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NDDC Audit: Deputy Speaker urges Buhari to prosecute offenders

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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.

Bassey, who spoke in an interview with Nigeria News Agency on Friday in Calabar, urged the president not to relent in prosecuting the offenders after the audit exercise.

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.

According to him, the Calabar-Itu-Akwa Ibom Federal Highway is in need of urgent intervention from the Federal Government.

“From the time past, we have had Chairmen and Managing Directors of NDDC from Cross River and Akwa Ibom states and the volume of budgets have been high.

“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.

“I strongly commend Mr President for ordering the audit of the commission. Also, I want to commend the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Sen. Godswill Akpabio, for standing firm to that.

“However, I am soliciting for the immediate intervention of the Calabar-Itu road because as we speak, a journey from Calabar to Akwa Ibom that ordinarily should be for an hour is now five hours.

“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.


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Edited by Ismail Abdulaziz

Niger Delta

Ijaw elders advocate end to factionalism in IYC, INC

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The Ijaw Elders Consultative Forum says it is working hard to end factionalism in the Ijaw Youth Council (IYC) and the Ijaw National Congress (INC), the two prominent groups of the Ijaw people.

The Leader of the forum which is based in Bayelsa, Chef T. K. Ogoriba, made the disclosure in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria on Saturday in Yenagoa.

Ogoriba said that the disunity between the two prominent Ijaw groups often retarded progress in the quest for improved life for the people.

He said the forum was already mobilising stakeholders to ensure rancour-free and acceptable election in the IYC.

The leader of the consultative forum said that afterwards, it would do same for the INC with a view to reviving the body from its comatose state.

Ogoriba traced the history of the struggle for identity and recognition of the Ijaw ethnic group to the formative years of the INC and IYC.

He noted that the efforts of the founding fathers of the two bodies were yielding fruits.

According to him, the emergence of Sen. Douye Diri, the pioneer National Organising Secretary of INC as the current Bayelsa Governor is a well deserved reward for the Ijaw struggle.

“We have come a long way from the advocacy for a place for the Ijaws with the Bayelsa Forum, INC, MOSIEND and other youth organisations, culminating in the creation of Bayelsa State.

“Today we have one of us who was in the struggle for creation of Bayelsa state as a governor with executive powers and we have no doubt about his ability to turn things around.

“He knows what the problems are and has the capacity to solve them. So he needs no further propping to be on the positive side of history.

“This is the time we want all and sundry to come together in solidarity and support this new administration and give it the benefit of the doubt. Already, the first steps are encouraging.

“At the 2020 Isaac Boro Memorial Day, the governor announced that the welfare of the surviving contemporaries of Boro has been resuscitated.

“That raised the people’s morale and hope on the new government,” he said.

Ogoriba recalled that the governor had stated that it was time for all Ijaws to come together to resuscitate the INC to work in synergy with the IYC to bring about stability in Ijaw land.

He noted that the elders were encouraged by the call by Gov. Diri on the Ijaws to shun divisive tendencies and show love for one other to achieve progress.

The leader of the elders forum said the interest shown by the governor in the Ijaw affairs would reposition the people for the development of the Niger Delta region.

Edited By: Gregg Mmaduakolam/Ejike Obeta (NAN)

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Group lauds FG over NDDC audit

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Mr Tony Uranta, Secretary General, United Niger Delta Energy Development Security Strategy (UNDEDSS) on Thursday lauded the federal government for its commitment to the audit of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC).

He said the president’s directive to the Interim Management Committee (IMC) set up by the federal government to clean out years of corruption in that agency was commendable.

“We implore the President not be swayed in the resolve to cleanse the Augean stable of corruption in the NDDC as it is currently doing via the IMC.

“Until Nigeria learns to systemically embrace Independent Monitoring and Evaluation, corruption will never die in government Ministries, Departments and Agencies(MDAs),” Uranta said in a statement.

He admonished the federal government to ensure that all current unjust practices in the region were stopped and the government, and to live up to its pledges to the people of the region.

UNDEDSS requested more commitment in the clean-up of Ogoni land; also the COVID-19 Stimulus Funds to states of the Niger Delta should be commensurate to the region being the source of majority of funds in the national treasury.

“The region wants the federal government to honour its own end of the bargain, before the end of 2020.

“These include clean-up of Ogoni land; more robust funding for the Maritime University in Gbaramatu; full installation and commissioning of the currently abandoned mega-Dry Dock (biggest in Africa!) in the region.

“Others are the completion of the sanitising and full funding of the NDDC; and the demilitarisation of the Niger Delta, amongst others,” the UNDEDSS scribe said.

Edited By: Gregg Mmaduakolam/Salif Atojoko (NAN)

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Boro Day: Bayelsa legislator donates medical items, food stuffs to constituents

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Mr Wisdom Fafi, a member of Bayelsa House of Assembly,  representing Constituency 2, Kolokuma Opokuma Local Government Area,  has donated motorcycles, foodstuffs and cash gifts to his constituents.

Fafi said the gesture, which also included the donation of medical items to health centres in the area, was part of the 2020 Boro Day celebrations in the area where the late Ijaw nationalist hails from.

Speaking during the occasion, Fafi explained that the gesture was because  of his desire to further assist his people during this difficult moment occasioned by the COVID-19 pandemic and in the spirit of Boro Day celebration.

He described late Maj. Isaac Boro as a selfless son of the area and the Ijaw nation at large who fought for the emancipation of his people.

