Akwa Ibom State may have lost more than twenty thousand job opportunities as hopes for the takeoff of the Amakpe International Refineries Nigerian Limited has finally crashed. A refinery expert and consultant with a US firm, Engr. Jim Collins said this in Abuja in a chat with news men. He said he was in Nigeria to meet with stakeholders of the refinery to renegotiate a deal on the new location of the refinery. “We are sure the Amakpe international Refineries is not going to have a place any more in Akwa Ibom State. Refinery is business and not politics. You can’t spend more than a decade negotiating just one business. It’s gonna collapse, if it broke, a lot of losses. You know loan is involved, interest rate, bank charges taxes and lots.” Engr. Collins who has a firm in Seismic data collation and hydrocarbons exploration stated that with other services firms, more than 20,000 jobs opportunities would have been secured by the youths at the initial takeoff alone of the project which had its base in Eket and Nsit Ubium local government areas of Akwa Ibom State Nigeria. He said it was regrettable that millions of dollars have already been spent in the failed processes of putting the refinery in Akwa Ibom State. It will be recalled that the ground breaking ceremony of the Amakpe Refinery last year ended in a fiasco as the Akwa Ibom State government halted it when former President Shehu Musa Yar’Adua who was represented by his then Vice President Goodluck Jonathan who arrived the state only to discover to his chagrin that Gov Godswill Akpabio had upturned the ceremony. Since then, effort to renegotiate the establishment of the refineries have yielded no positive result as the Akwa Ibom government have turned down all overtures to make it sit with stakeholders to broker deal that will lead to the takeoff of the oil firm. In the wake of this stalemate, a delegation of two Akwa Ibom indigenes from the Unite States namely Mr Chris Oduok and Emmanuel Umoh in November last year was sent to meet with Akwa Ibom State Governor, Chief Godswill Akpabio for dialogue on the way forward. It was learnt that the delegation spent more than a month trying to meet the governor but could not. It was however, also learnt that during this process one delegates escaped being kidnapped by a whisker. Apparently disturbed by this development, some concerned citizens of Eket and Nsit Ubium comprised of clan heads and youth leaders last week met with the President and CEO of Amakpe Refineries, Chief Usua Amanam in his country home Ikot Ibiuk, Eket to understand the progress so far made in renegotiating the final takeoff of the refinery with the government. The group was highly disappointed to know that there was no headway as Chief Amanam merely told them “…refinery business is not politics, I brought it, you say you don’t want it; other people say they want it. What do you want me to do?” Chief Usua asked rhetorically Out of frustration and strong anger, one of the youth leaders, Obong Nse Ukpong strenuously voiced out: “If such firms are allowed to be established in the State, armed robbery, kidnappings, youth restiveness and other social vices will be drastically reduced. I don’t know when we shall have such opportunity again. Our leaders are frustrating us.” The Attorney General and Commissioner of Justice of Akwa Ibom State, Barr Ekpenyong Ntekim drafted the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the government and Amakpe Refineries which plan of operations was billed for January 2010 before it was finally scuttled by the Akwa Ibom State government. Equally, Akwa Ibom Investment and Industrial Promotion Council (AKIIPOC) was the equity partner, and representing the government. UPS Capital Business Credit based in Windsor, Connecticut along with comprehensive insurance guarantees from US Export-Import Bank (EX-IM BANK) provided a short term credit facilities, while Sterling Bank, Plc, a strong believer in this project provided credit facilities and guarantees while Nigeria’s Export-Import Bank (NEXIM BANK) financed a short term bridge loan. Chief Usua Amanam, in a letter to his Akwa Ibom people regarding the progress report said “I am very proud to announce that our engineering partners have achieved a 100% completion of the fabrication of plant and machinery for the first phase 6,000 BPD (barrels per day) of the Amakpe refineries project. We arrived at this milestone by a careful and meticulous execution of our plans in spite of major cost overruns coupled with current world wide economic turbulence….” But with the dashed hopes of the refinery today, neither Chief Amanam nor the frustrating youth parading the unemployed markets can say they are proud or happy with the development.
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