Gov. Nyesom Wike of Rivers State says operators of illegal crude oil refineries are causing great health hazards to residents in the state and destroying the national economy.
Wike disclosed this when he received the Chief of Defence Staff, Gen. Lucky Irabor, on Friday at the Government House, Port Harcourt.
The governor stated the importance of the war against illegal crude oil refinery activities, saying that proceeds from the oil and gas sector sustained the country.
“You and I know that one product we have today that has kept this country going is oil and gas, which I will say is the main source of our revenue in this country today.
“We must as a people, as a government, it doesn’t matter whichever faction you may be or whichever divide you may be, or you may find yourself, what is important is that you must defend our national assets,” he said.
Wike said that his administration would not spare any meaningful measure that could be deployed to stem illegal crude oil refinery activities in the state.
According to him, those engaging in the criminal activities need to ask themselves about the kind of money they are making by sabotaging the national economy.
“I will do anything within my powers to see that it is put to stop. I owe it as a duty, first by making sure that government is not losing revenue.
“Whenever we lose national revenue, it trickles down. It affects us at the state and local government levels and that is the revenue aspect of it,” Gov. Wike said.
He pointed to the issues of health, occasioned by soot, that results from the criminal activities.
“I am willing to fight it and will continue to fight it. Some people are trying to politicise it, that I am acting against certain ethnic groups. That can’t change me, it doesn’t matter,” he stated.
Wike stated that his administration was ready to give the security agencies necessary logistic support as they joined the state to fight the menace.
He stated that some major sites have been identified and what was required was for adequate security protection to be given to all those assigned to destroy them.
Gov. Wike urged the Chief of Defence Staff to give his officers and men final directive to join hands with the Rivers government to fight illegal oil bunkering.
According to him, this will stem further destruction of the environment and the national economy.
In his response, Gen. Irabor said that he was in Port Harcourt as part of the tour of military formations in the Niger Delta.
He said the tour was aimed at assessing security strategies and motivating officers for greater efficiency.
Irabor expressed delight over the audacity shown by Gov. Wike in championing the fight against illegal crude oil refinery activities that have been a great threat to the oil and gas Industry.
He said the military had long desired such government focused strategy towards the security of oil and gas asset and hoped that other governors would emulate Wike.