The lawmaker called on Niger Delta people to uphold the virtues the late freedom fighter stood for.

The lawmaker thanked the people of his constituency for their steady support and urged them to also stand behind Gov. Douye Diri, who he said is determined to play his part in the realisation of the ‘Boro dream’.

Also speaking,  Fafi’s wife, Ebimoboere, stated that the essence of the reach out was to identify with the people in their moment of need and pledged to always stand by them.

She appreciated them for supporting her husband and appealed to them not to relent, assuring that as a family they will always stand by them.

Responding, some of the beneficiaries thanked the lawmaker and his wife for their constant show of love.

Domo Karina who spoke on behalf of the beneficiaries urged other political office holders to emulate Fafi.

Motorcycles, foodstuffs and cash were distributed to beneficiaries selected across the constituency.

Also, infrared thermometers were donated to four health centres in the area to strengthen the surveillance for the COVID-19.

 

Edited Kamal Tayo Oropo/Obike Ukoh

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COVID-19: Bayelsa residents laud Gov. Diri’s food items distribution

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Residents of Yenagoa have commended Gov. Douye Diri for distribution of food items to Eight local government areas of the state, to cushion the economic  impact of COVID-19 pandemic on the people.

 

A cross section of residents gave the commendation in separate  interview with the Nigeria News Agency , on Friday, against the backdrop of the state government’s distribution of food items.

 

According to Mrs Victoria Aweilayemi, a civil servant,  the gesture has shown that the governor is poised to wipe away the suffering of Bayelsa people.

 

She said since his emergence through the Supreme Court judgment, the governor have been putting smiles on their faces.

 

“Since he came on board, salaries of civil servants, pensioners are being paid as at when due, and that gratuities of retirees have been paid in full,’’ she said.

 

A trader from Kpansia, said people never expected that the governor would  keep to his words in this trying times.

 

“For him to even put preventive measures in place, shows his genuine love for the people of Bayelsa and their safety.

 

“I’m not a politician but I bet you, the man might take us beyond our expectations. I want to also appeal to the governor to order the suspension of all various taxes in the state for now.

 

“People are very hungry for now, so, at least after this time, it can commence fully, because these are trying time for everyone in Bayelsa, and all over the world,” he said.

 

Dr John Ebizimir, a residents and  lecturer at the Niger Delta University (NDU),  commended the governor for the donation of food items to the people.

 

He also lauded the governor for  reducing  school fees for students at NDU, which he described as  a welcome development as fees at the state owned University was on the high side.

 

Ebizimor, implored the governor to prioritise Bayelsa people and work  for the benefit of all, irrespective of party affiliations.

 

A beneficiary of the food items, Mrs Rose Okori, a fish farmer, said the governor has shown that he has his people at heart.

 

She urged him to continue with his good works and  that God will always reward him.

 

“I believe the governor will take us very far, as a state. Most of the things we don’t have he will bring to us. I want all people to work with him because he is a good man from the origin,” she said.

 

A Chieftain of the APC, in Bayelsa who preferred anonymity, expressed confidence that the governor would perform beyond the people’s imagination.

 

“I am satisfied with efforts the governor is putting in place to prevent the Covid-19 disease. I want him not to play politics with the well-being of the people, as that is the only way he could earn their support,’’ he said.

Edited By: Ifeyinwa Okonkwo and Isaac Ukpoju
(NAN)

 

 

 

 

 

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Niger Delta ministry flags off medical outreach  in Imo 

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The Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs on Tuesday began a free medical outreach in Mmahu community, Ohaji/Egbema Local Government Area of Imo.

Minister of state for Niger Delta Affairs, Sen. Omotayo Alasoadura, said at the inauguration of the exercise that it was part of strategies adopted by President Muhammadu Buhari-led government to compliment routine health delivery services.

Alasoadura said the exercise targeted women and youths to address pressing health issues of rural communities such as malaria and cancer, amongst, adding that the gesture was  in line with Universal Health Coverage (UHC) of the Federal Government (FG).

He said: ”I will like to restate President Buhari’s desire to ensure that the people of this region enjoy basic health care as a priority area in developmental plans for the Niger Delta area.

”This medical outreach seeks to bring medicare closer to the people just as we have done in Akwa Ibom, Bayelsa, Cross River, Delta and Edo.

”This administration recognises the people of this community and is concerned about your welfare”.

Also speaking, the Permanent Secretary of the ministry, Mr Olusade Adesola, described the outreach as an initiative with multi-dimensional objectives.

Adesola, who was represented by Mrs Lauren Braide, the Director, Community Development and Education in the ministry, said the objectives were organised to have far reaching effects on the people.

He listed the objectives to include: fostering behavioural change towards health issues and reducing the stigma associated with and other diseases.

Others are: teaching local dwellers on how to live healthy lives and manage health challenges when cure is not readily available.

”The effects of this medical outreach are both multi-dimensional and far reaching.

”We want to bring healthcare services to the door steps of the people of the region, reduce stigma and make the people more self reliant,” Adesola said.

Meanwhile, Gov. Hope Uzodinma, who spoke when representatives of the ministry paid him a courtesy call in his office, urged the ministry to establish a health insurance scheme for oil producing communities.

The governor, represented by his deputy, Prof. Placid Njoku, said the scheme would grant local dwellers access to quality healthcare in the absence of the ministry and it’s medical representatives.

Also, the traditional ruler of Mmahu community, Eze Augustin Iwuogu, thanked the ministry for the initiative while assuring that he would continue to create the enabling environment for the activities of the ministry in his community.

