By Nathan Nwakamma
“We comment the President and congratulate Sen. Godswill Akpabio, Chief Rotimi Amaechi, Chief Timipre Sylva and Mr Festus Keyamo for making the ministerial list.
“However, we are surprised at the non-reappointment of Dr Ibe Kachikwu, former Minister of State for Petroleum Resources who worked round the clock to ensure stability and peace in the region at a time there was crisis.
“Kachikwu also got a favourable output quota for Nigeria in the oil cartel, Organisation for Petroleum Exporting Countries and we thought that his expertise as a technocrat will be handy to the Federal Government.
“We were witnesses of his sterling performance in the oil and gas sector and felt that he ought to be reappointed on merit, but we are also ware of the limitations the President has especially when there are many qualified for the job,” Tonjo-West said.
Seriake Dickson’s endorsement of Ex-Gov Timipre Sylva as a ministerial nominee.
Dickson had congratulated Sylva on his nomination and urged the National Assembly members from Bayelsa across party lines to support Sylva’s nomination by President Muhamadu Buhari.
N’Delta youth leader urges Presidency to wade into NDDC impasse
A Niger Delta youth leader, Mr Kenedy Tonjo-West, on Monday urged the Chief of Staff to the President, Abba Kyari, to intervene in the lingering leadership crisis in the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC).
Tonjo-West said the call to Kyari to intervene in the impasse between the legislators and Sen.Godswill Akpabio, Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, over the inauguration of the board members of NDDC was based on Kyari’s competence as an astute administrator.
Nigeria News Agency reports that newly appointed board of the commission is awaiting inauguration, while Akpabio has appointed an Interim Management Committee to probe NDDC’s finances and run the commission for six months.
The National Assembly had said it would not have any dealing with the committee during the 2020 budget defence sessions, saying there was no provision for the committee in the NDDC Act.
He said that the impasse might affect NDDC’s appropriation for the 2020 fiscal year, if steps were not taken to resolve it.
According to him, if appropriation is affected, it will have dire consequences for development in the region.
He said that youths of the region saw crisis in NDDC as ”an ill wind that does no good to the region.”
“We have watched carefully the proactive and objective disposition of the Chief of Staff to the President in handling issues that have to do with the presidency and members of its cabinet, especially when they concern policie, and reforms of government and the citizens.
“This is the first time the president is delegating his powers to the minister for the purpose of creating a healthy relationship between the people and their own vis-à-vis development of the region.
“We commend the Senate leadership for standing their ground in ensuring that the right thing be done, which is to allow the board to commence work.
“The way the youth leaders are feeling about the crisis suggests to me that trouble is looming should our plans to urge Kyari to persuade the president to prevail on the minister to do the needful fails.
“The patience of the youths, who are eager to see the development plan of the Federal Government materialise in concrete ways is running out.
“The earlier the board comes on stream to settle the plethora of issues that have been left unattended to, the better for our safety and peace.
“We appreciate the minister’s efforts in looking into the records and the finances of NDDC, we are totally in support of the audit to ensure probity and accountability of public funds.
“However, we feel that delaying the inauguration of the board and denying them the space to work or delaying the recognition is certainly a drawback to our overall progress.
“Inauguration of the board remains the wish, aspiration and views of the people of Niger Delta as the selection process for membership was democratic and representative of the entire region,” Tonjo-West said.
He therefore urged stakeholders to close ranks and give the board the support to succeed in driving development in the region.
(Edited & Vetted By: Buhari Bolaji/Sam Oditah)
Aghoro Community expresses disappointment over compensation on oil spill
Members of Aghoro 1 community, Ekeremor Local Government Area in Bayelsa on Friday expressed dissatisfaction over the compensation that Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria (SPDC) offered to pay for an oil spill that occurred on May 17, 2018.
They alleged that the oil firm arbitrarily determined the compensation for the incident in spite of the Joint Investigation Visit (JIV) report on the matter.
They claimed the spill had impacted and polluted an estimated area of 113.03 hectares.
The JIV report obtained by Nigeria News Agency states that the leak on the pipeline at three spots were caused by equipment failure.
It added that the leak discharged 1,114 barrels of crude oil into the environment.
Mr Friday Otigha, a Community Leader and member of the Community Development Committee in Aghoro 1, told NAN that the N34 million offered by SPDC was unacceptable and had no relation with the impact assessment report.
Otigha said instead of N3.68 billion compensation that the National Oil Spills Detection and Response Agency (NOSDRA) recommended, SPDC proposed to pay N34 million.
He alleged that SPDC connived with some unauthorised community leaders to foist the arbitrarily determined compensation which fell short of NOSDRA’s compensation rate, a development that attracted sanctions for those individuals.
Otigha recalled that the leak was reported on May 17 but the JIV was on June 23, a development that worsened the impact of the spill on the predominantly fishing coastal community.
