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As Eze goes to troubled South Sudan, By Emmanuel Onwubiko

By News Express on 04/05/2017

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•Business mogul, Prince Arthur Eze.
•Business mogul, Prince Arthur Eze.

In Nigeria, finding a genuinely credible philanthropist is as difficult as seeing a white falcon. Falcons are generally rare. 

Although, as an African society, Nigerian communities are deeply rooted in African traditional cultural value systems. At the core of these African traditional values is the virtue of hospitality and humanitarianism. It was said in African cosmology that our ancestors were under obligation to protect the stranger from harm, even if this stranger happened to have arrived from an adversarial or rival community.

All the above qualities of an original African notwithstanding, the incursion of foreign culture of individualism has almost crippled the legacy of African traditional value system that preaches the essence of hospitality and humanitarianism. The advent of social media - which is an easy tool for the brainwashing of the contemporary Africans by these mostly Caucasian controllers of these Internet outlets - hasn't helped matters. The present day African has become so individualistic due to the principles of consumerism and capitalism that dominate the social media scenes. 

But there are still very few good men/women standing from amongst us in contemporary Nigerian society. Some of these good men and women are even persons who have excelled as capitalists and investors. But unlike the capitalists captured in the thoughts of Karl Marx, the great German philosopher, as the main oppressor, some of these extremely few good Nigerian capitalists have humane disposition. 

Chief Arthur Eze, the Anambra State-born businessman, is one of such rare good men with extremely rare good heart. Arthur Eze has an illustrious history as a goodwill donor to good humanitarian causes.

Many years back, I was the media aide of a very senior Catholic priest in the then newly-established Catholic Diocese of Kafanchan, Kaduna State, who was a doctorate degree holder in a specialsed psychological field that provides therapy for alcoholics, by name very Reverend Father Jack Yali. The reverend father has incardinated into one of the American Catholic dioceses where his services are in very high demand, due to large presence of substance abusers or addicts. One day,  Dr Yali asked me to travel with him to visit a particular philanthropist in Abuja. When we arrived, the person we came to visit happened to be the very reputable multi-billionaire Eze. The chief received us very well and, he indeed, showered the priest with handsome donation: to enable him carry on with his evangelism of treating habitual alcoholics and bring them back to useful members of the public. Eze donated to Yali's good cause to liberate young people held hostage by their social vices of alcoholism and substance addiction.

Since that encounter – which, to me, was rare going by the fact that our guest brought out raw cash and didn't just make verbal pledges – the chief made lasting impression on my young mind.

Recently, when I have for  long settled down in Abuja, his media aide, Mr Chidi Okolo, asked that I go with him to visit his boss, On getting there, in Maitama, it turned out that it was the birthday of this very rich but generous Nigerian. I noticed that from his gate, there were over 36 less-privileged women who were milling around and were being attended to by some of Eze’s staff. The billionaire-businessman seems to be extremely friendly and humble. I remember telling him that I just read a congratulatory birthday message sponsored in the press by the Enugu State Governor, Chief Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi; and he deeply appreciated this good deed.

The long and short of this story is that this exceptional Nigerian philanthropist has decided to invest some of his God-given wealth in the troubled young country of South Sudan.

 The press reported recently that Eze’s Oranto Petroleum will invest $500 million to develop South Sudan’s Block B3, launching a comprehensive exploration campaign, starting immediately. The South Sudan Ministry of Petroleum and Oranto Petroleum Company signed the exploration and production sharing agreement for the block few days back, in Juba.

The B3 area covers 25,150 square kilometres. Some aeromagnetic and seismic data have been acquired for the area, but no wells have been drilled.

The story also has it that the block is highly prospective, with productive parts of the Muglad Basin to the north-west, and estimated reserves in place of more than 3 billion barrels of oil. The block is categorised as “low risk, high reward.”

Under the EPSA, Oranto will be the technical operator and 90 per cent shareholder of the block, with Nilepet holding a 10 per cent stake. “We believe the petroleum resources of Block B3 are vast. To reach our target of more than double current oil production, we need committed new entrants like Oranto,” said Minister of Petroleum, Ezekiel Lol Gatkuoth, adding:

“The government is working hard to reinvigorate the petroleum industry in South Sudan by creating an enabling environment for international oil and gas companies to invest and operate. It is up to the oil companies to come in, explore and produce.”

“It’s an honour to formalise our entry into South Sudan with this EPSA,” said Prince Eze, Founder/Chairman of Oranto Petroleum. 

“Our company is at the vanguard of African firms exploring and developing African assets. This is the beginning of a long-term collaboration with Nilepet, the people of South Sudan, and our partners, to bring to light the immense potential of Block B3. Oranto is committed to an aggressive exploration work programme that will benefit all stakeholders,” he noted.

