Connect with us

Opinion

IOCs Divestments: Window For Resource Control

Published

on

The current wind of divestments blowing across the Nigerian Oil and Gas industry will benefit a lot of people. In the first instance, it will foster the acceleration and indigenisation of the Oil and Gas value chain of the country. It would also speed up local content development in oil servicing capacity and manpower.
Secondly, and most importantly, most of the petrol dollars generated will remain in the country to boost our wiggling forex supply.
Unfortunately, the indigenous companies taking over these assets must have to grapple with most of the challenges that have for sometime bedeviled the sector, both locally and internationally. Challenges such as the international drought of investors, occasioned by global energy transition trends; insecurity, community restiveness, aging assets and pipeline vandalism.
The history of International Oil Companies’ (IOCs’) divestments dates back to 1991, during the regime of military Head of State, Ibrahim Babangida. It was facilitated by Prof Jubril Aminu, leading to the emergence of Muhammadu Indimi’s Oriental Energy as acquirers of Oil Prospecting Licenses (OPL) 124 and Mike Adenuga’s Conoil acquiring OPL 113. The next signpost activity that brought in local players into the industry was the sale of mining licenses for marginal field in 2001. However, the next major wave of divestments occurred between 2010 to 2014. This wave ushered in big industry players like Seplant, Oando and others, culminating in the acquisition of 12 Oil Mining Licenses (OMLs) amounting to $6.4 billion.
So far, a roll call of all the indigenous companies, both those who are the original owners of their mining licenses and those who acquired divested OMLs shows that, aside from Delta State, all other Niger Delta states are underrepresented. For instance, the major name associated with Aiteo is Benetict Peters, from Ebonyi State; Dr. ABC Orijako, from Anambra State, is the co-founder of Seplant. OML 60, 61, 62 and 63 were acquired by Oando Energy Resources, yet I am not aware of any state, or individuals from the Niger Delta owning controlling shares.
Since 2015, divestments have continued, but 2021 saw a major uptick in divestments activities, leading to what is arguably the largest divestments in the Nigerian Oil and Gas industry, with Tony Elumelu’s TNOG Oil and Gas Limited acquiring 45 per cent stake of OML 17 owned by Shell , Total and Eni. The current production output of OML 17 is pegged at 27,000 BPD. While Mobil Producing Nigerian Unlimited (MPNU) is divesting all its assets, both oil and gas fields to Seplant, a wholly owned Nigerian company, listed both in London and Nigerian Stock Exchange.
Given the amount of agitation over resource control in the past, and very recently, over the the Petroleum Industry Act, one should think that our agitation would have transitioned to capacity building in order to fully participate in the ongoing divestments of OMLs within our domain.
It is indeed a shame that from my observation so far, core oil producing states and communities have taken the role of onlookers. I am very sure that the Federal Government did not bar Niger Deltans from preparing in advance for a time like this.
People in the Niger Delta seem to have acquiesced to a new status quo, where people are allowed to vandalize pipe lines and siphon crude for illegal refining sites, in spite of the monumental damage it is inflicting on forests, swamps, creeks and rivers, destroying means of livelihoods in the process.
Recently, the Managing Director of NNPC, Mele Kyari, announced that a policy is being put in place to guide the current wave of divestments to ensure that stem issues regarding assets decommissioning and abandonment.
Unfortunately, states in the Niger Delta seem oblivious to the trends, because I am yet to hear or read about any such policy statements from any state in the region. The only action is the case of Akwa Ibom State and Mobil; which is reactionary. In my considered opinion, Niger Delta is being left out by choice.
In the past, the only hope in local content development rising from the core Niger Delta was Monipulo, but since the demise of its founder, High Chief, Dr. O B Lulu Briggs, so much has not been heard of the company; especially as it concerns expansion and in playing a major role in this current wave of divestments.
Speaking in an event recently, the MD NNPC, Mele Kyari stated very clearly the intention of the Federal Government is to ensure that every divestment is made in such a way that it protects the interest of the country. He cited issues of capacity, competence and investment as necessary criterion for okaying any deal. This is good, but it does not in any way assuage my apprehension that the Niger Delta would receive the left foot.
Is there something we are not being told? Or, are we as Niger Deltans being given the short end of the stick again? Since the noise of this current IOCs divestments started sounding louder, I am yet to hear any of our big names, Edwin Clark, or any other notable names comment on it. Neither has the Ijaw National Congress or any group in the Niger Delta commented on the fact that a good number of the oil fields in our region is being divested from the IOCs to indigenous companies in which Niger Deltans might not have a major shares.
Another area that is shocking to me is that states in the Niger Delta, especially, Rivers, Akwa Ibom, Bayelsa and Delta are still unable to setup oil and gas producing companies of their own, individually; or create a special purpose vehicle for this laudable endeavour. How come in this day and age, after all we have been through as a people, we are still unable to get our act together and take those steps that will improve the wealth of our people?
Former President Obasanjo raised some dust, not too long ago, when he commented that the oil and gas in the Niger Delta belongs to the Nigerian state. As a lay man I struggle to understand how the governor of a state controls the land, but the FG is in charge of what is under; but this is the reality in the Niger Delta, even though no one has given us a clear idea as to how the revenue accruing from all the gold mined in Zamfara is shared. Unfortunately, it is what it is, and there is nothing we can do about it unless a semblance of balance is created in the the National Assembly.
As a keen observer, I am aware of the impact a company like Minipulo has made across the Niger Delta and the country at large. Here is an indigenous Niger Delta company, operating in the Niger Delta, paying its due to the Federal Government and serving its people.

