One Good Turn They Say, Deserves Another

By Odimegwu Onwumere

I was in Umuako, Nsirimo, Umuahia, Abia State, to witness the planting to the soil, a 78yr old matriarch, who passed on.

The date was April 27 2019. I went to the burial, not in my appearance, due to the insecurity in the country. When the commercial bike I joined at Ubakala Junction dropped me at St. Peter’s Catholic Church in this town, the crowd was much. On sighting me, my host was ecstatic. Water was first given to me. Others is a story for another day.

Getting a bike back to the Ubakala Junction, was a tug of war. One came, and a woman, who should be in her 50s, secured it. As she was about leaving and got to where I stood, she asked me to join her. “Getting a bike here is not a tea party,” she friendly approached me. I couldn’t imagine sitting on that bike, but on a second thought, I obliged and we zoomed off.

I supposed the woman was a financially rich person. She showcased this when we got to a place where she asked the biker to veer, to enable her buy some items for her household.

When she finished buying, we got to Ubakala Junction, where we would get a vehicle to Aba. I took the position of the man I am and paid the biker, for her.

Our few discussions later, made me to understand, she is a lawyer and resides in Aba. She dressed very decent and I had presumed, she was a teacher. Good manners laced with virtue, were her signage.

At this junction, commuters were much. It was difficult to get a vehicle. When one finally came, there was beehive of rush, and I was able to secure a seat.

But while I looked at the woman, I saw a woman who was almost exhausted. Then I asked her to take my seat while I wait. Wow! She lavished “God bless you on me” and the car zoomed off.

I waited for hours later, yet there was no vehicle in place. At this point, I conducted a supplication to the Four Cardinal Points to send me with a vehicle. Lo and behold, one state-of-the-art car was approaching, flashing its headlights. I least expected that such a car was for us, passengers. It later parked some metres away and commuters rushed. I walked up to it, not expecting anything. When the polished man driving the car, he should be in his late 60s, sent the front door glass low, a man who was not neatly dressed held the door to open it, the man thundered that he stopped for me and not for the guy he said was a street urchin. At this point, pressure was on him from the commuters to assist them. He made some persons he said looked like me, to enter. I was on front seat.

He sped off. The AC in this choice car, watered down the peril I had faced under the scorching sun. It was a ride. We finally got to Osisioma, Aba, from where I would be heading to Port Harcourt. We gave the man N300, each. We were four in number. I came down and while closing the door, I thanked him and he beamed smile, in his rich looking self. Now I remember the woman, wishing I could see her, to narrate this story to her. Well, I whispered to my Subconscious Mind, saying, One Good turn, deserves another.

*Odimegwu Onwumere*
April 27 2019.

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Niger Deltans Suffer Wrecking Disaster Of Indiscriminate Gas Flaring While Govt Maintains Lip Service

Nigerian authorities have had incessant failed policies outlawing flaring of gas in the Niger Delta region, the hub of Nigeria’s economy. The consequences of this are the health, human rights and environmental challenges the residents are suffering; and the culprits of these woes – multinational oil companies – do not pay the fines leveled against by the government, ODIMEGWU ONWUMERE unearths 

Gas flaring in the Niger Delta has become a recurring nightmare to the inhabitants despite lukewarm policies implemented by the successive governments that were tepidly executed.

“Due to unsustainable exploration practices, coupled with the lack of gas utilization infrastructure, we flare more than 75 per cent of the gas produced and re-inject only 12 per cent to enhance oil recovery,” authorities have said.

Not minding a judgment dished out by the Federal High Court of Nigeria in November 2005 against the practice that violates human rights, oil companies in the area still flare gas with reckless abandon.

The judgment which took place in Benin City, Justice C. V. Nwokorie ruled that the practice is illegal because, as according to him, “the damaging and wasteful practice of flaring cannot lawfully continue.”

Residents of Niger Delta witnessed, in 2010 alone, how over 3.5 billion cubic feet (100,000,000 m³) of related gas produced in the Niger Delta, 2.5 billion cubic feet (70,000,000 m³), or approximately 70 per cent were flared in the atmosphere per annum. What happened in the Niger Delta in 2010 in term of gas flaring, as according to those who know better, equaled UK’s total natural gas utilization which was put roughly at 25 per cent and 40 per cent of Africa’s gas ingestion in 2001.

This was affirmed by the authorities recently, “While statistics may not be accurate, the quantity of gas flared in Nigeria exceeds over 40 per cent of the gas flared annually across Africa, which amounts to about $7 billion in waste, apart from economic waste being a consequence of gas flaring.”

