‘Set Realistic Targets For Gas Flare-out In The Region’ -PMB

During the opening of the Sixth Congress and Exhibition of the African Petroleum Producers Association (APPA) held in Abuja the other day, President Muhammadu Buhari said that his administration with the support of the legislature would sign the United Nations Agreement of ‘Zero Routine Gas Flaring by 2030’. He urged “all APPA member countries to set realistic targets for gas flare-out in the region.” By implication, what he termed the national target of 2020 was unrealistic. That is unacceptable.

Routine gas flaring is illegal in most countries and Nigeria’s score card in this regard should be examined separately from other member countries of APPA. Gas flaring refers to the burning of natural gas associated with pumping crude oil out of oil wells. By the early 1970s, crude oil production level had reached over two million barrels per day, that is more or less today’s production level. Nigeria is the seventh largest OPEC crude oil producer, very far behind the leading producer, Saudi Arabia, that can pump out 10 million barrels per day. However, by flaring 40 per cent of her natural gas output (it is largely associated gas), Nigeria by 2008 had become the world’s biggest gas flarer: she flared four times the volume of natural gas burnt by Saudi Arabia and, according to the World Bank, accounts for 12.5 per cent of total flared natural gas in the world. The fact that Nigeria’s oil fields have rich deposits of gas does not excuse the disproportionately high flaring rate.

The international oil companies (IOCs) operating in the country do not indulge in routine gas flaring in their home countries. With a little additional investment, the associated gas can be reinjected into the ground or the requisite infrastructure for utilising the associated gas can be put in place. As far back as 1969, the Federal Government directed oil companies to end gas flaring within five years of business by taking steps to utilise the gas. But continued gas flaring led to the enactment of the Associated Gas Reinjection Act (1979). Despite fixing year-end 1984 as the gas flare-out deadline, government betrayed readiness to look the other way by adding the option of a fine for non-compliance. The IOCs chose to pay fines. Nonetheless, by creating the NNPC in the second half of the 1970s and by vesting some 60 per cent equity stake of the joint-venture operators in the corporation, the latter bears the ultimate responsibility for the former’s compliance with any oil and gas mining regulations, including ending gas flaring.

In that light should be viewed the following pertinent issues. Firstly, a Federal High Court ruled in 2005 that gas flaring is a great violation of the human rights of residents in the neighbouring communities. What action has NNPC, nay, the Federal Government taken since then? What course of action is open to residents in oil producing communities, who have been abandoned to their fate and whose human rights continue to be violated. Secondly, in 2009, the Shell Petroleum Development Company reported that “More than $3 billion of additional investment is needed to reduce flaring as low as is reasonably possible.” Suppose Shell gave a credible cost estimate. Meanwhile, gas flaring has continued unabated. Also, the NNPC has, over the years, chalked up arrears in joint venture cash call payments. Is NNPC’s indebtedness the cause of the continued gas flaring since 2009? Thirdly, the Petroleum Industry Bill, which was first presented to the Sixth National Assembly, fixed December 2012 as the deadline for an end to gas flaring. We have the Eigth National Assembly, but the PIB has yet to be enacted into law. Some legislators from non-oil producing states objected to the provision requiring host communities to own 10 per cent stake in relevant operations in the petroleum sector. Is the 10 per cent stake really enough to address the problems that crude oil production has brought about?

The devastating effects of gas flaring and oil spills have been fully documented for the Federal Government through commissioned studies, and by experts. Oil producing communities suffer severe environmental degradation with high carbon emissions, which endanger man, animals and plants, as well as, wreak colossal economic losses. The harvest of afflictions include contaminated water sources, poisoned fishing ponds, reduced soil fertility resulting in dropping crop yields, acid rain, chronic health problems leading to premature deaths, biodiversity loss and building decay within short periods. These afflictions may be easily reversed by investing a small fraction of revenue realised from the recovered crude oil for the conversion of the gas being flared to liquefied petroleum gas for cooking and industrial use, generation of electricity and for export. The country’s power plants contend with crippling inadequate supply of natural gas, which the govt should stop blaming, self-indicting, on pipeline vandalisation.

