Buhari, Mele and Mungo Park


By Salisu Na’inna Dambatta

The word, “exploration,” has put President Muhammadu Buhari, Mele Kolo Kyari, the Group Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of the Nigerian National Petroleum Company (NNPC) Ltd and Mungo Park, the Scottish medical doctor, in a special category of people called explorers.

History indicates that Mungo Park came to West Africa twice, including areas that later constitute Nigeria, as an explorer. His motive was to find and conquer possible sources of riches for the business and political leadership of the British Imperial Empire, especially during his second expedition along River Niger in 1805. He came with 40 soldiers in tow.

Whereas Mungo Park’s exploration and search for sources of fortune for his British sponsors ended about 220 years ago, the exploration work by President Muhammadu Buhari and geologist-cum oil man, Mele Kyari, is ongoing.

As Minister of Petroleum Resources, President Muhammadu Buhari and a team from the NNPC led by Mele Kyari, are intensely exploring for Oil and Gas, both onshore and offshore, Nigeria.

Unlike Mungo Park, their motive for exploration within the territory of Nigeria is to locate more sources of wealth, or riches, not for a British Empire, but potentially for the benefit of millions of Nigerians.

So far their exploration effort has led to the discovery of crude oil and gas in 2019 in an area where Bauchi and Gombe states meet, that is, the Kolmani Oilfield.

The Kolmani Oilfield where Kolmani Wells I and II are located is so rich in oil and gas that, the Kolmani Integrated Development Project was conceived and flagged off in November 2022. Its purpose is to harness the oil and gas find there and convert it into real wealth.

In a speech during the flag-off ceremony at the site, President Buhari said foreign direct investment worth $3 billion has been attracted for the Kolmani River exploration and integrated development project.

The Kolmani Project is billed to produce 50,000 barrels of crude oil daily. It will be processed in a mid-size on-site refinery, thereby enhancing domestic fuel supply, cutting the importation of white products and ultimately bolstering Nigeria’s fortune and earning from oil and gas.

In another exploration mission, the untiring explorers at the NNPC Ltd have moved to Obi/Keana Local Government Area of Nasarawa state. It is in the Middle Benue Trough (MBT), which showed a very high likelihood of oil deposits in commercial quantities. Drilling of the first oil exploration well in the MBT named Ebenyi-A, has commenced.

Conscious of the negative impact oil extraction could cause to the environment, President Buhari, cautioned NNPC Ltd and its partners to be proactive in caring for the environmental consequences of the oil exploration work and speedily mitigate any possible negative effects.

It is significant that the unwavering explorers at the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) Ltd led by the President are spearheading the nationwide exploration to raise the proven reserves and increase overall national crude oil production.

President Buhari said the discovery of oil in Nasarawa state was in line with the ongoing campaigns to explore crude oil and gas in the nation’s several Frontier Basins.

The Frontier Basins include Chad Basin, Dahomey Basin, Anambra Platform, the Calabar Embankment, Sokoto Basin, Bida Basin, Benue Trough and the offshore Ultra-Deepwater Niger Delta.

As indicated earlier, the purpose of the ongoing exploration activities by our explorers for hydrocarbons deposits led by President Muhammadu Buhari and the team from NNPC Ltd, is to locate sources of riches that can be deployed to enhance the welfare of Nigerians. This is the point of departure with the exploration expeditions of Mungo Park.

Salisu Na’inna Dambatta is a senior journalist and retired Federal Director of Information