Our reporter learnt that what the Niger Deltans have come to live with, in the name of gas flaring, contains, “nitrogen dioxide, sulphur dioxide, volatile organic compounds, like benzene, toluene, xylene and hydrogen sulphide, as well as carcinogens, like benzapyrene and dioxin.” And 755 million SCF are flared each day, specialists say.

These are by-products of flaring. The irony is that the flared gas is situated within residential areas, with health specialists not smiling, when they inform that Niger Deltans are prone to sicknesses such as leukemia and other dangerous blood-connected diseases.

Represented by Deputy Senate Leader, Senator Ibn Bala Na’Allah President, while proclaiming open a public hearing on Gas Flaring (Prohibition) Bill 2017, Dr Bukola Saraki said, “Apart from economic waste being a consequence of gas flaring, flared gas is also known to contain toxic substances, which cause respiratory diseases and air pollution, leading to depletion of the ozone layer, and ultimately having an adverse effect on weather and climate.”

The senate situated its spirit high on June 1 2017, carving a niche over the 39-year-old law, which recommends only N10 as fine for gas flaring. Saraki added, “The issue of gas-flaring in Nigeria is a matter of great national embarrassment. We have no reason to continue to flare this precious resource God has endowed us with. This bill, therefore, seeks to make provisions for the prohibition of the flaring and venting of natural gas in any oil and gas production operation in Nigeria and for other matters connected therewith.

“Gas-flaring is as old as the discovery of crude oil in Nigeria. While it remains a global environmental malaise with attendant environmental consequences, we must move with the rest of the world to seriously put an end to it. Gas flaring is not inevitability…”

In many occasions, the Federal Government (FG) had boasted that it would revoke licenses of oil firms over gas flaring. But this is a tall dream. In May 2018, at the 2018 Buyers’ Forum/Stakeholders’ Engagement organized by the Gas Aggregation Company of Nigeria, GACN, Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Mr. Ibe Kachikwu reiterated the FG’s make-believe boast to commence the revocation of the licences of oil companies that fail to stop flaring of gas in their operations in the country.

On November 1, 2016, the Obinna Chidoka-led House Committee on Environment and Habitat in the House of Representatives had warned oil companies operating in the Niger Delta region against continuous flaring of gas, saying it had subjected the lives of residents in the area to serious health hazards. According to Chidoka, “It is also established that 950 total recorded incidences of oil spill occurred in 2015 with a volume of 47,775.49 barrels impacting 595,800 square meters.

“Out of this, only 27.78% were cleaned. In 2016, so far 499 spills have been recorded, the record stated that 28,543.69 barrels were spilled covering 595,800 square meters areas of impact.

“Further available statistics in 2015 shows that Addax Oil company recorded two incidents of spills, AP Moller 2, Chevron 14, Conoil Producing Ltd 2, Mobil Producing Nigeria 63, Agip 71, NPDC 10, SEPLAT 8, Shell Petroleum Development Company 28, among others.

“Subsequently in 2016, a total incidence of spill indicates that Agip has 43 recorded spills so far, Mobil Producing Nigeria 26, Shell Petroleum Development Company 18, Chevron 8 and Nigeria Petroleum Development Company 9.”

Specialists however finger Benzene as the major causative factors of terminal health problems, like cancer, due to it is one of the hazardous chemicals that circulate with flaring. Meanwhile the same House of Representatives that once sued for end of gas flaring double-spoke on August 6, 2018, through member representing Sagbama-Ekeremor Federal Constituency, Mr Fred Agbedi, saying that gas flaring in the Niger Delta region cannot be completely extinguished, as being talked about.

As the House Committee Chairman on Gas, Agbedi said that the reason for his views was that oil companies needed to smolder some amount of gas in the course of crude oil adventure and production. According to him, “The Federal Government is taking few steps to see how gas flaring can be reduced or eliminated. And that is why it is also coming out with policies of offtakers of the gas that is being flared.

“Once the contracting of gas flare to offtakers is concluded, there will be companies which will take the flared gas which will largely reduce gas flaring. But the fact remains, you need some quantity of gas to be burned for the production to also take place.

“Even when the offtakers are taking what they are supposed to take as quantity of gas that is being flared, there will be some kind of industrial flare that is going to take place for the process of exploration of crude oil to take place.