Curiously, in his statement read to APPA, Buhari canvassed gas utilisation partnerships to help meet future energy needs of African countries. A convincing message for the occasion should have been to relate steps being taken on the home front to install the infrastructure for utilising the natural gas being flared in the Niger Delta. But as if to consign the oil host communities to perpetual damnation, the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources cited funding as the major challenge to utilising the gas. That is completely baseless. The Minister of State is an advocate of contracting foreign loans to finance joint-venture operations. It is an option that will perpetuate foreign control of the oil and gas sector and continued trampling of host communities underfoot, contrary to the intendment of the Nigerian Content Act. Since he took office, Buhari has been amply shown the wrongful fiscal and monetary policies which his predecessors dictated and which have kept the economy in limbo. Additionally, the President has been apprised of Nigeria’s capability of independently financing the petroleum and other sectors of the economy. The prospects are such that Nigeria could decide at will to scale down the stake of IOCs in the country’s oil operations simply by properly managing the available resources. For example, the financial sector currently has some N70 trillion idle lending capacity which could be accessed for public-private partnership undertakings in the various sectors of the economy. The Federal Government should, therefore, stop carrying on in the oil producing areas like a plundering colonial outfit. In a true fiscal federalism, the oil producing states would respect the human rights of the residents therein and guarantee them a good standard of living.

In the light of the foregoing and considering that the Federal Government’s mismanagement of the oil resources over the past half a century has despoiled the oil producing communities in the Niger Delta area, Buhari should publicly declare a firm national natural gas flare-out target within his current term. It is technically feasible. In order to free and garner funds for the actualisation of the plan, Buhari should direct the adoption of proper fiscal and monetary policy measures forthwith. A delay or lack of earnestness in executing the plan, could exacerbate the restiveness in the area, should residents in oil producing communities exercise their human rights to self-preservation by taking steps to have oil operators shut in all further crude oil recoveries. The non-escape of natural gas from the shut oil wells will knock out the poisonous flares. It will also bring to an end the death sentence by installment imposed on residents of oil-producing communities by uncontrolled associated gas flaring.

Agency Report …..

CCT: End Saraki’s Trial – N’Central Leaders To PMB

The opinion leaders in the north-central part of the country, on Wednesday, called for the dismissal of the ongoing trial of the Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki, at the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT).

While addressing a press conference in Ilorin, Kwara State, they said that they rejected, in its entirety, the CCT’s judgment of ‎ March 24, 2016.

The spokesman of the group, Senator Ahmed Mohammed, on behalf of the people of the area called on President Muhammadu Buhari not to be indifferent to the injustice and abuse of legal system in the country as “being perpetrated” by Justice Umar Danladi at the CCT.

He said that the recent pronouncement by eminent jurists on the illegality of the CCT and that it lacked the powers to prosecute Saraki was enough to prompt a presidential action to check “impunity” on the part of Danladi.

Mohammed added that, “on our part, we make bold to say that we would reject whatever is the outcome of this illegal and kangaroo trial under Umar Danladi, who, himself, was alleged to have criminal charges hanging on his neck, while the tribunal has also been declared incompetent by some top lawyers.

“Therefore, we call for the iimmediate dismissal of the ongoing trial at CCT. But just in case this injustice and political persecution continued, then Chief Ahmed Bola Tinubu must be re -arraigned immediately.

“We have refrained from speaking about the trial of the President of the Senate Dr. Bukola Saraki, before the Code of Conduct Tribunal ‎CCT, because of our belief that it was an issue that would stand the test of truth, equity and justice.

“But it has become significant to raise our voice at this juncture not only for posterity, but because of the pronouncement of Justice Danladi Umar, which established clearly that double standard is reigning supreme.”

Justifying their call for a presidential intervention, Mohammed noted that Saraki did not only deliver Kwara State 100% to APC, in the last general elections, he was a pillar in the zone.

“Dr Saraki deserve to be the most commended politician in APC”, he submitted.

Mohammed added that “in the six geo-political zones of Nigeria, APC used to have only one governor in Nasarawa State before Kwara was added. Today APC rules in all the states of North Central for the party, courtesy of the outstanding role he played with others.”

“Unfortunately at this moment he is being condemned, persecuted and vilified by the party he helped to build and win elections.

“If we review his leadership at the Senate and chairmanship of the National Assembly in the last nine months, is there anyone, who has not seen the high capacity demonstrated by Dr. Bukola Saraki in the conduct of business at the upper house and co-ordination of the National Assembly?

“For the first time, since 1999, the budget was passed the same day in both chambers with similar figures without any need for a joint committee to harmonise their differences.

