Sunday, December 21, 2008

So long, and thanks for all the tofu

We're away somewhere exotic until early Jan, so no blogging for a couple of weeks. I wish all my readers a Happy New Year and see you in 2009!

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Friday, December 19, 2008

What's NEXT?

Its been a helluva week. Finally, the NEXT website is launched. Its far from perfect (I am aware to pixel-level granularity of its bugs/flaws at present), but it beats the pants of any 'competition', and we have yet to really begin.

The print version will launch on January 4th in Nigeria, the UK and the US simultaneously. I can't wait for the launch partee on January 3rd in Lagos. Well, I can wait actually - cos a little trip to the beaches of East Africa is coming up..

Our design guru, Mario Garcia, has a little piece here on the launch of the site, with a glimpse of what the print daily and Sunday papers will look like..

And so to bed.

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CALL FOR APPLICATIONS

Residential School 2009

Governance for Development in Africa Initiative

To be held in Dakar, Senegal, 30 March- 04April 2009

Funded and supported by:

Mo Ibrahim Foundation
School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS)
CREPOS, Dakar, Senegal

The Mo Ibrahim Foundation in association with SOAS and the Centre of African Studies-University of London is organising a Summer School in Dakar, Senegal, in April 2009 on the topic of ‘Governance and Development in Africa’.

The residential school is for 25 participants who are policy makers, academics, or civil society representatives from any African country who will gain, through this training, new ideas and experience on the wide issue of good governance and development. We welcome applications from a wide range of backgrounds.

Applicants should have proven research and/or professional experiences in fields relevant to the theme of Governance and Development in Africa.

All costs for successful applicants, including economy flights, accommodation, and subsistence, will be covered. The school will run from March 30th to April 3rd, 2009.

Applications should include:
CV (including email address for correspondence)
Official transcripts of courses/degrees/professional qualifications
two reference letters
Proposal of max 1500 words outlining research interest and professional background and how the applicant will benefit from attending the Summer School

Deadline for applications: 20th January 2009

To be sent electronically or by postal mail to:
Angelica Baschiera
Centre of African Studies
SOAS-University of London
Thornaugh street, Russell Square
London WC1H 0XG
Email: ab17@soas.ac.uk Tel.: +44 (0) 207 898 4370

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Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Here's to Eduardo

"Eddie B" in New York - Part 2 - Radio City Music Hall.

Eduardo is a Brazilian who lives in Salt Lake City. He's over here in Lagos to help us put the finishing touches to our content management system for NEXT.

When he's not waist-high in code deep-into-the-night, Edourdo likes to become Eddie B and make funny-silly videos..

Great guy. A free-standing human being.

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Tuesday, December 16, 2008

African Studies Association of the United Kingdom - Journal Writing Workshop

In association with the International African Institute, the British Academy Africa panel, and the journals Africa, African Affairs, and the Journal of Southern African Studies, the ASAUK is planning a writing workshop to assist young scholars to prepare material for publication in international journals.

The workshop is scheduled for Saturday 14th March 2009, from 10.30-6.30 at St Antony’s College, University of Oxford. ASAUK will support travel within the UK for up to 10 participants. Applicants should contact David Kerr d.kerr@bham.ac.uk with an abstract, and an indication of travel expenses, by 17th January 2009. Those papers or chapters selected for the workshop should be ready for circulation by the end of February. Participants should try to get them into a form suitable for submission to a journal (about 8,000 words and with footnotes).

The ASAUK Council, working through its Research Committee, is committed to enhancing academic links between British and African institutions, and to increasing representation in British journals of work by scholars based in Africa. It is also committed to creating opportunities for young scholars of all backgrounds to publish their material. The workshop will be designed to achieve these goals. We are particularly interested in applications from those doing doctoral degrees and those who have recently completed.

In the initial session, representatives from the Journals will discuss their priorities and the publication process in general. In three further sessions, students or post-docs will have the opportunity to present papers to a journal editor and small audience, and to work through comments and possible improvements. Papers will be pre-circulated. There will be follow-up workshops involving other journals.

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Monday, December 15, 2008

The Architecture of Demas Nwoko


Now available here.

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Forum on Violence and Political Malpractice in Nigeria at SOAS coming up..

Friday 19th December
12.30 -14 pm
The recent violence in Jos, in which up to 400 people died after a period in which Nigeria has been mercifully free of major incidents of communal conflict, has been a disturbing wake-up call.

