For now, the federal government will not be able to deal with the issue of illegal oil refineries with a wave of its hand.

They need to go beyond promises and sound bites.

This is because the refinery operators have vowed to continue in the illegal trader until government provides an alternative.

Some of them in Rivers State noted that they cannot leave their only source of livelihood and die in poverty.

Also Read: ‘Federal Govt. Can’t Wait For Dangote Refinery To Start Production’

Their position was disclosed to Minister of State for Environment and Chairman, Governing Council, Hydrocarbon Pollution Remediation Project, Ibrahim Jibrin, in Port Harcourt, at a one-day consultative meeting organised by the office of the Project Coordination, HYPREP.

Speaking for the ex-artisanal refiners, Domka Humphrey said the government would have to include them in its long term plans.

“Sir, I will tell you our minds, if you don’t empower us, we will not stop refining, because this is what we feed our families and relations with. We don’t have anything doing after government took away the pipeline surveillance from us.

“So, we need to be carried along. Some of us are graduates, many people are still in the bush refining, if you empower us, we will talk to them and they will leave the bush.

“But where we are not seeing anything, it will be very difficult for us to leave the illegal refining,” they said.

The ball is definitely in the government’s court