Maevis Plans Aerotropolis For Minna Airport

The foundation for the construction and take-off of the multi-billion dollar aerotropolis project at Minna airport has been laid in Minna, Niger State.

Remi Olumuyiwa, head, external relations of Maevis, facilitator of the project said in Lagos that the choice of Niger  state was encouraged by its tourist destinations including, Gurara Falls in Boru Village, Zugurma Park , Shiroro Hydroelectric Dam, Mungo Park’s Cenotaph and Kainji Lake and National Games Park.

An aerotropolis is a new type of urban form comprising aviation-intensive businesses and related enterprises extending up to 25 kilometers (15.5 miles) outward from major airports.

It consists of an airport city and outlying corridors and clusters of aviation-linked businesses and associated residential development. A number of these clusters such as Amsterdam Zuidas, Las Colinas, Texas, and South Korea’s Songdo International Business District have become globally significant airport edge-cities representing planned post-modern urban mega-development in the age of the aerotropolis.

Olumuyiwa said Maevis would work with a consortium of private sector players, including a UK-based architecture firm, Sheppard Robson, and financial institutions to deliver the aerotropolis.

He stated that construction would begin soon and the first phase would be delivered in 2013, adding that in the last 18 months, the company had been working on the port city project and that the Niger state government was committed to the project, which had also been endorsed by the federal government.

“We have gone beyond government endorsement of the project, by assembling the best team of experts for the project. We have to move to the next level, by unveiling the team of experts that will  design the project and do the master plan for the operating environment. We have the support of partners, both local and international and our bankers; we also have anchor tenants who  will bring manufacturing concerns; we will bring trading  and business  to the place. A lot  of  things that will  bring new dawn for Nigeria and Niger State… We hope to create a brand new Dubai in Minna, Niger State; our hope is building it in a manner that  it will be expectations of everybody.

“With the Minna airport city, we hope to reduce the number of Nigerians who travel to Dubai to buy all sorts of goods. After all, most of the goods sold in Dubai are not made there. Our goal is to ensure that anybody that will visit the Minna airport city will have the best experience in  life. Game reserve, water falls and a few other things. It is far bigger than an airport project; it has a transportation project, a major transportation project, with roads, rail, water,” stated Olumuyiwa.

He explained that aerotropolis were powerful engines of local economic development, attracting aviation-linked businesses of all types to their environs. These include, among others, time-sensitive manufacturing and distribution; hotel, entertainment, retail, convention, trade and exhibition complexes; and office buildings that house air-travel intensive executives and professionals.

River Niger Dredging: An open letter to Jonathan

The Nupe Congress, a socio cultural organisation for all Nupe people world wide fervently prays for peace and stability in Nigeria. We also pray for greater wisdom and guidance for the Acting President during these trying periods. May Allah grant speedy recovery to President Umaru Musa Yar’adua.

It would be recalled that President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua, in September 2009 at Lokoja, flagged-off the dredging of the lower River Niger. The  =N=36 Billion contract for the project which has been on the drawing board of successive governments in Nigeria for over 45 years was signed in August 2009 by the former Minister of Transportation, Mrs. Deziani Allison-Madueke. At the flag-off of the project Mr. President also announced the approval for the construction of seven additional sea ports to boost socio-economic activities in the country.

The project is a well thought-out giant economic step being actualised by this government. When completed it will tremendously transform the transportation systems in Nigeria, decongest our ports, reduce stress on our roads and revitalize the hitherto comatose inland shipping maritime sub-sector to its full potentials. The project would positively impact the socio-economic lives of the Nupe people and other 152 communities on the banks of the River Niger in eight states, including Anambra, Bayelsa, Delta, Edo, Imo, Kogi, Niger and Rivers.

It will be recalled that President Yar’Adua remarked, while flagging-off the commencement of the project at the dockyard of the National Inland Waterways in Lokoja, that the commencement of the project was a clear manifestation of his administration’s determination to face up to Nigeria’s infrastructural and developmental challenges. To underscore the importance of this project to Nigeria President Umaru Musa Yar’adua inspite of his ill health was physically present at the flag-off ceremony in Lokoja.