The incidents which led to the deaths of up to 400 people defy simple characterisation as 'ethnic' or 'religious' violence, and point us towards pressing issues of electoral conduct, political violence, social conditions, governance and constitutionalism which the government of President Yar'Adua needs to address with credible long-term policy initiatives.

This participatory meeting will explore the root causes and responses to the violence, and consider the roles that stakeholders, both internal and external, can play in helping to ensure that such incidents do not recur. Presentations will be brief in order to maximise room for input and debate.

Speakers include:
Dr. Abdul Raufu Mustapha
Lecturer in African Politics (Oxford University)

Ms. Alice Ukoko
Founder and CEO (Women of Africa)

And
Mr. Adam Higazi
PhD candidate, (Oxford University)

Chair:
Mark Ashurst
Director (Africa Research Institute)

Venue:
School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS)
Room G50, Thornhaugh Street, Russell Square WC1

Refreshments will be provided

Please RSVP to cdd@cdd.org.uk Tel: +44 (0)20 7359 7775

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Are you/do you know a Burma vet?

Forwarded enquiry - an interesting research project:

Over 90,000 African volunteers fought against the Japanese in Burma during World War II, in the two-year jungle warfare campaign in which allied forces reconquered Burma. The majority of these soldiers, of the Royal West African Frontier Force's 81st and 82nd divisions, came from Nigeria. Many of them became important community leaders and activists on their return home. Yet despite their central contribution to the war in Asia, their contribution has largely been forgotten. This self-funded (ie shoestring) project aims to interview as many as possible of the surviving 'Burma Boys', to record for posterity their life-changing experiences of war and empire. We (a UK-based phd student and a freelance film-maker) plan to eventually produce a TV history programme to give this subject wider coverage; while the recordings we make will be deposited in university archives in the UK and Nigeria.

We are very keen to hear of any Nigerian veterans of WWII's Burma campaign who might be willing to be interviewed sometime in January – we plan to make the research trip in 2nd and 3rd week of January. If you have a relative, family friend or know of anyone who fought in Burma, please mail burmaboys@gmail.com or call our Nigeria contact Henry Mang on 0806 645 9532 .

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Amazon are meanies..

Click here to find out why.

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Sunday, December 14, 2008

Pop Africana

Nice.

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Trick's Music Bar...

I guess in a world full of ambiguity, its nice for a spade to avoid being called a trowel every now and again. The rules for Girls for Trick's Music Bar (Tarzan Jetty, Lagos) leave little to the imagination about what kind of joint it is. Here.

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Friday, December 12, 2008

The horror in Akwa Ibom...

I finally watched the Channel 4 Child Witches documentary last night, at the Abuja screening. As with many others who have watched it, I had a sleepless, restless night full of sadness and anger.

My first reaction to the film was incredulity. How can people seriously believe that children are witches who fly off to covens in the middle of the night? As 'prophetess' Helen Ukpabio says when she was secretly filmed, there are witches and wizards in Harry Potter. However, these are things for the child's mind, to be put away during adolescence. How adults can retain the gullibility of children en masse is hard for the educated mind to comprehend. Grinding poverty, a lack of education and sinister manipulation from money-minded fake-pastors has produced a horrific mix in Akwa Ibom.

My second reaction was anger. To see a pot-bellied man swagger around with a machete, laughing as he threatens to murder a small child whimpering in front of him is enough to induce hatred. To hear how foam bubbled out of the young girl's skull after the nail was banged into her brain provokes outrage. To listen to the 'Bishop' as he explicitly boasts that he has killed 110 children is enough to wish him harm. Note how he says that he has killed '110 children' not '110 witches inside children' as he is now trying to say from the comfort of his prison cell. To listen as another pastor tell us that a small girl accused of being a witch stays with him in his bedroom during the night, and is locked up in a small room during the day is enough to want one to ensure he is castrated (at least chemically).

It is good that the Akwa Ibom State government, after many years of inattention, is finally taking action. Quite why what is now the richest state in Nigeria (given that it is the highest oil producing state) should be full of such desperately poor, uneducated people is a reasonable follow-up question.

Change is in the air - but will it go far enough to save the children who are being tortured, killed and sold off (in their hundreds, every week) to wealthy families in Equatorial Guinea, Cameroun and Gabon via highly organised trafficking gangs? It would not be difficult to close these gangs down - but do the powers-that-be have the stomach for it?

