FG Steps Up Efforts to Produce Oil, Others from Jathropha Plant

  •  ‘Why Niger Delta militants should rethink blowing up of pipelines’

Patrick Ugeh in Abuja

The Federal Government has stepped up its effort to produce gasoline (petrol) and biodiesel from a plant called jathropha, which the NNPC and commercial and small scale farmers are being encouraged to cultivate.

At the inaugural National Environment Dialogue held in Abuja, the Minister of Environment, Mrs Amina Mohammed, Senate President Bukola Saraki, Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara and NNPC boss, Maikanti Baru, announced plans to boost the cultivation of the crop and biofuels and other benefits.

Baru said jathropha would be planted along the pathway of its 5,000 kilometre pipelines across the country to obtain the alternative source of fuel.

Saraki and Dogara pledged to provide the needed legislative framework to aid the transition into a cleaner and greener economy through support for the Nigerian bio-fuel policy.

Represented by Senator Oluremi Tinubu, Saraki said while giving reasons why jathropha must be encouraged to upstage fossil fuel: “The present economic outlook calls for extraordinary thinking and solutions. If you ask me, I believe that these challenges may in fact be the necessary catalyst and opportunity to think outside the box and shape a new Nigerian nation.”

To this end, Environment Minister, Amina Mohammed, who hosted the dialogue, sent a very strong warning to the militants in the Niger Delta to rethink their destruction of oil and gas pipelines as they and the people of the region stand to lose more ultimately when an alternative source of petrol, the jathropha plant, is fully developed.

Speaking at the two-day dialogue, she cautioned that besides the loss of revenue to the Niger Delta through the blowing up of pipelines, the environmental impact was such that would affect the people of the area for a very long time.

She said the Niger Delta people stood to bear the brunt of the drop in fiscal allocations from the federation account when bio-fuels from the jathropha plant and other sources knock crude oil out as the number one income earner for the government.

The dialogue, chaired by Dr. Newton Jibuno, had the theme, “Diversification of the Economy: The Role of Jathropha”.

Said the Environment minister concerning the cleanup of Ogoni, which she said, should apply to the entire Niger Delta: “Everyday our young people decide that the way to dialogue is to blow up another pipeline. This really just cancels the future. It makes life more difficult for us and the rest of the country, including themselves, because the pollution is not in Abuja; it’s not in Gombe; it’s not in Enugu; it’s in the Niger Delta.

“And who is going to invest there when we diversify the economy and find life after oil? Now oil may be in crisis, but tomorrow we hope it may just be a component of our revenue base, because we’re going to diversify the economy. So, I feel really that every young person should find what is good in their environment, protect it and carry it forward.”

Mohammed further advised the militants: “If there are injustices, there are representatives that you elected; you have to start engaging with them so that they can demand of the executive to make life better for you.”