The project covers about 572km. It stretches from Warri in Delta State to Baro in Niger State. To ensure that the project is completed within the stipulated time of one year the dredging project was divided into five sections and awarded to five different contracting firms. Mrs. Allison-Madueke, gave the break down of the project as shown in Table A below:

The Nupe Congress takes due notice of the federal government incessant denial of the devastating news that the ACTING President, Goodluck Jonathan held a stakeholders meeting attended by all the Niger-Delta Governors and the Special Adviser to the President on Niger-Delta Affairs, Chief Timi Alaibe on the Federal Government intervention programme for the Niger-Delta, and approved the stoppage and diversion of N19 billion from the on-going dredging of River Niger to finance reclamation of lands, which according to the stakeholders from Niger Delta ought to come first before the dredging.

The Nupe Congress is however worried that the Acting President kinsmen are still singing a discontent tune on the completion of this project on schedule. It is disturbing that the Ijaw National Congress in a full page advertorial published on page 50 of the Nation Newspapers of Monday, March 15, 2010 is calling for “a world class EIA and community engagement programme to create the necessary social capital” prior to the completion of the project which the federal government claims is 50% and even 90% completed for some segments.

We are particularly disturbed because the press statement by the Ijaw National Congress claims that all who is who in the Ijaw nation including a representative of the Acting president were present at the interactive session at the recent Ijaw National Day celebration where this position was adopted by all the Ijaw people.

As we earlier pointed out delaying or attempting to stop any segment of this dredging project by the Acting President is unconstitutional and illegal because appropriation is the prerogative of the National Assembly only. Hence all viaments of funds from one project to another must be approved by the National Assembly.

Due process also demands that projects must follow appropriate guide lines, budgetary provisions, advertisements in national dailies for competitive bidding and transparency through various levels of approvals including the FEC approval before contract award.

In the light of the above the National Assembly is hereby called upon to demand from the Acting President an unequivocal assurances that this project will not be delayed through any scheme such as EIA or community engagement as this has been taken care of in the =N=1.1Billion spent on the dredging project implementation design consultancy awarded to world class consulting firms prior to embarking on the project.

Segment Of The Project Stopped By The Acting President

Table B below shows the segment of the on-going dredging which the Acting President initially ordered to be stopped with immediate effect and the sum of =N=19 Billion meant for the project be shared among the governors from his region. As can be seen from the table below, the segment stopped totalled 388 kilometres representing about 70% of the entire project which covers 572 kilometers.

It could also be observed that the sum of =N=595,656,650.77 was paid to three reputable Designing Consultants which produced the engineering design that supposed to have taken into consideration all environmental issues including shoreline protection to ensure successful project implementation in line with international best practice.

The action of the Acting President in this regard would mean that the consulting engineers omitted the shoreline protection construction and land reclamation in the project implementation design for the dredging work. Hence the need to stop some sections of the dredging project in order to carryout land reclamation and shoreline protection.

As we earlier demanded EFCC must be invited to investigate these consulting firms who collected huge sums of money up to the tune of =N=1.1Billion without carrying out the necessary study as required to guarantee smooth implementation of the project.

In particular the =N=600 Million paid to the consulting firms responsible for  the section ( warri to Ida in Kogi State) of the dredging being stopped must be refunded to the government immediately.

The Nupe Congress is seriously worried that the Acting President clan (Ijaw Nation) is on one hand asking for a review of the project while the federal government through the transport minister is on the other hand giving the nation some bogus and unreliable percentage figures of project completion levels on television and newspapers.

Going by the awesome influence the Ijaw congress wields on the Acting President, their unabated assertion and call for a review of this project portends grave danger to the completion of this laudable project on schedule.  of the powerful Ijaw people critical position against the dredging of the lower river Niger, will sooner than later result in the stoppage of the entire project.

The Federal Government must come clean on this project and avoid making it a vexed national question bordering on the corporate existence of Nigeria and avert crisis of confidence by the people of this country in the present leadership of Nigeria.

Table B below speaks for itself. It comprises the dredging section that is considered the gate way for navigation of the ships coming from the high seas to the hinterland at Baro in Niger State. Therefore the areas in Table B represent the major component of the dredging project which if not implemented at the same time with the remaining sections of the project would render the entire project a failure.

