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UNEASE IN KOGI OVER SITING OF REFINERY

By NBF News

The last may not have been heard of the crisis that generated a fortnight ago over the relocation of Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation Refinery in Kogi State. There are fears that a serious crisis may be inevitable if the state government went ahead to play alleged ethnic politics in the siting of the refinery.

Daily Sun investigations revealed that some youths were plotting to curtail the scheming of some people, urging Governor Abubakar Idris to site the refinery in his ethnic Igala land as a parting gift to his people irrespective of the repercussions.

Daily Sun also found that, if Governor Idris refused to heed the advice of some elders in the state to tread softly on the matter, he might end up burning his hand. The crisis started last month when Idris handed over the certificate of occupancy to some Chinese investors who were in government house , Lokoja, along with some officials of NNPC to construct one of the three Federal Government newly approved refineries at Itobe in his senatorial district..

This was said to be contrary to the approval of the technical committee set up by the Federal Government which had already picked between Lokoja and Ajaokuta, both in the Western and Central Senatorial districts of the state for the project. Senator Smart Adeyemi, representing the western senatorial district and Senator Saliu Ohize, representing the central , swiftly reacted against the governor's decision and rejected the Itobe site, accusing the governor of changing the original site.

The two senators, while addressing newsmen in Abuja over the issue, said the Itobe location of the governor negated the economic realities which informed the setting up of the refinery in the state as the new site was bereft of basic amenities needed for the siting of the project.

They accused the governor of playing ethnic politics in the siting of the refinery, stressing that the two other districts had been long marginalized in the state since the creation of the state about 20 years ago, only the Igalas, had been dominating other tribes. in terms of political appointments. They described the decision of the state government in siting the refinery in Itobe as selfish and unfortunate, on the Federal Government to immediately wade into the issue.

But Senator Nicholas Ugbane, representing the Eastern Senatorial District, along with some federal lawmakers in the zone, condemned Adeyemi and Ohize and said there was nothing wrong in the governor's decision to site the project whereever he so pleased. As this was going on , the Ebira Peoples Association addressed reporters in Lokoja, warning the State Government to reverse its decision or face the wrath of the Ebiras.

The Vice President of the association, Major Ali Abdullahi, who showed reporters various documents on why the refinery must be located in the central senatorial district, said Federal Government's technical committee put into considerations some factors such as proximity to railway lines, stable power, land accommodation and market , among others, before they settled for the central axis for the project.

The association, therefore advised the state government not to thwart the Federal Government's efforts in providing amenities for its people.