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N’Delta youth leader urges Presidency to wade into NDDC impasse

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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.

Tonjo-West, a former Senior Special Assistant to Bayelsa Governor on Niger Delta Youth Matters, told NAN in Yenagoa on Monday that the impasse was an impediment to the commission’s progress.

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.

The youth leader further said that Niger Delta youths were getting more aware of their roles and responsibilities in shaping their future.

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 further said that the president consulted widely and met with Niger Delta governors before the board was constituted.

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)
(NAN)

 

 

 

 

Politics

Environment: Lawmaker urges more effort to mitigate hazards in N/Delta

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A member of the House of Representatives, Rep. Farah Dagogo (PDP-Rivers), on Saturday  appealed for more effort to mitigate the environmental hazards of oil exploration in the Niger Delta region.

Dagogo urged relevant authorities and organisations to hasten the effort for Green-blue economic development footprints to secure a carbon neutral future for children in the region.

Dagogo’s appeal is contained in a statement he issued in Abuja to mark the 2020 World Environment Day.

The lawmaker, who decried the adverse effects of environmental pollution and exploration in the area, said the acts had rendered the Niger Delta inhabitable.

According to him, the incessant hazards emitting from the environment had become a way of life for people of the region.

He said that the hazards had been reputed to be the causes of varying degrees of health challenges and deaths in the oil-rich region.

Dagogo, who represents Degema/Bonny Federal Constituency of Rivers, said that while the 2019 World Environment Day’ theme focused on ‘Air pollution’, that of 2020 had to do with paying attention to ‘biodiversity’.

He said that the 2020 theme was apt as it encapsulated what the people of the Niger Delta were experiencing.

According to the lawmaker, it is not only the people’s lives that are at risk as species of  freshwater, and those of marine as well as their habitats are also affected.

“As we join the rest of the world to celebrate World Environmental Day, it is imperative and paramount that we draw the attention of the world to the suffocating health conditions we are experiencing in the Niger Delta region of Nigeria.

“As custodians of the largest oil rich wetland in the world, the Niger Delta region had long been debated, documented and discarded by exploitative oil explorations that endorsed and enforced the incessant pollution of our riparian heritage.

“The people of the creeks sit in limbo, idling away in hopelessness, huddled together in socioeconomic inequalities as the treasure of our natural habitats is robbed by the Greenhouse flares of big oil interest.

“As the world marks World Environmental Day, we call for the promotion of Green-blue economic development footprints to secure the long awaited carbon neutral future for children of the depraved Niger Delta,” he said.


Edited By: Shuaib Sadiq/Emmanuel Yashim (NAN)

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General news

Diri calls for joint action from Niger-Delta governors for cleaner environment

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Gov. Douye Diri of Bayelsa has called for joint action from governors of the Niger-Delta states in the struggle for a cleaner environment.

Diri made the call on Friday during an online global conference to mark the 2020 World Environment Day, with the theme: ‘The Impact of the Coronavirus Pandemic on the Flora and Fauna of the Niger Delta’.

The governor, who was represented by his Deputy, Mr Lawrence Ewhrudjakpo, lamented the pollution of the Niger-Delta environment by oil business operations in the region.

He, however, pledged his administration’s resolve to take the issues of the environment as key in the state.

Diri said that Bayelsa, like other states, had recorded death of lots of fishes during the coronavirus period in Akassa, Koluama, and Agge.

He advocated the planting of trees by all Bayelsans, which, according to him, would allow the flow of oxygen across the streets and towns of the state.

“I urge my people not to contribute to the environmental genocide in their localities; shun illegal refining of crude products and embrace intellectual approach in the agitation for the clean-up of the region,” the governor advised.

Earlier, the Chairman of the occasion, King Bubaraye Dakolo, Agada IV, called on governments across board to do more than engage in rhetoric on matters of the environment.

Dakolo, who is also the Ibenanaowei of Ekpetiama Kingdom, charged them to frontally drive all genuine efforts for the restoration and restitution of the region’s flora and fauna.

In his lecture, Dr Pereowei Subai, a senior lecturer from the state-owned Niger-Delta University, highlighted the implications of the theme on the environment.

He noted that the wealth of the region should not be confined to oil alone.

“We must also be investing in agriculture and aquaculture,” Subai said.

He said there were both short and long term solutions to the environmental challenges of the region.


Edited By: Moses Solanke/Oluwole Sogunle (NAN)

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Health

Delta Govt. appoints state index, Austin Eruotor, as COVID-19 ambassador

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The Delta Government on Friday in Asaba named and appointed 50-year-old Chief Austin Eruotor, the state index case of Coronavirus (COVID-19), as COVID-19 Ambassador in the state.

The state Commissioner for Health, Dr Mordi Ononye, who made the disclosure to newsmen, said that the youngest victim of COVID-19 in the state was a two-month-old baby whose mother was also positive.

Ononye addressed the media in company of the Secretary to the State Government (SSG), Mr Chiedu Ebie, and the Commissioner for Information, Mr Charles Aniagwu.

He said, however, that the baby and her mother were currently being managed at the Asaba Specialist Hospital Isolation Center, adding that they were stable.

The health commissioner disclosed that the state had 116 confirmed COVID-19 cases as at Thursday.

He stressed that being COVID-19 positive was not a death sentence but that people should report cases to the relevant authority for quick intervention.

