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Oil Exploration And Niger Delta Environment

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From the first crude oil export in 1958 to the exploration of its associated products such as gas, the Niger Delta region for the past 60 years has not fared well in terms of sustained development despite being the source of the nation’s means of livelihood.
According to reports from the Central Bank of Nigeria, the region generates between 65% to 75% of all Federal Government’s revenue especially after the end of the Civil War in 1970.
But today, although oil and gas and its associated products still run the nation’s economy, its bye-products and impact on the region are quite devastating on both environment and the socio-economic life of the people of the area. The aquatic life, forests and farmlands have been so degraded that some areas are now devoid of human and animal habitation. Diseases and sickness are now prevalent with some communities are facing great health challenges.
Worried by these hazards, the late renowned playwright, and novelist, Kenuule Saro-Wiwa raised alarm in the late 1980’s about the fast paced degradation of the environment of the Niger Delta region. Although he was eventually killed during the struggle to find an equitable solution to the problem, the fight for a comprehensive study and remediation of the environment continued unabated despite the obstacles placed on would-be environmental activists.
The region is also described as one of the most polluted in the world. It is estimated that while the European Union experienced 10 incidences of oil spills in 40 years, Nigeria recorded 9,343 cases in 10 years which could be described as a deliberate effort to slowly eradicate life from the area through poisoning of the environment.
Following the long agitations and protests from the area, the Federal Government in 2016 finally gave the nod for the implementation of the long awaited United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) Report beginning from 2016.
In a foreword to the report on the Environmental Assessment of Ogoniland as a case study, UNEP had this to say: “The history of oil exploration and production in Ogoni land is a large complex and often painful one that till date has become seemingly intractable in terms of its resolution and future discussion.”
It also says, “It is also history that has put people and politics and the oil industry at loggerheads rendering a landscape characterised by lack of trust, paralysis and become set against a worsening situation for the communities concerned.”
The situation in Ogoniland is peculiar to the rest of the Niger Delta region.
The discovery of oil in commercial quantities in Oloibiri in present day Bayelsa State was the beginning of the environmental crisis bedeviling the Niger Delta region.
It would be recalled that the agitation for environmental reparation of the Niger Delta region dated back to the colonial times.
The agitations led to the setting up of the Willinks Commission of inquiry into the fears of the minorities. Although the commission amongst others, recommended the granting of special developmental status to the Niger Delta, the recommendation was never implemented by successive Nigerian governments after independence.
The exploration and exploitation of hydrocarbon in the Niger Delta region can be said to be of mixed blessings to the region.
On the one hand, it improved the per capita income of the region through the creation of middle and high income earners. But on the other hand, it has led to series of environmental pollutions, thereby depriving communities in the region of their sources of livelihood.
This situation has led to series of crisis in the region such as the Ogoni crisis of 1990 to 1993, the Kaiama Declaration which led to the creation of the Ijaw Youth Council (IYC), the crisis in Umuechem in Etche Local Government Area of Rivers State and others.
Similarly, the development of artisanal refineries in the Niger Delta has also been blamed for contributing to the recent acid rain and black soot in the environment.
Although the Nigerian authorities may have taken some measures to ameliorate the sufferings caused by oil explorations in the region, through the creation of the Federal Environmental Protection Agency (FEPA) which metamorphosed into Federal Ministry of Environment, the creation of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC); inclusion of derivation into the Constitution and the creation of the Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs have not been able to provide the much-needed succour to the people of the Niger Delta as the problems still persist.
Meanwhile, experts have attributed the high rate of poverty in the Niger Delta to the environmental degradation of the region. At a recent Pan Niger Delta Forum (PANDEF) meeting in Uyo, the Akwa Ibom State capital, Ambassador Nkoyo Toyo shared a documentary of the current situation in the Niger Delta, adding that the region has remained backward despite its huge economic contributions to the Nigerian nation.
Ambassador Toyo who was secretary to the Technical Committee on the Niger Delta during the Umaru Musa Yar’Adua administration said, “it is frustrating to know that the context has not changed as these challenges still stare the region in the face.
“The Niger Delta is still very much degraded as issues such as the following are still debated upon: gas flaring, abject poverty, militancy, crude oil theft, unemployment, cultism and organised crime, poor state of infrastructure and underdevelopment,” she said.
She also said; “apart from lack of opportunities in the region, there is also the breakdown of law and order in the communities.
“Communities often fight over who gets what when development opportunities arise as seen in some communities in Ogoni with regards to the clean-up,” adding that such fight can scare investors away and the region will continue to suffer underdevelopment.
Also in its policy brief note on insecurity in Rivers State, the Niger Delta Dialogue Secretariat says, “there is an environmental dimension to insecurity in Rivers State. For several years now, Port Harcourt and its environs have been covered by soot.
“This is as a result of increased artisanal refining of crude oil and other forms of pollution in the state.
“These pollution-inducing activities from both illegal artisanal and legal oil production has increased environmental insecurity in Rivers State.
“This has negatively impacted on the quality of life in Rivers State,” it said.
Also speaking on the issue, a civil society activist, Ambassador Christy Iwezor said the Nigerian nation has not done enough for the Niger Delta.
She said 60 years down the lane, some oil producing communities have no water to drink and cited the example of some communities in ogoniland in which sources of water have been polluted.
Also speaking, another civil rights activist, Prince William Chinwo stressed the need for a policy that will incorporate the polluters pay principle into the Nigerian law.
According to him, if multinational companies are fined for pollution, they will be more careful in their operations.
He also blamed environmental problems on sanitary conducts.
“The problems of environmental degradation in Nigerian is caused by poor sanitary conduct of Nigerians and inefficient use of local government council workers on environmental sanitation.”
According to him, local government councils must also wakeup to their responsibilities of ensuring improved level of hygiene in their various communities.
The question is after 60 years of independence, have we really made any meaningful progress in the Niger Delta compared to similar environments across the globe where oil and gas are the mainstay of their economy. It would be noted that the gulf countries where oil and gas are the mainstay of their economy have gone far ahead in terms of environmental remediation.
The 60 years anniversary should provide the opportunity for the country to further look into the Niger Delta issues.

