Anambra State Governor, Professor Chukwuma Charles Soludo has inaugurated the Anambra State Oil and Gas Development Committee.
He performed the function at the Government House, Awka. Barrister Uju Ifejika is the Chairperson, while the Permanent Secretary of the State Ministry of Petroleum and Mineral Resources is the Secretary. Vice Chairman of the Committee is Engr. Ikechukwu G. Okafor.
Other members include the Commissioner for Transport, Barr. Patricia Igwebike, Commissioner for Information, Sir Paul Nwosu, Mrs. Nkechi Obi, Prof K.K. Nwozor and Dr. Chris Ofokansi.
Others are 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.
While pointing out that Anambra has joined other states as an oil and gas producing state, Governor Soludo stressed the necessity of having a formal committee because, according to him, ‘to exploit oil and gas, one has to pass through the land.’
Speaking further, Governor Soludo 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,” Governor Soludo said.
“It’s a blessing that we have this huge resource domiciled in Anambra. 35.5 million cubic feet of gas which is about 18% of proven gas in Nigeria.
“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.
“The experts are here and I must thank all the members of this committee for accepting to serve Anambra.
“You are all very distinguished professionals in your various fields.
“Yours is to help us navigate through the uncharted waters in the state.
“Societies that have abundant resources end up being poor.
“Both the state, oil companies and communities are supposed to contribute,” the Governor stressed.
He continued; “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.”
Governor Soludo added; “the gas we have is quite a huge chunk.
“There should be no limit to the scope of your thinking and steps to be taken.
“The Chairperson is one that doesn’t take a no for an answer. 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,” Soludo concluded.
Earlier, 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 isn’t there.
“Global warming and climate volatility are now existential threats to humanity and the environment. The world needs to accelerate efforts to achieve net-zero and mitigate global warming effects in Africa’s climate because people and agriculture will suffer in the coming years,” he said.
While stating that oil remains the main driver for Nigeria’s development, Commissioner Ifeanya maintained that the Anambra basin holds an estimated gas reserve of over 30TCF and 1.3 billion barrels.
In a vote of thanks, Chairman of the committee, Barr. Uju Ifejika, expressed happiness about the rare privilege of being called to serve the people, more importantly, in a field where she has invested 36 years of her life.
“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.
“We need the Governor to give us the needed support in certain approvals to make the job easier for the committee and enable us leave a legacy the people will be proud of,” she pleaded.
Chief of Staff, Mr Ernest Ezeajughi, Head of Service, Barr. Theodora Igwegbe, Former Special Adviser on Political Matters, Barr. Ifeatu Obiokoye, among others, also attended the event.