For the second time in three weeks, the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation has received an express order from President Muhammadu Buhari to explore for oil in the North.
This time, the President directed the national oil firm to commence exploration activities in the Benue Trough. The Benue Trough is a major geological formation underlying a large part of Nigeria, extending about 1,000km North-East from the Bight of Benin to Lake Chad.
The Group Managing Director, NNPC, Dr. Maikanti Baru, disclosed the President’s directive on the oil expolration in the North while receiving a delegation from the Benue State Government at the corporation’s headquarters in Abuja.
The 19 northern state governors are also fired up about the prospect of oil production in their domain as they have hired a British firm through the Northern Nigeria Development Company, which they jointly own, to carry out the exploration activities.
But energy analysts and several socio-cultural and other interest groups on Tuesday expressed divergent views on the pressure by the President on the NNPC as regards oil exploration in the North.
The NNPC GMD, in a statement from the corporation on Tuesday, said the new directive was in line with the current efforts to guarantee energy security of the country.
Baru said, “Very close home, we have exploration activities on the Frontier Basin, that is in the Chad; and there are some areas close to the Kolmani River where Shell has made indicative discovery of hydrocarbons and Mr. President has directed me to go into that area to further explore the magnitude and prospects of those finds.
“We are taking steps to get into those regions. We will reinvigorate the frontier exploration and see how they collaborate with the Northern Nigeria Development Company that is holding Block 809 where some of the finds have been found. We will also do the same at the Department of Petroleum Resources for the other blocks that have not been assigned, and work towards proving the prospects of that region.”
But the Ijaw Youth Council and Urhobo Monitoring and Development Group while reacting to the presidential directive said it was a good initiative but came at a wrong time.
The IYC, an umbrella body for the Ijaw youths worldwide, said that the timing for the directive was wrong because of the prevailing situation in the oil industry at the international market, which made such a venture economically unwise.
A statement signed by the spokesman for the group, Eric Omare, said one would have expected that President Buhari-led government should focus on diversifying the nation’s ailing economy, especially areas where the different regions had comparative advantage over the other.
“Ordinary, the IYC would be excited by not just a Presidential directive to explore for oil in any part of the North but discovery of oil in the North. This is so because we strongly believe that the struggle of the people of the Niger Delta region for equitable distribution of oil money would become a reality once oil is found in the North as well.”
On its part, the National President of the Urhobo Monitoring and Development Group, Kingsley Oberuruaria, posited that while the directive was good, it was a self-serving step to further annihilate the people of the region from benefitting from its God-given natural resources.
Oberuruaria explained that the desire of the President was to cut the region out of the country’s scheme of things once oil production fully came alive in that region while the Niger Delta, which had been feeding the nation, would forever be neglected.
The Niger Delta youth leader posited that such a presidential directive should be put into various ailing industries in the country such as the Delta Steel Company in Aladja, Delta State, which he said was capable of employing hundreds of thousands of unemployed Nigerian youths.
“I’m sure this directive was as a result of the prevailing crisis in the Niger Delta region. President Buhari has been looking for ways to cut off the region instead of being resolute to develop the region which has been neglected by every successive government,” he said.
But two prominent leaders of the pan-Yoruba socio-cultural organisation, Afenifere, Chief Sehinde Arogbofa and Yinka Odumakin, differed on the issue.
Arogbofa, who is the Secretary-General of the association, said it would be part of the way to restructure the country, which the association had been clamouring for.
He said, “There is nothing wrong if they find oil in the North. That is why we are calling for restructuring; if that is his (Buhari) own restructuring agenda, it is okay. We already have oil in the South and if he orders for prospect of oil in the North, there is nothing wrong in that .”
But the group’s spokesman, Odumakin, said it was a wasted effort. He recalled, “Mr. Alan Lennox-Boyde, the Secretary of State for the Colonies in a memorandum on Nigerian Constitutional Conference wrote in 1958: The North fears and dislikes the more educated Southerners and if they were not economically bound to the federation, they would be glad to be quit of it. What he stated has not changed much till date and this may explain the desperate search for oil in the North at a time oil is becoming worthless.”
Also, the President, Campaign for Democracy, Bako Usman, said the President was not getting good advice.
He said, “What is worth doing, they say, is worth doing well. We as a people need to acknowledge the fact that this government needs an effective economic direction. For now, most people around Mr. President on the pay roll of taxpayers money are just but ill Advisers.
The Pan-northern socio-cultural group, Arewa Consultative Forum, said it was not aware of the Presidential pronouncement on oil exploration in the region.
The National Publicity Secretary of the forum, Muhammad Ibrahim, told one of our correspondents in Kaduna on Tuesday that he was not aware of Buhari’s order to the NNPC to prospect for oil in the region.
The Head of Energy Research, Ecobank Capital, Mr. Dolapo Oni, said the move must have been informed by the need to reduce the reliance on the Niger Delta and reduce the country’s vulnerability to attacks in the region.