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FG Alerts On Massive Flooding In Rivers, FCT, Others

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The Nigeria Hydrological Services Agency (NIHSA), an agency of the Federal Ministry of Water Resources, has predicted more devastating floods from the end of August to early October in some states of the federation, including Rivers and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).
Already, the agency said in line with its earlier predictions, Lagos, Nasarawa, Anambra, Abia, Kwara, Kaduna, Rivers, Enugu, Borno and Ondo states had witnessed severe flooding as a result of heavy local rainfalls compounded by poor drainage system.
The Director-General of the agency, Engr. Nze Clement Onyeaso, in an interaction with some journalists in Abuja, yesterday, said all areas earlier identified as flood prone this year as well as those along the Rivers Niger and Benue might likely begin to experience more devastating flooding from the end of August.
“Nigeria is located within the River Niger Basin which is occupied by nine countries namely Benin, Burkina- Faso, Cameroon, Chad, Cote d’Ivore, Guinea, Mali, Niger and Nigeria. Nigeria is located at the lowest position of the Basin and this means that once the upper catchment of the Basin gets flooded, Nigeria should be prepared to experience flooding. The period of flooding in these upstream countries is August and September of every year,’’ he said.
The DG said his agency was monitoring the development as we approach these critical months, adding that it will also continue to monitor Cameroonian authorities with regards to flood scenarios in the upper catchment of the sub-basin.
Nze warned Lagosians against the practice of dredging and sound filling the Atlantic Ocean, to build what they usually call model cities like those in Lekki and Banana Island, saying such may, in the future, pose serious threats.
As part of the preparation for the expected floods, the DG called on Nigerians, especially the state governments to be fully prepared by ensuring cleaning of blocked drainage system and canals remove refuse, weeds, water hyacinths and floats on water channels.
The agency had earlier predicted that 121 LGAs in 27 states and FCT might experience severe flooding this year.

