The Presidency on Thursday said each of the Niger Delta states would host two modular refineries under the Federal Government’s programme aimed at replacing illegal refineries in the region with modular ones.
It said the groundbreaking ceremony for the first set of such refineries would hold in the fourth quarter of the year.
The Senior Special Assistant to the Acting President on Media and Publicity, Mr. Laolu Akande, disclosed this in an update on the government’s new vision for the region which he made available to journalists in Abuja just as the Acting President, Yemi Osinbajo, was meeting members of the Edwin Clark-led Pan Niger Delta Forum at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
Akande said, “The Federal Government has started the process of replacing illegal refineries in the region with modular ones, including options on how to involve the communities as shareholders in the proposed modular refineries.
“Groundbreaking ceremony for the first set of such refineries is expected in the fourth quarter of the year.
“In its operations, the Federal Government will supply crude to the local refineries at a reasonably considered price, as an incentive to stop the current practice whereby illegal refiners vandalise and steal the crude. Each Niger Delta State is expected to host two modular refineries each.”
The presidential spokesman said the government had also commenced the process for the opening of the Maritime University at Okerenkoko in Gbaramatu Kingdom, Delta State.
Already, he said a five-man inter-agency committee headed by the Minister of Education, Adamu Adamu, was in the final stages for the official opening of the university in the 2017/2018 academic session.
Akande added that the government had released additional N35bn to step up the Amnesty Programme in the Niger Delta region, which he claimed, was a specific and significant increment when compared with the 2016 budgetary allocation to the office.
He said the increase was already reflected in the 2017 budget with N70bn allocation.
“The Amnesty Office has since paid up all ex-militants backlog of stipends up to April 2017. School fees for ex-militants studying abroad have been paid up to 80 per cent this July while school fees in Nigeria have been paid up to 90 per cent this July.
“Under the President Muhammadu Buhari administration, the Presidential Amnesty Programme has deployed 1,294 beneficiaries in different programmes in different universities across the world. 1,230 have graduated; 196 are maritime engineers, 59 pilots, and 120 automobile engineers.
“It has established partnership with the Presidential Committee on Small Arms and Light Weapons, UNDP, EU and UNREC to curb the proliferation of small arms and light weapons in the hands of unauthorised persons and groups.
“To enhance a speedy development and restore peace in the Niger Delta region, Federal Government has revamped the Niger Delta Development Commission to drive the creation of development and infrastructure projects in the region,” Akande added.
He said an initial fund of $1bn had been set aside for the clean-up and environmental remediation of Ogoniland.
He explained that $200m would be disbursed yearly for the first five years and work on the project would be conducted in line with international best practices.
According to him, soil and water tests have already been done in preparation for the clean-up and 15 technical assistants hired to be part of the work from Ogoniland.
Akande added, “To drive infrastructure, the Federal Government has released funds for the continuation of various sections of the East-West Road. As of March 2017, the overall project completion is substantial ( Section I – 99.98%, Section II – I – 78.33%, Section II -II – 67.95%, Section III – 99.22%, Section IV – 97.7%) with Sections I and III completed and due for inauguration.
“The Federal Government plans to construct health centres in the states and communities of the region. On completion, they will be fully equipped to address some of the health needs of rural dwellers.
“This project will place the region as one of the most advanced places in Africa for high speed internet access and reliable communication systems.
“To further encourage infrastructure development, Federal Government, through the Petroleum Ministry is also exploring with the International Oil Companies operating in the Delta region on how to relocate their operational headquarters to their states of operations as different from administrative headquarters which often has only about 5% of the members of staff.”