Niger Delta youths today, 23rd August, stormed the premises of Port Harcourt Refining Company Limited to protest what they described as the provocative extension of the tenure of the company’s former Managing Director, Mr. Ahmed Dikko. Mr Dikko’s tenure expired early this month.
They described the alleged extension of his tenure by two years by the Group Managing Director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, Mallam Mele Kyari, as grave injustice to the Niger Delta people and a deliberate and brazen move to marginalize the people of the South-South region.
In May this year, NNPC commenced the $1.5billion rehabilitation of the 210, 000 barrels per day refinery. The rehabilitation exercise is scheduled to be done in three phases of 18, 24 and 44 months.
The protesters, who expressed their profound gratitude to President Muhhammadu Buhari for the rehabilitation exercise, called on the President to call the GMD to order by stopping his policy of promoting the interest of the north at the expense of the long suffering people of the Niger Delta. The protesters wondered why the GMD reappointed a Managing Director who has served his tenure, and then went ahead to appoint another northerner, Sheikh Tanimu Mohammed as Executive Director, Operations, E.D.O.
The placard carrying youths want President Buhari to ensure that justice is done to the people of Niger Delta by appointing qualified indigenes of Niger Delta in the NNPC system to head the refinery and other key positions in the company.
Early this month, NNPC, in an exercise it said was aimed at strengthening and repositioning the corporation towards attaining global excellence and profitability embarked on a major restructuring that saw the redeployment of some of its top officials and retirement of others who were due for retirement.
Oil industry watchers contend that extending the tenure of the retired officials amount to bringing such officials back through the back door which defeats the objective of the restructuring exercise.