FG embraces Unilorin don's oil spill clean-up tool

Date: 2016-06-09

indications have emerged that the Federal Government has embraced the use of a local oil spill management product, developed by a University of Ilorin Professor of Chemical Engineering, Sulyman Age AbdulKareem, in its renewed efforts to clean up the oil-soaked lands of the Niger Delta.

Prof. Abdulkareem, who disclosed this in an interview with Unilorin Bulletin penultimate Thursday (May 26, 2016), said that the product, on which he received a patent in 2005, is capable of saving the country substantial amount in foreign exchange.

The renowned scientist, who was the winner of the Best Researcher of the Year award in 2005, commended the Federal Government for showing renewed commitment towards tackling oil spillage in the country through the use of local resources. Prof. Abdulkareem, who disclosed that he made the product from disposed water sachets, pointed out that "the material has the property of selectively picking up oil and organics and leaving water intact."

He said, "When I got that product, I related it to what I was doing in the United States because in the US, we were buying fresh polymers to make a material that was used for oil spill management in the West. But immediately I was able to get this product from the disposed water sachet, and investigated the properties, I was actually excited that it could be the same thing that a whole Unit was set up to do in the US and that was what started it. Of course, former President Olusegun Obasanjo gave me the Best Researcher's award in 2005, but since then even though the Federal Government showed interest; the different parastatals that I had to deal with did not show the same enthusiasm that I had or that the government had."

"Eventually, the effort of getting it forward just dwindled down, but with the advent of the Muhammadu Buhari administration, there is renewed interest in looking inward to see how we could save our foreign exchange or stop wasting our money for importing what we can make here. I think that is what the Vice-President is now pushing that has now rejuvenated or reawakened the lost interest in the product we had all along and right now, almost on weekly basis, I am going to two or three Ministries or Parastatals to again convince them we have a product that can do the oil spill management."

"I don't know how the Vice-President's Office got to know about it but since we got a letter from the Office of the Vice-President about three months ago, there have been increased interests. Actually it has gone beyond Nigeria now; we are getting calls from Ghana, from Sudan. It has been mentioned at some forum that a Nigerian could do this thing. The important thing though is that we have seen renewed interest in commercialising the idea that was first thought of as far back as 2004".

Prof. AbdulKareem, who disclosed that he had been receiving the required support for the project from the University management, said, "I am getting all the logistics and needed support no doubt; each time I have to travel either to Bayelsa or any of the ministries in Abuja or Lagos. Each time I have had to talk to the management, I have been given all the needed support. We are hoping that very soon, a contract will be drawn up and signed".

The Scientist, who is the Director of the University of Ilorin Laboratory to Product Centre (LABTOP), said, "There is no way you can avoid oil spillage and be in the oil business. But the amount is such that it should be controllable on daily basis". He noted that "it is not envisaged in a sane clime, or where things are working normally; you don't expect somebody to go and blow up a pipe. But when that happens, of course, the result will be that more crude oil will be spilled."



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