By: Raphael Pepple

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
Continue Reading

Opinion

 Ideological Void In Nigerian Politics

Published

on

Any worthy endeavour in life is supposed to be under pinned by sound principles and beliefs that drive action. In politics, those beliefs and principles are ideologies. They are the principles which guide the political behaviour aka character of political actors and determine the direction of political activities, ranging from internal party positioning, discipline, campaign, electioneering and ultimately governance.
At independence in 1960, Nigeria did not enjoy the luxury of evolving political parties with ideological grounding. The complete lack of ideology has made Nigeria to flounder sixty years after independence. Some leftist scholars attribute the poor governance culture in the country to fallout of dearth of ideology.  The First Republic political parties emerged just to fill the vacuum created  by the absence of the colonial master. Neither the National Party for the Nigerians and the Cameroons (NCNC) nor the Northern Peoples Congress (NPC) ever considered governance in their principles. The avowed   ideology of the NPC was to protect the interest of the monolithic North and the creed they profess. This is explicitly stated as a motto of the party.
During the 30-month fratricidal war, our leaders dallied with the two ideologies that ruled the world  but socialism and capitalism did not take root until Nigeria joined the Non-Aligned Movement. There was no autochthonous ideology like the Ujama Philosophy as posited by Julius  Kambarage Nyerere of Tanzania or Consciencism of the Osagiefo Kwame Nkrumah’s variety in Ghana.
Nyerere’s philosophy found expression in the field of education too. Ujama was an integral part of the socialist project, focused largely on self-reliance, total liberation and empowerment of the person and society, and the active integration of education throughout one’s life and in every aspect of human existence. This paid off.
Nkrumah defined his belief system as “the ideology of a New Africa, independent and absolutely free from imperialism, organised on a continental scale, founded upon the conception of one and united Africa. Consciencism became a foundation of Africa’s revolution and triggered reactions in the diaspora.
Nigeria never had a philosophy. Only the Action Group, AG, led by Chief Obafemi Awolowo adopted welfarism as an ideological paradigm and this influenced its political actions especially in the area of education.
Even after the protracted military interregnum, the second Republic that emerged toed the same pattern of ideological hollowness. There was nothing concrete to influence discipline, internal democracy and the dialectics of who gets what. The curious interplay of money, religion and regional politics  played a huge role in who controls power and allocates scarce resources.
It can be asserted without equivocation that since 1960, Nigeria has not evolved political parties with clear-cut ideology to drive change and development. This sad reality is what has defined political behaviour and actions.
One area where political actors have demonstrated ideological deficit in politics, is the deployment of money and religion in swaying votes. The rate at which some politicians decamp from one party to another is strange. While the constitution allows freedom of association, Nigerian politicians do not believe in building political structures on the long-term. If their political party fails to win elections, they defect to another which is assumed to be stronger-with mass appeal in the area. They are more guided by their stomach instead of principles. Like interlopers,  they jump even though there is no viable option or platform for the articulation of any progressive agenda. In party politics, turnover is very high in Nigeria.
Another visible area that shows ideological deficiency is during electioneering.
The campaign of the 1960’s and those of the 2020’s have not changed much. The familiar campaign promises are hinged on the promises of physical and social infrastructure such as education, health, job creation, agriculture and security among others. No politician has mounted any innovative campaign such as  the provision of social security, space policy, technology and biotechnology. By implication, most people canvass for power just for money and allocatable resources. They do not contest any election to transform society.
It is against this background that when they assume power, their administrations are characterised by non-adherence to transparency principles. They play politics with serious developmental issues such as basic education, healthcare, security and the welfare of the electorate. Politics is turned into a zero-sum game where the winners takes all and leaves nothing for the loser.
Understandably, the deployment of the instruments of thuggery creates a climate of fear during campaigns.
Elections are characterised by vote buying, indiscipline, pre-bendalism and violence. These symbolisms transmogrify into lootcracy when they assume power. Money is the real essence of politics in Nigeria. They are champions of ethnic, supremacy and sentiments. They forget too soon that they were elected on the platform of a Party.
Apart from looting, they abandon on-going projects or complete them at over-inflated costs. They deny even political appointees their lawful entitlements and rather use the looted money to bribe anti-graft agencies. They patronise native doctors in the night, neither sleep, dream nor see clearly the direction where their states are headed.
Ultimately, the enterprise of governance is reduced to a joke or at best a pool side party. They give politics a bad name and with their anti-people policies sentence millions to untimely death. They use policies, to strangulate people and dance on the graves of the down trodden hoi polloi.
In Nigeria, the character of politicians is dictated by the ideological hollowness in the system. The purveyors of new-breedism have become dreamers of social utopia. Whether our political parties will  initiate and nurture some fringe ideology is yet to be determined. Not today and certainly not tomorrow. It may occur only when there is some requisite political engineer.

By: John Idumange

Idumange is a public intellectual.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
Continue Reading

Opinion

On The Brink Of Failed State?