Some ways forward:

Nollywood films that portray children as witches (such as Ukpabio's "End of the Wicked") should be banned. Those who sell such films (such as Liberty Gospel Church) should be prosecuted, their operations closed down.

Akwa Ibom State Government needs to make a concerted effort to educate their citizens that children cannot be witches or wizards. This will require a robust communication strategy that filters down to primary school level.

The child-witch phenomenon is growing, well beyond Akwa Ibom into neighbouring states, just as it is now found in countries as far afield as DRC and Pakistan. Nigerian communities in London are also not immune, as we know from the child's body found washed up in the Thames a few years ago.

Little will change until those who are leaders in communities in Akwa Ibom and elsewhere (teachers, local chiefs, local politicians) themselves realise that belief in satanic/dark forces, 'deliverance' and child witches is utterly incompatible with Christianity, or with the 3rd millennium. The Anglican, Catholic and more formally organised/respectable of the Pentacostal churches have a huge role to play here.

The Lagos screening is this Saturday, at Terra Kulture, at 4pm.

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Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Toni Kan reading last night


The Toni Kan reading was lovely last night. Just under 60 people turned up - not bad considering most people are away on an extended Sallah break.

There was a Jos flavour to the evening, with Christine coming down from Jos to sing three beautiful songs. Toni of course went to UniJos back in the day (with Helon Habila). There were also a number of Josites in the audience.

Perhaps the most exquisite moment was when a serious-looking woman asked whether it was really possible for a dead man to have an erection. You will have to read the book to find out why she asked this.

More tour dates across the country (and overseas) are to be planned in the following weeks..

Photos:
1. Christine and Toni. Christine is a musician/singer from Jos with a magical voice. Her album will be out next year.

2. Toni and myself. Yes I need a haircut.

3. Toni signing a book.

4. A section of the audience.



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The Abuja Palmetum

Forwarded invite:

You are all invited to the opening of the Abuja Palmetum.

It is a beautiful 20 hectare park in Maitama with over 300 species of plants and palms.

It will be a private opening for 2 days only so please be there and discover this beautiful oasis for you to enjoy. For all the writers, photographers and poets, its the place to find inspiration (or better yet, peace and quite) for you to work or just relax.

Come along with comfy shoes(better yet ,-trainers) if you will like to hike up hill to enjoy the beautiful views. Snacks,BBQ, Drinks etc will be available at the garden.

Bouncy castles and acres of land for kids to play in and nice romantic spots for the lovers out there....

Pass along the invite to your friends and family in Abuja!

See you then....Remember its for two days only....Saturday 13th december and sunday 14th december 2008.

Direction: Ibrahim Babangida Blvd. Right next to CBN Qtrs near BPE.

For more info:
08034513006
adcityltd@gmail.com

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Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Toni Kan book reading this evening - change of venue

The Toni Kan book reading this evening will now be at the Azia Hall, Denis Hotel: plot 910, Malabo Street, off Aminu Kano Crescent, Wuse II, Abuja. 5pm for 5.30pm start. The Denis Hotel is less than 5 mins drive from Salamander Cafe along Aminu Kano..

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Fuji sallah special - Ayinde Barrister...

SIKIRU AYINDE BARRISTER ( PROPHECY )

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J.M.G. Le Clezio reads from Onitsha

This year's nobel laureate reads from his 1997 novel Onitsha.

Here.

Thanks Teju for the link.

This post is dedicated to C.E. and her startling novel yet unborn..

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Monday, December 08, 2008

Solving the gas flaring problem in the delta

An interesting proposal to solve the problem of gas flaring and the lack of power in the Niger Delta in one fell swoop, written by energy journalist Chris Cragg:

Gas flaring in Nigeria: Towards an alternative solution

A new start is desperately needed for the Nigerian gas industry, both in its relations with its western co-partners and on the issue of natural gas flaring in the Niger Delta. This is needed, not merely for the health of the Nigerian economy in these difficult times, but also, literally for the health of its people.

The declaration of Force Majeure on 40% of the supply of Nigerian natural gas to the country’s Bonny Island Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) plant in early December 2008 is the culmination of a decade-long three-sided struggle between the Nigerian Government, the oil and gas companies and the inhabitants of the region in which they operate. The abrupt termination of supply from Shell Petroleum Development Company’s (SPDC) Soku upstream plant in Rivers State was due to the need to remove some 50 illegal valves from its pipelines. These had been used to siphon off significant quantities of condensate, but effectively made the pipelines unsafe to operate.

