“We travel together as passengers on a little spaceship, dependent on its vulnerable reserves of air and soil, all committed for our safety to its security and peace, preserved from annihilation only by care, the work and the life we give our fragile craft”.
Stevenson made the above remarks shortly before his death, he was drawing attention to the need for global environmental protection.
Unfortunately, environmental pollution has today remained one of the most contentious issues of global concern.
Contrary to Stevenson’s postulation, the story of the Niger Delta region in Nigeria seems to be one of the most ominous globally in terms of environmental pollution and gas flaring. In spite of its huge natural deposit of oil reserves, the Niger Delta is predominantly associated with a diminishing and blighted environment, with its teeming natives and inhabitants, displaced of sustainable livelihood.
The ugly trend has continued to draw the attention of stakeholders and pundits, with a view to addressing the development challenges in the oil rich region.
Engr Olu Anda Wai-Ogosu is one of such concerned patriots and key stakeholders who have lent his views on how to address the issues of oil pollution and environmental devastation in the Niger Delta.
The environmentalist and lecturer in the Institute of Geo Sciences, at the Rivers State University, spoke with The Tide in an exclusive interview in Port Harcourt at the weekend, and indentified some tactical flaws in Nigeria oil politics as being responsible for infrastructural deficit in the Niger Delta region.
He picked holes in the Joint Venture Operation, between the Federal Government and the International Oil Companies (IOCs)and said that the effrontery demonstrated by IOCs in slighting oil bearing and host communities, had the tacit connivance of the Federal Government.
He noted that the IOCs, were not operating in the country on their own volition, but at the instance of the Federal Government who was supposed to protect the interest of the host communities. “The actions of the IOCs are supposed to be subjected to international scrutiny of best practices, but they operate on double standards, and hide under the cover of the Federal Government. The joint venture is an international agreement, and in Nigeria, the Federal Government controls 60 percent while the IOCs control 40 percent.
“The stake of the oil bearing or host communities is subsumed under the agreement, but the Federal Government mostly fails to comply in due terms and depends on bail out by the IOCs. The Federal government, therefore, lacks the moral justifications to whip the IOCs to line in the process of institutional default,” he said.
Commenting on the controversial Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB), the environmentalist, said the bill had suffered some defects as a result of vested interests and the intrigues of oil politics which is skewed to the detriment of the oil bearing communities. “The PIB, which was expected to address the burning issues in Nigeria oil sector has also met a brick wall. There are emphasies on financial benefits to the Federal Government and the IOCs, while the stakes of the host communities are not given due consideration. These communities have suffered the brunts of environmental pollution and they want assurance of sustainable livelihood. We are not sincere about the way we handle the environment,” he said. Wai-Ogosu who is the immediate past president of the Nigeria Environmental Society, also barred his mind on remediation activities by IOCs at polluted sites in the Niger Delta.
He pointed out that the IOCs were not practicing remediation in the Niger Delta, but adopted temporary palliatives to contain the spread of pollution.
“What the IOCs do is not remediation, they only try to cut the spread of the spills by scooping the top soil from where the spill has covered and deceive the larger public that they have remediated.
“Remediation is when you apply reasonable scientific and biological methods to ensure the depth of the spread of the hydrocarbon material is adequately removed from the soil,” he explained .
Explaining the effects of oil spillage on the natural environment, he said the effects depended on the size of the spill, the terrain and the natural resources. He explained further that oil spills extended to 200 kilometres away from where it took place, and in severe cases, its devastation can last for over 50 years, as was the case of Ebubu in Eleme Local Government Area of Rivers State.
The university don also attributed lack of active participation of the Niger Delta region in the oil and gas sector to the “self discriminatory politics” played by the Niger Delta leaders which robbed them of their pride of place and justifiable entitlements in Niger oil politics.
“The oil and gas industry in Nigeria started in the Niger Delta in the late 50s when oil was struck on commercial quantity at Oloibiri in present day Bayelsa State and later in Ogoni, but the region was not able to play key role in the sector because the leaders were not futuristic in their thinking.
“Self discrimination and the minority mentality affected their political alignment. The region was factionalised and operated in splinters; this is responsible for the total disconnect between capacity development and exploitation of resources in the region,” he said.
He noted that in the early 50s, the Ogoni area had become very vibrant in oil wealth but Ogonis were not involved in the acquisition of land for the Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC).
He decried the fact that, “No purposeful attempt have been made in Ogoni and the entire Niger Delta to improve on capacity in both upstream and downstream sector of the oil and gas economy”.
The academic who teaches for free at the Rivers State University as his contribution to the development of the state, regretted that the few Niger Delta indigenes that owned oil blocks had it on political affiliation. He called for the liberalisation of oil blocks allocation to favour the oil bearing and host communities. “The minority mentality is still hunting the Niger Delta, we still do not realise that we need to position ourselves to take legitimate advantage of the oil resources at our domain; we have allowed the dominance of the Federal Government to over shadow us.
“We should be patriotic and stop fighting ourselves, our political leaders should know the limit between patriotic will and political will. Our representatives in the state and the National Assembly (NASS) should rise above self will and exert a high sense of service and social responsibility,” he stated.
Like Theodore Roosevelt, who was one of the earliest conservationist, Wai-Ogosu recognises the right to develop and use our natural resources, but detests the wastages and indiscriminate burning of the natural reserve which according to him, is the very foundation of life.
RSG’s Intervention Averts Fuel Scarcity In Rivers
The timely intervention of the Rivers State Government, yesterday saved the state from fuel scarcity in the state.
The organised petroleum sector in the state comprising the Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria (IPMAN), the Petroleum Tanker Drivers Association, the Licence Petroleum Station owners and the National Union of Petroleum and Natural Energy Workers(NUPENG) had planned to begin a strike action, yesterday.