Published

on

The most critical problem I have identified plaguing democratic governance in Nigeria is lack of quality and selfless leaders.  Many leaders lack passion for the people and the nation whose resources they hold in trust.
The Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike aptly captured the sordid security situation in the country when he said, if there is a proper Commander-In-Chief, bandits and insurgent groups will not be allowed to drag the country to the level of unrestrained killing of innocent Nigerians.
This is unassialable truth because the country truly needs a strong Commander, In Chief-at the helm of affairs today; a President who knows his onions, in terms of tackling all forms of criminality in the land headlong.
After all, security of lives and property is a litmus test for and parameter to determine the effectiveness of any government. It is the primary obligation of any government to protect the lives and property of the people. If a government lacks the capacity and capability to discharge this constitutional responsibility to the people, then, such a government has failed woefully. This is because security is a critical national asset which serves as a springboard for growth and development to thrive. The absence of peace and security, no doubt, will elicit unnecessary tensions and apprehension that are capable of preventing people and corporate organisations  from committing their hard-earned resources into  a presumptuously unstable economy as a result of insecurity.
Insecurity is therefore, a major cause of job loss, underemployment and unemployment. It also orchestrates capital flight and hoarding. Security remains the pivot of development at all levels-community, local government, state and national.
That is why I can appreciate Chief Wike’s grouse and uncompromising stance over the spate of insecurity that now beclouds certain parts of Nigeria.
Wike was unequivocal when in an emotion-laden voice he said, “A proper Commander-in-Chief will never allow this country to go down like this. What is President Buhari doing with the service chiefs? Their business is to protect Nigeria and Nigerians. Look at the country, every day the only project we get is people have died. The only project Nigerians continue to get is killing…”
Is any person or group angry over Governor Wike’s swipes? Then, I urge them to be dispassionate.
The cases of incessant security breaches, leading to destruction of lives and property with impunity, are strong and negative testimonial that Nigeria is tottering on the brink of a Failed State.
I pray that the precarious security situation in  Nigeria should not snowball to expression of the Hobbesian theory of state where life was viewed as short and brutish, might becomes right.
Rather than criticising Chief Nyesom Wike, the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) should restrategise and work out modalities on how to bring out the country from the doldrums of insecurity before it speculatively, exits the reins of power.
The president and de facto Commander-in-Chief of Nigeria’s Armed Forces, Muhammadu Buhari, has given his word to Nigerians that he will leave Nigeria better than he met it. This is heart-gladening for every person who is passing through the unpopular economic policies of Buhari administration.
However, since this is not a prophecy, or word spoken by God through him, I wonder how Mr President can achieve this feat of not just restoring the economy,  security and other facets of national growth and development, to their friendly states, prior to the inception of his administration in 2015 but to surpass the successes and achievements of his predecessor, Dr Goodluck Ebele Jonathan.
That would be a miracle of the century indeed.
Mr President’s position on the state of the nation is like a man building castles in the air. Is it really possible? Is it one of the bogus promises, comical pranks and lullaby to soothe frayed nerves while the maladministration thrives?
The Buhari administration has barely one year to leave office, what is the dollar-naira exchange rate? What is the level of security? What is the  per capita income? How are civil servants faring? and what is the state of small and medium scale enterprises or businesses?
If Mr President had spoken as an oracle of God, I would have believed because of the dictates of my faith, but since he spoke for himself, only May 29, 2023 will tell.

By: Igbiki Benibo

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
Continue Reading

Opinion

Why Kill Deborah For Prophet Mohammed?