The economic consequences of this “temporary” shut-down should not be underestimated. Bonny Island LNG plant is Nigeria’s only existing LNG export terminal and in 2007 delivered some 10% of the world’s seaborne natural gas. It is also important for the European Union’s energy security, some 9.7 million tons of the LNG, or 62.3%, being contracted to Spain, France and Portugal.

However, the existence of some 50 illegal valves on a gas pipeline is not the end of the story. With an average of two oil and gas workers kidnapped every week, numerous deliberate pipeline fractures and explosions, it is becoming increasingly difficult for the oil and gas industry to operate in the region. This means not merely that the industry that supplies 95% of Nigeria’s export revenues is having difficulty functioning efficiently, but also that it cannot explore for the necessary reserves that will safeguard such income into the rest of the 21st century.

Failure to find and exploit such additional resources – which are known to be available – also means that Nigeria’s laudable plans not merely to export oil and gas but to electrify the 40% of the country currently without power and develop its neighbours in West Africa will come to naught. Its production of high quality crude oil will continue to decline, while its opportunities to develop fertiliser production for better agriculture and power for future indigenous industrial development will slip away.

A three-cornered problem; the indigenous people

In essence the issue has three major actors, all of whom are distinctly at odds with each other; the central government, the oil companies and the indigenous peoples of the Rivers State and other states in the hydrocarbon-producing belt of the south-west.

To take the last first, it is hardly a surprise that the indigenous peoples of the south-west regard the oil industry as an enemy, regardless of the numerous attempts by the companies to ameliorate the situation. For, since oil production began in the late 1950s, the industry has been flaring the associated gas that comes up with the oil in huge quantities on land. Official statistics suggest that in spite of numerous attempts to stop flaring, in the first half of 2008 some 1.8 billion standard cubic feet per day (bscfd) of untreated gas was still being flared. This may be significantly down on the amounts flared in, say, 2005, when officially some 40+% of all gas produced was flared. However such is the level of mutual suspicion involved that many doubt the official figures. Equally the decline in the percentage of gas production flared may well be the result of increased unassociated gas produced and the shut in of significant amounts of oil production.

Either way, however, few can doubt the health and societal effects of this gas flaring. The situation would be better if it was merely purely natural gas (methane) that was flared. But it is not. The flare stacks emit particulate, sulphur dioxide, benzene, toluene, hydrogen sulphide and a good many other identifiable toxins. The effect on health does not need to be imagined. It is cancers, asthma, chronic bronchitis, numerous heart and lung complaints and, in effect, a great many premature deaths and a high infant mortality rate. Given the spread of these flare stacks in the region, it is highly likely that more than 30,000 people actually live within a kilometre of one flaring well.

Secondly, in societal terms, the effect of this is widespread anger and resentment. For those in the region, the benefits of hydrocarbon extraction for the economy as a whole are seen as simply passing them by. The oil that is produced is taken away and the toxins stay behind. The system of allocation of revenues from central government that goes to the state governments is seen as inadequate for the sacrifice involved.

However, attempts to change this relationship by extracting oil and condensate locally are deemed illegal and penalties are harsh. While such activities carry a high level of danger – some 2,800 people having been killed horribly in explosions in the past decade – illegal refineries and localised production still flourish in secret. This, in turn, creates a high level of resentment at any attempt by the central authorities to stop it, regardless of health and safety arguments.

Given such a situation, it is hardly surprising that those without adequate electricity and deep in poverty resent the intrusion of the industry and seek to profit from kidnapping.

The companies

So what of the companies? Here the first thing that has to be said is that the flaring is not the result of some gigantic conspiracy to pollute West Africa. When these wells were first drilled to produce Nigeria’s high quality oil in the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s, flaring natural gas was common practice throughout the oil industry from Texas to Saudi Arabia. The natural gas industry was in its infancy. The use of it in combined cycle gas turbine (CCGT) power generation was unheard of, when most power was produced directly by raising steam from oil products. Nobody suspected climate change.

In places like the North Sea, the associated gas produced in oil production found a market close by in an existing gas grid that had previously used coal-produced town gas. To be valuable, natural gas needs a market and an infrastructure to get it to that market. None of this was immediately available in the Niger Delta. Now however, it is more or less unheard of for associated gas to be flared in the western world, by western oil companies, except in emergency for safety. Flaring on this scale is nowhere found outside the former Soviet Union and nowhere in areas of such population density.

