By Chris Ochayi
ABUJA- The Association of Petroleum Inland Basins States of the North, APIBON, has said that inadequate political commitment coupled with lack of funding are responsible for the non-discovery of oil and gas in commercial quantity in the Northern part of Nigeria.
The Secretary General of the Association, Mr. Yusuf Sani, who said this in Abuja, last week while speaking on the parlous state of oil basins in the country, noted that other countries including Niger, Chad, and Sudan which have structural stratigraphic similarities with northern Nigeria have discovered oil in commercial quantities.
According to him, “It is instructive and worthy of note that outside of the Dahomey Basin and the southern portion of the Anambra Basin, the rest of the hinterland basins comprising about 80% lie in Northern Nigeria sadly remain undeveloped. They include the Northern Anambra Basin, Benue trough (middle and upper), Bida Basin, Southern Chad Basin, and Sokoto Basin.”
Sani added that if the will and commitment had been there, the Federal Government would have taken initiatives that would have developed the hydrocarbon deposits in the Niger Delta areas and that of the basins simultaneously through the years.
“In our opinion, if oil blocks in the Niger Delta had been awarded as an incentive for the ones in the oil basins the process of developing all the oil blocks at the same time would have sped up. If Sudan, Niger and Chad had theirs developed, why would Nigeria not develop its own? It is due to lack of political will on the part of the political leaders,” he said.
He insisted that the recent pronouncement by the Federal Government of the availability of commercial finds in Lake Chad has further heightened the hope for other inland basins.
He added that this is a clear testimony that devoid of politics and corruption, exploration activities in the inland basins by the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC access to crude in northern Nigerian would have become a reality. He also asked what happened to moneys that are allocated to exploration activities in the frontier basins, saying: “It is on record that billions of Naira budgetary allocations were made each year by the National Assembly in the NNPC budgets for exploration activities in the frontier basins with nothing to show for it.
“The funds are always diverted into private pockets via phantom seismic studies contracts always awarded to fictitious companies by the NNPC.”
Sani urged President Muhammadu Buhari and the National Assembly to immediately investigate application of the past budgetary allocations with a view to unraveling how the funds were expended.