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N’D Dev: Can Impact Assessment Help?



On the back cover of Dr. Bristol-Alagbariya’s book, Participation in Petroleum Development, I say:

The potential of impact assessment for bringing “equity, prosperity, and tranquility” to the Niger Delta, especially by means of community participation, offers a promising approach to achieving sustainable development in that volatile yet vital part of the world.

Approaches are not arrivals, however. The precondition for this or any other initiative to succeed depends in the first instance on peaceful resolution of the violent confrontation that has afflicted the region and nation with growing intensity over the past five years. Its roots go much deeper, of course, to the disparity and inequity that have marked and marred the region since oil development began in 1956.

The Primacy of Politics

It was here in Abuja, four and a half years ago, in a meeting at the Ministry of Agriculture and Water Resources, that it occurred to me: “Water resources development is one-tenth technical and nine-tenths political.”

I repeated that insight at an International Water Association conference last month in Seoul, Korea, and asked the audience of mainly technical people if that were about the right fraction. No one disagreed.

Earlier this month I repeated it again, this time in Melbourne, Australia, in discussions with one of the largest mining companies in the world, and again there was no disagreement. In fact, I have yet to meet anyone who disagrees with that formulation.

If this is so, then it follows that “to get the water resources right, you have to get the politics right.” What that might mean naturally depends on what is understood as “politics.” Two leading but contending versions are the coercion and consensus views.

The former is represented by Harold W. Lasswell, who defined “politics” as “who get what, where, when, and how.” In fact, identifying winners and losers is a fair description of the methodology of impact assessment. In contrast, David C. McClelland offers a consensual definition of politics, one more congenial to the author’s: politics is “the authoritative allocation of values.”

Whatever definition we adopt, getting the politics right means building the institutional capacity for good governance. The United Nations Development Programme have postulated five principles for achieving this:

The operative terms here all relate closely to the concept of public or popular or people’s participation, the central theme of the book under discussion. Its centrality in the process of social change is embodied in Herbert Simon’s “Participation Hypothesis”:

“ … Significant changes in human behavior can be brought about rapidly only if the persons who are expected to change, participate in deciding what the change shall be and how it shall be made.” (from “Recent Advances in Organization Theory” (1955: p. 206).

Enter Impact Assessment’

We can now assert that the field of Impact assessment represents both an instrument of governance (see Ahmed and Sanchez-Triana 2008) and an opportunity for participation. It is therefore not surprising to find the author with affiliations in both fields. “Impact assessment” can be formally defined as:

. .. a process for anticipating and evaluating the difference between existing and future conditions with and without the intervention of natural events or social actions, intended or unintended.

What it is good for is contained in this vision/mission statement: the goal of impact assessment is to:

… develop local and global capacity to anticipate, plan, and manage the consequences of change so as to enhance the quality of life for all.

The general methodology of impact assessment is comprised in ten steps, referred to here as the “Main Pattern” schema since it appears to represent a general consensus among impact assessment practitioners and aims at methodological completeness. The ten steps comprising an assessment cycle are:


Problem Identification

Formulation of Alternatives



Analysis of Alternatives





Specific methods and techniques and data sets and series are associated with analytic operations at each step. Opportunities for participation are likewise present at every step, especially scoping, problem identification, and formulation of alternatives on the front end and evaluation, monitoring, and management on the back.

In short, impact assessment seeks the (fore) knowledge of consequences, anticipating unanticipated consequences by exercising the foresight provision. Along with this goes an ethic of consequences, emphasizing the responsibility of impact assessment practitioners in relation to their knowledge and its application.

Two phrase can be applied in characterising the field of impact assessment: “comprehensive and integrated” in its coverage of impact levels, scales, schedules, and sectors, and “proactive and creative” in its anticipatory research, design, and policy applications. In this it supports futurist Alvin Toffler’s concept of “anticipatory democracy,” putting people in charge of their own desirable futures. In the present context, it is convergent with the author’s view of “environmental democracy.”

We believe that application of the philosophy and methodology of impact assessment can and will serve to facilitate bringing “equity, prosperity, and tranquility” to the Niger Delta region and to the nation and beyond. This book marks an important advance toward that end.

Prof. C. P. Wolf of the Social Impact Assessment Centre, New York and also co-founder and Past President International Association for Impact Assessment (IAIA), Fargo, USA presented this paper at the launching of the book “Participation in Petroleum Development: Towards Sustainable Community Development in the Niger Delta” written by Aseme-Alabo Edard T. Bristol-Alagbariya at Transcorp Hilton, Abuja, recently.


