Nigerian Society of Engineers, NSE, at the weekend, threw a gauntlet at President Goodluck Jonathan, challenging him to provide the required finances and watch Nigerian engineers carry out Turn- Around -Maintenance, TAM, and give the kiss of life to three ailing refineries in the country.
They also tasked security agencies to put a final halt to oil bunkering and illegal crude refineries in the Niger-Delta region and also stop its members from colluding with oil thieves to rip off the country.
Speaking in Warri during his two-day working visit to Delta state, national president of National Society of Chemical Engineers, Engr. Nche Erinne, said, "Substantially, the problem of refineries is the ownership by government and its attendant bureaucracy".
According to him, "The failure is not due to the engineers operating them, but an extension of what is happening in the country. We give kudos to our engineers for running them despite the low funding".
"We want a total deregulation of the downstream sector and with that, private investors will become involved and it will be more effective.
"Refining is business and government is not a good business manager. Government inability to run refineries effectively is not the fault of chemical engineers", he added.
Chairman of NSE, Warri branch, Engr. Ugochukwu Nzurimike, who corroborated the NSCE boss asserted, "The Nigeria engineers can solve the problem, we challenge President Goodluck Jonathan to provide the required funds and we will restore the refineries and Delta Steel Company, DSC, Ovwian-Aladja, Delta state".
"The government has not considered the local engineers, we can handle the Turn- Around -Maintenance, build cars and solve many problems", he added.
Erinne , however, noted in his addresses, "The chemical engineers are trying to influence policies through the presentation of a position paper".
He said it was probably because of the paper submitted to government that chemical engineers were selected in the Refineries Task Force committee, which was currently at work and would soon come out with its report.
The NSCE boss stated that his vision was to see a more functional refining sector that will strengthen the internal workings of the society.
He condemned the increase in oil bunkering and unlawful refineries in the Niger-Delta region, stressing that it was illegal and should be stopped by security operatives.
Erinne, however, urged security agencies to stop colluding with oil thieves to rip off the country.
He suggested that illegal refinery operators should come to the open and get operating licence so that they would operate in a legal and standardised method.
He warned of the great dangers that illegal bunkering and refining pose to health, environment and the economy, adding, "The pollution is massive and 60 per cent of the end product , which is the residue is poured into the river, the government should do all it can to put an end to it.
Other engineers who spoke also blamed the government for the collapse of the three refineries, saying the problem was that Nigerian engineers had not been given the funds to fix them.
Copyright 2012 AllAfrica Global Media. All Rights Reserved.
(Originally published July 2, 2012, in Vanguard.)