“You cannot completely lock it down. What the Federal Government and the world over are aiming at, is to reduce gas flaring to such an extent that it no longer causes challenge to the environment and the atmosphere. That is what the government is working towards and it will take some time to get that sorted.”

When this was not working, Gov. Ifeanyi Okowa of Delta State on November 26, 2018, when Course 41 of the Armed Forces Command and Staff College, Jaji, led by Major-Gen. Felix Edafioghor in Asaba came to his office on a courtesy visit, called on the FG to put stringent measures in place to end gas flaring in the country, no matter the language some persons and groups use to justify the prohibited practice.

According to the governor, “Stopping gas flaring will be so much better for our people because the flared gas has already destroyed the environment, not just the natural habitat in terms of farming. It has also polluted very badly the air that we breathe.

“Only God knows the level of damage that it has caused and we believe that the laws must be implemented in such a manner that gas flaring is not just tied up to fines. This is because, as long as gas flaring is tied to fines, the oil companies begin to realize that it may be cheaper or easier to pay the fines than to stop the flaring of gas. Then, we obviously are not discouraging them.’’

Gov. Okowa further stated, “I am aware that a lot has been done in the last few years, but there is a lot more that can be done because the gas that we flare can generate a lot of income for the oil companies if only it can be properly utilized. So, we must stay on our laws and ensure that we do what is right and stop tying the issue of gas flaring to fines.

“This is because continually tying gas flaring to fines is injurious to our people and our environment… This has also been worsened by the regularity of illegal bunkering activities that take place in the state in which a lot of damage is done to our environment. The damage constitute both agricultural and health hazard to the people.’’

How to remedy the situation is one problem besetting the FG, which on December 6 2017, had said that it discovered 178 sites where gas were being flared. This was against the general speculation of 140 sites. The outcome might not have been made public if not with the efforts of the World Bank, United States Agency for International Development, USAID, and the Canadian government. A Programme Coordinator of the Nigerian Gas Flare Commercialization Programme in the Ministry of Petroleum Resources in that year, Mr. Justice Derefaka, bared his mind in Abuja, at the Gas Buyers’ Forum, organized by the Gas Aggregation Company of Nigeria, stating that at least, the government had received 60 per cent data of survey on gas flaring sites.

Notwithstanding, while speaking at the 2018 Oloibiri Lecture Series and Energy Forum, OLEF, organized by the Society of Petroleum Engineers, SPE, the Group Managing Director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Mr. Maikanti Baru said Nigeria was losing N868 million daily, and 700 million SCF were being flared as gas which opinion leaders said were capable of generating an equivalent of 5,000 megawatts of electricity per day. According to the source, “Using an average of $4 per 1,000 SCF of gas and at exchange rate of N310 to a dollar, the flaring of 700 million SCF per translates to a loss of N868 million daily to the country.”

Perhaps, seeing that the citizens were not comfortable with her many failed promises on ending gas flaring, Nigeria dished out a rather misleading statement that she had reduced gas flaring by 26 percent in the last 10 years. Yet, the Department of Petroleum Resources, DPR, Gas flare Deputy Director and Head Upstream, DPR, Mrs. Pat Maseli stated at the 10th annual Sub-Saharan Africa Oil and Gas Conference in Houston Texas, US, that 3,500 megawatts of electricity was lost as a result of gas flaring and no fewer than 55 million barrels of oil equivalent (BOE) was also lost, while 25 million tons of carbon dioxide was emitted within the period under review.

Whilst observing the Nigeria International Petroleum Summit, NIPS, in Abuja, in February 2019, a former Chairman of the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission, NERC, Mr. Ransome Owan and other experts were not pleased with the development. They frowned at the lack of commitment, especially on the part of the domestic gas buyers for their nonchalant approach in the area of utilizing gas in the country, but especially the power sector. Against this backdrop, checks revealed that majority of the oil fields in the country lack infrastructure to handle gas, hence the promotion of gas flaring.

The experts indicted Nigerian authorities for their lame-duck approach in evacuating gas to Ghana and other countries along the pipeline through West African Gas Pipeline and supplying gas to Europe through the proposed Nigeria-Morocco gas pipeline project. This has remained a farfetched venture and initiative.

The Programme Manager, National Liquefied Petroleum Gas Expansion Plan, Mr. Dayo Adeshina shows concern over the immense gap in LPG supply in Nigeria, crying that the Nigerian Liquefied Natural Gas, NLNG, in the modern age, still supplies LPG to three main terminals in Lagos, while a large proportion of LPG consummated in the country is done by roads to remote locations.