Prof. C. P. Wolf

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Redeployed Customs Officers Assume Office At New Posts



Redeployed Zonal coordinators and controllers affected by the recent swapping exercise in the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) have since taken over their new posts.
Assistant Comptroller General and Comptrollers affected by the change of batons have gone into action in the respective Zones and Area Commands respectively.
As at Press time, ACG Bello Jibo, the new Coordinator, Zone A, has begun to hold forth at the Harvey Road Zonal Headquarters in Yaba, Lagos.
Comptroller Dera Nnadi, Jaiyeoba, and Shuaibu have resumed their duties as Customs Area Controllers of Tincan Island Port, Apapa and Idiroko Commands respectively.
Comptroller Timi Bomodi has also begun overseeing customs activities at Seme-Krake Border Command.
In an exclusive chat with The Tide, Chairman, Seme Chapter of the Association of Nigeria Licensed Clearing Agent (ANLCA), Chief Oyekachukwu Ojinma (aka Sule) described the outgoing Controller of the Command, Comptroller Dera Nnadi, as a very hard-working and dedicated man, while welcoming the new Customs Area Controller to the border post.
The ANLCA Chairman expressed his wish for a successful tenure of office for Compt. Timi Bomodi.

By: Nkpemenyie Mcdominic, Lagos

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‘Electricity Act Will Transform Power Sector’



Minister of Power, Adebayo Adelabu, has stated that the recently signed Nigerian Electricity Act, 2023, will play a fundamental role in transforming the power sector.
According to him, it will unlock the potential of the energy mix and promote the integration of renewable energy technologies into the grid system.
Speaking at the ongoing Nigeria Energy Conference and exhibition in Lagos, Adelabu said the Act aims to create an environment that supports sustainable growth and investment in the power industry by focusing on accelerated private investment and the promotion of renewable energy sources.
“As a game-changer that reformed the NESI, the Electricity Act will, undoubtedly, engender increased access to electricity and regulatory oversight, clean energy transition, improved service delivery, and infrastructural developments.
“In particular, the act will stimulate economic growth by creating a conducive environment for investment and competition. It will generate job opportunities, encourage entrepreneurship, and attract foreign direct investments”, he said.
The Minister called on operators in the power sector to intensify their efforts towards improving communication with the general public, emphasising that the Nigerian masses have a lot of roles to play in safeguarding power infrastructure.
He said issues such as vandalism, passing of meters, and damage to TCN and DisCo infrastructure must be addressed holistically to make significant gains in the power sector.
Adelabu emphasised that the power sector is a cornerstone for economic growth in the country and that the gains made over the years in the power sector can only be consolidated by unlocking equity investments and funds for power development.
He said: “Of course, a lot of investment is required in the power sector. In three weeks, I’ve seen humongous investments that have come into this sector.
“But what are the steps that are required for those investment opportunities to reap the benefit of those investments, additional investments in the form of equity and capex need to come into this industry.
“The power sector is not an industry for short-term players to invest in less than two to three years and expect to make maximum benefits.
“The industry requires medium to long-term investments. Investors must understand that the moment we can break even, we will start making profits in the power sector.
Adelabu also urged operators in the NESI value chain to improve their service delivery, adding that Nigeria’s energy expansion plan of 60,000 Megawatts by 2060 is an achievable target.
He, therefore, called on gas companies, GenCos, TCN, and DIScO to showcase their success stories in generating and transmitting power to the last mile that pays for all the segments of operators in the value chain.

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‘Nigeria Loses $1.5bn Annually To Malnutrition’



Minister for Budget and Economic Planning, Abubakar Bagudu, has said Nigeria loses $1.5 billion of its Gross Domestic Product (GDP) annually due to micronutrient deficiencies.
Bagudu therefore called for coordinated efforts to ensure a swift response with expected positive outcomes.
A statement released by the Ministry said the Minister disclosed this, last Tuesday, while speaking at the 53rd Annual General Meeting and Scientific Conference of the Nutrition Society of Nigeria in Abuja.
In the statement, Bagudu noted that the government was determined to tackle malnutrition through the inclusion of nutrition in the National Development Plan, and the Nigeria Agenda 2050.
“It is also a commitment to achieving optimal nutrition status for all Nigerians with particular attention to the vulnerable group as highlighted in the National Multisectoral Plan of Action for Food and Nutrition”, he said.
Bagudu, who urged experts in nutrition in the country to research and develop innovations that will boost nutrition, explained that doing this “would contribute towards achieving Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), ensuring Universal Health Coverage, and bringing about significant positive changes in the nutrition sector in Nigeria”.
He told members of the Nutrition Society of Nigeria “to prioritise innovation and research in the field of nutrition towards the attainment of Sustainable Development Goals, Universal Health Coverage and transformation of the landscape of nutrition in Nigeria.
“Nigeria currently requires nutrition professionals who have extensive knowledge, good communication skills to address nutrition education, emotional intelligence as well and a good understanding of self-motivation and drive to address nutrition dynamics”.
The Minister urged the NSN to embrace technology, leverage digital solutions, and invest in research and development to find sustainable and scalable solutions to Nigeria’s nutrition challenges.
He assured members of the NSN that his ministry would strengthen coordination and provide the required leadership for the nutrition sector.
The Kwara State Governor, AbdulRahman AbdulRasaq, in his goodwill message, said the Nigerian Governors’ Forum (NGF) had identified areas of key commitments for the realisation of a healthier citizen and country, including increasing budgetary spending on nutrition and strengthening the nutrition profile.

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