FG Earmarks N242b For Agric Development

The Federal Government has earmarked a whopping N242 billion (US$1.6 billion) for developing the country’s commercial agriculture in the next three years.

Acting President Goodluck Jonathan, who disclosed this yesterday at the closing ceremony of a three-day high-level Conference on Development of Agribusiness and Agro-industries in Africa, held in Abuja, also said that the Central Bank of Nigeria had provided some banks with additional N200 billion (US$1.33 million) in credit funds at single digit interest rates to support activites in the commercial agribusiness sector, adding that Nigeria’s cotton-textile garment industry had equally attracted another N100 billion (US$600 million) bailout fund.

Jonathan, who formally declared the conference closed, explained that the N242 billion was meant to take care of production, processing, storage and market infrastructure development spanning over three years.

In his words, “In order to facilitate the development of agriculture as the engine for broad-based economic development in Nigeria, the Federal Government has set aside N242 billion (US$1.6 billion) towards commercial agriculture, especially in the areas of production, processing, storage and market infrastructure development over the next three years.

“The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has provided selected banks with additional N200 billion in credit funds at single digit interest rates to support activities in the commercial agribusiness sector. Also, the revival and development of Nigeria’s cotton-textile garment industry has attracted another N100 billion (US$600 million) support.”

Delta State Records First Polio Case This Year – Facilitator

Miss Nina Akporiaye, the Technical Immunisation Facilitator for the Warri South Local Government Area of Delta, says a case of poliomyelitis has been reported in the state..

Akporiaye told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Warri that the poliomyelitis case was reported in the Bomadi Local Government Area this year.

“A confirmed and recorded case of wild polio virus has been reported in the state this year,” she said.

The facilitator said the state government had been “very serious” about its immunisation programme and added that the new case had added more aggressiveness to the current round of National Immunisation Plus Days.

She said that in the last immunisation exercise, “we immunised as many as 82,895 children under-five years in Warri South alone”.

Akporiaye said the local government council had 10 immunisation wards that cut across the riverside and land communities in the area.

Strategies, she said, had been mapped out to increase the number of immunised children and ensure the eradication of polio in the area.

According to her, “in these four days of the programme, we expect every care giver and mother in the state to bring children that are under five years for immunisation.

“The immunisation workers will move from house to house, to schools, churches and in transit points to make sure every child is reached.

“We are fighting against polio. Polio must be eradicated from Warri South and Delta as a whole; there is no over-dose in polio vaccines.

“We have booster doses for every round. Believe me, there is polio in Delta. I think Delta is the only state that has a new case of polio in the country this year.

“That is why we are just on our toes to make sure that every child is protected; we want the children protected.”

Akporiaye also said that measures had been put in place in the case of non-compliance by mothers through an intervention strategy.(NAN)

 

Why We Failed To Meet 6000mw – Minister

Minister of Power, Dr Lanre Babalola, has said that the major reason why the ministry did not make the required deadline of 6,000mw was largely due to the constraints of gas supply. He said that poor quality of gas, inadequate volume of gas and the vandalisation of pipelines all contributed to the inability of government to meet the deadline of December 2009.

Dr. Babalola, who was speaking at the ministerial press briefing of the ministry at the auditorium at the Presidential Villa yesterday, said that project delivery slip dates, infrastructure  inadequacy, funding and operational issues were some other contributing factors.

He said that project slip date was directly responsible for government’s failure, in that the Chevron Phase 1 Pipeline, one of the major pipelines that was supposed to convey enough gas to aid distribution of 7,00mw, had been vandalized and left idle for over a year, and that the expected 6,000mw had been based on the assumption that the pipeline would be completed before the end of the year, but the delivery date of the project had slipped to February this year.

The minister also stressed that his approach to reforms in the ministry was to decentralise the approach to power through the of new small and medium hydro-electric power projects, HEPPs.

The chairman of the event, Prof. Dora Akunyili, the minister for the transparency in the session, saying this was in line with the on going rebranding campaign currently going on in the country. She also advised the minister to look closely into private sector participation as it is very important.

 

47,000 HIV/AIDS Victims In FCT

Presently, about 47,000 HIV/AIDS victims have registered in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).

