By Egufe Yafugborhi
WARRI —YOUTHS in Niger Delta have vowed to shut down all oil operations in the region over perceived deprivation of the region’s stakeholders from gaining ownership stakes in the controversial concession of the Port Harcourt Refinery even as the Senate suspended the move.
Briefing newsmen, yesterday, in Warri, Delta State under the aegis of Pan Niger Delta Youth Leadership Forum, PANDLEAF, the region’s youths said Niger Delta was not against privatisation of the ailing refineries towards reviving them, but accused Minister of State for Petroleum, Dr Ibe Kachikwu, of double-speak to rationalize his determination to sell the refinery to the exclusion of host communities.
In a statement by Famous Daunemigha, President and Michael Ekpo, Secretary, PANDLEAF said, “Dr. Kachukwu came out to say they are not planning to concession the refinery but that they are looking for third party financier for re-building of the refinery to the tune of $1.2 billion.
“We were shocked to hear him announcing sale of same refinery in disguise, playing on the semantics of concession to financiers, apparent euphemism for selling the refinery to Agip and Oando, which names have been favoured in an unpopular private bidding. It’s very unfortunate that our leaders speaks from both sides.”
Harping on their rights to economic, social and cultural development as enshrined in the United Nations’ and African Union charters, the region’s youths vowed to resist any attempt to privatise public refineries in the Niger Delta soil without giving the host communities right of first refusal in determination of the ownership of the facilities.
The group stressed: “We shall resist any attempt at bringing any company (Oando and Agip inclusive) in the name of concessioning or third party financier in the business of rebuilding the Port-Harcourt Refinery without the inclusion of companies owned by persons from the Niger Delta.
“We have submitted a memorandum to the Senate Ad-hoc Committee on concessioning of refineries. We have put together a consortium of indigenous investors and corporations with necessary capacity and created a special purpose vehicle for putting together the $1.2 billion stated by Kachukwu and willing to present all relevant details if requested.
“At this moment, people of the Niger Delta are more than capable of managing the refineries optimally. No external back-up, investor or financier is necessary. In the pursuit of peace and sustainable development of the Niger Delta, these refineries should be given to our people to finance and run.”