With great pleasure and honour, Anambra State Governor, Prof Chukwuma Charles Soludo has formally inaugrated the Anambra State Oil and Gas Development Committee.
The Members of the Committee are as follows:
Barrister Uju Ifejika as Chairperson and the Permanent Secretary of Anambra State Ministry of Petroleum and Mineral Resources as Secretary, Engr. Ikechukwu G. Okafor (Vice-Chairman); Barr. (Mrs.) Patricia Igwebike (Commissioner for Transport); Sir Paul Nwosu (Commissioner for Information); Mrs. Nkechi Obi (MON); Prof K.K. Nwozor; Dr. Chris Ofokansi; Chief Tony Okwesa; Engr. Jideofor Chukwuemeka Etele; Barr. Anthony i. Ifeanya; Engr. Somtochukwu Mezie Okoye; Dr. Boniface Emengini; Emmanuel Nwabia; Mr. Francis Abuah Nwabueze; and Barr. Anthony C. Madichie.
While emphasizing that Anambra has joined other states as an oil and gas producing state, Governor Soludo said it is necessary to have a formal committee because to exploit oil and gas, you have to pass through the land.
According to Governor Soludo, land in Anambra is a very scarce commodity and the smallest land mass after Lagos.
“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,” Soludo noted.
“It’s a blessing we have this huge resource domiciled in Anambra. 35.5 million cubic feet of gas that’s about 18% of proven gas in Nigeria.
“I don’t know any other state that has a higher percentage. 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 in 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,” Soludo said.
“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 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,” Soludo stressed.
“You need to advise us as 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 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 advise and guidance. How do we get this thing in a sustainable and profitable manner.”
Governor Soludo continued: 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 NO for an answer. I’m quite excited to have her in this team.
“We can only develop Anambra because we have the human resource and capital to take the state to the next level.
“If everybody can contribute a little bit of their time, resource 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.
“At the last day, God will ask how did you make this state better,” Soludo concluded.
The Commissioner for Petroleum and Mineral Resources, Barr. Anthony Ifeanya in his opening address 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 said 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 zeal to explore and exploit the gas resources isn’t there.
“Global warming and climate volatility are now existential threats to humanity and 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 oil remains the main driver for Nigeria’s development, Mr Commissioner maintained that the Anambra basin holds an estimated gas reserve of over 30TCF and 1.3 billion barrels.
The Chairman of the committee, Barr. Uju Ifejika in her vote of thanks said it’s a rare privilege to be 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 Inaugration 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 recognized 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.
Former Special Adviser on Political Matters, Hon. Obi Ifeatu, Chief of Staff, Mr Ernest Ezeajughi, Head of Service, Barr. Theodore Igwegbe, Commissioner for Information, Sir Paul Nwosu amongst others attended the event.