CHANCES OF EARTHQUAKE OR EARTH TREMOR VERY REMOTE IN SAKI AND ITS ENVIRONS – PROF TIJANI
*In this interview by the Publisher/Editor GREATRIBUNETVNEWS Rasheed Komolafe and Entertainment Editor, Fatai Komolafe, the erudite Professor of Hydro geology and Environmental Geology University of Ibadan .Prof Moshood Niyi Tijani bares his mind on a number of issues especially Earth Tremor related loud bang currently ravaging Saki community (OYO STATE) in the last few days and other issues affecting the sector. The interview which was first published in 2017 in our sister Magazine SNOOPEXTRA is still relevant today. Excerpt* :
Question: It is on record that EXXONMOBIL in Nigeria has been lending a hand of support to tertiary institutions in Nigeria including your University (U.I) especially your department, how far have your University utilized such intervention?
Answer: Yes, it is true that ExxonMobil has supported some Universities. The first set of six universities were supported to enhance the laboratory facilities (especially with rock cutting machine) and to enhance field mapping techniques in terms of logistics for field works. The target or deliverable of the intervention is that each University should produce at least two geological maps. On our part at the Department of Geology, I am bold to say that at the end of the four years period that we benefited from the programme, we are able to produce three maps while the fourth one is in the final stage of preparation.
Question: Some Universities were known to have produced geological maps of some areas in Nigeria. Has University of Ibadan done such thing for Oyo State?
Answer: I mentioned earlier that the target of the support is to produce at least two maps and University of Ibadan was able to produce three and the fourth one is in the final stage of preparation. There is no other University that produced more than two maps; so as a Department we provided value for the fund given to us. In addition, our Department was able to judiciously manage the fund provided to the extent that we were able to buy a field 4-wheel drive jeep to support the 18-seater bus given to us as part of the ExxonMobil intervention fund.
Question: How about Oke Ogun? When should we expect the geological map for the zone?
Answer: I know that already there is a published map of Saki Sheet, but a single map cannot cover Oke Ogun, There are others like Ibarapa Sheet, Iseyin Sheet and in some cases it depends on the scale we may be talking of sub-divisions like Ibarapa north east, Ibarapa south east and so on. I know that the Department of Geology had mapped and produce Oyo, Ibarapa and Ibadan Sheets under the ExxonMobil funding. Be as it may, the task of geological map production is the prerogative of the Nigerian Geological Survey Agency (NGSA). As I said there is a geological map and report on Saki Sheet produced by the Nigerian Geological Survey Agency (NGSA). However, there is nothing stopping local governments in Oke-Ogun from commissioning a detailed geological map of their local government and in order to produce a mineral resources potential map of their respective domains. Even though we know that our existing law gave the federal government jurisdiction over anything below the ground, but such commissioned detailed mapping at LG levels can be use to attract investors for local small to medium scale mining operations that will generate employments and also provide tax or other forms of royalty for the local governments.
Question: It seems some areas in Oke-Ogun are prone to natural disaster, like earth tremor, earth quake God forbid, what do you think is responsible for these?
Answer: Let’s approach the question from this angle; generally there are areas, world-wide, that are prone and areas that are not prone to geological hazards, depending on the respective geological settings. Nigeria is generally tectonically stable due to the fact that the bedrocks are characterized by the so-called Pre-Cambrian Basement Complex rocks. However, these rocks are said to be characterized by some major fracture systems that are linked to transform faults of the mid-Atlantic Ridge. Hence, there are possibilities of pressure release transmitted inland from those faults as minor earth tremors. However, Oke-ogun area like any other parts of the country is not seismically active like rim of fires in the Asia-Pacific region. In my opinion, what people experienced in Oke-Ogun area is more or less a reflection of pressure release at minor scale and is nothing to worry about in terms of tremor or earthquake. Nonetheless, I think what is need is a sort of monitoring mechanism through installation of seismometer in the area before definitive conclusions can be drawn as to the possibility or otherwise of such geological hazards.
Question: What do you think the government either Local, State or Federal can do to prevent its occurrence?