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Rivers Police Confirm Killing Of Disbanded OSPAC Leader In EMOLGA

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The Rivers State Police Command has confirmed the killing of one Alex Uwazuruike Isaac, the leader of disbanded OSPAC in Umudioga community in Emohua local Government Area of the state, last Tuesday.
The spokesperson of Rivers State Police Command, SP Nnamdi Omoni, who confirmed this in a telephone interview with The Tide, said the dismembered body of the victim has also been recovered and deposited in the mortuary for preservation.
The police spokesperson further stated that the police has restored normalcy in the community while the Commissioner of Police, Eboka Friday, has ordered for full investigation into the incident.
It would be recalled that gunmen suspected to be cultists, last Tuesday, invaded Umudioga community, and killed Alex Uwazuruike Isaac, who was said to be the leader of the disbanded OSPAC, a local vigilante group in the area.
A native of the community, who pleaded anonymity for fear of the unknown, disclosed that the gunmen, who were armed with sophisticated assault rifles, stormed the community in the afternoon and went for their target.
The source further revealed that the gunmen shot Isaac dead before beheading and dismembering his body, and later paraded the head of their victim in the community while urging natives not to panic as they came for the deceased and not for the community.
The Tide gathered that some other members of the disbanded OSPAC have already fled the community as a result of the killing of their former leader and fear of being attacked by the cultists who are hunting members of the defunct OSPAC in the area.
It was learnt that many suspected cultists were arrested and killed in the community while others fled during the reign of the deceased OSPAC commander in the community in 2019.
The Tide further learnt that the killing comes barely three weeks after the Chairman of Emohua Local Government Council, Dr Chidi Lloyd pronounced the dissolution of all vigilante groups in the LGA, and asked communities that make up the council area to submit five names of natives who would be screened and admitted into a new security outfit to be established and funded by the council in no distant time.

By: Akujobi Amadi

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JAMB Fixes Mop-Up UTME For 18,000 Candidates, Aug 6

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The Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board (JAMB) has rescheduled examination for more than 18,000 candidates who experienced biometric verification challenges and those who genuinely missed the just-concluded Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination (UTME) as a result of a clash with this year’s National Business and Technical Examinations Board examination.
The mop-up UTME is scheduled for Friday, August 6, 2021, in some selected locations across the country.
JAMB Spokesperson, Fabian Benjamin, made this known in a statement, yesterday, titled, ‘Mop-Up UTME Holds Friday, 6th August, 2021…JAMB’.
The statement read, “Following detailed investigation and careful analysis of the highly-successful 2021 UTME, and with due consultation (resulting in gracious concession) with the National Examination Council (NECO) concerning the timetable of the council’s on-going SSCE, JAMB has scheduled a Mop-up UTME for Friday, August 6, 2021, in some selected locations across the nation.
“About 18,000 candidates slated for the examination are being notified through both text messages on their designated phone numbers and their JAMB profiles. In addition, the candidate can check using their registration number on http://www.jamb.gov.ng/2021mopup.
“For the avoidance of doubt, no candidate whose result has been duly released will be rescheduled for another examination.
“The rescheduled candidates are in the following categories:
“Candidates who could not be initially scheduled for examination owing to their inability to timely procure and supply their mandatory NINs or profile codes until after the close of the registration exercise and, therefore, had to purchase Bank Drafts (as against the usual vending of PINs) after the scheduled period for the examination and were later registered.
“Few candidates who encountered peculiar biometric verification problem, or who failed biometric verification on the examination date (and were recaptured) but were not allowed to partake in the examination. (Adequate screening arrangements have been made to re-verify such claims and any candidate found to be involved in any form of impersonation will be identified for prosecution).
“Candidates who were unable to sit for the UTME owing to the clash of timetables of the UTME and the then on-going NABTEB examinations and whose particulars have been verified and supplied directly to JAMB by NABTEB.
“Candidates who have been ascertained by JAMB to have experienced genuine rescheduling/technical problems as was the case in 30 of the 760 centres used for the examination.
“The rescheduled candidates are to print fresh examination notification slips containing the venue and time of the examination. The slips are to be printed from the JAMB website https://www.jamb.gov.ng using the candidates’ registration number from Sunday, August 1, 2021.
“The board strongly advises candidates to avoid supplying their vital information, including registration number to fraudsters who abound especially in cybercafe(s), tutorial centres springing up almost everywhere in the nation as a result of the illicit activities of examination syndicates. CBT centres approved by JAMB which are consistently monitored are relatively more secured for printing examination notification slips by candidates who cannot print such on their own.”

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