WARRIâ€”BUSINESS mogul and former national chairman of the Legal Aid Council of Nigeria, Olorogun Kenneth Gbagi and prominent Niger-Delta leader, Senator Francis Spanner Okpozo, have warned that the Federal Governmentâ€™s plan to build another Petroleum Training Institute (PTI) in Kaduna, a non-oil producing state at a cost of N19 billion, will trigger a monster crisis between the North and South.
Fuming with rage, both distinguished Niger-Deltans, who spoke in separate interviews with Vanguard weekend, said the proposal of a PTI in Kaduna was an unpopular course of action that was borne out of brazen irresponsibility and should be jettisoned immediately in the interest of peace in the country.
According to Gbagi, â€œthe import of the decision to build a PTI in Kaduna is that Federal Government wants to disintegrate the country; that is the long and short of it and I advise that we should be very careful because we are dealing with an explosive issueâ€.
He said the government, through the Minister of Petroleum, Alhaji Rilwanu Lukman, halted the training of engineers at the PTI, Effurun in Delta State, to kill the economy of the region and now wants to awaken the Northern economy with a PTI in Kaduna, saying it was preposterous for government to think that line of action Olorogun Gbagi said students of a Petroleum Training Institute were supposed to work in oil-related environment and wondered why the PTI in Delta State should not be developed to a world-standard institute by the federal government.
He said:Â Â â€œIt is a slap on the people of the Niger-Delta for the government to build another PTI in Kaduna. The Minister of Petroleum should be called to order because what he is indirectly saying with this kind of wicked plan is that Niger-Delta is not safe, but this is the region where you are digging the money with which you run the nation. My friend, it is not nothing short of double standard.
â€œEven the money voted for Petroleum Technology Development Fund (PTDF) is not being used well for the development of the region. Why should international airports not be built in Escravos, Delta state, Eket, the one in Rivers state expanded for oil companies to fly their workers there.
â€œAs Petroleum Minister, has Lukman not travelled wide enough to know that in other areas, you donâ€™t use money derived from an area to develop another area when the area in question is not develope?.
â€œThis is why I have said and I am repeating here that all the oil companies operating in the Niger-Delta should move their headquarters from Lagos to their major locations in the region.Â Chevron for instance should move to Warri, Shell to Bayelsa state or Rivers state and Exxon-Mobil to Eket.â€
Also brimming with anger, Senator Okpozo asserted, â€œthe federal government cannot initiate that plan at all because it is dangerous. Dangerous in the sense that it will be a misrepresentation of what is actually on ground.Â Â If the North is not producing oil, what is the rationale of putting the school there?
â€œI ask, does the federal government know the implications of what it is contemplating,Â it will lead to a big crisis between the North and South.Â I advise Yarâ€™Adua to listen less to suggestions being made by interested groups in the North.
â€œThey have a School of Agriculture in Gwom, the idea is that the North is agriculturally dominant, and nobody is objecting here in the South, why is it, therefore, that anything in the South, they want to replicate it in the North even it ought not to be so?Â They moved the Naval Headquarters sometime from Lagos to Abuja, the Yorubas were not okay and they fought against it until it was transferred back to Lagos.
â€œMaybe what we in the Niger-Delta should be asking for is that the Kaduna Refinery should be brought back to the region because it has no business being there. The idea of building a PTI in Kaduna is a non starter.Â Â If anybody is contemplating it, it should be stopped because of the consequencesâ€, he asserted.
Senator Okpozo said if he were President Yarâ€™Adua, he would not dabble into such no-go-areas because when the chips are down, those who are beating the drums for him on the sideline would abandon him to his fate.