Before our eyes, politicians and the so called technocrats are fast turning Nigeria into a country of blackmails. Must they blackmail the government or rather all of us to get funding for their indecent proposals? We saw it in the budgeting for the just concluded shabbily done registration of voters by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC). Now we are hearing similar thing in the provision of natural gas to fire the IPP gas turbines in the highly-trumpeted Jonathan’s roadmap for power sufficiency. The tone has always been: if you want me to deliver what you want, then you must be ready to pay me whatever I ask from you. Good logic. Abi!
The Group Managing Director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Mr. Austin Oniwon reportedly told the Senate that to tackle the power generation challenges of the Jonathan administration, the corporation needs N600 billion in this year’s budget alone to invest in building gas infrastructures for the project. He disclosed this when he appeared before the Senate Committee on Gas to defend the corporation’s 2011 budget.
According to him, the NNPC had submitted a proposal of $1.2 billion to the Budget Office of the Federation to fund government’s gas to power plant but that it was not included in the 2011 Budget. He stressed that the omission may stall government’s plans to boast power generation in the country this year. This was where the blackmail was subtly introduced. So the nation’s dream of having sustainable power available to the citizenry would remain a mirage unless Government gives the NNPC N600 billion in this year’s budget alone for gas infrastructure to deliver natural gas from the oilfields in the Niger Delta to the site of the thermal stations across the country. You see what I mean?
Hear the NNPC GMD at the floor of the Senate: “We have identified the projects we require to deliver the gas to the stations. The total project is above $4 billion, because nothing was done in 2010. “But for the critical infrastructure, we submitted the estimate of $1.2 billion to the Budget Office of the Federation to be included in this year’s budget, but it is not part of the budget.
“Without this pipeline project, if the power projects are realised, without the pipelines, we cannot benefit maximally from the projects.”
Is it not funny that while the government is working hard (or pretending to be) to increase power generation and distribution, we are now being told that there is no provision for building gas pipelines and other infrastructure that will aid gas delivery to the power (thermal) stations in the budget? The question is: if the federal government gives the NNPC the over N600 billion the organization is asking for, is it going to deliver the gas free of charge? Or after spending such huge amount which is bound to even increase, the government will still be compelled to pay for whatever gas off-take it consumes in the project? We need to get this clear at this stage because if the NNPC will bill the government for gas supplies, then there is a problem in the entire arrangement.
NNPC may be trying to dodge the first and major problem it’s facing in the entire gas –for-power initiative. Before any talk of giving corporation the money it’s asking for gas infrastructures, both the Senate and everybody concerned should find out from the group managing director where he hopes to source the natural gas from- International Operating Companies (IOCs), NNPC oilfields? Nigerians should not forget the fact that the government is still sleepy over the passage of the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) which would have introduced some leverage for the NNPC to get natural gas from the operating IOCs. And even if the bill is passed today, to work out new institutional arrangements and implementation strategies, as has always been the case in this country, will take some good time.
And if the situation remains as it is today, we must tell ourselves the truth that NNPC does not produce a single bubble of gas anywhere even though it can pretend to be the senior partner in the existing production joint ventures. So how are they going to get the gas to supply to the IPP Stations? As it stands today, most of our produced gases especially in the oilfields in the eastern Niger Delta have been committed to the NLNG project in Bonny in order to meet up with existing sales-purchase agreements with foreign buyers. So now, we are left with natural gas mainly from oilfields in the western Niger Delta and all of us know the situation on ground there without being deceived by the fragile amnesty programme that has turned into a political propaganda and campaign tool for people in government.
More so, as it is now, if the IOCs must give the NNPC their produced gas, the government must be ready to pay the international gas market price and this is where the bigger problem lies. Gas pricing has been the thorny issue between the Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN) and Nigerian Gas Company, a strategic business unit of the NNPC that does not produce a single bubble of gas but collects from the IOCs and sells to PHCN at government determined rates. But the multinational producers are now insisting they deal directly with whosever wants to buy their gas. And until that is sorted out, the nation’s dream of using its abundant gas resources to sustainably generate power will remain a mirage for a very long time even if NNPC is given one trillion naira in this year’s budget alone. Mark my word!
SENIOR FYNEFACE, ELELEWON STREET, GRAII PORT HARCOURT (senior_fyneface at yahoo.com)
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David Stephen Surulere,, Nigeria March 14, 2011
Sir, Your works are great, many show you sincerely have the good of your nation at heart, Nigeria is great and will be great, but efforts as yours should be encouraged and archived because excerpts from your works can make much difference; Like you say, God Bless Nigeria; May God also bless those who
sincerely want the good of this nation.
I will like to see your website or reach you. I am here: http://stephaz.webs.com/
OMOTAYO, J. A. Lagos, NIGERIA March 11, 2011
Lagosians often say "Shine your eyes" meaning "Be vigilant". Yes, Nigerians must be vigilant. Enough of this deception here and there. Mr. Fyneface Senior may have exposed little of the salient issues involved in the ill-conceived IPP programme. Other issues will definitely crop up with time. Then it will be obvious that Nigerians have been misled again.
Gog bless Nigeria.
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