By Sebastine Obasi, with Agency report
The much sought peace in the Niger Delta may not be far from realisation, as the Federal Government has made a u-turn by deciding to work with illegal oil refiners, instead of destroying their refineries.
Speaking, Tuesday, during a visit to Rivers State, acting President Yemi Osinbajo, said that Nigeria needs to provide work for people who make a living from illegal refining of oil in the Niger Delta in order to achieve peace.
“Our approach to that is that we must engage them (illegal refiners) by establishing modular refineries so that they can participate in legal refineries. We have recognised that young men must be properly engaged,” he said, without giving details.
He also said that the government will make more provisions for the amnesty scheme for former militants who laid down arms in 2009 in exchange for cash stipends and job training.
Illegal refining is one of the few businesses flourishing in an otherwise desolate region, as petrol is scarce in Nigeria due to the country’s derelict state refineries. Authorities had originally cut the budget for cash payments to militants to end corruption but later resumed payments to stop surging pipeline attacks crippling vital oil revenues.
“We have made more provisions for amnesty and provisions for social intervention,” Osinbajo told residents of Port Harcourt.
He has been visiting the Niger Delta since last month to calm tensions.
The government was said to have been holding talks with militants to end attacks on oil pipelines which cut the country’s output by 700,000 barrels a day for several months last year.