“With the Senate search light on Treasury Single Account (TSA) Nigeria is saving over N600million every day. The war against Boko Haram is being won because the National Assembly has approved the funds. He brought succour to Nigerians from the cancellation of fixed PHCN charges from DISCO tariff. He also saved the nation from labour strike in that regard‎ among many other laudable and progressive steps and decision taken in the best interest of our dear country.

“As leaders in the zone that produced Senate President, we are compelled to cry out on the injustice being done to our ‎illustrious son, Dr. Bukola Saraki, the President of the Senate”…

Buhari Now At Washington For Nuclear Security Summit

President Muhammadu Buhari has arrived Washington DC to participate at the 4th Nuclear Security Summit, which begins Thursday.

The President was met at the Andrews Airforce Base, just outside the US capital, by a number of high ranking Nigerian and US officials, including Minister of Defence Monsur Dan Ali, Minister of Education Mallam Adamu Adamu, DG National Intelligence Agency Ambassador Ayodele Oke and Senior Special Assistant on Diaspora Hon. Abike Dabiri.

The Nuclear Security Summit, which is being hosted by US President Barack Obama and which will have in attendance at least 60 other world leaders and heads of international organisations, is dedicated to reinforcing international commitment to the none-proliferation of nuclear weapons.

Buhari, during plenary session of the summit, is expected to insist that while Nigeria will stand by this goal, world powers must, however, respect the right of other countries to the peaceful use of nuclear energy for development purposes.

The president is expected back to the country on Sunday.

Boko Haram: Military In Last Phase Of Ending Activities – Air Marshal Abubakar

The Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshal Sadiq Abubakar, says the Nigerian military is in the last phase of ending the issue of Boko Haram in Nigeria.

Air Marshal Abubakar gave the assurance while addressing reporters in Benin on Wednesday.

It was the commissioning of some projects at the Air Force Medical Centre of the 81 Maritime Group of the Nigerian Air Force in Benin City the capital of Edo State.

He said that apart from equipping the military with the necessary logistics, the government was also taking the welfare of its soldier and their dependents as a top priority in its bid to end terrorism and properly secure the country and this citizens.

His statement is coming hours after the Air Force signed an agreement with a vehicle manufacturing company in Anambra State, Innoson, to provide the force with necessary parts for its aircraft.

The Nigerian Air Force said the agreement would help address challenges faced in acquiring parts from foreign countries and also boost its counter-terrorism operations.

‘I Don’t Support Acting Nude’ – Susan Peters

Nollywood actress, Susan Peters shared her thought on acting nudes in Encomium magazine interview.

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” I have never acted nude. That has been a no, no for me even before getting married. I don’t support it. I have never acted nude and will not act nude. Of course, you could take off some clothes but not totally nude. In our culture, we don’t allow that. If I try it, my mother in the village will say the village people have followed me to town” she said.

The actress got married to her Dutch lover in October 2015.

APC In Totally Control Of INEC – PDP

The Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, has claimed that the nation’s electoral body, the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, is totally under the control of the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC.

Addressing newsmen in Abuja on Wednesday, the Deputy National Chairman of the party, Uche Secondus cited the piecemeal release of results of the March 19 rerun election in Rivers State by the commission, which he alleged was done to satisfy the ruling party.

The opposition party accused INEC of taking instructions from the ruling party on what to do with the outcome of the Rivers rerun, which he claimed his party won convincingly.

Secondus said, “It is apparent that the commission has become a department in the APC. The commission is being controlled by the APC. The commission has lost its independence and we have empirical evidence on this.

“Now in Rivers, because the PDP won all the elections despite the intimidation by the military, the results are being released piecemeal because the APC has failed woefully in all the constituencies.”

Secondus, however, expressed concern over the conduct of election since the new commission’s Chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, assumed office, stressing that most election had been inconclusive.

He cited the Kogi, Bayelsa and the recent Rivers states’ rerun elections as examples.

The PDP Deputy Chairman claimed that the commission was yet to fix a date for fresh election in the state in the areas that were cancelled because it “was waiting for instruction from the APC.”

“They haven’t fixed a date for rerun because of the APC. INEC is now being supervised by the leadership of the APC and the Buhari administration.

“They are no longer independent and we are losing confidence in INEC. In the Federal Capital Territory, election date was announced but suddenly, because they knew the APC was going to lose, they postponed the election after we had spent money and time.

