From Chuks Collins, Awka
The federal government has been advised to review down the current regime of stringent near-impossible conditions set for the establishment of new refineries in the country, to trigger off a massive instant revolution in the sector.
An elder statesman and the immediate-past chairman of Police Service Commission(PSC), Chief Simon Okeke dropped the wise counsel in an interview with the Guardian in his Amichi country home, Anambra state, yesterday.
Reacting to the recent mass protest that greeted the new Year eve subsidy removal, Chief Okeke said, “as an ordinary citizen there is so much hardship in the country today that everyone has legitimate right to question or disagree with any other move to increase the existing burden. So why Mr President and his men did chose to do so? They said it was for the eventual good of all. I believed them. But we have seen what happened.
“The subsidy withdrawal has increased the burden of the masses because the marketers have gone far beyond the price set. More so, I expected the government to remove the subsidy and ask marketers to sell at the market price or the price that suits them instead of pegging it at a point as if we were still under the subsidy control. Something appears unclear really”, the ex-PSC chief noted.
He wondered why all the existing refineries were near comatose, while the inability of the 25 newly licensed ones according to the records of the FG did not agitate the minds of the operators.
He therefore urged President Goodluck Jonathan to liberalize conditions of setting up a refinery (or distillery, as he called it) just like what happened in the Biafra enclave during the civil war era; and to stop the military task forces in the niger Delta to stop destroying and chasing the current operators of such refineries around. He disclosed that Biafra authorities mobilized engineers of the era and they turned every kitchen and oil mills within the zone into a mini-refinery for petroleum products. That it was why there was enough for the vehicles and even for the aircrafts then. That what needed to be done now would be to set up criteria, standard and supervise. That it was the same in the United States of America (USA) and Canada today.
It was his belief that if the small time refineries were encouraged to coexist side by side the mega ones, it would flood the nation with products and crash the current soaring prices of products instantly as low as N30 per litre.
Okeke also canvassed the supply of crude to all the mini-refiners at the same market rate with ease