The victims registered at 17 Comprehensive Service Centres in the Federal Capital Territory, said the project manager of FCT Agency for the Control of AIDS (FACA), Dr. Oche Okoro. The project manager revealed this recently during the celebrations of the World Aids Day in Abuja.

According to him, “FCT occupies the third position in HIV prevalence cases in Nigeria, with 9.9% which is above the national average of 4%.”

He said they are 36 ‘Heart to heart’ centres that offer free HIV/AIDS tests in the territory, adding that anyone found to be infected is documented and enrolled into FACA’s programme.

Earlier, FCT Secretary for Health and Human Services, (Mrs) Precious K. Gbeneol, said the World AIDS Days reminding is important in people that HIV has not gone away as well as for stakeholders to ensure that the promise is kept on universal access to HIV treatment care support prevention services. She stressed that in line with this year’s theme: Universal access and Human Rights, the present administration is determined to reverse the HIV/AIDS trend in the FCT.”

Among the activities outlined for the World AIDS Day celebration are candlelight procession a motorized rally which will kick-off from FCDA, Area 11, as well as a picnic slated for Area 10 Cultural Centre.

 

Council To Enact Law On Bride Price

Jakusko Local Government Council has revealed its plan to enact a bye-law that would fix the maximum bride price to be paid in the area. The chairman of the council, Alhaji Saleh Nadir Amshe, made the revelation recently, while speaking in an interview with Leadership. He said the law became necessary when the council observed that youths were being discouraged from getting married because of the exorbitant bride price charged by parents of prospective brides. He said the council would also enact another bye-law banning travelling with weapons which he said was aimed at reducing crime in the area. He advised youths in the area to be law-abiding and desist from drug abuse. He appealed to aggrieved members of the ANPP in the area to join hands with the administration of Governor Ibrahim Gaidam and his deputy, Engr. Abubakar D. Aliyu, in its efforts to touch their lives through the provision of dividends of democracy.

My Predictions For 2010

I was amused by a recent report in one of the national dailies purporting that over 70% of prophecies and predictions by prophets, pastors, overseers, and their like are inaccurate. The paper lamented what it called a bazaar of false predictions associated with these men of God. I wonder why the paper was just realizing that these men of God are also mere mortals and, therefore, can miscalculate and misfire. The Bible tells us that it is only God who is in heaven that is perfect.

Notwithstanding the prophetic inaccuracies and near-misses by these men of God, I believe there are still some genuine prophets among them, who have made predictions that have come to pass.

It is, however, not my intention in this article to list those prophesies that had either come to pass or not. Neither am I interested in calling the names of these prophets. What I try to do here is to look into my spiritual crystal-ball to see what 2010 holds in store for Nigerians and, by extension, the world. Some persons may ask if I am among the prophets. But I need not be a self-professed prophet to see tomorrow. All of us share in the priesthood, kingship and humanity of Christ. By his priesthood we can be called prophets. As prophets, we can predict the future and foretell events that affect our lives and nation. Have we forgotten that Christ said we could perform greater miracles than he did only shall we believe? What we lack is the moral strength to play this significant role.

Even though I am aware of the curiosity this article may generate, I do not intend to shy away from doing what the spirit of God has directed me to do. Nobody will contest it that God speaks to us individually in diverse ways. Probably the problem lies in our inability to perceive his voice and interpret the message connected to this voice. That is what is called the small, still voice.

As was the case in the days of Moses, Elijah and Elisha, etc., God still reveals himself to us. He has never failed to speak to us directly or through his prophets. That is why, at times, we feel overwhelmed by the enormity of some of the messages we receive – making us lose their essence easily.

We do not need any prophet to tell us that 2009 was a very tragic year. It was a year that brought many bad omens of horrid dimensions. Natural disasters, diseases, deaths and other calamities were recorded with recurring intensity across the world. It was this same year that the world faced its harshest economic recession in the last decade, leading to the closure of many companies. Those of them that managed to survive had no other choice than to lay off some of their staff. Nigeria faired very badly as the economic downturn took its toll on banks and the Stock Exchange. The bears, which had controlled trading on the floor of the Nigerian Stock Exchange in the better part of the year, continued their poor run up to last week, making investors rethink their strategies. More deaths were recorded this year than in the previous year, while hunger and poverty pummeled the people mercilessly.

