From Stanley Uzoaru, Owerri
The candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) for Imo West Senatorial District, Senator Osita Izunaso, has revealed the efforts he made to include the South East zone in Nigeria’s National Gas Masterplan.
Izunaso, who was the committee chairman on oil and gas when he represented Imo west at the National Assembly, also said during the time in review, that he attracted the gas franchise in Ohaji/Egbema worth 700 million dollars.
Briefing newsmen, Tuesday on his scorecard for the time he was Senator for Imo West from 2007 to 2011, Izunaso explained that he also brought massive development to his constituency especially jobs, education and human capital development.
Izunaso in his speech appreciated the efforts of the former governor of the state, Chief Ikedi Ohakim and the late Vice-Chancellor of the Federal University of Technology Owerri (FUTO), Professor Celestine Onwuliri, who he said gave him the support he needed.
“When I was made the Senate Committee Chairman on Oil and Gas in the 6th National Assembly, the South East was completely excluded in the National Gas Masterplan as a gas-producing region. At that time the Federal Government was doing gas franchise.
“I had a hunch about gas in the South East since the region to is an oil-producing zone. So one day I called the late FUTO Vice-Chancellor, Prof. Celestine Onwuliri, and asked him if FUTO Consult could run a survey to determine the hydrocarbon deposit across the oil-producing communities in Imo State and the South East at large.
“He obliged and said the study would cost a total of N300 million. I rallied around and raised the money. On the conclusion of the research work, it was discovered that Imo State has an enormous gas reserve, bigger than the ones located at the heart of the Niger Delta region.
“The moment the report was ready, I led the Senate Committee on Oil and Gas to a public hearing and invited the NNPC and they approved the findings. Pleased with that, the NNPC demanded to undertake further study at a cost higher than what I paid FUTO which was about N1BN.
“I rallied round and within one year I was able to raise the required fee. When the NNPC report came out, it was discovered that Imo has much more gas deposits, including Anambra down to Enugu. In fact, the study proved that Imo has 10% of Oil and 90% of gas”. Izunaso explained.
He added that along the line he got former Governor Ikedi Ohakim involved, whom he said was elated with the report and rushed to alert the late President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua who in turn was pleased with the report and empanelled a new Committee to draft a new gas masterplan with Ohakim as Chairman.
Izunaso said that the committee met and eventually Imo State and other states in the South East were captured in the Nigeria National Gas Masterplan and a gas project was brought to the state.