Answer: As mentioned what we really need to do is to set up a monitoring system as there are no enough information or data yet to really confirm the threat or danger of any earth tremor or even earthquake. We don’t have any significant scientific data yet and in my opinion and those that were making noise on the issue of tremor in Oke-Ogun sometimes ago put the existing risk level at 2.5% and that it will increase to about 92% in the next two to three years. In my opinion, such statements are mere speculations: why the sudden jump in the risk level and what are the database for such assertions? I think what happened in Saki few months ago might be due to a sort of rumbling movement beneath the sub-surface but we do not know the nature of the movement yet. More so, it is unthinkable earth tremor to happen in the morning, afternoon and night the same day, next day, and two or three days again and again. Usually, the cycle of earth tremor and its associated after shocks, if any, do have some significant time intervals (e.g. few years, ten, fifteen or more years). Be as it may, what we need is equipment to monitor and generate data and records of earth movements for some time period before we can make any judgment as to the nature of the movement and whether it should be something to worry about and before we can then start talking of how to prepare for any possible hazard in the future.
Question: Community on their own, what can they do, when the earth quake or tremor occurred?
Answer: Earthquake and earth tremors are natural geological phenomena, the occurrence and timing of which are difficult to predict. All what people can do in case of such emergency or disaster is to follow the normal health and safety precautions by hiding under tables, beds or similar materials so as to protect themselves from direct impacts of falling objects or collapsing structures as the case may be. Also people are usually advised to move to open areas in such situations as part of the few precautions to protect lives.
Question: Has it been confirmed that earthquake or earth tremor can occur in places like Saki or Oke-Ogun in general?
Answer: Like I said earlier, nobody can confirm that it can happen or it cannot happen without any scientific data base. We need to install monitoring equipment to generate data on the slow movements or vibrations in the ground. Slow movements can lead to gradual build-up of pressure and can cause tremor or earthquake when the pressures are released through fracture systems. But what we know is that Oke-Ogun is not a seismically active, so chances are very very remote.
Question: What are the natural factors that usually bring about earth tremor or quake?
Answer: The natural factors are just geological factors and if you have zones where the sub-surface rock layer or what we called the lithosphere is fractured, and if the fractures are still active, then there may be the possibility of gradual pressure build up that may lead to breakage or slippage thereby triggering earth tremor or even earthquake depending on the amount of pressure involved. In summary the factors are geology dependent.
Question: Do we have the data of solid minerals potential of Oyo State, Oke Ogun and Saki in particular
Answer: As far as I know, there are mineral potential maps of Nigeria and that of states prepared by the Nigerian Geological Survey Agency (NGSA). But in a normal civilized society, there is nothing stopping each state or local governments from commissioning a geological mapping studies of their areas with the aim of assessing and possibly quantify the respective mineral potentials. These can be in form of small or medium scale mapping to generate data on the mineral potentials that can be packaged as a so-called Mineral Resources Brochure. Such brochure can be employed by the government to attract investors for the exploitation and economic development of such minerals. In essence it will be a contribution to generate employment and enhance economic development.
Question: Extraction of solid minerals, which modern method of extraction would you recommends?
Answer: The key determinants are the type and nature of occurrence of the mineral in question. In other words, the type of mineral and the depth of location of the mineral will determine the method of extraction. Nowadays, there are several modern mining techniques, whether surface or underground mining methods. The key target is that most modern mining methods are designed to reduce environmental pollution and degradation while ensuring environmental sustainability.
Question: Is it possible to discover oil or gas in Oke Ogun in particular or Oyo State in general?
Answer: It is practically and absolutely IMPOSSIBLE in any pars of Oyo State, not to even talk of Saki area, because Oyo State is basically underlain by basement rocks not sedimentary rocks that have the potentials for oil and gas accumulation. So we can be talking of solid minerals not liquid minerals like oil and gas in Oyo State.
Question: Lake Chad Basin and Benue Trough, despite the huge amount spent so far, why has it not been possible to find oil and gas in commercial quantity in those places?
Answer: There is no doubt as to the fact that the government had put in a lot of money in search of oil in Chad Basin and other marginal inland basins in Nigeria. Although I am not a core expert in oil and gas exploration, but what I know is that results gotten in the past had shown non-economical availability. However, in the light of increasing technological improvement in modern exploration techniques, it is my opinion that economically viable discovery can be made in the area with the new drive to probe the area further. In addition, we also need to understand that exploration in general is a form of risk, so every exploration activity must not at all cost move to development stage.