He said, “But, at a time when we don’t have enough money to run the economy, even though oil servicing charges are a lot lesser now due to the drop in oil prices, it is still not the right time to dedicate a large amount of money to search for oil in the North.
“Ideally, the idea will be a concession and allow companies do whatever they need to do. If we want to do 2D and 3D seismic, we can do it, gather that data and allow oil companies to come and do their own search. But if we are dedicating the NNPC’s scarce resources to going beyond the 2D and 3D, I think it may not be the best of time.”
The Project Director, Uquo Gas Field Development, a joint venture project by Frontier Oil Limited and Seven Energy, Mr. Abdullahi Bukar, described the renewed efforts towards exploring for oil in the Benue Trough and Chad Basin as a very good development.
He said, “I hope that a well-thought-out policy will be put in place because anything that will increase Nigeria’s oil and gas reserves is very welcome.”
The Chief Executive Officer, Cowry Asset Management Limited, Mr. Johnson Chukwu, said the discovery of oil in Niger Republic must have been a major boost for Nigeria to continue to prospect for oil in the Sahel region.
Describing the effort to diversify the nation’s oil and gas production as a good move, he said, “It depends on the level of resources being committed to it. I think it is something the government needs to be very circumspect in committing resources to it. It is very likely that what would be achieved in the Chad Basin will be marginal deposits. So, I don’t think the government is going to be too bullish in terms of the resources it is going to commit to such effort.”
The Director-General, West African Institute for Financial and Economic Management, Prof. Akpan Ekpo, said, “There is nothing wrong in getting more oil. But my worry is the dependence on non-renewable resources without adding value to it.”
Nigeria Immigration Service Reopens Portal With New Passport Application and Payment Process
The Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS) has announced the reopening of its passport application and payment portal.
The assistant comptroller of immigration, Mr Amos Okpu announced in a statement in Abuja on Tuesday.
In the statement, Mr Muhammad Babandede, the Comptroller-General of the service, said the portal became effective for new applications from 12 midnight on Tuesday.
Babandede further said that the portal would allow eligible applicants to apply and make payments for the various categories of passports of their choice.
Mr Muhammad Babandede explained that with the reopening of the portal, a new passport application and payment regime had begun.
The statement in full:
“The Comptroller General of the Nigeria Immigration Service (CGI), Muhammad Babandede MFR, has announced the reopening of the Passport application and payment portal effective 8th June 2021 by 12 midnight to allow eligible Passport applicants to apply and make payments for the various categories of Passports of their choice.
The Passport portal was closed following the directives of the Minister of Interior, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola on the 17th of May, 2021to afford the Service the opportunity to clear all backlogs of applications that have piled up across Issuing Centres in the past few months.
With the reopening of the portal, a new Passport application and payment regime have commenced. Under the new Passport regime;
Applications and payments for Passport services shall be made through the Service website www.immigration.gov.ng;
- applicants are expected to visit the portal to apply and upload their support documents for vetting and processing;
- a chat room facility to guide applicants through the application and payment process has been provided on the portal;
- upon successful applications, applicants shall make their online booking interview/enrollment appointment on any day, time and location they consider convenient;
- that the new timeline for Passport production and issuance after a successful enrollment at the selected Issuing Centre shall be six weeks for Fresh applications and three weeks for Re-issue (Renewal applications);
- that no applicant who is yet to make an online application and payment shall be allowed into any of the Passport Issuing Centres for Passport processing;
- applicants will be contacted through email and phone number they provided during application when their Passports are ready;
- a helpline with the number 08021819988 has been provided for feedback mechanism on any challenges.
The Comptroller General, Muhammad Babandede MFR wishes to use this medium to call on Nigerians and indeed Passport applicants to avoid patronizing touts as the entire process has been made seamless for effective and efficient service delivery. He warned Passport racketeers to desist from acts capable of undermining the reform efforts to avoid very strict sanctions.
Signed AMOS OKPU MNIPR
ASSISTANT COMPTROLLER OF IMMIGRATION
SERVICE PUBLIC RELATIONS OFFICER
For: COMPTROLLER GENERAL OF IMMIGRATION 8TH JUNE, 2021″
INEC To Publish The List Of New Polling Units Next Week
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has pledged to publish a comprehensive list of its new polling units across the nation next week.
The INEC Chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, disclosed this on Monday in Abuja.
Yakubu was speaking at the formal handing over of a new state of the art fire truck, deployed to the Commission’s headquarters in Abuja by the Federal Fire Service (FFS).
He said that details of the locations of its registration centers and the procedure for the commencement of online registration for resumption of nationwide Continuous Voter Registration (CVR) would be made available in the second week of May.
He expressed appreciation of the commission to the FFS and all security agencies for the demonstration of their support to protecting INEC facilities
He said that the support was coming on the eve of the resumption of the CVR nationwide in the next three weeks.
