Destruction of illegal refineries: Reps ask FG to involve experts

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A man works at an illegal oil refinery site near the Nun River in Bayelsa on Nov. 27, 2012.

THE House of Representatives on Tuesday urged the Federal Government to involve experts in the destruction of illegal refineries in the country in order to avoid environmental degradation, adverse impact on humans and economic losses to the nation.

The House resolution followed a motion sponsored by Honourable Owodigighe Ekpoattai and adopted at the plenary.

While moving the motion, the lawmaker raised the alarm over increasing numbers of illegal oil refineries in the creeks of Niger-Delta region of the country”, saying the development had added a twist to security challenges in the area.

The lawmaker also noted that the quest to acquire crude oil illegally by non-professionals was devastating the environment, wild and aquatic lives as well as stunning the economic development of the nation hence the loss of 10.9 billion dollars between 2009 and 2001.

The lawmaker added that the provisions of section 20 of the 1999 Constitution which provides that the state shall protect the environment and safeguard the water, air and land forest and wildlife.

The Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC), the lawmaker said had in a bid to curb the menace had destroyed at least 280 illegal refineries and barges loaded with petroleum products and secured the conviction of 40 perpetrators out of the 118 arrests made in one year in the Niger Delta region.

The lawmaker equally lamented that despite the commendable efforts of the security agencies to curb the menace of illegal refineries, the methods adopted in the destruction of those refineries are further endangered the environment of the region and affected the health and general wellbeing of the people.

To this end, the lawmaker added ‎that “the failure by security agents to involve experts in carrying out the destruction of the refineries poses environmental hazards just as the existence and operations of those refineries themselves”.‎

The motion scaled through when it was put to voice vote by the Speaker, Honourable Yakubu Dogara who presided over the plenary session.

In a related development, the House ‎House has urged the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development to ensure the implementation of the Growth Enhancement Support Scheme (GESS) programme.

The House resolution followed a‎ motion sponsored by Honourable Munir Agundi and Honourable Muktar Dandutse and adopted by the House.

The implementation of the agriculture scheme, he said was important, owing to Nigeria’s desire to be self-sufficient in food production.

According to him, ‎the nation is blessed with abundant arable land and water resources suitable for cultivation of varieties of crops such as rice, maize, wheat, sorghum, millet, and groundnut all year round.

He added ‎that crops such as, cotton, soya bean seed, cassava, oil palm, cocoa, rubber, gum Arabic, horticultural crops and vegetables can also be cultivated throughout the season, adding‎ that apart from crop cultivation, the country could rear animals such as cattle, sheep, goat and production of fisheries and encourage aquaculture throughout the year.

The lawmaker said that, ‎the Federal Government established the Growth Enhancement Support Scheme (GESS) as a vehicle to ensure the equitable distribution of farm inputs to farmers nationwide, saying that, ‎”the GES Scheme, based on its Implementation Strategies and Operational Modalities (ISOM), creates redemption centres (selling points) across the country, which is close to the farmers to ensure the development and sustenance of the permanent input markets down to the grassroots where the targeted end user farmers reside”.

“The establishment of the GES Scheme ensured that procurement and distribution of farm inputs, elsewhere done directly by Government, has now been transferred to private sector operators.

“In the same vein, the beneficiaries of the farm inputs are not only known by names, but by their respective chosen commodity value chains, while their locations and full biometric information are stored in the national database.

“Cognizant that the expected impact of the dry season farming, especially in the light of the country’s determination to actualize self-sufficiency in rice, wheat and maize production cannot be overemphasized as through its implementation, the nation will meet substantial part of its food requirements and have excess for export.’’

According to him, the available information on existing irrigable lands, their locations, sources of water and the optimum number of farmers that could utilize the irrigation facilities showed that there were 1,179,269.79 hectares of potentially irrigable land in the country.

The information also showed 2,869 numbers of irrigable facilities that could be used by 1,142,087 farmers during the forthcoming 2017/2018 dry season farming, out of the 14.76 million farmers in the database, he added.

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