An environmentalist, Mr Nnimmo Bassey, has urged the Federal Government to equip universities and research institutions to locally design and fabricate equipment suitable for the proposed modular refineries in Nigeria.
Bassey, a Director, Health of Mother Earth Foundation, a NGO, gave the advice on Sunday in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Port Harcourt.
According to him, when such equipment are fabricated locally they will be more affordable and present opportunities to set environmental standards for modular refineries.
He said that researchers should be encouraged to uncover why people engaged in bush or illegal refining and the kind of people with tendencies for such dangerous past time.
He urged the government to ensure that those engaging in bush and illegal refining were pulled out of such a dangerous system and supported for more sustainable livelihood.
Bassey said: “They should be given incentives to encourage them to abandon these dangerous pattern and embrace modular refineries.
“When the idea came up, my thinking was that it was an opportunity for Nigerians to sit back and reflect on what kind of modular refineries we want.
“We are not going to import modular refineries anywhere in the world but to equip our universities and research institutions to design and fabricate modular refineries internally.
“During the Biafra-Nigerian Civil war, they fabricated these things. Petrol was being refined in Biafra. We have skillful Nigerian companies that can do these things,” he said.
“Researchers should be empowered, not just the technical scientists who can fabricate but also social scientists.
“Encourage them to find out why people engage in bush refineries; who are the kind of people with these tendencies? How can they be pulled out of the system and supported to look for ways that are more sustainable?’’
The environmentalist said that there were dangers that those working in bush refineries, engaging in illegal refining would not live long.
“Their life span is short because they are bathed in crude, so they cannot even enjoy life. It does not make sense to waste one’s life that way.
“We need all these people engaged in bush refineries to help to make them own some of these modular refineries.
“So, my view is that modular refineries will allow some rich people to own such refineries but it will not going to tackle the problem of the masses,’’ he said.
Bassey also a member, Board of Trustees of the Federal Government’s Ogoni Clean-up Project, lauded the Federal Government and other stakeholders on the clean-up project.
The renowned environmentalist, nominated by President Buhari to represent non-governmental organisations on the project’s 13-member board, advised Nigerians against re-polluting the environment.
“We cannot be cleaning up and continue polluting and flaring gas. In Port Harcourt, we experience oil, water and air pollution.
“Let us support the clean-up efforts as much as we can and ensure that there are no new pollution or re-pollution.
“This include people tampering with oil installations, bush refining, Joint Task Force burning of crude and leaking pipelines, oil wells, gas flaring from the oil companies. All these have to stop.
“Everybody has to become a policeman or police woman of the environment. It does not make sense. Life is precious; more valuable than Naira or Dollars or oil.
“Somebody can give you money, take your life and you do not enjoy the money. This is a major concern for the generality of the people,’’ he said.
Bassey also called on the Federal Government to ensure that Hydrocarbon Pollution Remediation Project (HYPREP) remained strong, independent and free from what he called undue political interference.