“We earlier assured Nigerians that we shall conclude work on the expansion of voter access to polling units and make the new polling units available to citizens ahead of the CVR exercise.
“I am glad to report that we have accomplished this task for the first time in 25 years.
“A comprehensive list of the new polling units will be published next week.
“Similarly, details of the locations of the registration centers and the procedure for the commencement of online registration will also be made available after a series of regular consultative meetings with stakeholders next week,” Yakubu said.
He said that as a member of the Inter-Agency Consultative Committee on Election Security (ICCES) FFS had been as concerned as other security agencies about the recent attacks on our offices across the country.
“This is particularly so because out of the 42 attacks on our facilities nationwide, 18 incidents resulted from arson and three more by a combination of arson and vandalisation.”
Yakubu recalled that concerned by those incidents, the commission convened an emergency meeting of ICCES last week of April, where the security agencies renewed their determination to collaborate more with the commission.
According to him, they pledged to assist the commission address the challenge beyond the routine protection of INEC assets and the security of its officials, voters, observers, the media, candidates and their agents during elections.
“On its part, the Federal Fire Service offered to deploy an additional state-of-the-art fire engine to the INEC headquarters to complement the two existing trucks.
“At the same time, it directed its state offices to take additional protective measures around other INEC facilities nationwide.
“Today’s inauguration of the new fire engine is another affirmation of the support to the commission from the FFS whose personnel, already deployed permanently to the commission
“The personnel will continue to operate and maintain the fire engines and other firefighting equipment installed by INEC,” Yakubu said.
Speaking earlier, the Controller-General (CG) of FFS, Alhaji Liman Ibrahim said the deployment of the firefighting truck was premised on recent fire attacks on INEC offices in different parts of the country.
Ibrahim, represented by the Assistant Controller-General of the service, Mr Samson Karebo, said the deployed truck would serve as fire cover for the premises of INEC headquarters and the entire Maitama vicinity of Abuja.
“The FFS is taking this step as a proactive measure to protect our critical infrastructure and help to protect our economy by forming synergy with all stakeholders in protecting our environments.
“Our center is focused on bringing firefighting operations to every part of the country as part of our statutory duties by having a presence in virtually every state in Nigeria
“The FFS will very soon be moving into all senatorial headquarters in the country. That is how we want to operate for now so that we can touch every corner of this country,” Ibrahim said.
He called for the cooperation of all for the service to better serve the nation by not molesting FFS staff in the line of duty.
In his remarks, the National Security Adviser (NSA) retired Maj.-Gen. Babagana Monguno, who is also Co-Chair of ICCES, described the deployment of the truck as a demonstration of President Muhammadu Buhari’s commitment to sustain Nigeria’s democracy and address insecurity.
Monguno said that the gesture also symbolised commitment to a clear affirmation of Buhari toward protecting institutions of government, toward securing their property, toward fighting acts of irresponsibility, vandalisation and outright criminality.
“The President is determined as much as he can within the confines of legality to suppress any kind of criminality and destruction of public property.
“This is something that he is determined to do regardless of whatever the challenges are.
“He will apply all the resources in his disposal in his capacity as the Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces to ensure the wider Nigerian society is safe, stable and is allowed to carry out its legitimate undertaking, free from any act of insecurity,” he said
Monguno urged all other security agencies not to relent in ensuring that they continued to protect lives and property.
The Inspector-General of Police, Mr Usman Baba pledged commitment to security agencies to work with INEC and protect INEC’s facilities, citizens’ life and property.
Also at the occasion was the Minister of Interior, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola, represented by Director of Joint Services, Mr Peter Obodo; as well as the representative of Director-General, Directorate of State Services, Tony Adikweruka.
Recovered Assets: Ad-hoch Committee Gives Emefiele, Others 72 Hours Ultimatum
The House of Representatives ad-hoc committee, investigating recovered assets, has given the Central Bank Governor, Godwin Emefiele, and National Security Adviser, Babagana Monguno, 72 hours to appear before it.
The committee also issued same ultimatum to the Inspector General of Police, Usman Alkali, and the Director-General of Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency, NIMASA, Bashir Jamoh.
The summon was issued on Monday, after Mr Emefiele and the others failed to appear before the committee.
The government officials had sent representatives, but the committee chairman, Adejoro Adeogun (APC, Ondo), said they failed to forward letters to that effect.
He said allowing representatives without a proper letter of introduction would be akin to allowing “impersonators.”
“You are indirectly insulting the House of Representatives. You are undermining the House of Representatives,” an angry Mr Adeogun said.
Moving a motion to give the agencies 72hours to appear before the committee, Ibrahim Isiaka (APC, Ogun), said the agencies created by Acts of the parliament “should not be undermining the parliament”.
The motion was unanimously adopted by the committee.
Mr Isiaka suggested that the House should shut down its activities if the agencies fail to appear before them.
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