• To register illegal refineries’ operators
  • PTDF to facilitate Maritime Varsity take-off

The protracted crisis in the Niger Delta region may soon come to an end. The Federal Government has overhauled its approach to quelling the crisis and restoring lasting peace in the region.

Instead of the present com­batant approach where the mili­tary and other security agencies harass, detain and sometimes kill suspected militants and other troublemakers, the Muhammadu Buhari administra­tion has opted for full-scale di­alogue and integration of all stakeholders into the imple­mentation of development pro­grammes in the region.

The Presidency will soon unveil a new roadmap which will enable the people to be­come key actors in the devel­opment of the oil-rich area.

Under the roadmap, the Presidency wants former mil­itants’ leaders and host com­munities to be considered in the awards of contracts for the protection of oil and gas pipe­lines.

The new arrangement, which insiders who are privy to it described as a “bumper pack­age,” is aimed at accelerating the return of peace to the troubled Niger Delta region and ensur­ing steady oil production.

One of the key aspects of the roadmap is the planned recognition of operators of il­legal refineries who will be reg­istered and allocated crude oil to process.

It was learnt that the roadmap is a product of Vice President Yemi Osinbajo’s region-wide consultations with stakeholders during his recent tour of states in the Niger Delta on how to stop the restiveness in the region.

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Nigerian Maritime University, Okerenkoko

A credible Presidency source said that “on the cards are the renewal and re-award of existing oil pipeline protection con­tracts, possibly to militant lead­ers; overhaul of the Presidential Amnesty Programme, and the immediate take-off of the con­troversial National Maritime University, Okerenkoko, in Gbaramatu, Delta State.”

The source said that the Federal Government is con­sidering the vexatious issue of pipeline protection contracts, which were handled by key militant leaders under the ad­ministration of former Presi­dent Goodluck Jonathan, which President Buhari terminated when he assumed office in 2015.

The official explained that in a bid to ensure peace, the Presidency has directed the Ministry of Petroleum Resourc­es to review the pipeline pro­tection contracts to ensure that the host communities are incor­porated.

He said that the marching orders have been given to agen­cies saddled with strategic tasks on the development of the Ni­ger Delta to make the people lay down their arms and join the government to rebuild the region.

According to the official, an implementation planning meeting was held last week in the Presidency where some ministers and relevant Minis­tries, Departments and Agen­cies (MDAs) drafted measures that will ensure the immediate takeoff of the programmes de­signed to transform the region.

On the Maritime Universi­ty, the Federal Government, ac­cording to another Presidency source, has activated the pro­cess for the a smooth take-off of the institution, with the Petro­leum Trust Development Fund (PTDF) as the lead agency in the implementation of the plan.

He said: “In this regard, the Federal Government is consid­ering the release of a substantial take-off grant for the university while awaiting the conclusion of legislation on its establish­ment by the National Assembly.

“The Federal Government is also seeking international collaboration with universities across the world for the com­mencement of academic pro­grammes in the school.”

“The Presidency has direct­ed the Ministry of Petroleum Resources in conjunction with the Petroleum Trust Develop­ment Fund and other stake­holders to come up with a pro­posal for an effective funding model for the university”.

“The Presidency has also directed the Niger Delta Devel­opment Commission (NDDC) to liaise with the relevant agen­cies and organisations to facil­itate the construction of an access road that will pass through Escravos to the university in Gbaramatu”.

On the registration of ille­gal refineries’ owners so that they can be converted to mod­ular refineries, the source said the administration was consid­ering securing crude for them to refine under certain condi­tions.

He said: “The modular re­finery initiative of the admin­istration will be private sec­tor-driven and will entail independent indigenous oil producers working with oil-producing communities to for­malise the process of convert­ing illegal refineries in their domains into legal entities that would be run in collaboration with the government.

“Under the new arrange­ment, the Federal Govern­ment is considering a situation where operators of illegal refin­eries will legally receive crude at reasonable rates for refining while modalities will be worked out for them to register such re­fineries as legal entities”.

The Presidency source fur­ther said that, “under the new plan, operators of such illegal refineries could become share­holders with additional invest­ments made in their business­es.”

It was learned that the Pres­idency has directed the Minis­try of Petroleum Resources, as the anchor of the modular re­finery initiative, to work in con­junction with the NDDC and state governments in the region to actualise the goal.

The source added that the NDDC has been mandated to work with other agencies to organise modular refinery opera­tors into cooperatives to enable them access funds and related support from the relevant au­thorities.

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