He, however called on the ministry to expedite work on an abandoned gas turbine site, adding that the turbine when completed would take the youths away from the streets through job creation.

Edited By: Remi Koleoso/Rabiu Sani Ali
(NAN)

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Niger Delta

Foundation supports education, health in Bayelsa rural communities

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KEFFES Rural Development Foundation (KRDF) has employed 104 teachers and health workers to address shortage in eight coastal communities in Southern Ijaw and Brass Local Government Areas of Bayelsa.

Nigeria News Agency reports that Bayelsa Ministries of Education and Health are collaborating with KRDF in the intervention, aimed at addressing acute shortage of teachers and health workers in Bayelsa rural communities.

Mr Mathew Sele-Epri, Chairman KRDF, said during the inauguration of the scheme on Monday that the effort would also reduce unemployment in the rural coastal settlements.

NAN reports that the 104 beneficiaries of the employment received their appointment letters issued by the KRDF at the event.

According to Sele-Epri, the beneficiaries, after undergoing orientation, will be deployed to eight public primary schools, six public secondary schools and six public health centers in the benefiting communities.

The communities are Koluama 1 and 2, Ekeni, Fish-Town, Foropa, Ezetu 1 and 2 and Sangana, which form the acronym KEFFES communities.

Sele-Epri explained that the foundation was set up to manage community development and social responsibility funds provided by oil firms operating in the oil rich coastal settlements.

Recall that KRDF was set up for eight Chevron host communities in Bayelsa comprising Koluama 1 and 2, Ezetu 1 and 2, Foropa, Fish Town, Ekeni and Sangana located along the Atlantic coastline within Bayelsa.

Following the 2015 divestment from Oil Mining Leases 83 and 85 by Chevron to First E&P, an indigenous firm, the new owners entered into agreement with the host communities and adopted the governance structure of KRDF

Sele-Epri said the intervention was funded by the First E & joint venture to the tune of N67 million annually, through a subsisting Memorandum of Understanding with KEFFES communities.

He noted that the targeted facilities had long been neglected by the state government, hence the need for the intervention, which, he said, was meant to bridge the gap in the education and health sectors.

“The foundation will pay salaries and sustain the programme until there are enough personnel. It is an intervention and can only run as long as we lack teachers.

“Once we get adequate teachers for schools, we will wind up.

“We have employed monitors from all communities to supervise employees. We have structures in place for monitoring and evaluation.

“It will cost about N 67 million a year, an average of N5.6 million will be spent monthly,” Sele-Epri said.

Chairman of the KRDF Board of Trustees, Chief Claudius Leghemo, applauded the First E& joint venture and urged the state government to prioritise the development of oil bearing communities.

He said it was an irony that the communities who suffered the adverse impact of oil and gas exploration and production were neglected in the provision of social amenities.

Ms Ayebatonye Basuo, Head of Social Performance, First E & P, said the oil firm remained committed to the development of its host communities and implementation of agreements with KEFFES communities.

She explained that under the existing Global Memorandum of Understanding, the First E& Joint Venture funds development projects were chosen and implemented by the host communities.

Two representatives of the beneficiaries of the employment, Mrs Okpulu Queen and Ms Ileberi Ebiseyo, lauded the KRDF for creating an avenue for them to render services to humanity in their respective communities.

They pledged to work hard and contribute their quotas to the development of their communities, and expressed appreciation to the oil firm for supporting the intervention in education and health sectors.

NAN reports that the Ministries of Rural Development, Health and Education facilitated the collaboration.

Chief Walter Liverpool, Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Education commended KRDF and First E&P for the intervention.

Edited By: Abiodun Esan/Oluwole Sogunle
(NAN)

 

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Stakeholders demand appointment of Dokubo’s replacement from N’Delta region

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Some Niger Delta Youths Leaders have appealed to President Muhammadu Buhari to appoint a substantive Coordinator of the Amnesty Programme, following the suspension of Prof. Charles Dokubo, without further delay.

The leaders, who made the call in interviews with Nigeria News Agency in Yenagoa, were reacting to the suspension of Dokubo in different.

They urged the National Security Adviser (NSA) Maj.-Gen. Babagana Mungunu (Rtd.) to ensure that stakeholders from the region were included in the interim committee set up to investigate Dokubo’s tenure.

They also called on the NSA to nominate at least five representatives among the Niger Delta to the committee.

They said that mismanagement of the amnesty programme could lead to return of restiveness to the region, alleging that the current developments could be moved to wind up the scheme.

Mr Charles Omusuku, a Niger Delta activist, said the amnesty programme was a product of dialogue and consultation.

He said the alleged plot to hijack the scheme, which was run by people of the region, was both provocative and unacceptable to them.

“The history of the amnesty offer was not by coercion but by consultation, dialogue and stakeholders’ engagement and the ex-militants accepted the offer due to their peaceful disposition and the quest to give peace a chance.

“We urge the president to call the NSA to order and immediately include at least five representatives of the region and appoint a replacement for Dokubo from amongst the Ijaws in the Niger Delta.

“We want the president to wade in and convene a stakeholders’ engagement with Ijaws, led by Gov. Douye Diri, leader of Ijaw Elders Consultative Forum, Chief T. K Okoriba, to chart a way forward,” Omusuku said.

Also, Pastor Olayinka Jude-Tiedor, the National President, Niger Delta Youths Coalition for Peace and Process, said that youths from the region were watching developments in the amnesty office with keen interest.

