By Sampson Boroh
The Ijaw Youths Council (IYC) Worldwide has described the approval of $1.5bn for the rehabilitation of the Port Harcourt Refinery as a signal that the Federal Government has woken up from its slumber.
The IYC in a statement signed by its President, Peter Timothy Igbifa, said though reviving and optimising the refinery was long overdue, it was better late than never.
Igbifa, who described the move as a welcome development said it would create employment for the teeming jobless youths in the Niger Delta and increase the country’s refining capacity.
The IYC boss also expressed optimism that the project when completed would reduce youth restiveness and criminality in the region advising the Federal Government not to play politics with the project.
Igbifa called on the government to swing into action immediately by releasing money immediately to back up its approval.
Igbifa said: “This should not end in funds approval; money should be released as and when due. We don’t want to hear the usual excuse that the project is being delayed for lack of funds. We listened carefully as the Minister of State for Petroleum, Chief Timipre Sylva, reel out the timeline for the project and we are expecting the rehabilitation to follow the timeline.
“As a council, which fights for the interest of Ijaw youths and other youths in the Niger Delta, we will be constituting an action committee to work closely with the ministry of petroleum and the contractors that will be in charge of the rehabilitation project. We will monitor the execution of this project from the beginning to the end and if we notice any foul play, we will surely raise the alarm”.
Igbifa said it smacked of unseriousness and irresponsibility for an oil-producing country like Nigeria to be selling crude oil and importing refined products, adding that the move to rehabilitate the Port Harcourt refinery would gradually bring an end to the economic disaster.