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UNEP Report, Ogoni Clean-Up And Chameleonic FG

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For most members of the current Ogoniland community, chronic oil pollution has been a fact of life… Treating the problem of environmental contamination within Ogoniland merely as a technical clean-up exercise would ultimately lead to failure… Achieve long-term sustainability for Ogoniland will require coordinated and collaborative action from all stakeholders,” the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) indicated in the recommendations of its report on the Environmental Assessment of Ogoniland, submitted to President Goodluck Jonathan on August 4, 2011, at the Aso Rock, Presidential Villa, Abuja.
In his well-crafted Forward to the report, United Nations Under-Secretary-General and Executive Director, United Nations Environment Programme, Achim Steiner, noted: “The history of oil exploration and production in Ogoniland is a long, complex and often painful one that to date has become seemingly intractable in terms of its resolution and future direction. It is also a history that has put people and politics and the oil industry at loggerheads rendering a landscape characterized by a lack of trust, paralysis and blame, set against a worsening situation for the communities concerned. The reality is that decades of negotiations, initiatives and protests have ultimately failed to deliver a solution that meets the expectations and responsibilities of all sides.”
Steiner’s fears resonate in the fact that since October, 1956, when 22,000 barrels of crude oil was discovered and produced in Ogoniland, relations between the people and the operating stakeholders – the Federal Government, represented by the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), and Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC) with its co-venturers (Total Exploration and Production Company and Eni’s Agip Oil Company) – have shown serious lack of confidence, trust and commitment to fulfill obligations arising therefrom, and operate in line with global best practices. That fear still exists today, especially in respect of Federal Government’s commitment to lead efforts in the clean-up and restoration of polluted Ogoniland, particularly as it relates to the honest funding of the project.
Flagging off the clean-up and restoration of polluted Ogoniland, Thursday, June 2, 2016, President Muhammadu Buhari, boasted the commitment of the All Progressives Congress-led Federal Government to religiously implement the UNEP Report, warning that “The current oil theft and illegal refining will not be tolerated. The regulators in the oil industry must live up to expectations.” Represented by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, the president cautioned the regulators to “ensure that oil companies carry out their operations in line with universal best practices.” In fact, the then minister of environment, who is now UN deputy secretary general, Amina Mohammed, captured the mood more succinctly when she said the government had taken stock of the work done in the past to start the implementation, which “requires transparency, accountability, genuine partnership and proper representation of the people at the grassroots in what we are doing in investing in their future.” But unfortunately, in spite of Steiner’s fears in the UNEP Report, and the minister’s remarks at the launch in Bodo, Gokana Local Government Area of Rivers State, it is on record that the same Federal Government that has till date, exhibited lack of “transparency, accountability” and readiness for “genuine partnership” in the implementation of the clean-up and restoration of polluted sites in Ogoniland. Indeed, the signs, body language and budgetary allocation by the Federal Government for the clean-up exercise justify this characterisation.
Before expounding on this, let me first recall the UNEP position on the funding of the Ogoni clean-up exercise. Of course, a closer examination shows that the UNEP report specifically recommended “that the Government of Nigeria establishes an Ogoniland Environmental Restoration Authority (OERA) to oversee implementation of this study’s recommendations. With a fixed initial lifespan of 10 years, the authority will have a separate budget which will accrue from an Ogoniland Environmental Restoration Fund (OERF). The overall cost of the clean-up should not be an obstacle to its implementation. Therefore, an Environmental Restoration Fund for Ogoniland should be set up with an initial capital injection of $1billion contributed by the oil industry and the government. To be managed by the authority, the fund should be used only for activities concerning the environmental restoration of Ogoniland, including capacity building, skills transfer and conflict resolution.” In fact, the report recommended that “The Fund should be established with financial inputs from the oil industry operators with prevailing interests in Ogoniland (currently SPDC and NNPC) and the Federal Government of Nigeria as a major shareholder in both these entities.” In Page 227 of the Report, UNEP recommended 11 line items on the clean-up and restoration template with “initial preliminary cost estimate of $1,012,448,640 over the first five years of the exercise”.
The template included Emergency Measures (80 per cent for providing alternative drinking water to communities with contaminated water supply) to cost $63.750million, while clean up of land contamination would cost $611,466,100. Clean up of Benzene and MTBE contamination and Nsisioken Ogale to cost $50million, clean up of sediments at $20million, and restoration of artisanal refining sites at $99,452, 700. It further captured mangrove restoration and rehabilitation to cost $25.5million, surveillance and monitoring at a cost of $21.468million, setting up of Ogoniland Restoration Authority (now Hydrocarbon Pollution Restoration Project – HYPREP) at a cost of $44million, establishment of Centre for Excellence in Environmental Restoration to cost $18.6million, and initiative on alternative employment to those in artisanal refining activities at a cost of $10million. If these line items are put together, the total figure recommended by UNEP is $964,236,800. In addition to that, UNEP made provision for third party verification and international expert support to implementation of the recommendations at five per cent of total cost, and specifically put the cost at $48,211,840. This is what sums the total $1,012,448,640 required to fund the project in the first five years. And given the operating agreement for the SPDC JV, operator of the oil fields in Ogoniland, the Federal Government (represented by NNPC) controls 55 per cent of the stake; Shell 30 per cent; Total E & P 10 per cent; and Agip 5 per cent. This simply means that the Federal Government must lead the funding of the project and should naturally cough out 55 per cent of the total cost of $1,012,448, 640 for the first five years of the Ogoni clean-up and restoration.