There are in practice two ways to stop flaring. The operating companies can find a market for the gas and gather it from the individual wells, or they can shut in the oil they are producing. In relation to the latter, Nigeria’s production of crude oil is already falling. Since 2005, Nigeria’s oil production has fallen from around 2.5 million barrels a day (mbd) to 2.1 mbd, or by 400,000 bd. Even at an average price of around $50 a barrel, this is a revenue loss of $20 million a day, or $3.7 billion a year. Logically, to maximise the reduction in flaring, the choice is to shut in those wells producing the lowest level of crude for the highest level of associated gas. There is some evidence that the companies have been doing this, hence the fall in crude production.

Getting the gas to market is a different proposition altogether. For SPDC, one of the more open of the companies, the dilemma is best shown by the point that to cut its own remaining flaring of 256 million standard cubic feet a day (mscfd) requires creating a gas-gathering system linking over 1,000 wells in an area the size of Portugal, or roughly one well per 91 square kilometres. If averaged out, this would suggest that each well is producing around 256,000 standard cubic feet a day (scfd). While having devastating consequence on the local environment, in terms of gas produced, these are not, individually, very large gas producers.

In truth, it would require some 400 of these wells to produce enough gas to power a 1,000 MW gas-fired power station, or the yearly output of almost 550 of them to produce a million tons of export LNG.

The companies thus face a considerable dilemma; either shut in crude, or build substantial gas-gathering networks across hundreds of kilometres to gather small batches of gas. Naturally, the current security situation in the delta does not help such an undertaking. Indeed SPDC’s plan to eliminate flaring on the Forcados Yokri field, due for completion in 2006, has been stalled for precisely this reason.

However, before suggesting that the companies are entirely blameless in the current situation, it has to be said that the instinct towards secrecy that pervades this difficult issue effectively prevents a better understanding of the problem in Abuja. Chevron, for example, may or may not be the biggest flarer of gas, but is certainly not going to admit to it. Total flatly refuse to reveal anything at all on the subject. The net result has been a chronic failure to adequately define the problem and thus seek a better way to resolve it.

The Government

This level of secrecy has created a high level of expectation in the Nigerian Government about reducing flaring that is largely a delusion. This delusion is twofold. First there is a belief that the flaring can be stopped by governmental decree, or legal means. Second, there is a belief that large LNG, power station, or pipeline projects will make a big difference.

In relation to the former issue, gas flaring has been illegal in Nigeria since 1984. It has been punishable by fines on the companies, these being mitigated in recognition of reality by being tax deductible. If this seems faintly ridiculous, it is joined by Presidential pronouncements that gas flaring will cease on such and such a date. The latest is December 31st 2008, which embarrassingly followed on from the previous one of January 1st 2008 and no doubt will be followed by yet another.

In practice, the level of investment required, plus the length of time needed to put in place the kind of projects thought by the Government to solve the problem, make nonsense of any strict timetable or legal fiat. This relates to the second delusion.

Nigeria currently has very substantial plans for the expansion of its gas export industry. There are now six completed LNG trains producing 22 million tons (mt) of LNG at Bonny Island, needing 3.5 bscfd of gas. A seventh train is planned, needing a further 1.2 bscfd. Two other projects, Brass LNG and Olokola LNG are planned to produce a further 22 mt. In total, existing and planned LNG capacity will need 8.3 bscfd.

Furthermore, a gas to liquids project from Chevron already underway needs 300 mscfd. The existing, but not fully loaded, World Bank funded West African Gas Pipeline (WAGP) will require 400 mscfd. Finally, there is a plan to pipe gas to Algeria and thence to southern Europe over 4,300 km, scheduled for 2015. This in term will need 2.9 bscfd. In short, export plans require a grand total of 10.9 bscfd.

At home, the National Gas Infrastructure Development plan calls for a massive increase in centralised electricity production of say 10,000 MW and a high voltage transmission system by 2014. This will be in addition to the supposed 6,000 MW that currently exists of which only 2,000-3,000 MW is actually functioning. Putting it simply, a 1,000 MW state of the art CCGT power station needs very approximately 200 mscfd to function at capacity, so this ambition will need around 2 bscfd of reliable gas supply.

