By Omoh Gabriel
Last week I talked about the technological opportunity the so-called illegal refineries is offering the nation that is being thrown away. There were many Nigerians who felt the same way. But one particular reader suggested a part 2 that should focus on the danger the destruction of tons of illegally refined products is having on the coastal, as well as the entire Niger- Delta region. Federal government law enforcement agents have engaged in an endless battle with crude oil thieves. The joint military task force set up by government in this regard is to arrest and prosecute these thieves. I am not so sure that considering the impact oil spill has on the environment, the task force was empowered to destroy crude oil and products recovered from these so-called illegal refiners. But regular reports have it that such recovered products are usually destroyed.
The most recent report by the Central Naval Command said its operatives have destroyed eight illegal refineries and about 300 metric tons of products suspected to be Automated Gas Oil and Crude Oil at Akassa in Brass Local Government Area of Bayelsa State. The spokesman of the command, Lieutenant Commander E.D Yeibo said the raid was led by the Commanding Officer, Forward Operating Base (FOB) FORMOSO, Captain Musa Katagum following intelligence report on the activities of suspected oil thieves in the area.
The team, he said, was made up of personnel from Naval Base Brass and soldiers attached to Nigerian Agip Oil Company. Yeibo said: “A total of eight refineries and about 300 metric tons of products suspected to be Automated Gas Oil and Crude Oil were destroyed during the raid. “The destruction was in accordance with extant regulations of destroying in-situ when arrest was not effected.
The question being asked is: how were these products destroyed? Were they buried? Where they burnt? Three hundred metric tons of oil spilled in a region will permanently deface the surface on which it is poured. If burnt, it will send a lot of carbonmonoxide into the atmosphere. Vegetation, fish and other aquatic lives in that area are thus destroyed. This inflicts permanent damage to the means of livelihood of those living in that area.
It is doubtful if the Nigerian military task force is aware of the global campaign on climate change. It is equally doubtful if the Federal Government of Nigeria is really concerned about the environment and ready to go along with the global trend. Global warming resulting from emission of carbon into the atmosphere has caused climate change that the entire world is worried that if nothing is done to change the situation, lives on planet earth will be seriously endangered.
Nigeria today is experiencing unusual rainfall and uncontrollable flooding. Flooding has sacked many villages and towns in various parts of the country, yet the military boasts of open destruction of tons of illegally refined products. It is important to draw the attention of the military to the ongoing preparation for climate change meeting starting today in Paris.
Preparatory to the UN Climate Change Conference in Paris between Nov. 30 and Dec. 11, 2015, UN Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon has reiterated the need for an urgent global response to climate change. He said: “Why do I care so much about this issue? First, like any grandfather, I want my grandchildren to enjoy the beauty and bounty of a healthy planet.
And, like any human being, it grieves me to see that floods, droughts and fires are getting worse, that island nations will disappear, and uncounted species will become extinct. Second, as the head of the United Nations, I have prioritised climate change because no country can meet this challenge alone. Climate change carries no passport; emissions released anywhere contribute to the problem everywhere.
“It is a threat to lives and livelihoods everywhere. Economic stability and the security of nations are under threat. Only through the UN can we respond collectively to this quintessentially global issue. “The negotiation process has been slow and cumbersome. But we are seeing results. In response to the UN’s call, more than 166 countries, which collectively account for more than 90 per cent of emissions, have now submitted national climate plans with targets.
“If successfully implemented, these national plans bend the emissions curve down to a projected global temperature rise of approximately three degrees Celsius by the end of the century.” Is the Nigerian military authority aware of the disaster caused by uncontrolled fire and carbon emission on the environment and the lives of Nigerians?
Are these gallant armed men aware that climate change is a threat to lives and livelihoods everywhere in Nigeria and beyond? Are they not grieved to see that floods, droughts and fires are getting worse within Nigeria? Even if they are not affected directly by flood, are they not concerned that their fellow countrymen are internally displaced as a result of floods? Are these men not aware that some coastal towns in the country will be submerged one day and lots of lives and property will be lost as a result of global warming?
This administration prides itself as a government whose economic policy is to elevate Nigerians and alleviate poverty. Nigeria has the habit of missing out on great opportunities. Nations are working hard with others to reduce green house gas emission, Nigeria is here announcing to the world how many illegal refineries its military has destroyed and the volume of crude oil as well as refined products its has destroyed through no other means than setting them ablaze.
They are not asking what the environmental implications of setting such amount of products on fire are. Nigerian leaders need to put on a thinking cap and think out of the box to save the nation the pains of flooding, drought, desert encroachment and fire disasters.