It is my intention at this point to switch off from 2009 and move straight to 2010. Like Amos, I am not a prophet of Doom. I am a prophet of Hope and a harbinger of Good News. I say this with every sense of responsibility and in the conviction that God in his infinite mercy will make 2010 a memorable one.

In politics, I foresee increased activities toward the 2011 elections. The Anambra State Governorship Election scheduled for February 6 will take the centre-stage. Contrary to the frightening predictions and permutations about that election, the God I serve has told me it is going to be one of the most peaceful elections in the annals of our dear nation. Let me state the umpteenth time, however, that PDP will lose that election. Anambra people have cried for change for a long time and God has hearkened to their cries. The biggest gift they will receive next year is the defeat of PDP and the emergence of a brand new government to take the state to new heights. But to make this message come true the people of Anambra State must take their destiny in their own hands by voting for Progressive Peoples’ Alliance (PPA). PPA is the new party that put smiles in the faces of the people. Soludo may not find it easy to win Anambra State as the standard-bearer of PDP because the forces against his candidature are not relenting in their legal battle to ensure he does not participate in the election. Even some of those patting him on the back at present only pretend to support him when deep down in their hearts they would prefer somebody else.

President Musa Yar’Adua will recover dramatically from his present illness and become stronger to run the affairs of state. 2010 will bring greater healing for him if only he can continually trust God. He should beware of sycophants that are scheming to bring his administration into disrepute. They will intensify their evil plots in the New Year. ASUU and other related associations will plan another strike, but it will be nipped in the bud. Before this happens, the system will have been overheated to a boiling point. To avert this unfortunate situation the federal government should ensure that the agreement it reached with the association is diligently implemented. The President should try and mediate a settlement with the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) to forestall an impending national strike. But let me warn labour to weigh all options available to it before confronting the government over the deregulation impasse. Its threat of a strike may not work out as planned, because some of its members will oppose the move vehemently.

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) will register more political parties. Some existing parties will become comatose, which will ultimately lead to their extinction. The mega party is a very beautiful package on paper. Infighting and power tussle among its key members will stunt its growth and stall its effective take-off. It is this personal aggrandizement that accounted for the inability of past efforts in this direction to succeed. Opposition can only produce maximum results if members bury their selfish interests and promote the collective interests. It is the divisiveness in the opposition that PDP has continually taken undue advantage of. In truth, the opposition can muster enough support in the New Year to sweep PDP out of power in 2011, after all membership of the party is not up to 0.2% of the population of registered voters.

Many state governments will find it increasing difficult to meet their financial obligations and this will cause disaffection between them and their workers and people. The federal government will attempt to intervene but this will not yield any useful result. My worst fear is that this situation may have unexpected repercussions on the political and economic life of the nation.

There may be unsuccessful moves to remove two governors. They will fight back and this will leave their people worse off. To forestall these unfavourable developments, governors must ensure relative harmony between them and their legislative assemblies on one hand and the people that elected them on the other. Some of the governors work in total discordance with their state houses of assembly and carry on the business of governance with lack of cooperation and regard to other forces that dictate the tune of politicking in their states. Peace remains the best solution to every crisis. In peace we can achieve more.

The Independent Electoral Commission will face stiff financial difficulties. This development will have negative consequences on the forthcoming elections. I advise the federal government to take the issue of funding for INEC very seriously. Added to this is the need to carry out a thorough screening of the staff of the commission to smoke out those with questionable character. Some of the existing members of staff lack the moral strength to conduct free and fair elections in the country. It is these mules that give INEC bad name.

Even though the Niger Delta Region will remain the centre of global attention, hostilities will reduce drastically. There will be infrastructural boom in the region as opposed to the present beggarly federal presence. It is important, however, to advise the government to ensure steady implementation of the master plan for the place. This is the only thing that can generate permanent peace there.