While a sceptical eye might be raised at the sheer level of investment required for these projects and the timetable, there can be little doubt that with 184 trillion cubic feet of gas reserves, Nigeria has the resources to meet these ambitions. The problem is that such projects have little to do with solving the issue of flaring gas in the delta. If anything, the idea that these projects will reduce flaring is a major distraction from the real challenge of finding and producing enough non-associated gas to make them work.

LNG projects, major pipelines, gas-to-liquid plant and power stations are expensive investments and require above all a stream of gas that is likely to be reliable for the 20-30 year lifetime of the project, or at least a promise of it. This overwhelmingly favours non-associated gas.

By comparison associated gas, particularly such as is produced in the delta, is ultimately reliant on the continuing production of crude from the associated wells. If the crude output falls below economic levels this gas is liable to be shut in. And as noted, the volume of gas-per-well, is relatively small in the context of the requirements of such large projects. Indeed the force majeure closure by SPDC of the Soku plant reveals precisely this. The vast majority of the gas going into the existing LNG trains appears to be non-associated.

The Government is thus wrong to expect that its current big projects are likely to substantially reduce flaring. Equally, given its past record in relation to equity investment in such projects, in the power industry as well as oil and gas, it might be as well to concentrate on maximising non-associated gas in its investment plans. For there is a way out of the flaring problem. The point is that it is local, small and at the heart of Nigeria’s problems in the delta. The flared gas should be used for local power generation.

A rational and radical solution

Given the chronic problems of rural electrification, where the area around Port Harcourt averages three hours of power a day, it is hardly surprising that Nigeria has almost as much power capacity in stand-by diesel-fuelled generator sets – at an estimated 2,500 MW – as it has centralised functioning power stations. What remains astonishing is that few seem to have realised that such generating sets, ranging from a few hundred kW to 5-10 MW can be run not merely on natural gas but on mixtures of methane, butane and propane.

Indeed, of all engines, compression engines commonly known as “diesels” are far more tolerant of different fuel mixes than either turbines or petrol engines. Nor is there anything new about using gas in them for power production. Oil industry platforms have been doing it for decades. Consequently using them to run on the gas that is currently being flared is not only possible, but has numerous advantages.

For a start, there are a lot of them in place. They do not need additional investment in significant transmission capacity like high voltage lines, because they have their own local networks. They are cheap at $12 million for a new 10 MW unit and they do not require a high level of expertise to run.

Given the close proximity of the wells flaring gas to small rural centres of population, the extent of the necessary gas pipelines bringing gas to gen-set is likely to be only a few kilometres. Naturally, this will require a level of well-by-well analysis to step up, or step down, the level of pressure needed for both generator and pipeline, as will issues of localised pollution from the generators themselves. These however are likely to be minor in relation to the existing problems. There are likely to be local technicalities that will need solving. Nonetheless, these are soluble on a case-by-case basis.

Given such a localised solution, the obvious objection is that it could take decades to actually end flaring. Yet to be frank, the current means to reduce it looks like taking just as long. In addition, this ignores the momentum that is likely to increase as each flare is put out and the waste gas utilised for electricity. Virtually all experience with rural electrification across the developing world suggests that, once started, it proceeds at an increasing velocity. People want electricity and if as in the case of the Niger Delta, small and reliable power grids come with an immediate, rapid and obvious fall in the level of pollution any such projects are likely to be very, very popular.

Above all, for the people of the delta, this would not merely mean access to power and a fall in chronic levels of pollution. It would mean that, for once, some of the benefits of the hydrocarbon economy that is so important to Nigeria as a whole, would come home. As such, it might, just might, transform the existing high level of resentment that creates such a difficult operating environment for both companies and government alike.

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Soyinka sketch from the 60s

Taken from here. Thanks JG for the text.

PRESS CONFERENCE
A compromise government is in power after rigged elections, the regular old shysters are back in the saddle. One cabinet minister, caught out nakedly in a shady land deal, took the time-honoured method of brazening it out with irrelevancies.

Journalist: Now sir, about the problems of the coalition government, I wander if –

Minister: My friend, before you say anything else let me remind you that I am a M A Michigan.

Journalist Yes, sir, but with all due respect-

Minister: In fact, I got two B As you know. One at Toronto for Political Science and one for National Economics and Sociology, that was in Dublin.

Journalist: What I am trying to ask, sir, is your position as a Minister in the broad-based government-

Minister: It was after that I went to Michigan to get my masters.