Now, using the benchmark of the official exchange rate of N361.175 to a Dollar as at Saturday, January 6, 2018, the Federal Government is expected to pay to HYPREP $550million (approximately N198,646, 248, 399.700) over the first five years of the clean-up exercise, translating to $110million or approximately N39,729,249,679.940 each year. The SPDC ought to commit $300million (approximately N108,352,499,127.109) over a five year period, or pay HYPREP $60million (about N21,670,499,825.421) each year. Total E & P Limited is supposed to commit $100million (approximately N36,117,499,709.036) or $20million (about N7,223,499,941.807) each year for five years of the clean-up process. Agip must domicile $50million or approximately N18,058,749,854.518 to cover the first five years of the clean-up. In the alternative, it could annually pay to HYPREP $10million or approximately N3,611,749,970.903 each year for five years consecutively. This is what the UNEP Report recommends, and by committing to its implementation, all parties have agreed to fund HYPREP to deliver on its mandate. Besides, the UNEP Report also recommended a 10-year lifespan for HYPREP, renewable thereafter. It follows that another funding obligation of $1billion is required for the project to wrap-up the 10-year lifespan.
From a duty of care point of view, it is important to remind the Federal Government and Nigerians that UNEP did not give cost of the holistic clean-up and restoration of Ogoniland. No. In fact, in Page 226 of the report, UNEP stated that “A detailed costing of the various recommendations made in this report was not within the scope of the work and was therefore not attempted. However, it is clear that major investments will be needed to undertake the report’s recommendations. The preliminary estimates of the initial investments needed to rehabilitate and restore the environment are only provided so that there is sufficient funding to initiate follow-up actions.
“The final clean-up costs are likely to be different, indeed much higher, for the following reasons: Full environmental restoration of Ogoniland will be a project which will take around 25-30 years to complete, after the ongoing pollution has been brought to an end. The current cost estimates are operational costs of the new institutions over the first five years. The clean-up costs for contaminated soil will depend substantially on the remediation standards set. A more stringent standard will lead to higher clean-up costs. Another issue is that the cost of clean-up of groundwater is not included in this costing (except for Nsisioken Ogale). The clean-up objectives, standards and targets will first need to be decided before a volume estimate and associated costing can be attempted. No estimate is given for the clean-up of surface water. The response and clean-up costs for any new spills, or newly discovered spills, simply cannot be estimated. Cost of land for the Integrated Contaminated Soil Treatment Centre and mini treatment centres is equally not included. The costs of a set of asset integrity actions, which include better securing of the oil facilities and proper decommissioning of abandoned ones, are also not included. A major cost item will be the restoration of mangroves and forests within the creeks around Ogoniland. The current estimates are limited to a pilot area of impacted mangroves and forests around the Bodo West oil field facilities.” Without prejudice, operators of the oil and gas business in Ogoniland: Federal Government (NNPC), Shell, Total, and Agip should have known this by now. This is the crux of the matter, and a burden the government and its co-venturers must bear to prove that they are transparent, accountable and ready to promote genuine partnership with themselves and the communities for the sake of the environment and the future of the people.
Therefore, it is an understatement to conclude that the Federal Government has yet to show serious commitment to the Ogoni clean-up project, with regard to its financial commitments to the exercise. Of course, as noted earlier, the government, which has the highest share in the business necessarily should lead the funding portfolio with a commitment of the equivalent of 55 per cent of $1,012,448, 640, to HYPREP account for clean-up and restoration of Ogoniland. Anything short of that commitment only amounts to a lip service to the exercise, and an attempt to make the project fail from the start.
An examination of efforts towards funding the clean-up exercise shows that in 2017, the Federal Government allocated N148,387,837 for “Ogoniland Clean-up Programme Support”, out of a total recurrent and capital budget of N28, 588,353,295 for the Federal Ministry of Environment. In the 2018 Appropriation Bill presented to the joint session of the National Assembly on Tuesday, November 7, 2017, President Muhammadu Buhari gave a total recurrent and capital allocation of N27,369,935,624 for the Federal Ministry of Environment. Out of this amount, the president allocated an abysmal N20,228,621 for “Ogoniland Clean-up Support”. The president effortlessly tried to justify this meager allocation to the clean-up project when he said, “We are working hard on the Ogoniland clean-up project, and have engaged eight international and local firms proposing different technologies for the mandate. This would enable us select the best and most suitable technology for the remediation work, and have asked each firm to conduct demonstration clean-up exercises in four local government areas of Ogoniland. Although the International Oil Companies (IOCs) will fund the project, we have made provisions in 2018 budget for the costs of oversight and governance, to ensure effective implementation.”
Ironically, a close perusal of both the 2017 Appropriation Act and the 2018 Appropriation Bill explains the Federal Government’s lack of seriousness and commitment to fund the Ogoni clean-up project. It also shows the desperate attempt by the same government to shirk its responsibility from driving the funding of the clean-up exercise.
Take for instance the allocations to the Federal Ministry of Environment of N31,438,173 in 2018 and N31.5million in 2017 for materials and supplies, including stationeries, consumables, newspapers, magazines, among others; N24.870million in 2018 and N22,323,600 in 2017, respectively for cleaning and fumigation of offices; as well as N185million in 2017 and N99,350,953 in 2018, respectively for local and international travels and transport. Others include allocation of N250million apiece in 2017 and 2018 for attendance of statutory and international bilateral/multilateral meetings; renovation and rehabilitation of offices in the 36 states at a cost of N36,533,993 in 2017 and another N32,768,583 in 2018; and clean and green programme at N111,387,837 in 2017 and N42,249,053 in 2018. Projects audit got allocation of N114,061,500 in 2017 and N108million in 2018 while monitoring and evaluation of projects got N124,822,728 in 2017 and N94,799,950 in 2018; tree planting got N210,764,946 in 2017 and N369,428,609 in 2018, while revision of Environmental Impact Assessment Act got N13.5million in 2017 and N9.655million in 2018.
Other areas of concern include allocation of N41,430,649 for institutional agreement for development of Bamboo and RATTAN as well as establishment of Bamboo processing machine at N30million in 2017; and establishment of Bamboo processing machines in six geo-political zones at N6.2million and collaboration with international network for Bamboo and RATTAN for Bamboo and RATTAN production for export (phase 2 of 3) at N45million in 2018; up-scaling of EIA Registry at N65.5million in 2017 and digitization of EIA Registry at N67.130million in 2018; as well as development and production of Environmental Assessment procedures and revision of existing ones (guidelines, regulations and standards) at N75.975million in 2017 and the same project at N25.005million in 2018. These are laughable allocations in the Ministry of Environment spending portfolio that are of less importance to the Ogoniland project, given its complex history, significance and revenue contribution in shaping Nigeria’s development.
