If you had to choose the fate of Lake Chad, which would you prefer: an oil and gas rich region or a rich eco-diversity driving prosperity through agribusiness? President-elect, Muhammad Buhari has dropped the hint that his administration would re-open oil prospecting in the Lake Chad Basin. On a face value, this sounds wise and reassuring to the political elites from the north of the country who not only treasure the allure of petro-wealth but love the idea that oil bragging right could also be theirs.
It is late October 2008, in the remote, rusty and rural Dagona, in Bade local government area of Yobe State, north-east Nigeria. The Dagona waterfowl’s sanctuary is luxuriant. The sky is clear, and the clouds float mapping some enchanting artistic imprints on the celestial canvas. Nature is loudly expressive as seen in the vast ecological splendor. It is a season of visitation by large colonies of colorful, beautiful amazing birds. Continue reading
As you approach the Lake Chad basin from Maiduguri, in northeastern Nigeria, the atmosphere of despair is telling. The air is dusty, the wind is fierce and unrelenting, the plants are wilting and the earth is turning into sand dunes. The sparse vegetation is occasionally broken by withered trees and shrubs. The lives of herders, fisherfolk and farmers are teetering on the edge as the lake dries up before their eyes.
I made a couple of calls in Maiduguri and a chaperon was arranged for me to meet the Chairman of Kala Balge at Ran the LG headquarters.
The two different routes we attempted before reaching Ran proved to be impassable when we approached water points. We then decided to pass through the border along the famous Kusiri in Cameroon. On two occasions we were stopped by the Gendarmes who immediately sighted my Media Trust apron said, “media where are you going, bring your papers” on both occasions we explained our mission that we are not interested in their country, it was the bad road we are trying to avoid they then let us pass.
Aisha Gwarimpa, a housewife lives in Abuja with her husband and four children. When members of her household wake up in the morning, they take their bath, brush their teeth, flush the toilet, and then Aisha does all her morning chores with the water pumped by the public water utility to private homes. By the time the family of six settles to eat breakfast, the family must’ve used hundreds of litres of water.
Dr M.I. Ahmed is a specialist in aquatic medicine with the Department of Veterinary Microbiology and Parasitology, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, University of Maiduguri. He has done a lot of research on heavy metal content in fish in the Lake Chad. In this interview, he explains how global warming has forced some fishermen to use organophosphorus chemicals to catch fish and the implications of eating this fish by man.
Records at the University of Maiduguri Teaching Hospital (the only tertiary hospital in the northeast sub-region of Nigeria) made available to our Correspondent, revealed that 4 out of every 10 concurrent cases with bone marrow malignancy especially cancer of the blood, Leukemia, comes from Bade-Nguru wetlands of Yobe State, in the region.
Efforts are on to start the inter-basin water transfer from the Congo Basin into the Lake Chad Basin, and the construction of canals to boost fishing activities for over 20 million communities around the lake in the next decade. But will the plan succeed?
In the Benue Trough, (North-East of Nigeria a few oil wells have been drilled by multi-nationals from 1999 to date on OPL 809, Shell have conducted work program on the blocks and drilled one (1) well, Kolmani River – 1 in 1999. The hydrocarbon phase encountered in the well, was essentially a Gas and condensate phase, estimated to have minimum Gas reserves of between 33 billion to 100 billion cubic feet” said the New Nigerian Development Company, adding that another block, OPL 810, which the company acquired, had traces of gas, though the exploration activities in it which was undertaken by Chevron using an error prone method “was inconclusive”.
In spite of several short comings in the quality of hydrocarbon exploration programme by the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) in the Lake Chad Basin or North-East sub-region, over two decades ago, as stated in many accounts, oil was found but in less commercially viable quantity however, gas was discovered in large quantities in the region.