He said the development had affected the payment of January and February stipends for ex-militants under the amnesty scheme.

Jude-Tiedor advised the NSA to desist from further interference in the amnesty programme and adopt the principle of engaging with stakeholders.

“The NSA has no moral right to be a judge in his own matter. He is fingered in most of the petitions against Dokubo, because Dokubo was working closely under his supervision and directives.

“We are aware of the stakeholders Monitoring and Evaluation committee set up by Dokubo.

“The committee, during their retreat, came out with mind-blowing discoveries on the administration’s recklessness, especially from the civil servants and channels command.

“It will interest the general public to know that the so called interim committee has been operating on the background in the past months.

“So the principle of natural justice should prevail and the president should take the lead in handling the matter to ensure that the fragile peace in the region is not further breached.

“Our position remains that the programme holds the key to peace in the region.

“Adopting the military tactics in the region failed and will fail again,” he said, while calling for a collective effort to ensuring the programme was not scuttled.

Edited By: Chioma Ugboma/Isaac Aregbesola (NAN)

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N/Delta activist lauds suspension of Amnesty Coordinator, urges Buhari to appoint replacement from region

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NNN: Mr Ramsey Nuware, a Niger Delta youth leader, on Monday commended the Federal Government for suspending Prof. Charles Dokubo, Coordinator of Presidential Amnesty Programme, over his alleged involvement in fraudulent activities.

Nuware told Nigeria News Agency in Yenagoa that the suspension would pave way for an independent investigation to ascertain Dokubo’s involvement in the allegations.

He, however, advised President Muhammadu Buhari to look inwards within the Niger Delta region for a replacement either in the interim capacity or substantive capacity.

He added that a replacement from the region was needed as the amnesty programme was fundamental for peaceful environment for oil and gas sector to thrive.

“The President has done well in the suspension of the Coordinator due to allegations of tampering with stipends of ex-militants and we commend the Presidency for sustained interest in running the scheme as envisioned.

“The Amnesty Office requires a lot of expertise from those who understand the terrain and the delicate terrain, challenges and peculiarities of the Niger Delta region and align same with the Federal Government’s development plan.

“The Amnesty Coordinator position has been held by people from the region with various levels of experience and they have all contributed their quotas.

“I urge the President to look within, there are so many illustrious and patriotic people qualified for the job.

“The people of Niger Delta, especially the ex-militants need someone who understands and knows them, someone that they can connect and someone who can empathise with them and I believe there are more than enough people to choose from.

“The people need a Special Adviser to the President on Niger Delta and Coordinator of the Presidential Amnesty Programme from amongst us, someone we can hold responsible if he performs below expectation.

`The scheme has run so smoothly that we cannot afford a derailment by appointment of an outsider to understudy before taking charge.

“There is need to consolidate and get things to run smoothly and take the people of Niger Delta to the next level.” Nuware said.

He urged the Presidency to consult widely with various stakeholders and leadership of the Niger Delta region to ensure that a competent and acceptable person was appointed to drive the Presidential Amnesty Programme for ex-agitators.

Edited By: Abiemwense Moru/Felix Ajide

 

Source: https://nnn.com.ng/n-delta-activist-lauds-suspension-of-amnesty-coordinator-urges-buhari-to-appoint-replacement-from-region/

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FG urges collaboration with stakeholders for Niger Delta development

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The Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs has expressed its commitment to collaborate with all stakeholders to fast-track development of the region.

Sen. Omotayo Alasoadura, its Minister of State, said this during the peace, security enlightenment and sensitation programme by the ministry on Monday.

Nigeria News Agency reports that the programme with theme: “Dialogue, a Panacea for Peace and Development’’, was held at Okeikpe in Ukwa West Local Government Area of Abia.

He called on the stakeholders to work together in order to eliminate obstacles hindering development in the region.

According to him, the transformation of the Niger Delta cannot be single-handedly achieved by any one organisation, individual, institution or agency.

“The Ministry will implement programmes to harmonise the existing Niger Delta Action Plan of the Ministry and the Niger Delta Mandate of Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) into a single development agenda.

“It will be done through a process that will ensure robust participation of our people as a priority area in the year 2020,” he said.

Alasoadura said that the interaction was one of the strategies by the ministry to fulfill its mandate aimed at fostering the desired peace and security for sustainable development of the region.

Also, Mr Olusade Adesola, the Permanent Secretary in the ministry, said that similar programmes were held in 2019 in three states of the region namely: Delta, Bayelsa and Rivers.

He said that the programme was necessary in order to address and prevent issues giving rise to conflicts, agitations and youth restiveness in the region from further escalation.

In his remarks, Gov. Okezie Ikpeazu of Abia appealed to the ministry to tidy up and complete those ongoing projects in the state.

Okezie, represented by the Abia deputy governor, Dr Ude Chukwu, also called for a better compensation for the state to prevent unnecessary restiveness.

Edited By: Donald Ugwu

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 Scholarship Beneficiaries: Amnesty Office disowns 700 Niger Delta youth 

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The Presidential Amnesty Programme (PAP) says the hundreds of youth who staged a protest on the East-West road on Wednesday claiming non-payment of 23 months benefits were not part its scholarship scheme.

Mr Murphy Ganagana, Special Assistant on Media to the Chairman of the PAP, Prof. Charles Dokubo, told Nigeria News Agency on Wednesday that 10,000 scholarship beneficiaries under the scheme were getting their monthly stipends regularly.