Published

on

The murder of Deborah Samuel, a 200 – level student of Shehu Shagari College of Education, Sokoto, has made it incumbent upon me to write a sequel to my last week’s piece, titled, “Was the Agege-bread Easter message a mistake?”.
In that article, I laid out in very clear terms the state of mind of a Muslim that could give room for the trivialising of such a historic event as the resurrection. Today, even though the death of Deborah feels like a knife in my heart, I am glad that at least the reading public can knowledgeably compare the Easter incident and last week’s barbaric murder and judge for themselves.
During Easter, the whole of Christendom was ridiculed, when the resurrection of Christ was likened to the rising of Agege-bread. Christians of all stripes reacted in various ways; some called for the total boycott of Sterling Bank, while the Christian Association of Nigeria called for the resignation of the CEO. However, no Christian, to the knowledge of this writer,  called for the death of Mr. Abubakar Suleiman, or for the burning of Sterling Bank branches across the country.
It must be understood that in christendom, the greatest blasphemy, is blasphemy against the Holy Spirit; and if the resurrection of Jesus Christ was an act of the Holy Spirit, then Sterling Bank committed the greatest blasphemy against the Christian Faith. Are Christians ignorant of this? No. What then should have been the response of Christians? Exactly what CAN has done, forgive; and, follow peace with all men, as much as it is within your power.
One major thought from last week’s article was that if the script were to be flipped, and Prophet Mohammed or any pillar of Islam was the target of ridicule, people would be killed and places would be burnt. Unfortunately, this is exactly what happened to Deborah Samuel.
My rational mind is compelling me to ask my Muslim brothers why they fight and kill for Prophet Mohammed if he is the messenger of Allah when we are thought by the Holy Quran that Allah is all-powerful. Is it that Allah is now weak? I think not. There might be a myriad of differences between Christianity and Islam, however, there are also points of convergence, and the almightiness of God or Allah is one of such. Hence my confusion.
I am compelled to assert that the global killings committed by Muslim fanatics for alleged blasphemy are a form of extreme paganism which has no place in modern society. More than 3000 years ago, a mob, like the one that murdered Deborah, gathered to kill Gideon because he destroyed the altar of Baal. They asked his father to bring him out, but his father, Joash said, “Will you contend for Baal? Or will you save him? … If he is a god, let him contend for himself because his altar has been broken down”. What is the difference between those who murdered Deborah and the pagans? Nothing, except that they were wise enough to allow Baal to prove himself as God.
Therefore, since we know that the Islamic religion is monotheistic, we should interrogate the source of these pagan tendencies. Especially, given the fact that some Islamic clerics are the ones calling for violence, sowing seeds against religious tolerance, national integration, and cohesion. In the past, much violence was perpetrated after Jumat prayers. In fact, before Deborah was killed, an Imam in Sokoto, in a video that has now gone viral on social media, was calling for the killing of a boy who allegedly has blasphemed Prophet Muhammad. He has not been arrested yet.