Question: Geology as a profession; What are the prospects?
Answer: First of all let us ask ourselves that what is the backbone of Nigeria’s economy for several decades now: I have no doubt that the collective response will be oil and gas. Then the question is who are those finding the oil and gas for us? It is the geologists before the petroleum and chemical engineers take over. Now that our economy needs diversification, the main talk everywhere is solid minerals; then who are to explore and locate the minerals for us? Definitely the geologists, so we can see the significance and prospects of geology in the development of any nation. Apart from the above two scenarios, the prospects of Geology as a course of study are many and diverse. Geologists play important roles in soil and foundation investigations in construction industries. In the developed world, the geologists are the first professionals in any construction such as road, bridge, dams and other civil construction works before the structural engineers or architects, as they will provide information on the suitability of the soils / subsurface medium that will guide the engineers in their design of safe structures. Also in terms of provision of groundwater supply, hydrogeologists are involved in groundwater exploration and exploitation in form of boreholes and tube wells design and construction. In terms of environmental management, geologist and hydrogeologists are deeply involve in impacts assessments, environmental pollution and water quality assessments as specialized aspect of environmental geology. Our problem in this country is that we have not been able to appreciate some courses, many want their daughters and sons to be medical doctors or lawyers meanwhile in Australia and Canada geologist are paid more than many other professions because the mineral industries are well developed. But with the new drive for economic diversification, I have no doubt that geology will be more in high demands.
Question: What are those things you think the government ought to put in place that would alert people of any impending natural disaster in Oke-Ogun?
Answer: It depends on what type of natural disaster we are talking about. Some disasters are predictable some are difficult to predict. However, in both cases what is important are data gathering and monitoring to be able to predict in some cases and in some cases to help plan and put strategies in place that will help to reduce the impacts of the disaster. Of course there are many areas that are prone to disasters such as gully erosion in the South East, Slope failure or rock falls in some rugged terrains like the recently reported case of Tapa in Ibarapa area not to talk of the common flooding events in many parts of the country. At any government level, disaster or geological hazards maps can be prepared and it is for the government through planning authorities to demarcate such areas and disallow any development activities that will endanger human lives and properties within reasonable distances.
Question: Has your Association made presentation to the government to that effect?
Answer: The President of Nigerian Mining and Geosciences Society (NMGS) have appeared several times in the last one and half years in a number of television and print media outfits to sensitize government and public on topical issues in geology and mining as it affect the development of this country. In the developed world, governance is knowledge-driven whereby the governments will assembly teams of professionals as Think Tank to give ideas and blue-prints on development agenda. In Nigeria today, may be we can think of Lagos State as trying in this direction, while with the present progressive administration at the federal level and considering the caliber of many of cabinet members, the hope is high that things will move forward for better. However, the unfortunate tumbling of our main revenue source had compounded the situation. So what development miracles can anybody perform in absence funds? We can only continue to hope and pray for things to stabilize with the new thinking of economic diversification into agriculture and solid mineral development.
Question: From your experience as a University Don which Science courses would you recommend to the Youths that may fit into global market?
Answer: There is nothing that doesn’t fit into global market: the market is wide enough so to say. In principle there is no course that is not important in the development of any Nation even History or Archaeology that people tend to overlook: we need to know our past and that of others in order for us to plan for the present and the future. The only thing is that when it comes to research and development, a reasonable Nation with strategic plan will have the so-called “Think –Tanks” that will research into the global scenarios and formulate the strategic development plans that will guide the direction of development sand the nature of man power needs, say for the next five or ten years. For example, if by the analyses of the Think-Tanks, the focus should be Biotechnology: then a reasonable government will make resources available for research and training, preference of scholarship funding for students to motivate students into this field of study and so on. Of course, it does not mean that the government will abandon the other areas.
In my opinion, it is the national and global development dynamics and future market demands that should shape the government strategic development plan which will in turn determine what courses and field of studies will be in high demand at certain time or the other and thus should be given strategic priority in terms of research and scholarship funding by the governments. In essence until when governance in Nigeria will be knowledge-driven, it will be difficult to have any sound educational and human capacity development plan that will translate to economic and technological development of the nation.