He said that the PAP was up to date in its obligations to beneficiaries who are bona fidebeneficiaries in PAP database.

“Those that were enlisted in the data base and offered scholarship have been paid up to this month, February.

“The protest is a cheap blackmail by persons who got into the schools through the back door,” he said.

Meanwhile, hundreds of undergraduates from 10 different universities who said they were scholarship beneficiaries on Wednesday blocked the East West Road for more than three hours in protest.

They were demanding for stipends from the Presidential Amnesty Office, which they said had ran into 23 months.

The students were all wearing black dresses and carrying placards with inscriptions such as ‘Dokubo allow God to use you’ and ‘Charles, we rejoiced over you, why are you now making us cry?’

Other inscriptions read: ‘Don’t push us back to the creek’; ‘studying without feeding’; ‘Dokubo pay our stipends’.

The leader of the protesting students, Gabriel Zuobai, a 300 level student, called on the relevant authorities to persuade the amnesty office to pay them their outstanding stipends now.

“We are begging the relevant authorities to please prevail on our agency, which is the amnesty office, to ensure that our money is paid.

“We are all students. We are hungry. What do you expect us to do in this kind of situation?

“At the initial stage, we were about one thousand plus but they decided to pay some persons and left the rest of us because they said that some of us are not captured in database.

“As a matter of fact, we did not take ourselves to these schools. The schools themselves called us and gave us admission letters.

“We did not send our names to the schools. So, we wonder why we will be deprived of our own stipends as indigenes of Niger Delta.

“We are all students from different universities and over 700 in number. They owe us for 23 months now.

“We wonder how amnesty office come to realize that some are on data base, while some are not yet they recently deployed some persons,” Zuobai said.

There was heavy traffic build up on the East-West road which stretched to several kilometers subjecting motorists and passengers to hardship while the protest lasted.

Edited By: Kamal Tayo Oropo/Donald Ugwu

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Killing of military men: Bayelsa LG Chairman urges restraint in manhunt for culprits

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Killing of military men: Bayelsa LG Chairman urges restraint in manhunt for culprits: ) The Chairman, Ekeremor Local Government Council of Bayelsa, Dr Bertola Perekeme, on Monday condemned the killing of four Naval personnel in December 2019, in the area.

Perekeme said no sane person would condone the killing of anyone, let alone military officers on the line of their constitutional duty.

He said that the leadership of the area was worried about the activities of criminals and has always collaborated with security agencies to protect law abiding citizens who were also victims of criminal activities.

He however noted that invading communities and burning houses in the guise of searching for criminals is unfashionable in a democratic setting and highly unprofessional.

Sources told the Nigerian News Agency in Ekeremor that a joint military team arrived Bilabiri community in about 16 gunboats on Friday morning in search of those behind the murder of the four naval men.

Residents reportedly fled the community following the military operation and alleged that houses were burnt down by the military, leaving the coastal settlement deserted.

Reacting to the development, the local government chairman urged the military to exercise restraint and demonstrate professionalism in line with international best practices and their rule of engagement.

He regretted that communities, whose inhabitants live in fear and apprehension following activities of some criminal minded elements, were being invaded and destroyed by the military.

“These communities need help and protection from security agents because they live in fear and are constantly intimidated.

“The military should work closely with other security agencies in intelligence gathering and effect arrest to help our people,” Perekeme said.

He sympathised with the military over the loss of its four officers during exchange of fire with suspected sea pirates along the Ramos River and warned youths of the area to shun criminality.

Meanwhile, the outcome of the Joint Task Force in the Niger Delta with headquarters in Yenagoa on the ongoing operation is being awaited.

Edited by: Abiodun Esan/Muhammad Suleiman Tola

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Niger Delta ministry reiterates commitment to partner Abia Govt. on infrastructural devt

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The Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs has reiterated its commitment to partner with the Abia State Government to enhance infrastructural development.

Mr Olusola Adesola, the Permanent Secretary in the ministry pledged the commitment while speaking with journalists in Umuahia on Saturday at the end of a two-day inspection of projects in the state.

The Nigerian News Agency reports that the projects inspected included Ntigha-Umuopara Road, Psychiatric Hospital at Osisioma and Skills Acquisition Centre, Apumiri-Ubakala.

Others included the Skills Acquisition Centre, Owazza, Housing Estate, Umudobia and Obehie – Azumiri Road in Ukwa West Local Government Area.

Adesola said that the ministry would continue to give intervention to the state in line with its responsibility.

According to him, Abia is one of the nine oil producing states that constitute the members of the Niger Delta region.

“The state in that capacity receives special attention from the Federal Government in order to address some of the developmental challenges,” he said.

Adesola, who expressed happiness for the progress made by the contractors in project execution, said there were still areas that needed improvement.

He pledged the Federal Government’s support for the contractors whose projects were still ongoing in order to ensure completion.

Adesola lauded Gov. Okezie Ikpeazu-led administration for its developmental strides in the state and enjoined the government to do more for the people.

“What I saw in the state convinces me that the government is working.

I saw roads in many places. Virtually, all the places we went, the people were working. This is the best period to work.

“It is quite encouraging. It is our hope that we will continue to partner in many more areas in order to bring the dividend of democracy to the citizens,” he said.

Edited by: Emmanuella Anokam/Grace Yussuf

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NDDC: Committee finds Ntrn contracts by fraud in 7 months

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More revelations have emerged from the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) as the Interim Management Committee (IMC) set up to audit NDDC finances on Thursday released its latest findings.

