The Ijàw Diaspora Council (IDC) is seeking the intervention of the Federal Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs and Disaster Management in the recent oil spill at Oil Mining Lease (OML) 29 at Nembe, Bayelsa.
The diaspora group with headquarters in Newark, New Jersey, US, requested the intervention in a letter dated Dec. 17 and made it available on Saturday to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Yenagoa.
In the letter signed by Prof. Monday Gold, President; Dr Antonia Garner, Vice President, Europe and Director of Humanitarian and Disaster Affairs, IDC noted that the leak which was first noticed on Nov. 1 continued unabated until Dec 8, 2021.
OML29 is operated by Aiteo Eastern Exploration and Production Company, with 51 per cent of the equity belonging to the Federal Government.
The IDC said the spill has far-reaching ecological challenges on the economic health and wellbeing of the impacted areas and the people, pointing out that it spanned from Nembe and its connecting creeks down to the Atlantic Ocean.
The group said while the Bayelsa government and the community attributed the spill to equipment failure, it was awaiting the official position of the National Oil Spill Detection and Response Agency (NOSDRA).
The agency is saddled with the mandate to detect, monitor, and manage oil spills in Nigeria.
“We await an evidence-based investigation to ascertain the cause of the spill and its volume.
“The Ijaw Diaspora Council’s Technical Advisor, Rick Steiner, estimates that with 1-2 cubic feet of discharge per second, the blowout would have released a total of 532,000 barrels to 1,064,000 barrels of oil equivalent in the 38 days that the leak lasted.
The group demanded that the failed wellhead be preserved for independent engineering forensic analysis to determine the cause of the failure, in accordance with the advice given by its Technical Advisor, Prof. Rick Steiner.
The IDC insisted that the preservation of the wellhead as evidence should be in conformity with criminal evidentiary procedures in order to prevent any further alteration or adulteration.
The group also sought an engineering analysis of the cause of equipment failure.
The IDC suggested that the investigation be carried out by an independent organisation such as the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE) or Det Norsk Veritas (DNV) in Norway.
The group is also seeking an update on the measures taken so far, in terms of humanitarian aid by the Federal Government to the impacted people and areas.
IDC also urged the Federal Government to declare the spillage a humanitarian disaster in Ijawland and act accordingly.
According to the group, Aiteo’s slow response time exacerbated the“ catastrophic“ damage that the failed oil and gas wellhead caused to the physical, economic, psychological, and general welfare of the affected communities.
“The lethargic response pace forced the victims into an immediate humanitarian crisis of epic proportions.
“Failure to treat this as a national emergency with global repercussions would be akin to the commission of crimes against humanity under the Human Rights Act and other applicable laws and treaties, “ the group said.
The IDC called for the immediate provision of alternative sources of income, necessitated by the loss of sources of livelihood in the over 40 communities.
“The immediate provision of alternative sources of income should span the projected amount of time, potentially decades, that it would take for all the affected communities to economically recover from the extremely calamitous disaster that has befallen Nigeria,” the group said.
2023: Multiple Igbo aspirants won’t ruin South-East’s chances, says Orji Kalu
Chief Whip of the Senate, Senator Orji Kalu, has said multiple presidential aspirants from the South-East will not diminish the region’s chances of producing the next President come 2023.
Kalu, a former governor of Abia State, has not hidden his desire to contest in the 2023 presidential election. While he’s yet to declare his ambition, the Governor of Ebonyi State, David Umahi, and former Senate President, Anyim Pius Anyim, both from the South-East, have declared their ambition to run for the presidency.
This led to insinuations that the South-East is not united at forging a common front, which might ruin the region’s chances of producing the next President.
However, Kalu who spoke during an interview with on Friday rebuffed the assertions. According to him, since 1999, no region had ever presented a single candidate before winning elections.
The Senator recalled how former President Olusegun Obasanjo, Bola Ige and Olu Falae, all from the South-West geopolitical zone of the country, contested the 1999 presidential election.
He said the belief that Igbo must come together to present a single candidate in order to produce the next President of Nigeria were mere blackmails promoted by the media.
He said, “No region forges a common front and I have just given you an example. When Obasanjo ran for elections in 1999, Olu Falae, Bola Ige and three other Yoruba(men) were also contesting for the same presidency. Did that stop the emergence of a President from the South-West? So what are you talking about? It is the beauty of constitutional democracy, the more the merrier, people must contest and the people must choose who can do the job.
“That Orji Kalu came to contest and another Igboman comes out does not mean you won’t vote Orji Kalu. The beauty of democracy is in the ability to make a choice. That is why I initially told my friends (Tinubu, Umahi and Anyim) in the sitting room where we were eating that I won’t run but the beauty of it is that people later persuaded me to come and run because they know that I’m capable of doing the job.
“They know that I have the experience of the job. They know that I have local and international connections. They know I have an excellent understanding of the country. And when you look at me you see the face of Nigeria.”
National merit award: FG announces three recipients in Medicine, Science
Three Nigerians were on Friday announced by the Federal Government as winners of the Nigeria National Order of Merit Award for years 2020 and 2021.
While Dr. Oluyinka Olutoye was named winner in medicine (2020), Prof. Charles Chidume clinched the award in Science (2020), just as Prof. Godwin Ekhaguere emerged winner in Science (2021.
Olutoye, a renowned surgeon and scientist was selected for the award for having performed in-utero surgery on foetus with large tumours while still in their mother’s womb, making him the first African and indeed the first Nigerian to perform this feat.
Chidume, a Professor of Mathematics at African University of Science and Technology, Abuja, was selected for the award for introducing a new and powerful interactive algorithm, which is the only one in the literature that does not involve the resolvent, for approximating a zero of the maximal monotone map.
Ekhaguere, a Mathematician was selected for creating new directions in Mathematics and deploying the outcomes to solve outstanding problems in a branch of Mathematical Physics called Axiomatic Quantum Field Theory.
While announcing the winners at a press conference in Abuja, the Chairman, Governing Board of the Nigerian National Merit Award, Shekarau Yakubu, said the three winners were found worthy of the award for distinguishing themselves in the various areas of their chosen careers.
According to him, they were selected out of 46 nominations by specialized committees, including external assessors, and considered by a committee of chairmen and the Governing Board of NNMA before the approval of the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.).
The award was established by Act No. 53 of the 1979 constitution and was amended by Act No. 96 of 1992 now LFN 122 of 2004, organised by the Governing Board of the NNMA.
It was named Nigerian National Order of Merit and is a separate Order of Dignity in the Highest Honours Category in the fields of Science, Medicine, Engineering/Technology, and Humanities including Arts and Culture.
Each awardee takes home N10 million, a medal and NNOM certificate.
Each year, the NNMA advertises for nominations of candidates for the NNOM Award in the four categories of Engineering/Technology, medicine, Humanities including Arts and Culture and Sciences.
The investiture of the three awardees would be statutorily performed by the President on a date to be announced by the Presidency at the Council Chambers of the Presidential Villa.
NOminations open for 2022
Meanwhile, NNMA said nominations for 2022 has begun and would end by March 31, 2022.
The award could not hold in the past two years due to the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.
But the NNMA was able to hold the assessment of 2020/2021 concurrently and got the Presidential approval on Thursday of the successful recipients of the NNOM Award.
The award has consistently produced the NNOM Laureates including the last year’s recipients with universal acclaim.
The award recipients were usually selected by a committee of assessors and external assessors.