Following the natural gas fire that has been smouldering at Caritas University Enugu since Sunday, the All Progressives Grand Alliance, APGA, has vowed to pursue the inclusion of Enugu state as an oil and Gas Producing state, if the party emerges winner of the 2023 governorship election.
The gubernatorial candidate of the Party, Mr Frank Nweke Jnr. made the promise after visiting the site of the gas flare, on Tuesday.
Nweke Jnr regretted that Enugu state sits on natural resources but is wasting, whereas unemployment swells at an alarming rate and industrialization are stunted, even when such resources would have attracted both direct foreign and private investments to the state.
Nweke Jnr also regretted that the cause of the gas flare was a result of an excavation for water, which he noted has eluded the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, and government in the state since 1999.
He promised to make portable water available to the residents of the state, if elected governor, disclosing that he has made documentation of how to resolve the perennial water scarcity in the state, particularly in Enugu capital city.
Nweke Jnr said: “I visited the site of the ongoing gas fire or gas flare in the premises of Caritas University Amorji-Nike, here in Enugu state. Like everyone else, I heard about it and I was surprised. I went to the site and there was a huge fire raging there.
“It was in the process of the university drilling a water borehole that they hit a gas belt. One approach to this comment is on the perspective that the University has to source its own water and the water scarcity in Enugu has been here for many decades even in my own house in Enugu I buy water and I know that the bulk of Enugu residents purchase water and that’s not very good. There is no modern city in the world that can survive without water because water is life, as people say, and water has great significance for human lives, has great significance for economic development, and impact on human health and so it’s regrettable that in the past three decades, Enugu continues to suffer from the water crisis.
“It’s also significant for me that as far back as 1924 the colonial authorities were able to supply water to Enugu and to the best of my knowledge the source of water in Enugu has not changed. While the people before us were able to harness this water and manage the water sustainably, the PDP government in Enugu state has not been able to do this.
“On the other hand, I also consider it a welcome development and it speaks to the significant endowments in Enugu state. I know that in Uzo-Uwani there are some Gas deposits there, in Oji River, in Eha-Ndiagu and in other places. So the question is what are we going to do about it? Enugu state clearly has significant Gas deposits and under my government, I will make a serious effort to ensure that the state becomes recognized as an Oil and Gas producing state because it has significant benefits for the state, benefits for the derivation funds like other states that have these kinds of deposits.
“We also expect that investors will begin to come into Enugu and I’ve often made the point that talking about the kind of insecurity and unemployment, the kind of insecurity we have is symptomatic of the very severe economic difficulties that people face. There is a high unemployment rate and across the country today, if you look at the unemployment figures, together with the underemployment figures, it’s well about 50 per cent of the labour force and this is too high. So, the government must do everything within its powers to create an environment for investments to come in, and for people to establish private businesses which will, in turn, provide employment opportunities.
“What I’m saying is not new, anyway, the Michael Okpara administration did all these because a good number of industries were established in the 50s and in the 60s which really created economic opportunities for people and provided tremendous job opportunities. As recent as the Jim Nwobodo administration in the late 1970s and early 80s, significant investments were made in industrialization like the ANAMCO, AVOP, the Sunrise flour mills, the Premier breweries, the Ohebe-Dim Aluminum company and many others.
“So for me, the discovery of this incident reveals again that we have the opportunity to even talk about gas-fired power plants, LPG plants and even fertilizer production in Enugu because these are the raw materials you need for these productions.
“So I’m excited and what I’d like to say to the people of Enugu state is that help is on the way and I believe that the All Progressives Grand Alliance, APGA, which I’ve emerged as its flagbearer, last Sunday, would clearly demonstrate that government can be better and our resources can be better managed. We will provide a water supply in Enugu. I’ve also visited the water facilities and I know what the issues are. I have significant documentation on what the problems are and we are ready with solutions the solutions are not far-fetched but a diligent commitment to governance, solving problems that plague our people and I want to assure you that right from day one, this city, this great state deserves to have water and the people will get water like every modern city in the world.”