“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.
N’ Delta Struggle: Foremost Historian Lauds Ogonis’ Pioneering Role
Foremost Historian and Niger Delta Scholar, Prof Ebiegberi Joe Alagoa, has lauded the Ogoni people over their pioneering role in advancing the course of the Niger Delta people in Environmental rights consciousness and the agitation for improved standards of living in the oil rich region.
Speaking at the maiden launching and unveiling of the Pan Ogoni Magazine at the Atrium Event Centre in Port Harcourt at the weekend, the Prof Emeritus of the University of Port Harcourt, the eminent scholar described the Ogonis as, “ trail blazers, innovators and unapologetic” in their quest for the restoration of the polluted Ogoni environment and by extension the Niger Delta by oil exploratory activities of prospecting Oil companies.
Going down memory lane, he said working Ogoni leaders like the late Ken Saro Wiwa revealed the identity of Ogoni as a unique people that are undeterred in the pursuit of any course.
He said through the efforts, other Ogoni issues of environmental rights in Nigeria were brought to the fore of global reckoning thereby setting the pace for a renowned clamour for the fight against oil pollution and environmental justice in Nigeria.
The eminent scholar who commended the vision of the Pan Ogoni Magazine, called for unity of purpose among the Ogoni people to achieve the objectives of the Ogoni struggle.
He said the magazine should be used as a platform for constructive engagements and articulation of the ideals of the Ogoni struggle and and the Niger Delta in general.
Earlier in his welcome address, Chairman of the advisory board of the Pan Ogoni Magazine, Engr Olu Andah Wai-Ogosu had declared that the vision of the magazine was to put Ogoni in the right perspective by creating avenue for critical discourses and placing Ogoni in its right pedestals by correcting the distorted facts of history about the Ogoni people.
Wait-Ogosu called on all Ogoni stakeholders to partner with the vision to achieve the objectives promoting the ideals of discipline, hardwork, bravery resilience and other deeds of prowess that are the hallmarks of the Ogoni and the Niger Delta people.
Irregular Operational Licences: DPR Seals Four Filling Stations In Anambra
The Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR) has sealed off four filling stations in Anambra State for conducting their businesses without up-to-date operating licensces.
The Operations Controller, Awka office of the DPR, Mr Okiemute Akpomudjere, disclosed this in an interview with newsmen in Awka on Friday.
Akpomudjere said that apart from being a requirement of the law to have a valid operating license, the marketers would also have the advantage of enjoying all privileges of business entities, including claims in the event of accident.
He said the Department had met with Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria (IPMAN), Lubricant and Engine Oil Association, LPG Retailers Association and the National Association of LPG Marketers, to inform them on the license drive going on in the state.
According to him, we have observed that most marketers do not have current licenses, which means that their operating licenses are not current, but they are required by DPR regulations to have a valid license to operate.
“So we have engagements with all the stakeholders, including petroleum marketers, gas dealers and lubricant dealers and informed them on the need to regularise their operations by renewing their license and avert being shut down.
“This week alone, we shut down five filling stations belonging to major marketers: we chose to begin with the big ones so that the smaller ones will have an idea of what will come to them, because we are embarking on an aggressive license drive.
“In the course of our interface, they told us that a major challenge they are facing is the issue of tax clearance from the Tax Office and that is essentially because their books are not up-to-date, so we have told them to keep a good accounting system and sort it out because that is not an excuse,” he said.
Akpomudjere said the DPR would be stringent in enforcing use of the right metering to avoid taking undue advantage of their customers.
DPR is working to ensure that there is right dispensing of products, while marketers now have the right to fix prices, they don’t have the right to under-dispense or shortchange customers.
“We want to sound a note of warning to marketers to ensure that they dispense the right volumes and make sure that Nigerians have value for their money.
“Our teams are in the field to make sure that the meters are correct, we are determined to protect unsuspecting Nigerians,” he said.
Responding to the non-renewal of members’ operating licenses, Mr Chinedu Anyaso, Chairman, IPMAN, Enugu Depot, said the association had been encouraging members to update.
Petroleum Subsidy Removal’ll Unlock Nigeria’s Economic Prospects – Economist
An economist, Mr Okechukwu Unegbu, says the Federal Government’s removal of petroleum subsidy will unlock the country’s economic prospects.
Unegbu, a former President of the Chartered Institute of Bankers of Nigeria (CIBN), made the assertion in an interview with The Tide source in Lagos last Friday.
The economist noted that the removal of the petroleum subsidy would open up the sector for new investment.
He said the government was courageous in removing the subsidy because “it is unsustainable, especially in this era of declining revenue.
“Government just has to let the subsidy go and allow the forces of demand and supply to determine the price.
“ This is a principle of free market economy which drives economic growth.
He noted that regulators must be given more powers to enforce price compliance from petroleum dealers who flout the rules.
He also suggested that the various labour unions must not embark on strike over the subsidy removal because it would be inimical to the economy.
“The union should look at the positives of the new policy and not to focus on needless strikes.
“At the initial time, the cost of basic essentials will surge but will decline after more players venture into the sector,” he said.
Report say that the ex-depot price of Premium Motor Spirit (PMS) otherwise known as petrol was increased to N151.56 per litre with effect from September 2.
This was disclosed in an internal memo and issued by the Petroleum and Product Marketing Company (PPMC) Ibadan Depot.
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