The petroleum service providers in the state had threatened to shut down their operations following alleged impoundment of their product laden trucks by the Army and incessant arrest of their members by task force operators.
The strike action which would have thrown the entire state into a round of fuel scarcity was however, averted by the state government in the wee hours of yesterday.
Th state government represented by the state Commissioner for Energy and Natural Resources, Dr Peter Medee quickly entered into a peace negotiation meeting with the leadership of NUPENG, IPMAN and other stakeholders to broker peace.
The meeting which commenced on Sunday evening lasted till the early hours of yesterday.
Dr Medee who led the Rivers State Government team said the government waded into the looming crisis to avert the consequences of the strike.
According to him, “the Rivers State Government engaged all the affected parties and stakeholders in series of consultations to arrest the situation and avert the impending industrial action”, adding that “the Rivers State Governor, Chief Barr Nyesom Ezenwo Wike is committed towards creating the enabling environment for business activities to strive in the state”.
Chairman of the Port Harcourt branch of IPMAN, Comrade Obele also confirmed the suspension of the strike, saying members of the association have been directed to resume full operations while the security agencies have agreed to release the impounded trucks.
Former Chairman of IPMAN, Port Harcourt branch, Comrade Emmanuel Inimgba, who commented on the matter decried a situation where petroleum marketers were targets of arrests and victims of insecurity and called for lasting solution to the challenges.
A directive of the national leadership of NUPENG has aso urged its members in the state to resume full operations.
Power Sector Loses N19.15bn In 10 Days
The nation’s power sector lost an estimated N19.15bn in 10 days due to constraints from insufficient gas supply, distribution and transmission infrastructure.
The losses were recorded in the 10 days to February 14, 2020, according to data from the Advisory Power Team in the Office of the Vice President.
The sector lost an estimated N1.96bn on February 14; N2.01bn on February 13; N2bn on February 12; N1.95bn on February 11; N2.15bn on February 10, and N1.95bn on February 9.
About N1.89bn was lost on February 8; N1.92bn on February 7; N1.77bn on February 6, and N1.55bn on February 5.
The average energy sent out on Friday, February 14, was 4,108 megawatts-hour/hour, up by 111.51 MW from the previous day.
The APT said 3,314 MW was not generated due to unavailability of gas; 188.6MW was not generated due to unavailability of transmission infrastructure, while 579.2MW was not generated due to high frequency resulting from unavailability of distribution infrastructure.
The average energy sent out last Thursday was 3,997 MWh/h, while 4,181.4MW was not generated due to gas shortage, unavailability of transmission and distribution infrastructure as well as water management.
The average energy sent out last Wednesday was 4,033 MWh/h while 4,171.4MW could not be generated by the power stations.
Last Tuesday, the average energy sent out was 3,994 MWh/h while available power generation capacity of 4,064,2M was idle.
Last Monday, the average energy sent out was 3,908 MWh/h while 4,476.4MW could not be generated by the power stations.
The average energy sent out was 3,929 MWh/h on February 9; 3,872 MWh/h on February 8; 4,040 MWh/h on February 7; 4,092 MWh/h on February 6; and 4,145 MWh/h on February 5.
The system operator put the nation’s installed generation capacity at 12,910.40MW; available capacity at 7,652.60MW; transmission wheeling capacity at 8,100MW; and the peak generation ever attained at 5,375MW.
The nation generates the bulk of its electricity from gas-fired power plants, while output from hydropower plants makes up about 30 per cent of the total.
The distribution and generation companies carved out of the defunct Power Holding Company of Nigeria were handed over to private investors on November 1, 2013, following the privatisation of the power sector.
More than six years after the privatisation, the investors who took over the power firms that emerged after the unbundling of the PHCN are still grappling with the old problems in the sector.
The sector is plagued with problems of gas supply shortages, limited distribution networks, limited transmission line capacity, huge metering gap, electricity theft, and high technical and commercial losses, among others.
Industrialist Plans Solar Plant In Rivers
A United States-based industrialist and expert in the power sector, Richard Akpaloo, says he is working out plans to set up a solar plant in Rivers State to boost power supply in the state.
Akpaloo, who spoke with The Tide in an interview recently said the project which will commence soon would be his contribution towards tackling the challenges of effective power supply in Nigeria
The Ogoni born industrialist said he chose to site the project in Rivers State because of the strategic location of the state as the hub of energy sector in the country and also a centre of industrial activities.
He hinted that feasibilities for the project had been carried out and discussions were ongoing with some technical partners in Nigeria to consolidate the project.
He said Nigeria professionals in various fields in the diaspora were ready to contribute their quota to the development of the Nigerian economy and urged governments at all levels to partner with them to move the nation forward.
The expert identified the need to embrace alternative source as a means of generating energy for effective power sector delivery, saying renewable energy has been adopted globally as a dependable source of energy.
He called for a review of Nigeria power sector policies to address the peculiar power needs in the country, adding that the operational policy in the power sector was obsolete and inefficient.
According to him, the best way to tackle the protracted power sector challenges is to allow states to generate their own power rather than relying on Federal Government to generate power alone.
He also cautioned against the politicisation of the power sector by allowing people without any technical capacity to be involved in policy formulation and implementation.
“The Federal Government alone can’t generate enough power to serve the power needs of Nigeria, there is need for public private sector partnership to provide efficient service delivery; there is also need for diversification through investment into renewable energy.
“Nigeria is blessed with potentials in hydro and solar energy which can be fully harnessed to provide sustainable power, no country in the world can survive on a generator economy. The potentials of Nigeria to be a fully industrialised society is dwindling because of the absence of effective power supply to drive the system,” he said.
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