After seeing on YouTube, how these Muslim college students hunted down and murdered Deborah like an animal while shouting Allahu Akbar, it is hard to reconcile to the Muslim peace greeting: “Salem aleku”.
The Sultanate Council was very quick to condemn Deborah’s murder, reaffirming its stance on religious violence. But is this enough? Nigerians would want to know what portion of Islamic theology, as espoused by Imams in Jumat prayers, and Quranic verses responsible for this kind of insane behaviour. As a person, I will like to know the position of the Quaran on Blasphemy against the Prophet Muhammed and the position of the Islamic religion in relation to contemporary Nigeria?
Already, it is apparent, that these youths have the tacit support of the Northern elite, considering how former Vice President Atiku Abubakar was attacked, so much that he had to delete his twit condemning Deborah’s murder. For instance, a Twitter user who calls himself Otunba of Sokoto, declared the former vice president has lost a million votes in Sokoto. Yet, another user retorted, saying “ we are waiting for him to come to Sokoto for campaign”.
We must all bear in mind that, Deborah was executed by her coursemates. These students are not ignorant; they are informed, motivated, and they did what they felt obligated to do, based on an idea or teaching. But was the murder of Deborah alien to the North? Unfortunately, it is not. There have been several cases when christians have been murdered by irate Muslim youth in the North. In fact,  in June 2016, a 74-year-old Christian trader, Bridget Agbahime was beaten to death by a Muslim mob outside her shop in Kano after accusing her of insulting the prophet. The suspects were arrested but were later released when the Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, Kano State declared that the state has no case against them.  Her only crime was asking a Muslim youth performing ablution in front of her shop to move away.
On Friday, two students were arrested; but on Saturday, Muslim youths in Sokoto went on rampage, demanding their unconditional release. In the mayhem that ensued, two Catholic Churches under the administration of Bishop Mathew Kuka, some ECWA Churches, and the shops owned by South Easterners have been touched. Even the way about Bishop Kuka is kept under wraps for his safety.  Consequently, a 24-hour curfew was placed in Sokoto metropolis. In the same vein, Governor Nasir Ahmad El-Rufai has placed a ban on any form of religious protest in Kaduna.
Deborah has been buried in her hometown, Tungan Magajiya, in Rijau Local Government Area of Niger State on Saturday, after her corpse was brought from Sokoto in very controversial circumstances.
The story continues to evolve, but one thing is clear, the North is a conservative Muslim country in Nigeria. If this is not so, the burden is on the Federal Government, as well as the state governments in the north to prove me wrong. Maybe, Deborah’s murder might be the ‘proverbial last straw’  that would break the back of  religious bigotry  in this country. In the interim, while we wait for answers from the Muslim community, Christians across the country must remain calm.

By: Raphael Pepple

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
Continue Reading

Trending