The IMC said its findings showed that immediate-past NDDC management awarded 1,921 ‘emergency contracts’ at N1.070 trillion in just seven months, against an annual budget of about N400 billion.

Dr Cairo Ojougboh, NDDC’s Acting Executive Director, Projects, disclosed this at a meeting in Port Harcourt, a statement signed by the commission’s Deputy Director, Chijioke Amu-Nnadi stated.

Nigeria News Agency reports that President Muhammadu Buhari had in 2019 ordered a forensic audit of NDDC and appointed an IMC, which Ojougboh is a member.

According to Ojougboh,  in just seven months of 2019, the commission awarded a total of 1,921 emergency contracts valued at N1.070 trillion.

“In 2017, NDDC awarded a total of 201 emergency contracts valued at N100.4 billion while in 2018, a total of 1,057 emergency contracts valued at N162.69 billion were awarded.

“We are talking about a total of over N1.3 trillion in less than three years. The yearly budget of NDDC is hardly above N400 billion.

“A situation where contracts that do not qualify for emergencies were fraudulently awarded to over N1 trillion in less than one year, this amounts to not only stealing from the pulpit but stealing the entire pulpit,” he said.

Ojougboh, who is the IMC’s Chairman, Contract Verification Committee, said the findings have confirmed allegations of high-level corruption in NDDC.

The executive director said that President Buhari was fully committed to saving NDDC from being shut down by activities of corrupt contractors and officials at the commission.

According to him, the commission is sinking and would have been killed and buried due to over trading, bloated contracts and other sharp practices but for Buhari’s intervention.

“At best, NDDC has been a lack-lustre performance, with very little to show for the humongous resources that have accrued to it over the past 19 years.

“Stories of pervasive corruption, flagrant abuse of due process, abandoned projects, poor quality project delivery, among others, at NDDC, have adorned our media space over the years.

“To this end, the contract verification committee will lay a foundation for the forensic audit of the activities of the commission from inception to date,” he assured.

Ojougboh directed all NDDC contractors, consultants, vendors, suppliers and Non Governmental Organisations or their representatives who have business with the commission to report to the verification committee.

He said that the groups ”are expected to come with three photocopies each of their letters of award, contract agreement, and interim payment certificates, where applicable”.

According to him, they are also to present originals for assessment, evaluation and verification to the NDDC office where such business is located.

“They are also to present letters detailing a brief statement of their claims/request on their headed papers with verifiable addresses and certified true copies of their company registration documents.

“The contract verification exercise would among other things establish the true position of the emergency contract regime between 2016 and 2019 in NDDC.

“Some of the contract awards were not only spurious but criminal, as available records showed that most of the awards were not backed by budget, bills of engineering measurement and drawings.

“They were just open cheques for contractors and their collaborators to fill in at the nearest banks,” he alleged.

Edited by: Jane-Frances Oraka/Donald Ugwu

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General news

NDDC plans repair of dilapidated bridge in Rivers — MD

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The Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) says it will carry out repairs of dilapidated bridge linking Okrika and Dere in Gokana Local Government Area in Rivers.

Dr Joi Nunieh, NDDC’s Acting Managing Director, stated this while inspecting the bridge in Dere, according to a statement on Wednesday by Chijioke Amu-Nnadi, the commission’s Deputy Director, Corporate Affairs.

Nunieh said the commission took the decision to prevent imminent collapse of the abandoned bridge.

“We are shocked at the state of the bridge – which connects two local government areas in the state and also runs across an estuary where fresh and salt water meets.

“NDDC will quickly assess the problem and immediately start work on re-enforcement of the bridge.

“We will do this without delay to avoid total collapse of the bridge.

The managing director said the poor condition of the bridge was brought to the attention of NDDC by concerned elders from Ogoni and Okirika communities.

“So, we decided to respond as it is part of the core mandate of NDDC to intervene on infrastructure in the Niger Delta region.

“It is also very interesting that the bridge is at the spot where salt water and fresh water meet.

“The bridge stands at a historic point, and as such, we must work to save the bridge as well as reserve its historic importance,” she said.

Nunieh condemned the damage done to both the environment and aquatic life at a heavily polluted area around Dere River in Gokana.

She urged leaders of the area to call their youth to order to stop the damage on the environment through their alleged involvement in illegal oil bunkering.

The Chairman of Dere Council of Chiefs, Mr Bornu Godswill, thanked the commission for responding to the communities’ “Save-Our-Soul” message.

Edited by: Bola Akingbehin/Donald Ugwu

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Niger Delta

NDDC begins audit, verification of projects -MD

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(Rivers) The Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) says it has inaugurated a 50-member committee to audit and document projects and contracts awarded in nine Niger Delta states.

Dr Joi Nunieh, Acting Managing Director of NDDC, inaugurated the verification committee in Port Harcourt, according to a statement on Sunday by Chijioke Amu-Nnadi, the commission’s Deputy Director, Corporate Affairs.

Nunieh said that the committee’s formation was a prelude to the forensic audit of the commission ordered by President Muhammadu Buhari in 2019.

According to him, the verification exercise becomes necessary due to many ‘fake’ Interim Payment Certificates (IPCs) being claimed by contractors.

“So, members of the committee will go round all the NDDC mandate states to verify these projects and contracts.

“The committee will carry out this assignment for period of two week – which is the first stage in the redirection exercise at the interventionist agency.

“After the initial documentation and verification, we will go out to all the states to identify and inspect the projects,”  Nunieh said.