The 120,000-square-kilometre Block B was split by the government into the B1, B2 and B3 blocks in 2012. In Block B3, Oranto will work alongside the B1 and B2 partners, which include Total. During the first three-year exploration period, Oranto will complete a further airborne geo-physical survey, acquire and process 2D seismic, and assess existing data held by the government and former operators. The EPSA contract was facilitated by pan-African law firm, Centurion Law Group. 

Historically, South Sudan is an established, world-class petroleum-producing region, whose territory includes a large part of the Cretaceous rift basin system that has proved petroliferous in Chad and Niger, as well as Sudan.

Atlas Petroleum International and Oranto Petroleum, the sister companies of the Atlas Oranto Group, own and operate 20 oil and gas acreages in 10 African countries - Benin, Côte d’Ivoire, Equatorial Guinea, Ghana, Liberia, Namibia, Nigeria, São Tomé and Príncipe, Senegal and South Sudan - according to reports.

Findings from multiple sources disclosed that Oranto Petroleum was founded in Nigeria in 1991, and the group is Africa’s largest indigenous explorer by acreage.

At first, when I read this story few days back, the thought that flashed through my mind is that, maybe, God will use the goodness of Prince Eze to urge the warring parties in South Sudan to make peace, for the sake of their common humanity. 

There is no doubt that the prince is a man who loves peace. And, since business thrives only in an atmosphere of peace, my sixth sense tells me that soon, Eze will bring his good heart to bear to encourage and motivate the people of South Sudan to make peace, irrespective of their ethno-regional distinctions. I hope this giant businessman will speak to the leaders of African Union and the United Nations to genuinely work out sustainable peace agreement, so the suffering of the people can stop forthwith.  

Mercy Corps, a Western charity organisation wrote that, “South Sudan should be a country full of hope almost six years after gaining independence. Instead, it’s now in the grip of a massive humanitarian crisis.”

Political conflict, compounded by economic woes and drought, has caused massive displacement, raging violence and dire food shortages. Factually, it is reported that over 5.1 million people are in need of aid, and 4.8 million are facing hunger. Due to economic collapse and three years of poor agricultural conditions, areas of South Sudan are now experiencing famine.

“The people of this young country need our help, and among the world’s other crises, we must not forget them. We are working on the ground to reach families who are struggling to survive, but our life-saving work starts with you”, Mercy Corps stressed. 

As we all know, South Sudan gained independence from Sudan in July 2011, but the hard-won celebration was short-lived. The Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM), the ruling political party that originally led the way for independence, is now divided and fighting for power. International reporters say that in December 2013, political in-fighting erupted into violence in the streets of the capital, Juba, after South Sudan’s president accused his vice-president of an attempted coup. Fighting between the two factions of government forces loyal to each soon moved to Bor, and then to Bentiu. Violence spread across the young nation like wildfire, displacing 413,000 civilians in just the first month of conflict. Tens of thousands of civilians rushed to seek refuge in UN bases that were subsequently turned into makeshift displacement camps. The fighting has continued, becoming increasingly brutal and affecting the entire country.

A handful of peace agreements have been signed over the course of the war — the most recent in August 2015 — but they have been repeatedly violated. The situation remains highly unstable, so says a document from the international aide organisation aforementioned.

“While some regions have recently become slightly less volatile, allowing people to move around fairly freely and return to their homes, violent outbreaks are still occurring throughout the country.

“Most recently, a fresh wave of violence erupted in Juba, starting July 2016, just one day before the country's five-year anniversary of independence. The clashes killed more than 300 people and displaced 40,000 more, over the course of a few days.”

These experts say that besides these attacks, the country's economy is in crisis — the South Sudanese pound has declined in value, and the cost of goods and services has skyrocketed. The inflation rate — 835 per cent — is the highest in the world.

In early 2017, a famine was reportedly declared in parts of South Sudan, leaving 100,000 people on the verge of starvation.

According to findings by the aide body, since the conflict began, almost 1 in 3 people in South Sudan have been displaced. Some 3.6 million citizens have been forced to flee their homes: more than 1.5 million people have escaped to neighbouring countries in search of safety, and more than 2.1 million are trapped inside the warring nation. 

Demographers say South Sudan is now the third-most fled country in the world, behind Syria and Afghanistan. A well-considered investigative report has it that those who’ve run have lost loved ones and their homes, their land and their livelihoods. Violence towards civilians, they said, has been widespread, including targetted attacks, gender-based violence, kidnappings and murders. Burning and pillaging of homes and livestock is rampant. And assaults on aid convoys, and looting of supplies have become increasingly common, making it difficult — and dangerous — to reach in-need families with the support they need to survive.

This writer is hereby appealing to Prince Arthur Eze to do all he can to bring his positive attributes of love for peace and social justice to positively impact on the country of South Sudan. 

•Comrade Emmanuel Onwubiko, National Coordinator of Human Rights Writers’ Association of Nigeria (HURIWA), writes from Abuja. He can be reached via 08033327672 (sms only) or via doziebiko@yahoo.com

Source News Express

Posted 04/05/2017 5:12:42 PM

 

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