According to the UNEP Report, oil and gas exploration and production activities spanned over 1,000 square kilometers across Eleme, Tai, Gokana and Khana, with 12 oilfields, 116 drilled wells, 89 completed wells, and five flowstations, with installed capacity for 185,000 barrels of oil per day for more than 40 years. Assume that we monetise the value of this volume of crude oil using the current oil price of $67 per barrel – a staggering revenue earning by the operators, led by the Federal Government – would suffice. In fact, 185,000 barrels would amount to $12.395million per day; $371.850million in 30 days; $4,462,200.000 in 12 months; and $178.488billion in 40 years. Therefore, spending roughly $6billion from $178.488billion over the next 30 years, no doubt, is enough sacrifice to make by the government and oil industry players which partook in the business before 1993 when Ogonis stopped oil exploration and production in the area.
Put in perspective, it is callously uncharitable and gravely disappointing that the Federal Government, which blindly pocketed the huge revenue earnings from its 55 per cent stake in the joint venture operation for over 40 years, would turn around in 2017, to shirk its core responsibility of leading the way in the funding of efforts to restore the environment crassly degraded and polluted by oil exploration and production activities it consciously, wittingly and aggressively led. No right thinking person, without intent to exploit and undermine, would preside over a government that suggests and allows Shell, which took 30 per cent, Total which went away with 10 per cent, and Agip, which smiled home with just five per cent, to bankroll the monumental cost of the Ogoni clean-up. It is doubly saddening that President Muhammadu Buhari would make such allusion in his 2018 Appropriation Bill presentation to the National Assembly. It is already shameful enough that Shell literarily funded the UNEP scientific survey, without compromising the damning report arising therefrom, as attested to by Steiner.
The Federal Government’s posture, to say the least, amounts to an abdication of key social responsibility to remedy the mess it led in creating in Ogoniland for over 40 years. It is a clear violation of the global best practice in the extractive industry that the polluter necessarily pays for any measures to prevent and control the environmental pollution and health risks its activities had wrought. In fact, the ‘polluter pays’ principle, which is the commonly accepted practice that those who produce pollution should bear the costs of managing it to prevent damage to human health or the environment, is well known and applies globally. Ignoring this principle smacks of brazen insensitivity and lack of commitment to redress the humongous plight of the Ogoni people in particular and the entire Niger Delta in general. It shows Federal Government’s reluctance to accept responsibility for the devastation of Ogoniland, and willingness to commit commensurate funds with its 55 per cent stake in the lucrative business to clean-up and remediate Ogoni environment it robustly benefited from for decades.
Unlike the Federal Government’s chameleonic double standard in funding projects in other parts of the country, especially the North-East, where it has secured $1billion from Excess Crude Account to fight insurgency and execute other initiatives, the Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria, appears to have displayed more commitment to remedy the mess, and taken responsibility to right the wrongs of the past. This is because in line with the UNEP Report, it has undertaken a number of initiatives specifically assigned to it by the recommendations in the last six years in Ogoniland. Those initiatives would be attempted in a later piece.
Suffice to note that in addition to addressing those specific tasks, Shell, last year domiciled $10million (approximately N3,611,749,970.903) in HYPREP account as its funding obligation for the commencement of the clean-up exercise. SPDC General Manager, External Relations, Mr. Igo Weli, who disclosed this to journalists in Port Harcourt on Saturday, August 5, 2017, explained that the funds that would be used for the clean-up will come from the Joint Venture and budgeting process with the Federal Government through the NNPC making available 55 per cent, while Shell provides 30 per cent of its share in the funding arrangement.
According to Weli, Total Exploration and Production is expected to contribute 10 per cent of the funding for the clean-up of Ogoniland, while Eni’s Agip would provide five per cent. “SPDC JV commits to support HYPREP ….in the clean-up process. SPDC JV has made available the $10million take-off fund for HYPREP as part of its contribution towards funding its share of the Ogoni Restoration Fund. SPDC JV remains fully committed to continue supporting and contributing its share to the Ogoniland Restoration Fund (ORF) within the appropriate framework and governance structures. We encourage all relevant stakeholders to also remain committed to contributing their quota to the Ogoni Restoration Fund,” the Shell general manager clarified. To show further clarity to Shell desire to keep its part of the bargain, Weli was quoted on August 7, 2017, as saying that $200million was ready for deployment to HYPREP for the clean-up of Ogoniland.
That position appears to be what the Senator representing Rivers South-East Senatorial District, Magnus Abe, was alluding to when he said that the Federal Government has voted $190 million towards the implementation of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) on Ogoniland. Abe had disclosed that fact in Port Harcourt on Saturday, April 22, 2017. According to him, “We (Senate) are still pressing to increase the budgetary provision to $200 million to enable the project to begin. The amount was part of this year’s contributions by Shell.”
Thus, if Shell had last year set aside $200million in addition to the $10million it already paid to HYPREP out of its $300million, where then is the Federal Government’s $550million share of the total cost of the project in the first five years? From the paltry budgetary allocation of N148,387,837 in 2017 and the wickedly projection of N20,228,621million in 2018, the Federal Government appears to be simply playing politics with the clean-up project. This is why the Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike’s expressed fears that the body language of the Buhari-led Federal Government is to use the sustained propaganda around the Ogoni clean-up exercise to gain cheap political mileage ahead of the 2019 general elections, buys to the truth. It also justifies Wike’s argument that if $1billion could be approved from Excess Crude Account (ECA) by the Nigerian Governors’ Forum (NGF) for the Federal Government to fight insurgency in the North-East, there was nothing wrong with the approval of same amount from ECA to tackle environmental challenges in the Niger Delta identified in the UNEP Report, for which $1billion had been recommended to be spent over the first five years of its implementation.
