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Is Nigeria Ready To Pay The Full Cost Of Harnessing Power From Coal By Kikiowo Ileowo

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With a population of over 180 million and growing, Nigeria with an average power generation of 4,500mw, requires 12,000mw megawatts to ensure steady power supply, but ultimately needs 200,000mw for all her electricity requirements. To meet this power need, the present administration has vowed to look towards other sources of producing electricity away from the hydro and gas-powered plants, which has been a source of epileptic power supply into the national grid.

The problems faced in the mentioned methods of power production are low level of water to drive the huge turbines at the hydro power plants and lack of gas to fuel the generating sets at the gas-powered plants which litter the Nigerian scape. To deal with this challenge, the government of President Muhammudu Buhari stated it will start producing power with the use of Coal – a decision which will see coal-powered plant contribute at least 30% into the current power-mix by 2030.

However, many questions exist: does the government recognize the full cost of harnessing power from Coal? If it does, is it ready with her partners to pay the price?

Answers to these questions and more were the focus of Global Rights in conjunction with Heinrich Böll Stiftung Nigeria, when the organizations presented a report on the Impact of Coal Mining and Coal Power Generation on Okobo and Itobe Communities in Kogi State.

According to Mrs. Tsema Okoye, a programme officer with Global Rights, Coal provides 40 percent of the world’s electricity, thus causing 39 percent of global carbon dioxide emissions which is responsible for rapidly depleting the Earth’s Ozone layer.

It may interest you to know that the destruction of the eco-system does not start at the point of using Coal to generate electricity; it begins at the point of mining the coal itself.

However, since Nigeria does not generate any power from Coal yet, we must ask ourselves the hard questions, such as: what commitments are we undertaking to ensure power would be produced from coal in a clean and efficient manner? How do we mitigate the negative effects of Coal mining on host communities, and many other questions?

A close examination of the report on visited coal mining site in Okobo, Kogi state tells the story of anguish, bitterness, resentment, anger, destruction, loss of livelihood, loss of life and suffering as expressed by community representatives who attended the event.

One of the major problems faced in Okobo community is access to portable water. The community members claim the company mining Coal in the area, Eta Zuma Mining Company which also had representatives in attendance at the event, had polluted their only source of water. Now, community members – usually women and children – have to travel many kilometers to get water fit for human consumption.

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Mrs. Okoye noted that Eta Zuma had commenced coal mining four years prior to the study, and as a result, there has been weathering and leachate of the host rock. In fact, it was noted that a high quantity of heavy metals have resultantly dissolved into the water bodies around the mining site, making well water in the community highly acidic and unfit for human consumption.

Sadly, the report claims waste water collected from the mining pit was directly disposed into the community’s stream, which residents relied on for its domestic and commercial consumption. Thus, the only stream at Okobo has been polluted.

However, in a robust rebuttal, the mining company tried to shift blame, claiming they can’t take up the role of the government. Truly, in other part of the world, the government provides, roads, schools, electricity, water and other essentials of life the community is expecting the company to provide.

And in fairness to the company, they had dug at least three boreholes to source for clean water, but all the efforts failed; now they supply the community with clean water in tankers, thrice a week. The representative of Eta Zuma, its executive director, Ambassador Joseph Ayalogu stated that before their arrival, the quantity and quality of water available in the community had always been a problem. This assertion is understandable because of the large coal mineral deposits.

Another point of note is the death of a pupil who lost her life when a wall inside Okobo’s old school building collapsed while Eta Zuma was carrying out its Coal mining activities. The mining company has since built a modern six (6) classroom block for the community.

The effort of Eta Zuma in and around Okobo is generally commendable, owing to the fact they have no Community Development Agreement (CDA).

According to the Nigerian Minerals and Mining Act, 2007, a CDA is a formal agreement between the mining companies and host communities on obligations and terms of engagement of both parties. The document is a compulsory requirement before mining license can be granted by the supervising ministry.

The unavailability of the document four years after the company began mining legally in Okobo is an indictment on the Ministry of Solid Minerals.

Representatives of the ministry at the event claimed they are extremely understaff and underfunded. In fact, the Director Environmental Compliance Department, Ministry of Mines and Steel, Engineer Salim Salaam who attended the report presentation revealed that the Ministry of Information has eleven times the budget of his ministry – another indictment of the Buhari administration which had before now vowed to diversify the economy, using minerals resources spread across the country as alternative source of revenue.

It may also interest you to know that many licensed and unregulated artisanal miners in Nigeria have no plan for reclamation; neither do they give consideration to host communities.