There will be a cabinet reshuffle in some states, including the federal government. Some ministers will be shown the way out for non-performance and inability to wield sufficient political influence in their constituency. The ill-health of Mr. President, having exposed the weaknesses of some ministers and other political office holders, will lead to some adjustments. Nevertheless, the disquiet in the cabinet will come to the fore as those that will be affected by the oncoming political earthquake will fight back. A minister will voluntarily resign, thereby sending jitters into the nation’s political life. The resignation will trigger off an internal crisis in his party.

PDP will be engulfed by a serious crisis that will deplete its rank and file drastically. The impact of the crisis will resonate across the country and place the party in a precarious position before the 2011 elections.

The general security of the country will improve significantly in 2010 as there will be increased funding for the police and other security agencies. Kidnapping which has posed a serious social problem will be confronted vigorously by the federal and state governments. Many of those perpetrating this devilish act, including their sponsors, will be rounded up and prosecuted. The result will be a more peaceful and safer nation.

There will be a huge earthquake in one of the Asian countries that will shake the world and lead to loss of many lives. This earthquake will be of almost the same magnitude with the destructive Tsunami that hit Sumatra, Indonesia, on December 26, 2005. The catastrophic consequences of this earthquake can be reasonably reduced with adequate enlightenment and precaution.

In 2008, oil reached an all-time high of US140 dollars per barrel in the international market. Less than a week after it got to this supersonic height it began an uncontrollable slide, getting down to as low as 47 dollars before it started another round of leap. Today the price fluctuates between 71 and 73 dollars. I see another quantum leap to as high as 134 dollars next year. When this happens, I advise the various governments to rise up to the occasion by ensuring prudent management of the resources that will accrue. Emphasis should shift from the urban to the rural areas in terms of infrastructural development. The present condition of roads across the country is deplorable. The southeast zone presents a peculiar case as almost all the federal roads are at various stages of dilapidation. The Shagamu-Ore, Enugu-Onistha, Enugu-Port Harcourt, and Aba-Ikot-Ekpene Roads will receive special attention in 2010 to alleviate the sufferings of the people where the roads traverse.

Many serving political office holders will be rejected by the electorate. All their carrots and other inducements will be treated with repulsiveness by the people of Nigeria. These politicians will find it very difficult to convince the masses to support their re-election. There will be confusion in many of the states where the governors will be serving out their second terms. We call it succession war. If not properly handled it can overheat the polity and cause disaffection among their followings.

The banking sector will experience harder times, despite the efforts of the Central Bank to sanitize them. Some aggrieved shareholders of the banks will fight back to recover what they call “their investments”. But the CBN can do something to checkmate the negative consequences of some of the measures it has introduced to restore the public’s confidence in the sector.

One outfit that will suffer deeper recession next year is the Nigeria Stock Exchange. Investors in the stock market will experience greater losses as the All-share index will continue to plummet. But there is hope, however, that towards the end of next year share prices will experience sudden recovery. Investors should not lose hope, because perseverance pays.

The Bakassi imbroglio, even though it has been settled by the International Court at The Hague in favour of Cameroun, will resurrect. At the moment, the area covered by the court’s judgement, is experiencing relative peace. The federal government should take measures to forestall any breach of the existing peace in the region. We should stop dissipating energy on Bakassi, which we lost to the indiscretion and injudiciousness of our leaders, and face the reality of the sad loss.

New bishops and dioceses will emerge in the Catholic Church next year. I can also see the addition of one more cardinal to complement the effort of the only one available now Anthony Cardinal Olubunmi Okojie. Religious harmony will pervade the country throughout 2010. The usual skirmishes between Christians and Muslims will give way to unusual conviviality and camaraderie. The country needs this kind of cordiality to move forward. Religious bigotry and extremism have done the nation more harm than good over the years. The Jos religious upheaval has left a deep scare on the nation’s soul.

Nigeria’s participation in the African Nations Cup holding in Angola and the World Cup to be hosted by South Africa will receive a boost. Against all speculations and forecasts, Nigeria will perform impressively in both tournaments. What the players need are constant prayer and vociferous support by the Supporters’ Club.

Generally, 2010 will be a very congenial and peaceful year. It is the year that will usher the long-awaited wind of change in Nigeria. Those who have benefitted from the chaos that had been the lot of our national life over the years will be awfully disappointed by the new rein of love and peace that will pervade our land.

