Nigeria’s Vice-President has warned that the country’s oil will not be nearly as valuable within a couple of decades, as its top clients work towards alternative means of power.

He says “America has stopped buying oil from us. All the countries of Asia that buy oil from us are building alternative means of power; China and Japan are developing electric cars. In fact, Japan has more charging stations than petrol stations. Solar power is getting cheaper,” Nigeria Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo told reporters during a visit to the restive Niger Delta, the country’s main oil-producing region. “In another 20 to 30 years, our oil won’t be as precious as it is today and that is the reality,” Osinbajo said. “We must be smart and act intelligently and fast.”

Osinbajo, accompanied by the Minister of State for Petroleum, Emanuel Ibe Kachikwu, on Monday, January 16, 2016, when he visited the Gbaramatu Kingdom in Delta state. They were received by Governor Ifeanyi Okowa. The vice-president in his presentation started that “To prepare for a great future for the Gbaramatu kingdom, three things must happen: we must recognise the unique environmental challenges the Niger Delta is facing, we must also recognise that the Niger Delta is a special economic zone for this nation so we must treat it as a special development zone. “This means the federal government, state government, National Assembly, NDDC, civil societies representing Niger Delta must sit together and develop a plan for rapid development.

There is no excuse for not planning together. The federal government cannot solve the problem of Niger Delta alone. It is impossible for the FG to do it alone. The state should devote a substantial portion of its budget to this special project,” Mr. Osinbajo said. He added that the PAN Niger Delta Forum, PANDEF, has submitted a concise list of 16 dialogue issues that will be extremely helpful in ascertaining the key development priorities. “It is an important working document that represents an excellent road map to the future of Niger Delta,” the law professor said.

Mr. Osinbajo noted that the critical issue the federal government is concerned with is infrastructure. “In the 2017 budget, we have provided for the commencement of the Lagos – Calabar rail-way which will go through Delta. We are working with the Chinese on this project. “When I leave here we will visit the site of the Maritime University. The president has directed the ministry of petroleum to work quickly to see to the realization of all of the objectives of implementing this crucial educational institution. He said “establishing this university has passed the second reading in the National Assembly and I know we have the commitment of the members of the national assembly to fast track this bill so that the maritime school will be completed as soon as possible,” he added.

The Maritime University is expected to commence fully in September. Mr. Osinbajo said the university and other government projects cannot work without adequate revenue which is being hampered by pipeline vandalisation and militancy in the region. “If there is no revenue, we are deceiving ourselves. There must be revenue and it can only come when there is peace. There should be the commitment to peace.”

The Vice President also spoke on the necessary cleanup of contaminated oil producing communities in the Niger Delta. “The Ogoni cleanup has been flagged off. For the cleanup not to be a waste of money, we must enforce the strict environmental standard for the oil producing companies. And all our communities must prevent vandalisation which is also a major source of environmental degradation.” The Vice-President is trying to engage in talks on how to solve issues affecting the region. These visits are part of the ongoing efforts of the Buhari administration to find a lasting solution to the Niger Delta crisis, which cut Nigeria’s oil output in half in 2016.

Maureen Nzeogu
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