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So, in generating electricity through Coal, one must earnestly ask, is the federal government ready to pay the full cost of sourcing power through this means? In Nigeria, environmental laws are not strictly enforced, unlike the United States which produces about 1 billion tons of Coal annually, a little less than 12% of the world’s supply—second only to China and produces 40% of its electricity need from Coal.

In fact, U.S. mining companies have reclaimed more than 2.6 million acres of mined land over the last 35 years and have contributed nearly $10 billion for the reclamation of areas mined decades ago before reclamation was a common practice and legal requirement.

The case of Eta Zuma is a unique one – at least, they are engaging all the stakeholders. Most mining companies in Nigeria don’t. Though they are involved in one form of activity or the other that negatively impacts the eco-system, they are less concerned of the effects, and neither do they take conscious effort to mitigate the damage. Sadly, there is lack of political will to rein in their activities.

The Ministry of Environment can at best be described as clueless and confused. Representatives of the ministry at the event gave no articulate answers on what the ministry was doing to mitigate the destruction of the Nigerian environment. The role it plays in ensuring mining companies conduct an Environmental Impact Assessment, EIA, before mining license is granted could not be discerned.

In view of the environmental damage associated with generating power from coal, this writer asked Mr. Umaru Gambo, representative of the Minister for Power, Works and Housing on the provision of clean alternative source of producing electricity, specifically the wind mill farm that has been lying fallow in Kastina State. The timid representative muttered some words that were unclear and incomprehensible.

Truth be told, the Nigerian government seems ready to access the benefits of coal mining, but have no clue as to how to mitigate the attendant effects of such activities across the country. In the next few months, the steps taken by regulators would determine how willing the government is on paying the full cost of generating power from coal.

Ileowo is the chief strategist at Revamp Media.

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Ex-Delta Commissioner Kick Against Planned Conversion Of Mariam Babangida Women Development Centre To Appeal Court

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Late Mariam Babangida

 

A former commissioner for women affairs in Delta State, Queen Betty Efekodha has raised an alarm over the plan to convert the Mariam Babaginda Women Development Center that was built during the tenure of former governor Emmanuel Uduaghan of the state to Appeal Court premises.

 

According to Efekodha, the building has been roofed and painted, while what remained is for it to be furnished.

 

“I have been looking forward to the day it will be commissioned by Governor Ifeanyi Okowa of the state.

 

“This would have gone a long way in improving the lot of women all round as the edifice housed a very big hall plus smaller adjoining halls and different offices for meetings, trainings, seminars, hall of fame and skills acquisitions,” she said.

 

The former commissioner said in a statement she wrote on the issue that the centre also plays host to national and international women programs and events.

 

She added that the importance of the women center could not be over emphasized.

 

“More so, it was named after an illustrious daughter of Delta State, who made women to be seen and also heard through her Better Life Programme.

 

“It is definitely a big plus to women development. I have deliberately brought it to this platform so that we women of Delta State can appeal to the governor to let our centre be.

 

“In as much as the Court of Appeal is necessary and I appreciate the Governor for it, robbing Peter to pay Paul is not the best.

 

“I therefore appeal to my National President and State Chairman to please look into it. If possible, a delegation can see our Governor,” she said.

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Amotekun Not Threat To Nigeria’s Unity – Tinubu

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Bola Tinubu

National leader of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Bola Tinubu, has called for private discussion between the governors of the South-West and the Attorney-General and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, over Amotekun, a security outfit launched by governors in the region.

Tinubu said the foundation of the country has not been put at risk with the security outfit launched by the governors of the zone in a bit to confront the insecurity in their states.

The former Lagos governor, however, warned that the nation’s fabric could be torn by what he called the “dangerous rhetoric of those who should know better.”

In his first intervention in the controversy surrounding Amotekun, Tinubu said in a statement on Wednesday: “Those claiming that this limited, inoffensive addition to security threatens the Republic have taken themselves upon a madcap excursion.

Those claiming that the Federal Government seeks to terribly suppress the Southwest have also lost their compass. Those who occupy these two extremes have sunken into the dark recesses of fear and political paranoia that can undo a nation if such sentiments are allowed to gestate.”

The statement continues: “Amotekun. This issue has dominated recent discourse and media headlines. Distilled to its basics, it concerns how best state governments can assist with the safety and security of their residents. This is a matter of serious concern entitled to sober thought. However, it has been turned into a political tug-of-war. Fierce, often unthinking rhetoric, for and against, has crossed the lips of too many Nigerians. More subjective talking than objective thinking has been the fuel of this outburst.

