The vice president says there were over 1447 incidents of vandalization from January to June 2016. Vice President Yemi Osinbajo has said Nigeria must move fast to diversity its economy as the nation cannot continue to depend on oil for income.
According to him, crude oil would have lost its value 20-30 years from now as countries who buy oil from Nigeria are now devising alternative means of power such as solar and wind energy, Premium Times reports.
We must be smart and act intelligently and fast,” he said. The vice president said this on Monday, January 16, when he visited Gbaramatu kingdom in Delta state as part of his peace mission to the Niger Delta region.
After meeting behind closed doors with leaders of Gbaramatu at the palace of the Pere of Gbaramatu kingdom, Oboro Gbaraun II Aketekpe, Osinbajo while speaking to a large crowd told the people that the future of the oil industry is full of challenges.
He said: “In another 20 to 30 years, our oil won’t be as precious as it is today and that is reality? America has stopped buying oil from us. All the countries of Asia that buy oil from us are building alternative means of power, China and Japan are developing electric cars. In fact, Japan has more charging stations than petrol stations. Solar power is getting cheaper.
“In 2013 alone, there are over 3700 incidents of pipeline vandalization. From January to June 2016, there were over 1447 incidents of vandalization.
“The Niger Delta of today is one where aside environmental degradation, between 1998 and 2015, over 20,000 persons have died from fire incidents arising from breaching of the pipelines.
“To prepare for a great future for the Gbaramatu kingdom, three things must happen: we must recognize the unique environmental challenges the Niger Delta is facing, we must also recognize that the Niger Delta is a special economic zone for this nation so we must treat it as a special development zone.”
He added: “This means the federal government, state government, National Assembly, NDDC, civil societies representing Niger Delta must sit together and develop a plan for rapid development.
There is no excuse for not planning together. The federal government cannot solve the problem of Niger Delta. It is impossible for the FG to do it alone. The state should devote substantial portion of its budget to this special project.”
According to him, PAN Niger Delta Forum (PANDEF), has submitted a concise list of 16 dialogue issues that will be extremely helpful in ascertaining the key development priorities.
He said: “It is an important working document that represents an excellent road map to the future of Niger Delta.
“In the 2017 budget, we have provided for the commencement of the Lagos – Calabar rail way which will go through Delta. We are working with the Chinese on this project.
“When I leave here we will visit the site of the Maritime University. The president has directed the ministry of petroleum to work quick to see to the realization of all of the objectives of implementing this crucial educational institution.
“Establishing this university has passed the second reading in the National Assembly and I know we have the commitment of the members of the national assembly to fast track this bill so that the maritime school will be completed as soon as possible.”
The Maritime University is expected to commence fully in September.
Osinbajo also spoke on the necessary cleanup of contaminated oil producing communities in the Niger Delta.
He said: “The Ogoni cleanup has been flagged off. For the cleanup not be a waste of money, we must enforce strict environmental standard for the oil producing companies. And all our communities must prevent vandalization which is also a major source of environmental degradation.”
Osinbajo’s visit on Monday, January 16, is part of his peace tour across oil producing communities in the Niger Delta.
The visits are part of the ongoing efforts of the Buhari administration to achieve a permanent resolution of the Niger Delta crisis which in 2016 reduced Nigeria’s oil output by half.