His Eminence, king Alfred Papapreye Diete-Spiff is the Amanyanabo of Twon Brass and Chairman of the Bayelsa state council of traditional rulers. He was the first Military Governor of Rivers State, Nigeria after it was created from part of the old Eastern Region, Nigeria. He held office from May 1967 until July 1975 during the military administration of General Yakubu Gowon. He was also a member of the Supreme Military Council. King Diete-Spiff is an Ijaw from Bayelsa State and the Amanyanabo (King) of Twon-Brass, Bayelsa State, born on 30 July 1942. He was educated at St. Joseph’s College, Western Cameroon and Britannia Royal Naval College, Dartmouth, England. He joined the Nigerian Navy and was commissioned ships diving officer in 1964 when appointed Military Governor of Rivers State in 1967, he was a Naval Lieutenant Commander aged 24.
In December 2009, Diete-Spiff was National Chairman of the Nigerian Association of Auctioneers. He was in the 2005 Confab and served in the Committee on Models and Structure of Government. He is in the category of elder statesmen
In this interview with the Editor of Majorwaves Energy Report, MARGARET NONGO-OKOJOKWU on the side lines of the Offshore Technology Conference in Houston Texas; the king speaks about the relationship between the host communities and Oil operators, highlighting the need to work together to create a clean and healthy environment for his people; while advocating the need to starting looking into alternative source of energy.
It is good to see you in Houston at the OTC 2019 your Highness, I saw you for the first time in Bayelsa state at the Nigerian Oil and Gas opportunity fair (NOGOF). So what brings you to OTC?
Actually this is my first time here and OTC is very relevant to us in the Niger Delta because of the oil and gas opportunities, as well the health and safety of operators here; moreover, this is a main gathering point for top industry stakeholders like the International Oil companies and all, a great avenue to also pass our host community message across; I mean all the oil big boys, IOCs and NOCs are always at OTC. So this is a big point for all of us interested in the oil industry and the Marine to meet. There’s so much technology in the Marine Industry because it is in support of the oil industry. Aviation has also improved a great deal because of the service to the oil industry. I should have been here several times and a regular member, in fact I am a regular member of PETAN and so this time around I wouldn’t let even all the tea in China or the oil in Nigeria keep me away.
You represent a very important segment of the Nigerian oil and gas value chain, talking about the host communities where the oil is being extracted from; so far what has been the relationship between your community and the oil operators?
All Efforts are being made to see that there is a smooth understanding and respect between the host community and the oil producing Giants, but then it’s been near impossible, because somewhere along the line, these companies would pick like one or two persons and make them their favourite, we keep close Institutions, and once they have the government on their side, they think they can get away with murder, so there is that endless battle and struggle and we are all trying to see that we get a fair and an honest treatment from the oil companies.
So what are the efforts being made presently to ensure that there is peace in the Niger Delta?
Well, We’ve been able to get our boys engaged, the youths, the Niger Delta youths have been at the receiving end and have been short changed for a long time and we have been trying to tell them to be patient, so their prayers now is ‘God give us patience’, but they are running out of it and they should hurry, their patience have been stretched to the limit and it’s not fair, because they see the future as very bleak and so they now want to see that they can grab things for themselves, but that can only aggravate things and that makes them even more desperate. And in the process they might even kill the goose that lays the golden egg, so we are trying to tell them that the future is not lost, they have the future and that the oil Industry has its own challenges because of the alternative power, so how long would it be before the Stone Age situation gets to them? I mean the Stone age did not end because they ran out of stones, so we don’t have to run out of oil before the oil age ends and it is coming because technology is overtaking everything and it’s the same technology that is taking the oil companies into deeper depths. But there would come a time when you don’t need to go to the moon to get oil
because technology might provide power sources that doesn’t need oil and we are working on non-combustion engines already,
Oh really? Can you tell us more about that?
Yes, we have a prototype already, we are trying to build an engine that doesn’t release any emission, and it will be about eight times the tuck, an engine that is as powerful as ordinary fossil fuel engine. So once that has been done and put into use, its application is limitless and once that takes off the ground, who needs oil? Because it doesn’t use fuel for generation, it is even an alternative source of power, I don’t know if you have heard of the Jones , the front end is a solar generator, and you don’t pay for solar, you just harness it to produce all the power you need, by getting the wind speed feeding it into the turbine. These are all the things coming in from the Niger Delta and would eliminate the use of oil, it would take time before petrol and fossil fuel engines fades out, but it is coming.
So how are you educating your youths in this aspect knowing that the oil would not always be there, so there is no need for fighting and all?
The good thing is that even if you stop producing oil today, all the damages done by the oil companies would still last another 50 years, so clean up and other environmental challenges is still very relevant.
What’s the situation of the clean-up at the moment?
We are trying to let our boys understand that cleaning up is not a menial job , so we have gotten an environmental group and so all our youths who are not gainfully employed, her majesty is now getting them to be cleaning up the water front daily and from the meagre money, it keeps them busy and they earning.
So who is paying for that clean-up?
We are, the community is trying to see how we can get partners to fit in and see how we can get the youth engaged and busy.
How about the one the flagged off by the government in ogoni land, is there anything happening there?
Yes that’s a very technical one, there is a lee time but something is happening