Speaking at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, shortly after a meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari, on Friday, December 29, 2017, Wike said “However, we are talking about fighting insurgency, and no right thinking individual will say that he will not support the government to fight insurgency. But on the other hand, I believe that we have been talking about the environmental issues in the Niger Delta, particularly in Ogoni land. I believe that we can also take the same $1billion from the excess crude account to fund the problem in Ogoni land and other Niger Delta areas. That is my position.”
Wike’s position is shared by many stakeholders in the Niger Delta, who loath Federal Government’s apathy towards funding critical development projects and livelihood-sustaining initiatives in the region. Ogoni Youth Federation (OYF) is one of such groups. President-General of OYF, Mr Legborsi Yamaabana, in a statement, late last December, at the annual national congress of the body in Bera Community, Gokana Local Government Area, Rivers State, expressed the feeling of the youth. He said: “We have been in devastation for over 30 years, and the Federal Government has been very slow in the implementation of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) report for over six years now, as nothing has been done to assuage the situation of the people. A huge amount of money has been approved for the insurgency that started a few years ago. We are saying that part of the money should be diverted to the clean-up of Ogoni so that the work can start.”
In a communique at the end of the congress, read by the Legal Adviser of OYF, Pyagbara Gabriel, OYF decried the lackadaisical attitude of Federal Government, international oil companies and the Hydrocarbon Pollution Restoration Project (HYPREP), in the implementation of the recommendations on Ogoni clean-up, and insisted that any oil company willing to resume oil exploration in Ogoniland must enter into an agreement with the youth of the area. That is the same stance shared by the Movement for the Survival of Ogoni People (MOSOP). While querying the approval of a whopping $1billion for the Federal Government to fight insurgency in the North-East, MOSOP said that the urgency painted by the UNEP Report makes it expedient that another $1billion should be withdrawn from the ECA to fund the Ogoni clean-up in line the extant recommendations. Speaking in Port Harcourt in reaction to the NGF’s approval, MOSOP President, Legborsi Pyagbara, noted that the Ogoniland clean-up deserves more serious consideration given the scientifically proven environmental and health implications identified in the UNEP Report.
But given what President Buhari has said thus far and the budgetary allocation verifiable from the Federal Ministry of Environment’s spending basket, it is difficult to understand where the Chairman of the Board of Trustees (BoT) of HYPREP, Mr Wale Edun is coming from when he said that the Federal Government was “funding the environmental remediation in Ogoniland”. Speaking on Wednesday, September 6, 2017, on a programme on Arise Television, Edun said already, the government has properly funded both HYPREP’s Governing Council and Board of Trustees (BoT) – the two key elements of the governance structure required for the clean-up of the Ogoniland and other impacted sites. He said HYPREP’s BoT was working with the relevant stakeholders to develop a world-class framework to measure the agency’s achievements.
According to him, “We have escrow account; we have investment advisers; fund managers are in place; we have technical advisers so that when we are given a list of what else has been done, we can check it properly. In fact, from the perspectives of the Board of Trustees, we have funded the governing council, we have funded the budget office, and they are yet to apply those funds fully and come back for more. But in the meantime, one thing I like to point out is that the idea is not just that the government or the joint venture oil companies should fund this clean-up, we expect it to last for years, and we expect it to cost huge amount. So, we are putting in place a structure that allows other people, other philanthropists, other institutions – national and international – to also put money in that fund. So, it is not a project-based organisation that we are handling; it is a fund that can take money at any time and is committed to applying it properly; to applying it prudentially to the job of cleaning up Ogoniland.”
On whether the $1billion is meant only for clean-up of oil pollution or could be deployed in other initiatives such as providing health services, Edun said the fund would also be used to intervene in the health sector and in the provision of drinking water for the people of Ogoniland, whose environment was devastated by oil pollution. “It is holistic; it is comprehensive. So, it is for the clean-up of the land by remediation; clean-up of the water, provision of drinking water, restoration of the health of the people of Ogoniland, health intervention; restoration of the means of livelihood of the people as well. So, for the young people, we have training programmes; there are empowerment programmes as well as standards of restoring agriculture and restoring the fishing industry in Ogoniland. So, it is a comprehensive attempt to really restore the lives of the people,” Edun added.
However, this explanation by Edun does not add value to the argument that more than 18 months after, HYPREP is yet to record any measurable milestone on the ground to assuage the desperation and anxiety, and ultimately restore the confidence and trust of the people of Ogoniland, and indeed, the Niger Delta, and that the Federal Government is damn serious with the holistic implementation of the UNEP Report. It also buys into the school of thought which brandishes decades of Federal Government’s record of lack of commitment to previous engagements, and implementation of agreements designed to address the Niger Delta Question. The people need Edun to do more, empirically, to convince stakeholders in the region that Buhari was not sure of his position when he said that the oil companies would fund the project, instead of the Federal Government leading the funding in line with its 55 per cent stake in the business. Edun needs to carefully read and understand Page 226 of the UNEP Report before he speaks again on the readiness of his team to deliver on the tasks ahead. He needs to fathom the letters contained in Page 227 of the UNEP Report. He needs to thoroughly digest the entire 262-page report before he speaks again!
Time has come for National Assembly members from the Niger Delta to rise up, denounce the lukewarm strategy and collectively lobby other members with the aim of raising the 2018 allocation to a reasonable amount commensurate with the Federal Government’s 55 per cent stake in the oil business. It is also natural to remind members of the National Assembly from other parts of the country to, for once, be fair and just in their debates over the paltry allocation, and ensure honest review that should up the ante for the clean-up exercise. Justice demands that Buhari should boldly shove away the shame of this dismal allocation by proposing a supplementary appropriation to fund its huge responsibilities in the Ogoni clean-up process, bearing in mind that 55 per cent of the $2billion clean-up cost over the first 10 years must be borne by a sincere Federal Government. This is the paradox of the Ogoni clean-up project!