“All these show that INEC is now a parastatal of the APC. The danger is that this current leadership that will conduct the general elections in 2019 has been compromised.

“The forthcoming Edo and Ondo states’ governorship elections are in danger. With what happened in Rivers, Nigeria is in danger.

“There may be no election in 2019 with the way INEC is conducting itself as a parastatal of the APC,” he said.

Agency Report ….

Saraki’s Trial Political, PDP Can Produce Successor If Remove – Nwaoboshi

Chairman, Senate Committee on Niger Delta Affairs, Senator Peter Nwaoboshi, PDP, Delta North, said yesterday that if President of the Senate, Senator Bukola Saraki, was removed from his present position by the Code of Conduct Tribunal, CCT, the opposition political party, Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, would produce his successor.

Nwaoboshi, who noted that Saraki had been obeying the court, said until he was proven guilty, no amount of blackmail would make senators elected on the platform of PDP shift ground and support for him. “In any case, my party, the PDP, has resolved in our meeting to support him. So, there is no basis for him to resign,” he said. Nwaobashi, former Delta State chairman of PDP, who spoke with journalists in Abuja, yesterday, described the present trial of Saraki as purely political. He said:  “We only need three and we have it. The calculation is very clear to me. The calculation is very clear for PDP. We know what it will take us. When I told them that Saraki was going to win, I did a lot of mathematical calculations based on the facts on the ground and it is even clearer to me now that the PDP will win it. “We will win it. If anybody is thinking that a PDP man is going to vote against a PDP candidate, he is telling you a lie. We have people and we know how to get the people from APC. “We will win and that will be very interesting. What is happening in America is going to happen in Nigeria. America has a Republican Senate but the executive is led by Democrats. So, it’s happening in different parts of the world. I can tell you with what’s on the ground that we will produce the next Senate President.”

However, On whether Saraki should resign as Senate President, Nwaoboshi said:   “I’m a lawyer, 27 years in the bar. He is not guilty. He has not been proven guilty. Let us first of all get to the point that he has been found guilty. “The man has taken a plea of not guilty and the law is very clear. He’s deemed not to be guilty until it is proven. It’s a matter before the court. The prosecutor has the duty to prove his case before the onus will shift to him to defend. “If the prosecutor doesn’t have a case, then what is he defending? Take the example of Ndudi Elumelu; that was how they removed him as Chairman of Power Committee because he was taken to court. In the end, he was cleared. “Look at the former Senate President, Senator Adolphus Wabara, he went to court. People were saying he is in court, that he should be removed. He resigned as a result of pressure from the public. He went to court and won. “The other woman in the House of Representatives, former speaker, Patricia Etteh; in fact, the House changed its own position. But they had achieved what they wanted to achieve. There are so many examples like that. “The man (Saraki) is going to court and he is obeying the court order. Until it is proven that he is guilty, no amount of blackmail will make us shift our ground and our support for him. In any case, my party, the PDP, we’ve resolved in our meeting to support him. So, there is no basis for him to resign.” Asked whether Saraki should look at the soft landing option which looks like an olive branch, he said:  “What is soft landing? There is no soft landing. The case is on. Are they going to withdraw the case? Let him go through the distance and let us see who is right.”

Senator Nwaoboshi, who noted that Senator Saraki’s trial was purely political, said:  “You have seen it now. What is the intendment of an Act? Before he became a governor, he was supposed to make a declaration.’’

Vanguard ……

No Regrets Calling Oliseh Africa’s Pep Guardiola

President of the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF), Amaju Pinnick, has insisted he does not have any regrets calling Sunday Oliseh Africa’s Pep Guardiola.

Oliseh has been blamed in some quarters, for the Super Eagles’ failure to qualify for the 2017 Africa Cup of Nations in Gabon.

The former national team captain was contracted last July, but decided to quit after a series of indifferent results, including a draw away to Tanzania in the AFCON qualifying series.

“I have no regret calling Oliseh the Pep Guardiola of Africa, it was just to give him a psychological edge,” Pinnick said in Abuja on Wednesday.

“We wanted to boost his morale to do the job. It was just a way of encouraging him to get what we wanted him to achieve.

“When we employed him, we gave him a four-year plan to turn around our football and during the turbulent period Oliseh resigned and we had to move swiftly to appoint Siasia to lead the team. I must say Siasia and Co did very well but it was just not our destiny to qualify.

“We had good intentions but unfortunately it did not work.”