In its renowned bigheaded tactics, government in May 2018, had promised to end gas flaring by 2020, but this is also towing the line of its foot-dragging policies. For instance, the Group Managing Director, NNPC, Dr. Maikanti Baru had said that a three-point strategy was in place to zero flare.

He said at the 50th Offshore Technology Conference, OTC, in Houston, Texas, the United States of America that, “Total flares have been significantly reduced to current levels of about 800 million standard cubic feet per day, MMSCFD, and in the next 1-2 years we would have completely ensured zero routine flares from all the gas producers.” Meanwhile checks revealed that companies that flare gas are yet to submit Field Development Plans, FDPs, to the Department Petroleum Resources, DPR, being the industry regulator.

The source said, “NNPC supplies about 3.6 billion standard cubic feet, SCF, of gas daily to the NLNG, while it supplies about 1.3 billion SCF of gas to the domestic market daily, which would sometimes be utilised and sometimes ignored.”

Whatever that happens to fair play, the sad side of all the illegalities of gas flaring in the Niger Delta is that oil companies do not pay gas flaring penalties, hence their slapdash behaviour amounts to loss of revenue in billions of dollars that should have been in government coffers. The then Minister of Finance, Kemi Adeosun cried out this in Abuja in January 2018, saying that the companies are taking advantage of the wording in the permissible framework which orders charges instead of penalties for gas-flaring.

In her words, “What do the international oil companies do? They flare; they pay the charge on which they get tax relief. That’s just bad drafting. The government is approaching lawmakers to amend the law and have the word ‘penalty’ replace ‘charge’. Just that one word has potentially cost us billions of dollars.”

Recently, residents in the Niger Delta took with a pitch of salt the increment in punishment by government for gas flaring to $2 per 1,000 average cubic feet of gas, SCF, from N10 per 1,000 SCF of the product flared. The move by the government was contained in a document titled ‘Flare Gas (Prevention of Waste and Pollution) Regulations 2018’, made public on October 1 2018. The residents taking the government unserious was aftermath of many policies on gas flaring that have not hold water.

Their point is that they have been enduring a long history of gas flaring since 1950s that crude oil was discovered in the area. Apart from health issues they suffer as a result of gas flaring, they also experience rusty roofs, acid rain and environmental degradation. Despite what they are enduring, many of the communities in the area do not have potable water even as their main sources of water – creeks and rivers – have been deviously polluted with oil spillages.

Our investigations from Ogbia Local Government Area, Bayelsa State to Tombia in Yenagoa Local Government Area to Gbarantoru to Angiama in Southern Ijaw council area to Ogoni in Rivers State to A’Ibom Eket, Esit Eket, Eastern Obolo, Ibeno, Mbo and Onna local government areas in Akwa Ibom State to Owaza in Abia State and so many others, reveal that the residents cannot sleep at night.

Some of the residents finger Shell Petroleum Development Company, SPDC, as the arrowhead for their woes because of the multinational oil company’s non-stop gas flaring that also cracks their houses. Especially, residents of Shell Petroleum Development Company, SPDC Integrated Gbarian/Ubie Gas congregation facility weep without consolation. It is believed that in 2017 alone, over 200 people died in Niger Delta monthly.

Odimegwu Onwumere writes from Rivers State. WhatsApp: +2348032552855. E-mail: apoet_25@yahoo.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My Alcoholic Acquaintance

By Odimegwu Onwumere

Oshari rented the air immediately he came to where I sat with friends on February 2 2019, at Seaside Road, Oyigbo, Rivers State. I did not know him prior to this day.

The man I later learnt was born in 1954 was not drunk but alcohol had taken a toll on him. He was garrulous and talked different things at the same time. He was oddly funny, although to my irritation. I managed him as others did.

He was proud of his ‘Isoko’ root and repeated ‘Isoko’ virtually in all talks. He said he was an itinerant: he had travelled to virtually all the towns across Nigeria. He explained villages that were receptive and others that were uncivil.

Oshari was full of proverbs. One of his proverbs was, “Clothe is the beauty of women, but when they pull their clothe, they are Juju.” Our gathering comprising of men and women laughed. The discerning minds amongst us got his message and it was deep.

Many of us were later exhausted and moved out. I was left alone with Oshari. He lectured me using his native intelligence. He was brain and I learnt traditions and cultures of different peoples. He lectured me of Egbesu and I was pleased because I loved aboriginal spiritualities so much.