 

Nelson Chukwudi

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The Danger Of Cybernetics And Genetic Terrorism

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Cybernetics is the science of information codification, classification, communication and control in machines, chemical elements and biological species. In machines and electronic system the process is done through computer programming, while in biological species the process takes place through genetic modification and change in blood radiation. Studies and research in these fields are quite many, including what is known as DNA Mapping. (DNA means deoxyribonucleic-acid-as an abbreviation). This has to do with the classification of human blood groups and genotypes for the purposes of exploring the mechanism of heredity and the cycles of evolution of species.
Cybernetics and Cyber-crimes
Mendelism in cybernetics would be tedious to explain but it is an aspect of cybernetics which has to do with the modification and alteration of human consciousness and volition through a manipulation of the glands. Ordinarily, the nature of what we eat and drink, how we breathe and exercise the body, can affect our health and consciousness. Studies indicate, for instance, that the consumption of animal fats regularly, can dim and distort the quality of the blood and the kind of radiation it emits.
Research activities into various means of alteration of human genetic system rarely end with applying the results genetically but through electronic system too. This can be quite dangerous in a world where terrorism can take various forms, just like fraud. It is true that institutional or state-sponsored research projects would be done under strict control and taking security into consideration too.
Not everything which private researchers do can become public knowledge, including the process of testing and verifying results. Human beings who serve as guinea-pigs and whose participation in such projects may not be voluntary, can be exposed to some dangers. For example, there are hypnotists among various criminal groups who can make their victims do a number of things without their free will. Internet and other electronic media can be used in such diabolical and criminal activities. This cuts across nations and continents.
A number of youths who are mentally unstable currently got involved through the internet and cell phones with some cult groups operating in various countries. From giving away information about their blood status and other personal data some unsuspecting youths have been placed in conditions enabling them to receive strange instructions and communications from sources which they know nothing about. There is more to increasing cases of cultism and other aberrations among Nigerian youth than what we generally know. The major criminality in cyber engineering lies in teleguided modification of the human brain and cells through electronic contacts. The practice is widespread.
Cybernetics, Eugenics and Racism
After Charles Darwin published his book “The Origin of Species” (1859), there began many experiments in cloning and genetic engineering. Francis Galton, regarded as the “father “ of I. Q. testing and the science of intelligence, wrote a book: “Hereditary Genius” (1869) and also founded the British Eugenic Society. The aim of the society was to “help nature along by determining who the intelligent and the unintelligent were, and by promoting the breeding of the former and the infertility of the latter.”
Thus began the era of genetic terrorism with key emphasis on promoting the infertility and reduction of the population of unintelligent and inferior races and classes. One Arthur Jenson exposed the racial motives and contents of the Eugenic ideology, with another racist writer, Richard Hernnstein. Both of them had the audacity to assert that Blacks are an inferior genetic stock and that no legislation was necessary to seek to make them equal with the whites.
As criticisms over these assertions and racial insults mounted, research works on genetic modification went underground, with secret sponsorship. International “humanitarian” agencies were infiltrated for the purpose of implementing the eugenic ideology, the special emphasis on “helping” developing countries. Thus began a well-articulated program of one-sided and unfair exploitation of the poor, weak and “unintelligent” sections of the human stock.
We cannot wish away the sad effects of racial prejudices and stereotypes whereby various classes of people are associated with some peculiar and fixed behavioural patterns. More ludicrous in these stupid ideas is the association of intelligence, wealth and integrity with the elite; and crime, lechery and dishonesty as the preserve of the “agbero” class in human society.
Not too long ago in Nigeria there were some controversies over “Trovan” drugs and polio vaccine of which there were allegations of unwholesome intentions. Perhaps, unknown to them, drug manufacturers, vendors and international aid agencies can be infiltrated by secret agents for the purpose of contaminating drugs meant for certain countries with genetic modifying chemicals. Hitherto, there are a number of unanswered questions regarding the HIV/AIDS scourge, which has been described as “Artificially Induced Distortion of the genetic system”. Concern about unchecked population explosion had resulted in suggestions to use genetic means, targeted at certain social classes by drug administration.
Cloning, Commercialism and Compromise
Cloning is an artificial process of producing exact copy of something or someone else, programmed and teleguided to function like a zombie. Through similar process, experiments in cloning and genetic modification have widened into power-politics, commercialism and blackmail. Power-controlling strategies include the cloning of cronies and agents who can be used to do some dirty and dangerous jobs and then abandoned or programmed to commit suicide thereafter.
Apart from the mechanism of genetic modification and alteration of blood radiation through the infusion of “occult blood”, there are other ways of producing political clones for a fee. Through research and secret experiments the human brain has been abused in ways that are shocking and unbelievable.
Some money-bags and power-mongers hire, train and feed some macho-men with certain concoctions such that they become animal-like in behavior and thinking. Thus they become zombies rather than humans, with the purpose of serving their masters for security and other specific projects.
Studies in herbal pharmacology also aid in these practices, whereby people hired as domestic helps are fed by their masters or mistresses with certain herbs mixed in their food which eventually alter their behavior and mind-set. Not only house-helps but also people who fall foul to the law can, during their detention period, be fed with substances which alter their behavior and consciousness permanently after their ordeal.
Plea bargaining which is a common compromise strategy as well as blackmail are ready instruments of parallel terrorist measures. Thus political, business or economic power brokers produce their own clones in the form of cronies, private eyes, mercenaries, clowns or saboteurs who can terrorise opponents of their masters. Unfortunately there are some variations of clones who operate as servants of various religions, bringing discredit and dishonor to ecclesiastical institutions.
Cloning centres are deep waters and shark-infested. Many of the mindless clones and zombies rarely know the end-result of their assignments. Mass hysteria is used as a ready tool to enlist the services of those who can be swayed by pontification and indoctrination. Such zombie-like clones, with no personal conviction or moral scruples can carry out with glee and euphoria bombing and other terrorist acts. What we call brain-washing is in reality a programming process, the same way that de-radicalisation is de-programming.
Programming and program sponsorship in the cybernetic project are complex and dangerous issues to write about. The intention here is to warn the Nigerian public that the nation is coming under a siege through the instrumentality of internet technology coupled with dogmatic ideologies of various shades. Security agencies may not have all the answers or solve all the problems, neither is one raising any false alarm. The situation demands utmost vigilance and the ability to understand that all that glisters is not gold. Attention should be paid to what Nigerian youths engage in, home or abroad.
Dr. Amirize is a retired lecturer from the Rivers State University, Port Harcourt.

