By Jonathan Ugbal
The Pan Niger Delta Forum (PANDEF) has said it is concerned about the narrative and fanfare surrounding the flag-off of the USD2.59 billion Ajaokuta-Kaduna-Kano (AKK) gas pipeline project by the federal government.
The body on Wednesday described as “offensive,” the “elaborate publicity” given the flag off of the project by the federal government after it abandoned the Brass LNG project and others in the Niger Delta region which serves as repository for the country’s oil and gas reserves.
“With the fun fair and all that, the elaborate publicity that was given to it, it is abhorrent, it is offensive to the people of the Niger Delta region,” PANDEF’s national publicity secretary, Hon, Ken Robinson told journalists in Calabar on the sidelines of the presentation of reports on “Insecurity in the South-South States: Issues, Actors and Solutions” by the Niger Delta Dialogue secretariat.
“Does Kogi state or Ajaokuta area produce gas?” he queried. “Do they have gas they transporting from Ajaokuta to Kaduna to Kano?. I beg to be corrected, the information I got this morning is that, the gas is coming from the Niger Delta and they are taking it to Ajaokuta as kind of point and then discharge to norrthern Nigeria to build the gas plant in the northern Nigeria.”
And, Robinson said even though PANDEF’s leadership is yet to discuss the issue formally, people are aggrieved.
“The Brass LNG has been abandoned. There are several projects in all the states and our sea ports are not functioning; some are neglected, some are not functioning at maximum capacity and then the perceived attention that has been given to this very project, this AKK project, with about USD2.5 billion committed to it and we know the foreign partners and all that and their intentions are very clear. Of course people are grieved that we are been neglected and our resources are now being tapped because the next phase perhaps, is gas, it is no longer oil. Oil is a passing commodity and gas could become the in thing. I think that people are been futuristic and planning for the future and putting in place, projects that will advantage them and to the disadvantage them of the Niger Delta people. So, there are bound to be reactions and as we go forward we will look at how we can address some of these reactions that will come up but definitely people are very angry that our resources are being tapped.
“The funny part of it is that, no mention is made of where this gas is coming from. You are building a gas project line from Ajaokuta, there is a terminal in Abuja then it goes through Kaduna and then it goes to Kano. Now, the managing director of the Nigerian Gas Pipeline and Storage Company, of course is from the northern region and that informed our earlier letter to Mr. President about the imbalances and the lopsidedness in the appointment in NNPC. Every sensitive and strategic position is occupied by them so that they can execute their plans and their agenda. And definitely people are angry and I am sure that there will be reactions but, as a leadership organization in the region, we are committed to peace, we are committed to non violent actions and we will continue talking to our young people and to other leaders to ensure we maintain peace for the interest of our people, not for the interest of any other person.”
President Muhammadu Buhari had, while flagging-off the project, said the project will connect gas from the domestic networks in the southern part of the country to the northern part, thereby creating ‘balanced development.’ He expressed optimism that it will revive moribund industries along transit towns in Kogi, the Federal Capital Territory, Niger, Kaduna and Kano states.
“It marks the day when our domestic natural gas pipeline networks; from Obiafu in Rivers State, Escravos in Delta State and Lekki in Lagos State, are being connected through Kaduna to Kano States thereby enhancing national energy security, creating balanced development, and further integrating our nation,” the President said.
But, Mr. Robinson said the reality portrays a different perspective insisting that there was more to the project as the Niger Delta region has continuously been exploited.
“Fine, we are one Nigeria but we are only one Nigeria when it comes to the issues that we will be exploited by a certain section of the country. When it comes to we benefitting from the system, we are no longer one Nigeria. The truth is that, Nigeria is only a federation in name; it is not a federation by practice,” Robinson said.
Furthermore, he cited a 2017 Punch Newspaper interview with the late Professor Tam David West, a former minister of petroleum and energy in the 80’s and posited that the monies spent in searching for oil and gas deposits in northern Nigeria was not necessary even though he expressed optimism that having oil communities across the country may bode well for the Niger Delta region.
“The man (West) exposed some of the intrigues and some of the mechanisms and machinations and the resources that have been dissipated and wasted in the so called search for oil in the north just to give the impression that the Niger Delta is not the only area that oil can be found. They are still doing it. They are exploring oil in Niger state, they are exploring oil in Plateau; oil comes from God, it is God that enriches a place. The Niger Delta is blessed and the better for us if every part of Nigeria produces oil and every community in Nigeria becomes oil producing, there will be more oil to sell if OPEC will allow it, then every area will become oil producing and perhaps by that time, they will give more attention to oil producing areas,” Robinson said.
In that interview, Professor West had explained that: “I was shown two wells that were drilled but which were closed because they could not find oil there. It was like a wild goose chase. The search for oil has been made political. On the French side of Chad there is oil so, they said there should be oil on the Nigerian side. I alerted the nation that foreign countries were not willing to go to the North and start looking for oil. If there was oil there, they would have rushed to the place. Some read conspiracy theory to it but I said I and (Aret) Adams are from the Niger Delta and we made so much effort to find oil in the North.”
The News Agency of Nigeria reports that the 614km pipeline network is part of the Trans-Nigeria gas pipeline project with the Group Managing Director, NNPC, Mele Kyari, explaining at the inauguration that the AKK gas pipeline project involves the establishment of a connecting gas pipeline network that will integrate the Northern region of the country with the Niger Delta, Eastern and Western regions of the country.
Mr. Kyari said the EPC contract for the project was awarded at a contract sum of $2.592 billion to Messrs. Oilserv Plc/China First Highway Engineering Company (Oilserv/CFHEC Consortium) which covers the first segment of 303km while, Messrs Brentex Petroleum Services/China Petroleum Pipeline Bureau (Brentex/CPP Consortium) got the contract for the second segment covering 311km under a debt-equity financing model with loan from Bank of China and SINOSURE. This loan is expected to be repaid through the pipeline transmission tariff and supported by a sovereign guarantee.
The project is expected to be delivered in two years.
Since You Are Here, Support Good Journalism
CrossRiverWatch was founded on the ideals of deploying tech tools to report in an ethical manner, news, views and analysis with a narrative that ensures transparency in governance, a good society and an accountable democracy.
Everyone appreciates good journalism but it costs a lot of money. Nonetheless, it cannot be sacrificed on the altar of news commercialisation.
Consider making a modest contribution to support CrossRiverWatch's journalism of credibility and integrity in order to ensure that all have continuous free access to our noble endeavor.