I wish to express profound gratitude to all our readers for their unrelenting patronage and love. We wish you all Merry Christmas and a prosperous New Year.

Nigeria To Generate 3,600 Megawatts From Coal By 2013

Nigeria’s burgeoning plan to launch a pilot project that will use the nation’s coal deposits of 2.7 billion tones to generate electricity is gathering more momentum even as Mining and Solid Minerals Minister, Mrs. Diezani Alison-Madueke has revealed that the first stage of the project which would likely be located in Kogi state could supply 600 megawatts of electricity in about 13 months.

According to the minister, “it could be a substantial contribution, not just the pilot project but also the whole schedule of projects that would fall into place. The first project is hopeful that once they kick off, over a period of 72 months, they can ramp up output of up to 3,600 megawatts, although as minister, I am much more conservative.”

Currently, Nigeria’s generation capacity is put at about 4,500 megawatts while actual generation hovers around 2000 due to transmission and distribution bottlenecks.

Dr. Rilwan Babalola, minister of power, had in a chat with newsmen recently said that given the challenges encountered in getting natural gas from producers in the Niger Delta to fire thermal plants, the government was left with no other option than to exploit the coal deposits in the country for the purpose of electricity generation. “We are diversifying into coal and we are very serious about it this time because of the challenges in getting gas to fire the thermal plants”, Babalola said.

Power generation in Nigeria over the last 40 years has varied from gas-fired, oil-fired, hydro-electric power stations to coal-fired stations with hydroelectric power system and gas-fired system taking precedence.

Nigeria has significant coal resources that have been estimated at 2.7 billion metric tons of which 650 million tons are proven reserves. About 95 percent of the nation’s coal is consumed locally, mainly for railway transportation, electricity production and industrial heating in cement production.

Industry experts say the country’s coal deposits are best suited for coal-fired electric power plants because of its low sulphur and ash content, and low thermoplastic properties.

Nigeria, battling with power outages and low generation capacity plans to raise generation to 6,000 megawatts by end of 2009 and 10,000 megawatts by 2011.

Coal, the mineral that stoked the Industrial revolution back in the 19th century, remains the most globally abundant fossil fuel, with an estimated 250 years of reserves. Experts say coal could power china and India to global economic leadership, replace imported natural gas in the United States and slash Europe’s dependence on foreign oil. But used the old-fashioned way, experts warn, coal will shroud planet Earth in enough carbon dioxide to trigger polar meltdowns in this lifetime.

Today, all but a handful of the thousands of coal-fired power plants in operation worldwide are smog-belching dinosaurs. The largest generate as much smog a year as 2 million cars; for every ton of fuel they burn, two tons of carbon dioxide plume skyward out the smokestack, experts say. Today, coal accounts for as much as a third of all man-made greenhouse gases – the largest single contributor. Hundreds of additional coal-fired power plants are scheduled to be built by2030-most in China, India and United states.

Thankfully, a lot of progress has been made in developing coal-fired plants that do not belch out tons of green house gases.

Opec Kicks Against Carbon Taxes

OPEC members are not thrilled with carbon taxes that some developed countries impose or plan to impose on carbon emissions.

According to Algeria’s Minister of Mines and Energy, Chakib Khelil, the carbon taxes discriminate against energy producing countries. Khelil said that the cartel was united in opposing the taxes.

He said carbon taxes would cut into the revenues of energy producers and make energy imports more expensive for developing countries.

“There is a consensus that is very clear. The countries of OPEC have been working for a very long time on this issue,” he said on Algerian State radio. “The producers will be penalised.

“This tax is discriminatory with regard to gas and oil and is not in the interests of producing countries and is also not in the interest of developing countries,” said Khelil, a former OPEC president.

At the Copenhagen Climate Conference, many developed countries spoke out in favor of carbon taxes. The U.S. has a House bill that allows for the imposition of tariffs on goods from countries that do not constrain their carbon output. The E.U. has called for carbon taxes at its borders to protect industries and jobs with French president Nicolas Sarkozy saying he and Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel are proceeding with plans for a “border adjustment tax” on imports from countries without targets and trading systems comparable to those in Europe.