 

Bright Amirize

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Weapons Of Mass Devaluation: An Examination

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“Tumult and oppression are worse than slaughter” – Holy Qur’an, Sura II: 217

We must admit that right from pre-historic time humans live in environments where there are always predators, not of the dinosaur genre. Despite the claims about all humans being equal, maybe in terms of having a common origin, it is quite obvious that glaring inequalities exist among humans. Without going into the causes or origins of such wide diversities among humans, we must admit that human environments are battlefields not only for the survival of the fittest, but for maturing purpose.
Mass devaluation refers to conditions where weak individuals, groups or nations are placed in de-humanising situations thus reducing the status of their humanity, pride, self-esteem, independence, and opportunities to survive. In such restricting situations the weak are forced to give in and surrender to external pressures, in a state of helplessness and perhaps hopelessness. It is not in the spirit of humans to submit willingly to oppression and tumult, but when force and cunning come into social relationship, the weak can succumb.
Organized system of human settlements and governance came about as a means of defence or protection against external aggressions and oppressions. However, since different people and groups must interact for economic and survival purposes, strong and weak groups of people can always meet, with various results arising.
Theaters of Devaluation
The devaluation process and strategies take place at different levels, ranging from individual, local national and international settings. A child once asked the father why people lock their doors before going to bed at night. The father’s answer was that “people are dangerous, and they become more daring when opportunities are created for them to take undue advantage of”. The father and child conversation changed when the child asked the father: “Are you also a dangerous man?”
No one would admit in the open that he is a dangerous man, even for someone who is so. People soon discover through practical daily experiences that it is folly to surrender one’s life or destiny solely in the hands of another person, no matter how close. Let us call it precaution, but the natural instinct of self-preservation demands that a responsible adult has a duty to be cautious in his dealings with other individuals.
It is obvious and quite natural that people can, and often do, exploit weaknesses which other individuals exhibit. Therefore, at individual level personal indulgences constitute immediate theater for devaluation. Take example of a man who cannot hold his amative appetite under control; whether a clergyman or a professor, he runs the risk of being devalued. Once an aggrieved woman throws the first stone even after many years of alleged “rape”, other women would come up with more stones to demolish and devalue anyone. Apart from predatoriness, there is also sadism in humans.
At the local level of human interactions, envy can become the theater and instrument of the devaluation process, especially where arrogance and vanity join hands with envy. Even within families in local communities, farmlands and who owns what space, can spark off issues which can result in mass demotion and devaluation.
At national level the same shenanegans which play out in local communities swell bigger in line with increased population. Unfortunately, there are usually people who would want to run before they have learnt to walk, especially when they see others run with such ease that can make the crawling ones want to catch up with or get even with those they envy.
Political leaders have been known to use the wide disparity among various parts in a nation as the instrument or theater to cause tension and division among people. Development process demands that individuals and wider groups try to identify, utilize and build upon available local resources and talents rather than ignore them or envy others of what they are able to develop and use.
Both at national and international levels, it is the formidable impersonal power structure which becomes the preying titan. Without wearing the tag of modern slavery, the system disempowers and devalues the weak masses, while creating the impression that people’s best interests are being served and protected. The Globalisation system provides the enabling platform for the survival of the fittest, whereby it takes strong bargaining power or a countervailing force, to stand the impersonal politico-economic structure. The world of capitalism is a predatory world.
Mechanism and Weapons of Devaluation
The structure upon which mass devaluation operates at national and international levels had evolved long ago, thanks to political and economic institutions. With Nigeria as an oil producing nation, the game of devaluation has a high stake. The following are the means of the devaluation process:
Misdistribution of national resources.
Anybody who doubts that there is a deliberate misdistribution of the commonwealth should please take a critical and unbiased look at the records of the Nigerian Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (NEITI). Is it not on record that Senator Ita Enang once said that “Northerners owned 83 per cent of all oil blocks in the country”? Why was such serious revelation drowned and swept away through a national uproar and denials? Did the then Petroleum Minister, Dieziani Allison-Madueke and the Federal Government disprove Enang’s claim? Ignorance and fear are serious weaknesses.
Did a global body, the Revenue Watch Institute (RWI) not give Nigeria very poor marks in the administration of its oil sector, with reference to secret award of oil licences? Since after the end of the Nigerian Civil War, the Nigerian political economy had swung steadily into less than 20% of the population controlling and enjoying more than 80% of the nation’s wealth. It is neither productivity nor great patriotism that is the basis of such abundance of wealth. Thus the weak 80% of the population becomes devalued; thanks to corruption!
Exploitation of labour, talents and resources
Apart from the public sector of the economy controlled by the governments, the private sector can be divided into two sections. The oil and gas section can afford to pay salaries that make their workers the envy of the society. The banks which would have come next in that category had laid off a large number of their workers, thanks to the introduction of electronic banking. The other section of the private sector exploit their workers in such a way that anyone would wonder how such workers feed during the month. Private school owners pay their workers between fifteen and fifty thousand naira a month, including postgraduate teachers. With mass unemployment, talents waste away.
State policies and programmes.
But for the serious outcry from various quarters, the RUGA projects which were designed with obvious ulterior or hidden motives, would have been foisted upon unsuspecting communities, with attendant unpleasant results. It is obvious that similar ill-conceived policies and programmes had been pushed through for implementation, whose results would not be in the best interests of the masses. The issues of fuel subsidy and price equalization are cases in point which pass on the burden of profligate state spending and poor management of affairs to the docile masses.
Power monopoly via money politics
Money politics, which is sustained by the club of money-bags, buccaneers and pig-headed adventurers, turns a democracy into an oligarchy or an exclusive cult system. The result is that the masses are not only excluded and devalued, but often used and exploited for base political purpose. The result is not only the promotion of instability but also insecurity in the society. Money politics, like big business monopolies and armed combat, promote proliferation of fire-arms and pig-head adventurers.
Aggressive Taxation and tax-drive.
Money-politics brings on its trail profligate spending during and after election processes. When state purse begins to run dry aggressive taxation and tax drive come handy as means of raising revenue. The process of increasing internally-generated revenue (IGR) goes along with intimidation, oppression and possibly forced grabbing and seizure of property including land. Members of the Task Force created for this purpose often become monstrous in their operations.
Strangely, what tax consultants and members of Task Force on revenue collection have not been able to do is impound marauding cattle that invade everywhere, including LGA premises. Are the macho-men, despite their bravado, afraid of cattle or their owners? Here, we see how intimidation and the use of force under various guises can become the means of devaluation of the masses. A warning that “your boys may impound nama belonging to the Brigade Commander” prevented a local government chairman from creating a taskforce for the purpose. Cattle can serve as means of devaluation.
Induced Mass Poverty
Can mass poverty not be deliberately induced as a means of keeping the masses docile and malleable, for political purposes? Why is the payment of a paltry N30,000 minimum wage such a big issue when some political office holders earn fantastic salaries and allowances which they will feel jittery to be made public? Why are workers in some states owed salaries for several months, and pensioners subject to the ordeal of endless biometric verifications? With increasing poverty, unemployment, job losses and widespread insecurity, it is obvious that the weak and poorest of the poor would see life as having little or no value or purpose.
Mental enslavement is the most dehumanizing bondage leading to devaluation.
Dr. Amirize is a retired lecturer at the Rivers State University, Port Harcourt.

