy. He regretted that the federal government, which controls the oil industry and the security agencies, has been indifferent to the soot pandemic and the damage it is inflicting on the health of the residents of Rivers State.
He said: “I should think that the way federal government intends to fight insurgency, is the way they should fight illegal oil bunkering, because it is a sabotage on the national economy. Very big sabotage. It affects our own revenue. If we are supposed to produce 2 million barrels for example, we are now producing 1.2 million. And in that 1.2 million barrels, it affects Rivers State because we are not producing up to the number we are supposed to produce, and then we can’t get the money to do whatever you want us to do.”
The governor also said illegal crude oil refinery activities constitute environmental hazard capable of causing cancer related illnesses in the state. According to him, his primary concern is to ensure that the health of residents of the state is not jeopardised. It is the responsibility of the federal government to see how this thing can be stopped.