He said hundreds of impacted fishermen thrown out of business by the incident were disappointed at the turn of events as they had expected SPDC to act in line with international best practice.
He urged the Federal Government to prevail on SPDC to retrace its steps and resolve the compensation in line with existing oil spill compensation guidelines set by the regulators.
Mr Bamidele Odugbesan, Media Relations Manager, SPDC, had earlier given an assurance that the firm would compensate victims and remediate polluted areas.
Reacting to the allegations, Mr Michael Adande, a Spokesman for SPDC insisted that the firm acted with industry stakeholders to arrive at the compensation.
“The SPDC conducts a comprehensive damage assessment and enumeration exercise with active participation of other members of the Joint Investigation Visit Team, especially the impacted claimants.
“We also use geomatrics map to establish the exact area of impact and extent within SPDC’s Right of Way or third party area and the degree of impact to arrive at a fair compensation value.
“The NOSDRA Post-Impact Assessment report, however , included N2.74 billion as ‘ecological damage assessment’ for environmental restoration and not as compensation.
“SPDC takes responsibility for clean-up, remediation and restoration.” Adande said.
Edited /Chukwudi Ekezie
NDDC Audit: Deputy Speaker urges Buhari to prosecute offenders
Deputy Speaker of the Cross River House of Assembly, Mr Joseph Bassey has commended President Muhammadu Buhari for ordering a forensic audit of the operations of the Niger Delta Development Commission from 2001 to 2019.
He lamented the poor state of rural development in the South South region, adding that some few individuals had looted what was supposed to bring collective development to the people.
“It is sad that the only road that connects the two sister states is still in a state of decay years after years because some few individuals have taken what belongs to the people.
“The establishment of the Commission was to make life meaningful for the people of South South. But some individuals who lack conscience have looted the resources for their personal benefit,” he said.
Bassey alleged that the South South region has the worst road network in the country due to the greed of few individuals, adding that the culprits should be sent to jail after the audit.
“This is not time for PDP or APC, this is above party affiliation because both politicians and non politicians pass on that road.
“The economy of both states has been affected by this very particular road. I want to urge the President to start the audit immediately.
“I pity the common man on the street. As a politician, I feel very guilty passing through that road because you cannot drive for a minute without falling into a major ditch.
“I don’t think anybody who has been in NDDC and was given resources to do that road should be forgiven because most of them are flying around and building houses with the funds,” he said.
He urged South South indigenes to support Akpabio in his drive to ensure speedy development in the region, adding that all forms of distraction towards him should be discouraged.
He suggested that when the funds are recovered from the audit, the focus should also be on immediate rehabilitation of roads in the South South, especially the Calabar-Itu road.
Edited by Ismail Abdulaziz
Guber Poll: Police to deploy 32, 000 personnel to Bayelsa
The Inspector-General of Police (IGP), Mr Mohammed Adamu, on Thursday said the force would deploy no fewer than 32, 000 officers for election duty during the Bayelsa gubernatorial poll fixed for Nov 16.
The IGP, who assured maximum security during and after the election in the state, said the police was ready to protect lives and property, especially in all the polling units.
“All security arrangements have been made.The Police Force will deploy 32, 000 personnel to the state during the period of the governorship poll.
“The Police will ensure that all electoral materials are well secured. We urge all politicians and the electorate, especially the youths, to stay away from disorder.
“Do not cause trouble at the polling units or conduct any illegal activity capable of disrupting election processes.
“You must not allow yourselves to be used because if you are caught, you will be prosecuted according to the law.
“This election is an isolated one and we must do what we can to achieve credible poll, come Nov 16,” he said.
Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, INEC Chairman reiterated the Commission’s commitment to free, fair, credible and conclusive poll for the people.
Yakubu said the Commission had delivered all non-sensitive materials to their office in Yenagoa, long ago.
“The materials have been sorted out, categorised and batched; ready to be delivered to the local government areas, Wards and Polling Units.
“Voter inducement in all forms, including vote-buying at polling units, is a violation of the law.
“The ban on the use of mobile phones and other photographic devices in the voting cubicles is still in force and will be strictly enforced and monitored.
“I urge all stakeholders to continue to eschew violence and maintain peaceful conduct during the election.
“It is our collective responsibility to safeguard the process and to protect all election duty staff, including the youth corps members who serve at the polling units, the basic level of the voting process,” Yakubu said.
On the signing of Peace Accord by political parties, the Chairman said the exercise was aimed at resolving, pledging, affirming and committing all to non-violence before, during and after the election.
Edited by Dada Ahmed
NDDC says N6b power project for Ondo State riverside communities ready soon
The Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), says its six billion naira 132/33KV Sub Station designed to provide electricity for over 2, 000 riverside communities in Ondo State will be ready for use soon.
Dr Akwagaga Enyia, the NDDC Acting Managing Director, gave this assurance while addressing newsmen during an inspection of the project in Okitipupa on Monday.
