Thursday, September 08, 2005



The predominantly 19 Islamic states in Northern Nigeria have made a questionable deal with a foreign oil prospecting firm to search for oil in the Lake Chad and Benue River. The $134 million for the venture is coming from the treasury of the predominantly Christian states in the Niger Delta of Nigeria.

The desperation for oil wealth is the genesis of the political crisis in Nigeria. Because, the oil producing states in Southern Nigeria have been robbed of most of their oil wealth. And they are now agitating for the resource control of their mineral resources in the Niger Delta of Nigeria.

The desperate search for oil in the Lake Chad and Benue River has been going on since oil was discovered in commercial quantity in the Niger Delta in 1956. But all the efforts and millions of dollars have been wasted in the arid terrains of Northern Nigeria like packages thrown in the quick sand in the Sahara Desert.

We pray and hope that the $134 million will not vanish into the pockets of the corrupt officials of these 19 states in Northern Nigeria with their foreign collaborators. Because, these are the conduit pipes for the misappropriation of funds in Nigeria by making up cock and bull stories to launch White Elephant projects for the purpose of looting the national treasury.

At the end of the day, we would be licking our dry lips in the desert of Northern Nigeria where the groundnut pyramids have since disappeared. We would have preferred the $134 million to be spent on agriculture in the states that produced the groundnut pyramids of the 1960s. The political motives of the desperate search for oil in Northern Nigeria are wrong and should be dismissed.

Nigeria signs $134m oil deal
08/09/2005 14:09 - (SA)

Kano - A firm set up by the 19 states of Nigeria's under-developed north has signed a $134m deal with a South African firm to prospect for oil in the arid lands around the Lake Chad basin, said officials.

Nigeria was already Africa's biggest oil producer, with exports of about 2.5 million barrels a day, but thus far drilling had been largely confined to the jungles and swamps of the far south and the adjacent waters of the Atlantic.

Many northerners had accused the government and oil firms of ignoring the potential of their mainly-Muslim region, which bordered on oil-producing areas of Chad and Niger, and thus of excluding them from Nigeria's only successful export business.


Now, the northern states had formed the New Nigeria Development Company (NNDC), which joined up with SA's Energem Petroleum Corporation to buy the exploration rights to two oil blocks in the basin of the Benue River and two in the Lake Chad region at auction last week.

NDDC's Mohammed Auwal Haruna said: "NNDC signed a $134m-agreement for oil exploration in the Chad Basin and Benue Trough, which geophysics and geologic surveys have indicated are replete with oil and gas deposits."

He added: "Our partner in this venture, Energem, is a competent and reputable oil company that has extensive upstream and downstream activities in many countries in the world and we hope this partnership will translate into a productive venture."

Political sop

Nigeria first begun to look for oil in the north in the 1960s, shortly after the first wells came on line in the Niger Delta far to the south.

Exploration had continued off-and-on since then, but had proved unsuccessful.

The state-run Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation drilled 23 test wells in the Chad Basin in 2001, but all turned out to be dry and many in the north derided the project as a political sop to appease regional interests.

Nigeria attempted to auction 77 oil exploration blocks last week, but most international and local firms were more interested in the proven potential of offshore areas in the Gulf of Guinea than areas in the north, and most of the onshore zones remained unsold.

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