The Senior Special Assistant to the President on Niger Delta Affairs, Sen. Ita Enang, said that the establishment of modular refineries in the country would cut a whooping revenue loss to the tune of N2 trillion annually.
Enang made this known when representatives of local refiners, drawn from states in the Niger Delta under the aegis of Domestic Refinery Owners Association, paid him a courtesy visit in his office in Abuja.
He said from information available to him, Nigeria was losing close to N2trn annually to illegal oil refining, adding that it was high time the operators were integrated into the system to harness their potentials and boost the country’s revenue generation.
The presidential aide expressed concern over allegations by the local operators that some importers of petroleum products in the country were complicit in their illegal activities.
According to him, part of the allegations was that the importers engaged in round tripping of petroleum products purchased from them while still collecting subsidy for the products as if they were imported.
He said, “From your allegation, some importers anchor their ship while you transfer your produce into the big ship and when the ship is filled it is now brought to us.
“We will, as a government, take this very seriously because we cannot continue to rely on subsidy.
“Subsidy you have told us is a fraud because when you produce it, you take it to the high seas put it in their own ship and then they bring it in as if they have imported it and they take subsidy from us as government.
“Thank you all for agreeing for us to sit at the table to discuss and I want to assure that I will work with what we have discussed here to bring it up to the Federal Government and all the agencies.
“We are conscious of the lost to the government. We are conscious of the damage to the environment.
“We are conscious of the potential, that if we formally supply crude to you, you will pay for the crude and we will not lose.
“We are also conscious that if we agree to supply crude to you and we have a channeled way if supplying crude to you and you pay for the crude, we will not have the need to pay for the protection of the pipelines.
“We agree that there are lots of things we are losing by not integrating you. I will take this up to the government, we will calculate the loss and we will take the option.
“I have read your address. You say we are losing up to N1.29trn annually to your activities and for a nation that is budgeting about N9trn for the whole country to lose about N2trn through one agency that it would have tapped and harnessed into production and economic process, is what we have to go back to the drawing board and address ourselves.”
Enang assured that the matter would not be treated with levity, adding that, “President Muhammadu Buhari, my office and other leaders of government will take this very seriously.
“I want to assure you that the undertaking that was made by his Excellency, the Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo in his address to the Niger Delta Forum in Akure is not reneged on.
“It is been worked on and I will escalate it to his Excellency’s office and we will pick up this matter again.”
The presidential aide applauded the commitment made by the local operators, commonly called illegal refiners for their commitment to desist from their nefarious activities and be integrated into the system legally.
He said “we are conscious and we appreciate what you told us that if we were able to integrate you fully, that all the loss of material which you know would have been used as bitumen and wax and other things is what is damaging the environment.
“This is what is damaging the waters in the environment, killing the fish and making the soil not very fertile.
“We will address this comprehensively. It was effort like this that made President Buhari’s administration to take serious the clean up Ogoni Land and other impacted areas.
Enang assured the group that the National Assembly would also be engaged to enable it look into the matter, particularly with regard some leakages in the system and finding lasting solutions to them.
He thanked them for taking the bold step to ensure that their activities did not continue to lead to huge losses for the country.
The local operators in their remarks, expressed appreciation for the opportunity to be part of a new course for the country.
They commended the Federal Government for promising to set up machinery for the legalisation of their activities through the establishment of modular refineries.
“We are now trying to see how to add value to the resources we have in the nation.
“Before now we involved ourselves in activities that are against the laws of the land until the Vice President came up with the modular refinery vision and we thought it was a good course, so we decided to push in that direction.
“The administration gave us a line to tow, which is the promise for establishment of modular refineries and we decided to create a synergy between us and government of the land.
“Here today, we have representatives from Edo, Rivers, Ondo, Delta, Cross River, Akwa Ibom and Bayelsa states, ” the group said.
They further said, “We are here to champion a course that will bring succour to the nation Nigeria. We know our activities have been to the detriment of the nation and that is why we are here to champion a course.
“We have come to the realisation that Nigeria is losing due to our activities. Some of us that are into this are well read with families and other responsibilities and we will be happy to see that we are contributing to nation building rather than destroying our great nation.”
Vice President Yemi Osinbajo had at the National Council Meeting on Niger Delta in Akure in 2017 expressed federal government’s commitment to the establishment of modular refineries, noting that the guidelines had been released.