Enyia, who was in company with the state deputy governor, Agboola Ajayi,
said she was excited that the commission was constructing “a huge power station” in the oil-producing area of the state.
The Nigeria News Agency reports that the project got stalled for over 10 months as a result of non payment of the outstanding Interim Payment Certificate (IPC).
However, the NDDC met that obligation last week and work began in earnest as a target completion period of first quarter of 2020 has been agreed between contractors and the commission.
“I was told that for sometime, there was delay in the progress of work on site. When I came on board as the Acting MD, I made sure that funds were released to put the project on fast-track. That is why work is going on at a much faster pace now,” he said.
Enyia stated that it was one of the key projects with many months of outstanding Interim Payment Certificates, which the commission had cleared to pave the way for progress at the site.
Enyia assured that as more funds were made available to the commission, payment would be sustained to guarantee early completion of the project, stating that the contractor had promised to complete the project by the first quarter of 2020.
Also, the deputy governor said the commission had done well in spite of some challenges which were expected in any organisation, especially in an interventionist agency such as the NDDC.
He expressed delight that over 2,000 oil-producing communities spread across five local government areas of Ilaje, Ese-Odo, Okitipupa, Odigbo and Irele, all in Ondo South Senatorial District, would benefit from the sub-station.
“We must look at how we can strengthen the NDDC to enable it deliver on its mandate. We need to encourage and support NDDC to do more for the people of the region.
“For us, this is the most important project NDDC is executing in the state. If you deliver this project, you will have delivered the whole of Ondo South from the pains of lack of public power supply.
“All of us will be happy with you, and the economy of the area which had been crippled for many years, will begin to boom,” the deputy governor said.
Ajayi, who emphasised that the project was very dear to the people, urged the NDDC and the federal government not to relent in their efforts until the project is completed.
The Executive Director, Engineering and Technical Services, Niger Delta Power Holding Co Ltd., Ifeoluwa Oyedele, said the inspection by NDDC was significant because it underscored the importance of collaboration among agencies of government.
He said that the NDDC sub-station would be fed from NDPHC power station in Omotosho, which, according to him, was grossly underutilised.
“We have four turbines at the station, but at the moment, we are firing only one while the rest are idle,” he said.
According to Oyedele, the southern senatorial district of Ondo State represents the core economic base of the state, as it is the oil-producing area.
He said that the absence of public power supply in the area had strangulated the state economy for 12 years.
Mr Benson Obayomi, the MD, Stedy Engineering Ltd, the contractors handling the project, said the scope of the contract included the evacuation of light from Omotosho with a step-down at Ireje through a 132KV double circuit line with two 30/40MVA transformers at Okitipupa.
According to him, the transmission lines run through Ireje with 145 electricity towers that are standing on concrete foundations.
Obayomi said that all materials needed for the project were already on site at Okitipupa, listing them to include 45 kilometres of wires and 240 kilometres of conductors.
A traditional ruler from Ilaje Local Government Area, Oba Oluwashegun Akinyomi, thanked the NDDC for the intervention, noting that all hands were on deck to deliver the project on time.
He lauded the NDDC for stepping in to resolve a prolonged electricity problem in the oil producing communities.
Edited by Muftau Adediran/Yemi Idris-Aduloju
N/Delta: Shell pledges accelerated devt. to peaceful host communities
Shell Development Company of Nigeria (SPDC) says it is prioritising development of its host communities which provide peaceful operational environment for oil and gas exploration in Niger Delta using the Global Memorandum of Understanding (GMoU) template.
Mr Igo Weli, General Manager, External Relations at SPDC stated this on Wednesday in Yenagoa during the inauguration of completed projects at Tarakiri Cluster Development Cluster in Ekeremor and Sagbama Local Government Areas (LGA) of Bayelsa.
Weli said that SPDC had completed 24 projects for N496.9 million in six communities within the Tarakiri cluster.
Weli, represented by Mr Evans Krukrubo, External Relations Manager, West Asset, listed Ayamasa, Agbere, Isampou, Ofoni, Agbialama and Egbema in Ekeremo and Sagbama LGAs as the benefiting communities.
“Where the environment supports our business and we run our operations without disruptions, SPDC is committed to increasing the Social Investment that we make to host communities and to Nigeria.
“A peaceful and enabling environment allows SPDC Joint Venture to put more funding to social investment that benefits all our people.
“SPDC has disbursed about N41.1 billion to the 37 active clusters from 2006 till date for community development under the GMoU template,’’ he said.
Speaking on behalf of the benefiting communities, Dr Jude Ebibokefie, Chairman of Tarakiri Cluster Development Board, commended SPDC for promptly meeting its funding obligations which facilitated the completion of the projects.
He explained that the projects cut across infrastructure, skills acquisition and human capacity empowerment as well as scholarships executed and implemented by the established organs in the GMoU agreement which runs for a five year period.
Edited by Gregg Mmaduakolam/Donald Ugwu
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