The managing director said the commission would work with different professional groups, including architects, engineers and quantity surveyors to ensure the projects met the acceptable standards.

Nunieh also pointed out that the NDDC was aware that some undisclosed groups were currently awarding fake contracts by falsifying official documents.

“But unfortunately for them, we have a comprehensive list of all our contracts. If anyone comes with fake IPC, such individual will be promptly arrested.

“We advise Nigerians not to buy Interim Payment Certificates and contracts purported to emanate from the commission

“We have selected credible people from NDDC to carry out this important assignment. We expect them to be steadfast and resist all manners of external influences,” she noted.

Nunieh said the commission also observed that some of the groups parading themselves as “contractors” and demanding payment were Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs).

According to her, the involvement of NGOs in contracts taking contradicts the law establishing them “as non profit making organisations.”

“However, We are assuring all contractors that did their jobs according to specification that they would be paid after the verification exercise.

“Currently, we have started paying consultants and suppliers that did their jobs well. So, they (contractors) will be paid without having to bribe anyone,” she assured.

The committee has Dr Cairo Ojougboh as Chairman, Dr Emmanuel Audu-Ohwavborua (Deputy Chairman) and Mrs Iyingi Numbere as Secretary.

Edited by: Dianabasi Effiong/Ismail Abdulaziz

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General news

Jonathan urges Niger Delta youths to shun violence

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Former President Goodluck Jonathan has urged Niger Delta youths to shun acts of violence and embrace peace to ease the execution of projects that would ensure the development of the region.

Jonathan gave the advice when officials of Ijaw Youth Council (IYC), Worldwide, and Niger Delta Youth Leaders, visited him to commiserate with him over the attack on his residence in Otuoke.

The Nigeria News Agency , reports that the former President’s residence in Otuoke, Ogbia Local Government Area of Bayelsa, was attacked on Dec. 24, 2019 by gunmen.

Jonathan, while thanking his visitors for the concern, admonished them to shun any act of violence as no nation could develop in an atmosphere of criminality and violence.

The former president said that there was no reason for the attack, pointing out that he had done his own part for the development Nigeria as nation.

He called on security agencies to ensure that those who carried out the act were brought to book.

Earlier, President of IYC, Mr Pereotubo Oweilaemi, had called on security agencies to ensure the unmasking of the perpetrators of the attack.

“The attack on former President Jonathan’s home at Otuoke is really embarrassing. The perpetrators of that dastardly act should not go unpunished. Security agencies should ensure they fish out those hoodlums.

“We are calling on the neighbouring communities around Otuoke to cooperate with the security agencies in order to fish out those bandits,” he said.

Also speaking, Mr Kennedy West, a youth leader, said that it was saddening that people from the region could plan an attack on the former president.

He said that there was no reason to justify that attack.

Edited by: Joseph Edeh and Ephraims Sheyin

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Niger Delta

Shell takes free eyecare services to host community in Bayelsa

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Hundreds of residents of Gbarantoru in Yenagoa Local Government Area (LGA) of Bayelsa on Wednesday received free eyecare services sponsored by Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC).

Nigeria News Agency reports that more than 300 people have so far received consultations from eye care specialists and got prescriptions.

The eye care team comprising of Ophthalmologists and eye care support team prepared prescribed glasses and dispensed eye drops and medicines.

The eye care experts took time to educate patients awaiting treatment on ways of taking care of their eyes and how to avoid loss of vision as well as how to manage diagnosed eye problems.

Master Joel Opuike, a 13-year-old, said that he was examined by an ophthalmologist and given some drugs to take care of constant itching in his eyes, a condition that hampered his academic activities in school.

I met an eye doctor and he looked into my eyes and heard complains on the difficulties I have with seeing.

I was given some drugs that will take care of the issue and I am very happy and believe that I will be all right,” Opuike said.

Chief Aseibi Saidu said that he received eye care medications and applauded SPDC for the gesture.

Mrs Jane Ineikemi , 76,  said that she was given some eye drops and medicine to take care of her vision.

Speaking on behalf of the Gbarantoru Community, Chief Izontimi Inemotimi, Deputy Paramount Ruler, expressed appreciation to SPDC, adding that the eye care mission was of immense benefit to the people of the area.

He appealed to the oil firm to sustain the exercise and make it a periodic event as people came from far flung communities for the outreach.

Edited by: Chioma Ugboma/Donald Ugwu
(NAN)
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Niger Delta

We were duly compensated to relocate, Rivers Island residents say

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Former occupants of Robert-Kiri, Belema Industrial Island, on Monday said that they were not forced to leave their homes, but were duly compensated with ex gratia when they were relocated from the area.

Mr Lolo Dokubo told newsmen at the island in Kula, Akuku-Toru Local Government Area (LGA) of Rivers, that Belema Pipeline Limited pleaded with them to relocate in order to site economic and developmental projects in the area.

Dokubo said they were therefore, duly compensated beyond their expectation.

I was the biggest landlord here, I had 11 buildings and sincerely, what Belema Pipeline gave us is huge and most of us have never seen that kind of bulk money before.

We were never forced out from this place; the company reached a compensation agreement with us and did beyond what we expected.

We have been settled with enough money that we can make use of for a better tomorrow; as you can see, we are all happy,” he said.

Pastor of the Apostolic Church, Nigeria, Maritime Territory, Robert-Kiri Assembly, Mr Baribove Kuna, commended Belema Pipeline for the huge compensation to them.

