423 views | Ibrahim Mustapha | October 20, 2019
The discovery of hydrocarbon deposist (crude oil) in the kolmani river 11 well on the upper Benue, through gongola basin, in north east is a cheering news and welcome development.
The discovery would not have become posible without the support of president Muhammadu Buhari and the strong commitment of the erstwhile group managing director of NNPC, Maikanti Baru. Now, Northern Nigeria has joined the league of oil producing region. The discovery of crude oil in the region as stated by government would create job opportunities, generate revenue and above all attract investments.
If the exploration begins and oil starts flowing, the once booming agricultural region will start enjoying petro-dollars. Like the Niger-delta region and other oil producing states, these northern states will get the 13% derivation revenue. Besides,the oil companies, through their social corporal responsibilities will intervene in some areas such as education, health and economic empowerment. Added to this, is the posibility of having ministry of North East Development similar to the ministry of Niger Delta Development. Although, recently the government has created North east development commission to accelarate and foster economic development of the region.
Historically, north east is being considered as an economically disadvantaged region with the high rate of poverty and unemployment. In the last decade, the region has been experiencing boko haram insurgency, communal violence, kidnapping and violent attacks by suspected herdsmen. Looking at the menace of militancy in most of the oil producing states with its attendant negative consequencies, one expreses fears that, the region’s insecurity may increase with the discovery of crude oil. The youths who rely on agriculture to eke out a living may abandon their farms and age long farming practise to embrace the lucrative oil sector.
It is on record, north east contributes nearly about 40 percent of foods we consume in the country. With the discovery of oil, it may likely affect farming activities and food production. Another fear being expressed in various quarters is the environmental hazzard associated with oil exploration. For instance, in Niger-delta, enviromental polution and gas flaring have become their major challenges and nightmare in the last five decades. This eco-system problems has continued to affect the means of their livelihood such as farming and fishing. It has also affected their healthy living. Indeed, the oil drilling or exploration will create these environmental challenges to the new oil producing communities.
Whatever may be the challenges of oil exploration in the region, the federal government and other stakeholders should take a cue and learn a lesson from Niger delta experience. For the North, being an oil producing region offers it the greater advantages to adress the problems of poverty, unemployment and infrastructural development.