At a point, Oshari said that he needed to drink Kai-kai – local gin. I signaled a boy who sold varieties of local stuffs to give Oshari N100 worth of thing. Oshari did not wait for the boy to bring his request to where we sat; he joined the boy in his shop.

Later, Oshari came back with putrefying cigarette odour and Kai-kai around him. He was calm now. For few minutes he did not talk unlike him; he was relaxed in a plastic chair he sat on. After, he whispered in a low tone, “Kai-kai dey chak!” He stood up and left without a word. He did not stagger. He was mien. As he was leaving I pondered over the type of message the Kai-kai was registering in him and regretted I would be missing him concerning his crude but not rude talks of different things at the same time.

©Odimegwu Onwumere; Feb. 3 2019.

Connect To The Divine Nature

BEYOND RELIGION AND CULTURE: Some times we get bored, not that we wished to, but for circumstances around us, around our work place, home and sundry. However, the best ways to surmount boredom is to strengthen your Divine Nature by summoning yourself to the spiritual path, not religious path. Strengthen your Being to be strong in permanent positivities without evil. Always unfold your own paths in lieu of telling stories of how wealthy your beloved ones are. You have to do this by persisting always to overcome those things that bore you and initiate yourself into the Mysteries of direct seeing and hearing of opportunities that would benefit you. There is no way you can move if you cannot see or hear in the directions of explorations. Mind you! Death is not only when one stops breathing, some persons eyes are already closed and the only thing they see is darkness, hence they cannot define their true self. I urge you to enter into the realm of light so that you could transcend the realm of ignorance, so that you could be able to achieve Inner Light, to be liberated from the circle of blind saints. The time is now! If you are Igbo, explore your route and root.
-Odimegwu Onwumere is a Poet, Writer and Media Consultant.

My Ideal Lady

By Odimegwu Onwumere

I was attracted to fleshy, aesthetic black and busty ladies as a young man. Albeit, don’t misconstrue me: I was not into women.

Mercy Johnson (A renowned Nigerian Actress)

Those who knew me would attest to this. Reading and writing took that period of my life when I was supposed to voyage in the sea of exploration of women.

But giving an example of the type of ladies that I liked, was Mercy Johnson. Then-again, in truth, there was something about Johnson’s characterisation on TV, which words have eluded me, to explain.

Her type was the bomb in my subconscious eyes. Conversely, beyond attraction, my fantasy then seems ridiculous today that I cannot be around any lady simple because she is pretty. What I saw then and called attraction, many things attract me today.

They are beyond people with university degrees, money, height, beauty and so many others. Then, I was much engulfed in the power of a glance.

Although, love begins when two persons are attracted to each. But love also disappears when the same persons disbelieve each other after the attraction.

This is the reason we most often do not return attraction to what attract us. Those beauty, bustiness, aesthetic black could disappear in my eyes with someone with a slender grasp on grammar, with sexy look without brains, with religious mindset without spirituality, with God without an atom of Godliness, with University management degrees without a knowledge of how to mange a home, and so on.

If I had come closer to a person of Mercy Johnson’s nature-given ‘wherewithal’ then, maybe, I would have been lost to some quantifiable, external beauty, but not having something deep down and something absolute.

It is better to love when certain undefinable something directs you. Let magnetism be the power that attracts you in a relationship, not some fantasy like I had when I was a young man.

Odimegwu Onwumere is a Poet, Writer and Media Consultant based in Rivers State. E-mail: apoet_25@yahoo.com

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Something Dirty

BEYOND RELIGION AND CULTURE: Many things in this world seem dirty but are very potent. Like the saying goes, S*X IS DIRTY, yet… Who can avoid it? Even the cooked beans we eat looks like feaces yet it is one potent sources of protein. The Bible Jesus spat on the ground, then moulded some sand and placed on a blind’s eyes. The act looks dirty. But it was the only potent ways to heal the blind by him. There was the case of some one who was asked to jump seven times in the water. It looks dirty. But what happened? The afflicted was healed. Many things in this world look dirty but they are very potent. So, stop looking at the Igbo deities and shrines from the dirty aspect. Mind you, Jesus was born in the sheep’s tent when many were asking if anything good will come from Nazareth. Today, he is Supreme to his followers. The Igbo cultures and traditions and spirituality have had many good things come out of them. In them the Universal Intelligence is reverenced the natural way. No artificiality that has modernised the paths to be connected in the spirit.
-Odimegwu Onwumere is a Poet, Writer and Media Consultant based in Rivers State.