Kuna stated that the company gave them money that they never thought of, and it made their relocation to the nearby island easy.

What the company gave is quite huge and can enable us meet our needs in the area we have relocated to.

I appreciate Belema Pipeline Ltd for what they gave us, because over 90 per cent of us are non-indigenes, but we were given compensation beyond our imagination that made our relocation less stressful,” he said.

While blessing the company for its magnanimity, the clergy, however, pleaded with it to help provide water and light for them in their new abode.

Other members of the community who spoke at the conference also lauded the company.

Miss Mpapameari Igbikis said that the company was sent by God to come and answer their prayers through the relocation.

This is what I will call real compensation or empowerment because what the company gave us is more than enough to tackle our challenges.

Had Belema Pipeline not come to this area, most of us would have been dead as a result of one sickness or the other, but the money has brought life to us,” she said.

Mr Iniofot Afia, on his part stated that he had lived in the island for so many years but had never seen the kind of support Belema Pipeline rendered to them.

Afia said that they were happy with how the company and chiefs of their host community were treating them.

He pleaded with Belema Pipeline to provide water for them and schools for their children to make life more meaningful for them.

The Nigeria News Agency , reports that Belema Pipeline Limited had reclaimed more than 91 hectares of land around the Robert-Kiri Island to commence a Dehydrating Unit (DHU) Tank Farm.

Other projects proposed at the island include, Gas Plant, Industrial Estate, Pipe Coating Plant and Helipad.

Edited by: Ifeyinwa Okonkwo/NyisomFiyigon Dore
(NAN)

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Niger Delta

Belema Oil subsidiary firm commends Buhari’s support for indigenous firms

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Belema Oil subsidiary firm commends Buhari’s support for indigenous firms

Firms

Kula (Rivers), Dec. 9, 2019 Belema Pipeline Limited, a subsidiary of Belema Oil Producing, has commended President Muhammadu Buhari’s support for the growth of indigenous firms.

Mr Mufa-a Welsh, Director, Belema Oil producing, made the commendation on Monday at a news briefing held in Robert-Kiri Island, Kula, Akuku-Toru local government area of Rivers.

He said that the Buhari-led government had created the enabling environment for indigenous firms to thrive.

Welsh said that the presidential approval for an oil and gas export terminal had birthed the Dehydrating Unit Tank Farm project that would start soon.

The director listed other projects proposed to commence at the Island to include, gas plant, industrial estate, pipe coating plant and helipad.

“President Buhari gave us the opportunity to launch on, and most of these projects will commence in the next few weeks.

“We appreciate the president for remembering Kula, because as a community this has never happened to us before.

“We will effectively make use of the opportunity given to us for the empowerment of the people,” he said.

Welsh stated that adequate compensation had been made to the aboriginal occupants of Robert-Kiri Island, where the projects would be located.

“I appreciate the occupants of Robert-Kiri island for agreeing to relocate so that the needed development can take place.

“You have seen ongoing land reclamation work, it will extend to the island, it may be hazardous to their health, so we pleaded with them to relocate to any nearby island,” he said.

He assured that the company would provide basic infrastructure to make life more meaningful in their current location.

“A robust plan has been put in place to ensure that the occupants of other islands around this area do not lack social amenities such as water, light and even security,” he said.

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Edited by: Azubuike Okeh/Donald Ugwu
(NAN)

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Environment

Shell pledges to implement NOSDRA’s directive on N2.74 remediation of spill site

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The Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria (SPDC), on Friday said it was committed to remediation of sites impacted by an oil spill from its Trans Ramos export line in Bayelsa and Delta states.

Nigeria News Agency reports that oil spill which occurred on May 17, 2018 had impacted and polluted estimated area of 113.03 hectares in Aghoro and Odumodu communities in Bayelsa and Delta respectively.

A joint Investigation Visit (JIV) report of the incident obtained by NAN had concluded that the leak on the pipeline at three spots was caused by equipment failure.

The investigation showed that this discharged about 1,114 barrels of crude oil into the environment.

The National Oil Spills Detection and Response Agency (NOSDRA) had in a post-impact assessment report obtained by NAN recommended that the ecological damages caused by the leak be remediated with N2.74 billion.

Mr Bamidele Odugbesan, Media Relations Manager, SPDC, had earlier said that the oil firm regretted the incident and assured that the firm would compensate victims as well as correct the polluted areas of the community.

Reacting to the recommendations of NOSDRA, Mr Michael Adande, Spokesman of SPDC, said the oil firm took full responsibility to correcting and renewing the polluted areas.

Adande said that the N2.74 billion recommended by NOSDRA was not to be paid to victims of the spill incident but a cost to be incurred to remediate the ecological damage caused by the leak.

He explained that the oil firm prioritised the safety of its operations.

He also said it would deploy its expertise of operating in an environmentally sustainable way to go beyond clean up of the polluted areas, but to restore and conserve them.

“The SPDC conducts a comprehensive damage assessment and enumeration exercise with active participation of other members of the JIV team, especially the impacted claimants.

“We also use geomantic 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.

“In the case of the regrettable incident in Aghoro in Bayelsa and Odimodi in Delta in 2018, SPDC has paid the agreed compensation to the affected persons and communities.

“The NOSDRA Post-Impact Assessment report, however, included a 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.

NAN learnt that NOSDRA had recommended a total of N 3.68 billion as compensation while about N930 million was paid out to impacted communities.

Edited & Vetted By: Cecilia Odey/Donald Ugwu
(NAN)

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