The All Progressives Congress, APC, in Rivers State has accused Governor Nyesom Wike of encouraging illegal oil bunkering, describing it as the major cause of the soot shortening the lives of residents of the State.
Wike had last Sunday, in a state-wide broadcast, declared those he described as kingpins of oil bunkering activities wanted.
Bunkering and illegal crude oil refining activities are on the high rise in different riverine communities in and around Port Harcourt.
Wike vowed to publish the names of those behind illegal bunkering activities in Okrika communities, Rivers South-East and Rivers South-West Senatorial Districts and declare them wanted if they fail to hand themselves over to the police.
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Reacting, the APC said it was baffled that the Governor had kept mute until now before taking such action despite the overwhelming criticism by residents and other concerned Nigerians.
According to the opposition party, “From 2015 to date, most major projects by the Rivers State Government since its inauguration are being executed by Julius Berger Nigeria Ltd,” the APC said in a statement signed by its State Publicity Secretary, Chris Finebone.
“At the present peak of Julius Berger activities in Rivers State, the company consumes on the average about 300,000 litres of AGO per day. This has undeniably become one single biggest AGO consumption volume in Rivers State.
Sadly, the entire volume of AGO is sourced from illegal refiners of the product locally called ‘kpofire’ and the reason is that Julius Berger in Rivers State buys AGO at between N220 and N240 per litre, whereas, the official ex-depot price of AGO from NIPCO and other major importers range from N315 to N350 per litre.
“With Julius Berger buying the product from illegal refiners below market minimum prices, a huge demand has been created for the kpofire (illegally refined) products.
“This naturally has encouraged so many people (young and old) to join the illegal refining business because of a thriving and ready market.
“The result is a burgeoning illegal refining business which has, in turn, heightened the level of soot descending on residents of Port Harcourt and environs, causing all manner of health problems for both the young and old, in the present and for the future.
“We have seen Gov Nyesom Wike, in his overzealous attempt to protect Julius Berger and their common business interests, brazenly sack his Cabinet Commissioner for Environment without replacement to this day.”
APC said that this particular action showed that the Governor was not willing to take the needed action towards effectively and holistically protecting the lives of residents but was protecting some persons due to fear or self-interest.
The opposition party wondered who the governor was afraid of “in declaring all suspects involved in this life threatening menace wanted in all the Local Government Areas, particularly those contiguous to Port Harcourt.”