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Herdsmen: Demand As Passive Weaponry

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In March 2016, the people of Egbema in Ogba/Egbema/Ndoni Local Government (ONELGA), Rivers State and their friends from near, far and wide converged at home for the burial of Mrs. Ule Samade who was sexually assaulted and fatally shot in her farm by herdsmen. The death of the very vivacious and homely Ule in her prime was a bitter and painful loss made more so by the peculiar circumstance of her death and the fact that every effort to bring the assailants to book failed due to the status of the owner of the herds in the security apparatus of Nigeria. Nursing its deep emotional wounds, the family decided not to serve beef at the burial and took a traditional oath never to cook or eat beef in the family throughout the life of the current adult members. So it was that fish and chicken were served as protein at the burial, a rather eloquent protest albeit a passive one. In the opinion of the family, to serve beef would have invariably meant patronizing the assailants of Ule. So for the occasion, the principals of the herdsmen lost clientele, no matter how comparatively infinitesimal.
In the nauseating novel tradition of turning burials into carnivals irrespective of the age of the deceased and circumstance of death, snacks and drinks were served at the service of songs while food and drinks were dished out in ample quantity at the burial; and that was in keeping with the silly and senseless bid to meet or surpass the tacit standard for burials set by an ignominiously wasteful society. Naturally, that was to the delight of guests, both the invited and the uninvited that constituted the vast majority.
Fast forward to today, on Saturday, June 29, 2019, the people of Nenwe Community, Enugu State, chased a herd of cattle and their AK47-totting herders out of the community and expressed the desire to collectively abstain from beef. Now, if a leaf is borrowed from the apparently petty passive protest of the Samade family and the threat of the Nenwe Community and the underlining consciousness that manifested in these acts of resistance is effectively tapped into and propagated widely, it will constitute a trickle into the ocean of withholding demand for beef. The law of demand and supply teaches that where demand is nonexistent, supply seizes to be; in other words, if there is no demand, the entrepreneur has no need to process his commodity and transport it to a nonexistent marketplace and if this persists over an extended time frame the entrepreneur is, inevitably, out of that particular business.
Within the context of the above economic truism, it is wondered why demand cannot be utilized as a weapon against the menace of herdsmen. After all, nutritionists counsel against eating beef as a result of its cholesterol content. And currently, there is a global campaign against the consumption of beef based on the argument that it takes enormous amount of water and degradation of the environment to produce beef meanwhile man is running out of water and may go to war in the near future for table water as the aquifers are drying up. That the Fulani customarily do not consume beef means that they may have been aware of the health hazards from time immemorial. So, for the rest of Nigerians, it is lose-lose situation: beef, arrow or bullet, either way, Nigerians are being killed in their thousands. Obviously, the sustainability of the profession, economy and livelihood of the Fulani primarily depends on demand from people south of their territory.
In a 1995 poem titled “Niger Delta Donkey,” which is part of a thirty-poem anthology published in 2002, a poet observed and prophesied thus inter alia:
See the herdsman His holy book in han’ He’s jihading to thy sea Always where and what he wants to be
From pre-Boro To post Saro
You aborrowed And asorrowed While their serfs on your horses
Cart away their loot From your land and purses As your princes are on foot
If you close your eyes And bow your head Persistent would be their actions and lies Until you are dead
In the first three lines, “Niger Delta Donkey” alludes to the statement credited to Sir Ahmadu Bello to the effect that the Koran will be dipped in the Atlantic Ocean, thus Islamizing all of Nigeria as intended by Uthman Dan Fodio. The fourth line refers to the audacious manner in which Northerners take positions in the system without caring whose ox is gored; this is exemplified by the facts that (1) Hausa/Fulanis are the major beneficiaries of the allocation of oil wells and (2) the current appointment of Fulani Moslems into virtually every major national security office and other high profile positions. The eight-line second verse captures the existence of abject poverty amidst plenty and the systemic oppression of the people of Niger Delta.
More than two decades after the twenty-eight-line “Niger Delta Donkey,” the poet captured the same theme in another metaphoric poetry titled “Sitting Ducks” in which he wrote thus inter alia:
