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High Chief Johnson Opone
The Federal Government has been charged to change the policy that gave 85 percent of oil wells in the South-South region to Northerners, with no citizen of the zone holding a single oil well, and with a call on the government to give effect to the establishment of modular refineries in the region.
The admonition came on Saturday, November 4th, 2017, from the president General of Ndokwa Nekwu Union, and a member of the Pan Niger Delta Front (PANDEF) High Chief Johnson Opone while fielding questions from members of the Indigenous correspondents Chapel (ICC) of the Delta state chapter of the Nigeria Union of journalists (NUJ) at his home in Kwale.
He said it is this type of anomaly that provokes a peoples sense of indignation and fuels agitations that sometimes threaten security in the Niger delta Region, even as he called on all those calling for a fair deal from the federal government in the Niger Delta region not to return us to the dark days. ‘At the same time I want to call on the Federal government to understand that PANDEF has done more than enough since 2018 when the oil production per day fell to an all time low of 800,000 bpd. It has increased because of the peace brokered by PANDEF to 2.1million bpd, High Chief Opone said.
He continued: “If you look at the difference, we believe that Niger delta people are not being fairly treated. But I think peace is the best way to go. Constructive dialogue is the best way to go. I do not believe in going back to militancy. Though these boys want to to take their future in their hands, but we are still appealing to them to give the federal Government a chance because government has already drawn up a master plan for the development of Niger Delta.”
Opone explained that although there is a master plan, but he pointed out however that the people of the region were not made part of the engine room for the design of the master plan, adding that the people of the region should be made to be part of engineering the master plan because it concerns them. ‘And that’s the reason we are telling the Federal government that a committee should be set up where we are able to interface with the Federal government officials, to tell them these things that we need,’ he said.
He revealed that the establishment of modular refineries in each state of the Niger Delta region is one of the demands of the people, and criticized moves to put that aspect of the demand on public bid. “We told Kachikwu that if this is meant for us, and you put it on public bid it means other people would out bid us and they will take it. ‘We are calling on the Federal Government that at least one modular refinery be built in each of the states in the niger Delta. We are not sleeping in PANDEF, we are working, and we want to assure the Federal government that we in PANDEF believe in the path of peace, but we also want them to realize that we are only holding the boys in the creeks and we can only sustain the effort we’ve made if government reciprocates in good faith,” Opone said.
He then called ob the President, saying: “My dear President Buhari, we support your government at the federal level, but we are appealing to you to make sure that you quicken the process of letting us know your master plan which you have given to Niger Delta leaders, so that these things can commence. If our people see that these modular refineries are taking off the ground, I think that will help bring down the tension.”