THE PUBLIC SPHERE with Chido Nwakanma
Considerable excitement has attended the entry of the New Year 2021. Much of it comes from relief at the end of the horrible 2020. Eternal hope in the human heart is the other impulse as people wish and pray for a better year.
Caution is a dominant theme. Even the rambunctious seers couched their prognostications in loose and general terms to avoid the serial failure they suffered in 2020. The best that we can venture is to state that 2021 has potential to yield many successes for Nigeria and Nigerians.
Agenda 2021 is the concern of all citizens, for self and for the country.
Nigerian Year of Gas Expansion
2021 is the year of gas in Nigeria, according to pronouncements by two critical organs, the Ministry of Petroleum Resources, and the Central Bank of Nigeria. 2021 is the Nigerian Year of Gas Expansion that will see Nigeria pivoting to compressed natural gas (CNG). The Central Bank has laid out N250billion to back the “ambitious” programme.
The N250billion intervention facility would stimulate investment in the gas value chain. The CBN lists up to 20 types of projects the facility would fund.
Minister of state for Petroleum Timipre Sylva said in December 2020 that the Federal Government will kick-start the distribution of compressed natural gas as a key transport fuel “by the end of 2021”. It is part of a strategy to gradually replace high-sulphur gasoline.
The National Gas Expansion Program focuses on the distribution of CNG and liquefied petroleum gas across stations operated by the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation.
Sylva claimed, “The [Muhammadu] Buhari administration is focused on developing the country’s natural gas resources, as part of the government bid to key into the global shift from crude oil to gas.” The minister added that “The plan to develop CNG into alternative automobile fuel will also afford Nigerians cheaper, cleaner and additional fuel.”
This column wrote on the pivot to gas before the formal launch. The advertised late take-off date is a dampener. Nigeria is already late to this party. It is surprising that policy makers continue to doodle and fail to treat the matter as urgent and important.
The reality is that the world is moving rapidly away from petroleum. Demand has declined, while prices are falling. The combination of reduced demand and lower prices will accelerate in 2021.
Many countries are implementing their alternative energy plans with gusto. In December Britain celebrated the growing success with wind power. Wikipedia records that“The United Kingdom is one of the best locations for wind power in the world and is the best in Europe. Wind power contributed 20% of UK electricity generation in 2019, making up 54% of electricity generation from renewable sources.”
The UK is generating 54% of its electricity from renewables. They have set a deadline of 2030 to move away from petrol even for vehicles. Many other countries have done so.
As the world moves away from our primary resource, Nigeria continues to doodle on the alternatives. We should be developing alternatives urgently, both for income and self-preservation. What is the emperor doing as Rome burns?
A president in Ishiagu and red cap
The beginning of 2021 means the effective countdown to change of government in 2023. The people of the South East have staked a legitimate claim to have one of them serve as President of Nigeria from May 2023.
It is baffling, therefore, that there are no contenders yet for the Office of the President from the South East. Is the cutlass not sharp or are there no wielders? How do the Igbo intend to wrest this diadem without an early start?
Many of our folks envision Mr Peter Obi as a candidate with high potentials and acceptability. Obi has a sterling record for governing Anambra State in the best traditions. He was vice-presidential candidate to Abubakar Atiku in the 2019 elections. Peter Obi has also done a good job of visibility across platforms, engaging as a public affairs analyst and contributor to national discourse. Please, what holds Peter Obi from formally declaring for the race?
Governor David Umahi has engineered positives in infrastructure in Ebonyi State. He has rebranded Ebonyi from the poor cousin of the Igbo to the admired sibling. There is a swagger in the steps of Ndi Ebonyi nowadays.
There is talk of an alleged presidential ambition by Dave Umahi. He has made some moves, including switching allegiance to the APC from the PDP that gave him so much in the last 21 years of democracy in Nigeria. His move caused turmoil in his home state.
What then is holding Umahi back? When would he drop his hat in the ring?
People mention other names as “potentials” from the South East. They include Ogbonnaya Onu, Orji Uzor Kalu and OsitaChidoka. It is all audio, as today’s generaton would put it.
2021 is oru la naomume for Ndigbo. Is it true that the Igbo desire to struggle for, acquire and control Nigerian state power in 2023? Where is the evidence?
The race would require formal declarations, not guesses, setting up structures, building alliances. They would need to network from home and across the other zones. It is a marathon.
On your marks for 2023, dear South East politicians.
More on Agenda 2021 in the coming weeks.