From around the Sahel they’ve arrived Full, fiendish, fanatical freaks Plying trades on which your forebears thrived And taking over your creeks Your farmland are trampled by their herd Your protestations can’t be heard
Sitting ducks, waiting to stop the poisoned arrow
Shot from the full freaking fanatics’ bow As you live in silent desperation While they have no hesitation To unleash the deadly staccato of their AK47 Towards voluptuous rewards in heaven (The Tide, June 28, 2019:9)
Interestingly, in “Niger Delta Donkey,” the author was historical and at the same time futuristic; however, in “Sitting Ducks,” he addresses the cogency, currency and urgency of now. He utilizes the metaphor of ducks helplessly and unconsciously sitting at “bull’s eye” of the herdsman’s bow and arrow or the globally acclaimed deadly AK47 assault rifle thus emphasizing the fatality and finality of the situation. Taken together, both poems constitute a wake-up call for a very generous and highly gifted people who are, rather unfortunately and shamefully, known for their divisiveness and docility.
With the Federal government cancelling gun licenses and withdrawing all licensed guns while herdsmen ply their trade with AK47 brazenly and arrogantly hoisted on their shoulders, the vulnerability of the citizens of the Middle Belt and the rest of the South of Nigeria cannot be overstated. Under the circumstance, adjusting the taste buds and withholding the demand for beef will, if affected widely and committedly, pull the entrepreneurial rug off the feet of the principals of the herdsmen. Speaking in this vein, Emeka Anyaegbu rhetorically asked thus: “is it not high time we boycotted cow meat? Is it not ironic that while they slaughter us we still spend more than N5b per annum patronizing them”? Ponder the essence and import of these questions vis-à-vis the number of cows bought during festive periods, the new fad of royal-standard weddings, insane burial carnivals, traditional wine carrying, thanksgiving services and opening of houses, offices etc not to mention daily patronage for domestic and commercial purposes. Certainly, the purchase of beef inadvertently strengthens the principals of the herdsmen; therefore, the proposed boycott is a very eloquent way of telling the Fulani that we can do without their commodity. All that needs be done is to join the Fulani in abstinence from the commodity of their enterprise and the demand for beef will plummet and the whole hoopla about RUGA and cattle ranches will come to a quiet and peaceful end.
In view of the above, it behooves the governments of the States affected by this menace and NGOs with a proclivity for human rights to embark on extensive public enlightenment campaign to sensitize the people to align with Samade family of Egbema (not necessarily to the extent of the traditional oath) and the intended action of Nenwe Community. Perhaps, this will force the principals of the herdsmen to a roundtable towards peaceful coexistence. Particularly speaking, the people of Niger Delta have been the donkeys of the Nigerian society over the years; their docility has now translated into living the essence of “Sitting Ducks” invariably waiting for the herdsman’s bow and arrow or the staccato of his deadly AK47.
What is very irksome in this whole affair is that humanity is racing into the future at breakneck speed, Artificial Intelligence (AI) is displacing man in the workplace, oil has lost its primacy in the global marketplace, John Magufuli has put Tanzania on the wheels of progress and Paul Kagame has attracted Volkswagen to establish an assembly plant in Rwanda; meanwhile, Nigeria is feverishly driving blindly on the reverse by being neurotically preoccupied with mundane things such as land, cattle, ethnicity and the preposterous and idiotic matter of searching for the face of the Unknowable through the jaded and ossified creeds of two alien religions called Christianity and Islam; what a pity, what a great pity for a country so richly endowed with globally acknowledged abundance in human and material resources.
In the history of communications, it is said that nothing arrests the mind more permanently than words captured in music or poetry; so, the reader is humbly invited to ponder the following fourteen-line poem as a parting gift:
Demand as Weapon Bow and arrow have we not, Against the lethality of the staccato of AK47 We can’t get even; But we owe posterity Protection from hurt
So, if one and all, We reject beef The butcher’s stand will surely fall without a miff. Then we’d cultivate our land And peacefully savor the bounty of the Almighty
Every human being has ears; however, for some, their ears are ornamental hence the Man from Galilee said thus: “He that hath ears to hear, let him hear.” The Fulanis are predators of the first order with the patience of a vulture; the suspension of the RUGA program should be seen for what it is, suspension not cancellation. This issue will certainly resurface in the future in a more daring and audacious manner.
Osai is a lecturer in Rivers State University, Port Harcourt.

 

Jason Osai

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