The support, according to the community leaders, is hinged on the government’s ability to fulfil its promise to grant the locals licence to operate modular refinery.
The chiefs made the promise at the weekend in Bille when the former governor of Bayelsa State, Timipiri Silva, visited the area to interface with major stakeholders on the need to end oil bunkering.
The Vice Chairman, Bille Council of Chiefs, Dr. Ibitamino Minapakama, said the community leaders were determined to ensure a stop to illegal oil bunkering, but insisted that the community should be given licence to operate a modular refinery.
Minapakama said: “We are grateful that the Federal Government has come to see us. Poverty is one of the major problems we have in the Niger Delta. Anything you can do to assist our communities have better life, please do.
“We the chiefs will help and assist our son you have appointed to champion this move to ensure that the normal thing is done.
“We have already applied to the Federal Government to give us a modular refinery to be sited in Bille community because we have the facilities here.
This area deserves modular refinery. It must be sited in this place.”
The chiefs further demanded for an extension of the land, reclamations and shore protection.
The Chairman of Oil and Gas Free Zone, Silva, said the Federal Government was committed to developing communities of Niger Delta and pleaded with the leaders and people of Bille to give government a chance to implement its plans.
Silva said: “Today, I am here on one mission and one mission only. To pass a message.
There is a serious problem in our area, it has to do with the survival of our people and their future. It has to do with environment.
“God in his mercies gave us oil. We as a people have been complaining and I know it is true that the crude oil has not benefited us. But we have created problem with it to ourselves.”
He cautioned that illegal bunkering affects the life and health of the people, hence the call on the people to join hands with government to stop the menace.