Nigeria is a nation whose name is synonymous with oil riches! Shortly after independence in 1960, the young democratic nation was soon confronted with divisive and unsavory political wrangling which led to an unsolicited military intervention and political assassinations! A violent vortex of political unrest, sectional violence and further military agitation and politicization was to follow, which ultimately culminated in a civil war in 1967.
According to history of oil industry in Nigeria and statement made by Olumide Iluyomade, by 1970, in the aftermath of the civil war, the nation as a whole was in the process of recovering from the devastating effect of war and the blossoming Nigerian oil industry had not been spared the negative impact either! Oil production had dropped to a mere 33% of its production peak of 420,000Bpd in 1966. The incumbent military leadership was in dire need of revenue and new sources of income to pay outstanding debts and forge a viable nation state. It was under this circumstance that Nigeria was to discover her true potentials as an oil producing nation.
Wikipedia made us to know that “Fossil fuel is a general term for buried combustible geologic deposits of organic materials, formed from decayed plants and animals that have been converted to crude oil, coal, natural gas, or heavy oils by exposure to heat and pressure in the earth’s crust over hundreds of millions of years”.
The wind is slowly turning and we are not watching. In a few years, Nigeria would lose most if not all of her fossil oil clients due to several factors; global warming, environmental degradation, change in foreign countries reliance on fossil oils from Africa, new technology that permits sustainable power supply as well as less production of greenhouse gases.
Gas flaring has impoverished the communities where it is practiced, with attendant environmental, economic and health challenges. Reluctance on the part of government and policy makers is also a factor. These difficulties faced by local communities from gas flares are a sufficient justification for ending gas flaring practice.
Leading to this, a researched by Anslem O. Ajugwo show us that the burning of fossil fuel, mainly coal, oil and gas-greenhouse gases-has led to warming up the world and is projected to get much, much worse during the course of the 21st century according to the intergovernmental panel on climate change (IPCC). This scientific body was set up in 1988 by the UN and the World Meteorological Organization to consider climate change. Climate change is particularly serious for developing countries, and Africa as a continent is regarded as highly vulnerable with limited ability to adapt. Gas flaring contributes to climate change by emission of carbon dioxide, the main greenhouse gas. Venting of gas without burning, a practice for which flaring seems often to be treated as a synonym, releases methane, the second main greenhouse gas. Together and crudely, these gases make up about 80% of global warming to date.
In a case of the Ogboni show, the report of UNEP and it implementation in part of the country, Mr. Peter Idabor from NOSDRA made a statement about the UNEP report and shows us that “what they are dealing with now are emergency measures that UNEP has requested to start with – providing alternative sources of drinking water, putting signs to ward off people from having their bath in dangerous areas”.
In order to successfully combat the myriad environmental problems that currently bedevil our nation, government at the three tiers must rise to the occasion and ensure that certain critical issues are tackled immediately that includes:
- The urgent need for a reviewing, updating, re-enacting and vigorous enforcement of enabling laws on environmental compliance.
- Although Nigeria cooperates actively with International Agencies and is a signatory to several Environmental Conventions, very little effort is usually made to activate, domesticate and apply the articles of the Conventions for sustainable environmental development in Nigeria.
No other threat to human welfare has been so clearly documented and simultaneously left unchecked. Since the 1992 Rio Earth Summit (when more than 100 heads of State gathered to pledge a green future) 500 million acres of tropical forests have been cut or burned. For decades, tropical deforestation has been the No. 1 cause of species extinctions and the No. 2 cause of human greenhouse gas emissions, after the burning of fossil fuels. For decades, a few conservation heroes tried their best to plug holes in the dikes, but by and large the most diverse forests on Earth were in serious decline.
Let us ask our leaders, what happens when we can’t sell our crude oil, when there are no longer nations interested in buying fossil fuels? Over the years we have being very content with crude oil income and even with the huge income, Nigeria makes from the sale; we are yet to lift ourselves from the shackles of poverty.
Let us wake up and make hay while the sun shines.
Olumide Idowu is the Team Lead, Climate Wednesday. He can be contacted on Twitter via @OlumideIDOWU