Journalist: But sir, if we may define this broad-based government-

Minister: We cannot define Government. A Government is not a human being with a broad base or a broad bottom. If anything, it is more like a baboon with too many bottoms. So perhaps we ought to call it a round bottom Government. (Laughs broadly and sips his drink.)

Journalist: Would the Minister say some words about-

Minister: The B A Toronto was with Honours you know. First Class with Honours. The B A Dublin had no honours but that was discrimination - everyone knows that. Colour bar was very strong in the universities in our days. You boys don't know how lucky you are. If you are good you get your degree but if all you can manage is to be a quack journalist coming to ask me stupid questions, then it is your fault.

Journalist: Sir, what are your plans to improve-

Minister: Improvement, that is me. I've always tried to improve myself. When I did not get honours in Dublin, I went to Toronto and did it all over again. So I just laugh when you people say do I know the path of honour. I not only know the path of honour, I know the path of honours, (Laughs. Wipes tears of laughter from eyes.) So ask yourself, is it possible for an Honours man not to be an honourable man?

Journalist: Now, sir, about your Operation Fantastic, don't you think that-

Minister: My friend, what is there to think? I said fantastic and I mean fantastic. I am fantastic. Nigeria is fantastic. Everything about us is fantastic. The things which happen here cannot happen anywhere else, they will be fantastically fantastic. Look my friend, man is either common, ordinary and a nobody, or else he is fantastic. We have men of timber, we have men of calibre. And some of us are timber of timbers, So worry about yourself. Are you a nobody or are you a fantastic timber?

Journalist: Now, sir, these recent events. Don't you agree that they might give Nigeria a -

Minister. (Quickly interrupting. ) Oh yes, I know it is a big boost for Nigeria. Don't forget I am also an international author. I wrote 'Irredentism in Renascent Nigeria’. I am a director of several companies and I have shaken hands with Princess Margaret when I was taking tea with the Royal Family at Buckingham Palace. So if you don't know who I am people, who matter do.

Journalist: Now sir, about those land deals, don't you agree the Government may-

Minister: Let me insist once and for all that although I am a personal friend of the Prime Minister, personal friendship does not come into it at all. This is all a matter of Principle, Policy and Politics - write it down, write it down and refer to it as my three P's - Principle, Policy and Politics. They are my Three P's for Peace. For Peace and Good Government, for Peace and Stability. Seek ye first the Kingdom of the P's and the world shall become a Palace of the People.

Journalist: Sir, we all know that even less embarrassing things than this have brought down some Governments.

Minister: My friend, you are a small boy. You are all small boys. Principle, Policy and Politics. Do you think I am interested in the little amount of money involved? Chicken feed. Chicken feed in an elephantine mouth like my own. I can spend that in one week and not know the difference. But it is a matter of the Three P's: Principle, Policy and Politics.

Journalist: Could you explain that further, sir?

Minister: With pleasure, and let me remind you that I am an M A Political Science and I say that this is a matter of the third of the P's - Politics. Now when we agreed to serve on the broad based
Government was it not to give the Government a Trial? Well, my friends THIS IS THE TRIAL.

(Freeze..)

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Sunday, December 07, 2008

This is hilarious


Click to see Video

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Ikotun

I found myself in Ikotun, an unloved and anonymous part of Lagos. Endless people hustling a living on the street. The noise and the dirt all too familiar..

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Child Witches screening in Abuja this Thursday..

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Africans Arguing in A London Bus....

If you haven't seen this yet....

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Friday, December 05, 2008

NEXT goes live on Twitter


Nigeria's first breaking news service launched today on twitter, here.

NEXT's website, goes live 18/12/08 [12/18/08 if you are US-centric].



NEXT's print paper launches 04/01/09 [01/04/09 US].

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Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Toni Kan reads from his new book, Nights of the Creaking Bed

Next Tues, 9th December, Abuja.

Click to enlarge.

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Death and the King's Horseman

Now on at the National Theatre, London, here.

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Scholarships for Commonwealth journalists

Apply here. Deadline 31st Jan 09.

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Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Saving Africa's Witch Children - Lagos Screening flyer


This is a free event. Please bring your donation along with you, and tell all your friends. Putting a stop to this sick, evil and perverted practice is within reach!

One has to say, the recent actions of the Governor of Akwa Ibom are highly commendable. See here for some of the latest developments.

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Monday, December 01, 2008

The London African Film Festival

Is on this week. Here.

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