Question those in favour of Amotekun. Most have but the vaguest notion about it. They know few details yet vigorously attribute to its opponents the most negative intentions. Ask those who oppose Amotekun. They are equally ignorant of its provisions. They oppose the initiative not on its merits but merely because it was proposed by their political opponents or because they don’t see an avenue for personal gain from it.

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“While colourful, the rhetoric has been disconcerting. How people have mishandled this matter demonstrates that we still have far to go in perfecting this democracy. Too much energy has been spent distorting this issue instead of seeking a resolution that supports local enhancement of security while keeping the constitution intact. If this becomes the standard for how we handle disagreements then we will obscure Nigeria’s path forward with our own rubbish.

“In this matter, I do not see malign intent in the differences of opinion between the SW Governors as authors of Amotekun and the Attorney-General as the primary law enforcement officer of the Federal Government. Shorn of the overly dramatic language, what lies before us is but a step in the evolution of our federalism. This is an opportunity to more clearly define that federalism; but one cannot attain this better, more functional definition through overblown, emotional language. Objectivity and calmness are required. To a significant degree, the enduring quality of our republic will be established by the sagacity with which we handle disagreements regarding the division of power between federal and state governments. Such disagreements are inevitable. This is not the first. Nor will it be the last. We must devote our energies more toward solving problems rather than amplifying them.

“Seeking to fulfil their mandates by helping protect their people, the governors of the Southwest collectively established a program to buttress existing security mechanisms. Seeking to protect the constitution as best he could, the Attorney-General offered his opinion on what he believed the governors have sought to do. No one can blame either party for seeking to fulfil what they genuinely see as their public duty.

“Until now, I have deliberately maintained a studied silence regarding Amotekun. Many have tried to goad my swift public reaction. Those who have taken this road did so not because they care about Amotekun or even the people it intends to help protect. They did so knowing this had become a delicate and emotional issue for many. These cynics did so with the adversarial hope that, in haste, I might misspeak or misstep in a manner they could twist to their political advantage.

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Such people are possessed of a mercenary aspect that permits them to sacrifice almost anything, even jeopardize the very foundations of our political unity, if they might exact personal gain from the upheaval. In that they know no nobler purpose than their own appetites, we should feel sorry for them. However, we must not allow our sympathies for their barren condition to persuade us that there is worth in their destructive misconduct. They must be left to the consequences of their own devices.

“If truly I am a political leader as I am often described, then I have not the luxury of hasty, ill-conceived utterances. There are those who will use inflamed words to spark the passions of others. This may bring transient applause. But when the cheers fade, we shall only have further descended because their words were never inclined toward resolution and long-term improvement but toward short-term popularity and perpetual confrontation.

“I believe in this nation and its benign prospects. I dearly love its people, all of them. Over the years of our existence, they have suffered much. Yet they still hold forth with heroic patience and an extraordinary optimism born of strong faith. To these people, I owe my best. I shall not treat them cheaply or bandy their emotions like some errant football. The welfare of these good and decent people is my overriding concern.

Equally, I do not cow to the demands of those who press for me to make a premature statement on an important issue. Again, that is a game devised by those who care more about political cleverness than the quality of governance. I chose to talk when my position has been made ripe by a collection of the facts and a reasonable assessment of those facts.

Culled: Qed

 

 

 

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10 Imo Lawmakers Defect To APC

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Secretary

At least 10 members of the Imo State House of Assembly have defected to the All Progressives Congress (APC).

The defectors includes members of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) and Action Action (AA).

Deputy Speaker of the house, Okey Onyekanma, who resigned as Chairman, House Committee on Rules and Business led the pack which included Minority leader of the assembly Ekene Nnodimele who also resigned his position.

 

Other lawmakers who jumped ship includes PDP’s Chyna Iwuanyanwu, Chidiebere Ogbunikpa, Paul Emeziem, Heclus Okorocha, Authur Egwim, Obinna Okwara, Johnson Duru, Ngozi Obiefule and AA. Ekene Nnodimele.

The letters of resignation and defection were read by the speaker, Collins Chiji, at the plenary.

The resignations came after Imo State Governor Hope Uzodinma sacked all members of the Interim Management Committees (IMCs) in the 27 councils of the state. The committees were constituted by the immediate past governor, Emeka Ihedioha, on assumption of duty in June last year, after suspending the elected office holders following a resolution to that effect by the Imo House of Assembly over alleged financial malfeasance and other allegations against them.

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