By Pamela Eboh
Anambra State Governor, Prof Chukwuma Soludo on Tuesday inaugurated the Anambra State Oil and Gas Development Committee with Bar Uju Ifejika as the Chairperson.
Also appointed is the Permanent Secretary of the State Ministry of Petroleum and Mineral Resources as the Secretary, Engr Ikechukwu G Okafor as Vice Chairman of the Committee and Commissioner for Transport, Bar Patricia Igwebike as member.
Other members include, Commissioner for Information, Sir Paul Nwosu, Mrs. Nkechi Obi, Prof K.K. Nwozor and Dr. Chris Ofokansi, Chief Tony Okwesa, Engr. Jideofor Chukwuemeka Etele, Barr. Anthony Ifeanya, Engr. Somtochukwu Mezie Okoye, Dr. Boniface Emengini, Emmanuel Nwabia,Mr. Francis Abuah Nwabueze and Barr. Anthony C. Madichie.
Speaking at the event held at the Government House, Awka, Soludo noted that Anambra State has joined the league of other states as an oil and gas producing state.
He harped on the necessity of having a formal committee, saying that’to exploit oil and gas, one has to pass through the land.
The Governor said, “Land in Anambra is a very scarce commodity, as such, special care should be given, to ensure that the right things are done.
“With the hostile environment we have, our own land is prone to erosion, flooding and degradation.
“Our landmass is shrinking. Anambra is the headquarters of gully erosion in the country for the remaining part of our land to be damaged by exploitation of land and mass.
“I am trying to situate the importance of this committee. Anambra is unique in the sense that we have no offshore. Everything is onshore, on the land people use for farming.”
He described the 35.5 million cubic feet of gas which is about 18% of proven gas in Nigeria as a huge resource and a blessing.
The Governor added, “I don’t know of any other state that has a higher percentage. And so we can really say that Anambra is the gas capital of Nigeria.
“It’s supposed to be a huge blessing but there’s a threat as earlier enumerated.
With a huge investment in the oil sector, we need to be guided because we don’t want to repeat the same mistakes of the past.
“Being a late comer is a blessing in disguise because we wouldn’t want to repeat the same mistakes of the past in Anambra,” Governor Soludo noted.
“In this context, we decided to have a team of experts, those who know about oil and gas. I know little about oil and gas.”
While saying that experts are here, he thanked all the members of the committee for accepting to serve Anambra, Soludo reminded them that their duty is to help state navigate through the uncharted waters in the state.
He added, “You are all very distinguished professionals in your various fields. Societies that have abundant resources end up being poor.
“Both the state, oil companies and communities are supposed to contribute. You need to advise us as a government on major policies on exploitation and take inventory of what we have. What are the best ways to engage?
“We hope to engage the federal government and oil operators very actively on this, help us screen and promote investment opportunities in these sectors.
“We need to have responsible investors in place. We are not going to wait until the damage is done.
“On our part as the state government in next year’s budget, we have set aside 5% for investment purposes. The oil companies have to do theirs.
“If anything, host communities need to become models.We need your advice and guidance. How do we get this thing in a sustainable and profitable manner.”
The Governor who explained that the gas deposit the state has is quite a huge chunk, said that there should be no limit to the scope of the members’ thinking, even as steps are taken.
Soludo described the Chairperson as one that doesn’t take no for an answer, adding, “I’m quite excited to have her on this team.
“We can only develop Anambra because we have the human resources and capital to take the state to the next level.
“If everybody can contribute a little bit of their time, resources and talent, we can make it anything we want to be.
“These are people paying to serve! God didn’t make a mistake to make you an ‘onye Anambra. On the last day, God will ask how you made this state better.”
Earlier on his speech, the Commissioner for Petroleum and Mineral Resources, Barr. Anthony Ifeanya disclosed that Anambra has 13 blocks/concessions within its blocks namely; OPL 228, OPL 280, OPL 901 to 907, OPL 914, OPL 915 & 916 (Operated by Orient Oil Resources), and OPL 91.
He noted that activities in the OPL have not helped because it is believed that Anambra basin is mostly gas and since there’s no gas infrastructure in the SouthEast, the urge to explore and exploit the gas resources is not there.
According to him, global warming and climate volatility are now existential threats to humanity and the environment.
While saying that the world needs to accelerate efforts to achieve net-zero and mitigate global warming effects in Africa’s climate, he observed that people and agriculture will suffer in the coming years.
Ifeanya explained that oil remains the main driver for Nigeria’s development, noting that the Anambra basin holds an estimated gas reserve of over 30TCF and 1.3 billion barrels.
Chairman of the committee, Barr. Uju Ifejika in her vote of thanks expressed happiness about the rare privilege of being called to serve the people, and more importantly, a field she has invested 36 years of her life in.
Going down memory lane, she said, “Within that period, I did a lot of things with my team. We have the upstream, downstream and midstream.
“In terms of knowledge base, we can come up with something collectively.
Before we do anything, we will have to meet after this Inauguration and for the records, I am a workaholic,” she pointed out.
“The first thing is to convert OML and OPL. We have to get that done, if not, we will lose it. We will have workshops, engage oil companies, communities so they tell us what project they want.
“There will be a board from the Communities and we have to do it correctly.
“Looking at the gas we have, we need gas gathering infrastructure and do an appraisal to actually know what we have which shall be done by a reputable international and research evaluation company.
“With the current transition from fossil oil to green energy, nobody will look at you. Fossil fuel will still remain relevant but we need to start somewhere,” she said.
“The basic things we will look at is the ease of doing these things. If you make the investor feel comfortable, he will come in and bring other investors. The Government must help us.it must be a seamless and continuous process if we want to go into it.”
She asked the Governor to give them the needed support in certain approvals to make the job easier for the committee and enable Committee leave a legacy the people will be proud of.