“The challenge we are facing has been that of stigmatisation and we want the media to speak against this and we must understand that COVID-19 is real and we must observe all the rules,” he said.

The SSG, while decorating the ambassador, charged the people to obey laid down rules regarding the pandemic as government would not need to pursue people about, to save them from it.

According to him, the pandemic is real and government has put some measures in place, including border closure and curfew, to contain the disease.

On his part, the commissioner for information said that the state government was determined to deepen sensitisation to ensure that the people stayed safe.

“The more people we are able to win through sensitisation, the better for us; though it’s a personal responsibility to stay safe, you have to protect the life of others by observing all rules,” Aniagwu said.

In his testimony, the COVID-19 ambassador said, “I hail from Abraka in Ethiope East Local Government Area of the state.

“I am popularly known as Austin Koko in Abraka town, where I fell sick before being taken to the Delta State University Teaching Hospital, Oghara, after testing positive to COVID-19 on April 7, 2020.

COVID-19 is real; I want to thank God for healing me, and I want to thank Gov. Ifeanyi Okowa for his intervention and for making me an ambassador for COVID-19 in the state.

“Many people say that COVID-19 is malaria and all sort of claims, but this is not true.

“I live in this country and I know what malaria is like. The trauma and pains associated with COVID-19 is different from those of malaria.

“At first when I had the symptoms of cold and coughing, I thought it was malaria and I was treated for malaria for six days to no avail. In the process I spent about N110, 000 for treatment and testing which yielded no result.

But I was diagnosed and I tested positive to COVID-19 and was taken to Oghara Teaching Hospital Isolation Center, by the team led by the state Commissioner for Health, Dr Mordi Ononye.

“I was at the isolation centre for 36 days before being discharged; my lung was traumatised. I had cough and difficulty in breathing and was under oxygen for 5 days,” he said.

Eruotor expressed surprise that some people still doubted the existence or reality of the pandemic.

“I was born and brought up in Nigeria and can tell the difference between malaria and COVID-19 disease.

“I am appealing to everybody to observe the rules and I am ready to go through the length and breadth of the state and even to any part of the country to sensitise the people on the danger of COVID-19 pandemic,” he added.

Also, Mr Jerry Azinge, a lawyer who tested positive to COVID-19 and was admitted in the treatment centre in Asaba Specialists Hospital, said he spent 18 days in the isolation center where he was treated.

“I was fatigued and had sleeping difficulty at night. I had no cough but I tested positive to coronavirus and had to be in the facility for 18 days before being discharged.

“The treatment was free and I had free meals three times a day in a well-furnished and air conditioned center; I was traumatised by the disease and was lonely.

“The disease is real, though it presents in different ways but I will suggest that anyone with running fever in any hospital for more than seven days should be tested for COVID-19,” he said.


Edited By: Edwin Nwachukwu/Ejike Obeta (NAN)

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Economy

13 vessels expected at Delta ports- NPA

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The Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) says 13 ships laden with various products are expected at Delta ports.

The NPA made this known in its daily publication “Shipping Position”, a copy of which was obtained by the News Agency of Nigeria on Friday in Warri.

The authority said the ships were laden with petrol, bitumen, wheat, diesel and general cargo.

It listed some of the vessels to include: Matrix Asa, Ihem, MT San Biagio, MT Halima, MV Asian Enterprise and MT Tornado, among others.

NPA also stated that it made declaration on four vessels laden with butane gas and petrol on Friday.

“NPA made declaration on four vessels: LPG Laperouse, LPG Lubersac laden with butane gas and MT Sea Horse and MT SL Aremu laden with petrol,” the authority stated.

It said that four vessels were awaiting at anchorage in Koko Midstream, Bennett and Koko anchorage.

Four vessels: AS Pioneer are awaiting at Koko Midstream to load 45×20 tons of Containers.

“MT Mosunmola, MT Viveka and MT Safe Sea Neha 111, are also awaiting at Koko Midstream, Koko anchorage and Bennett to discharge inward diesel, bitumen and petrol respectively,” NPA said.

It said that two vessels: MT Ozichukwu and Abiola were awaiting at Fairway Buoy to load 12,000 metric tons of crude oil each.



Edited By: Chioma Ugboma/Olagoke Olatoye (NAN)

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Environment

Okowa pledges to connect Delta with roads, bridges for economic growth

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Gov. Ifeanyi Okowa of Delta on Thursday, pledged his administration’s resolve to connect the state with roads and bridges for economic growth.

The governor said this while speaking with newsmen after inspecting the Alihami-Agbor-Nta-Oki road in Ika South Local Government Area of the state.

Okowa, who also inspected the Owanta erosion control road project and Federal Road Safety Commission (FRSC) Training School, Owa-Oyibu in Ika North East Local Government Area, said government would sustain roads development in spite of the coronavirus pandemic.

He said that the importance of roads connectivity to economic development could not be over emphasised, adding that the prevailing pandemic could not stop good governance and infrastructural development of the state.

According to him, connecting the state with roads and bridges will ensure economic growth of communities.

He assured the people of Delta of his administration’s commitment to executing projects that would impact on their lives.

Okowa, who was conducted round the projects by the Commissioner for Environment, Mr Chris Onogba and his housing counterpart, Chief Festus Ochonogor said: “we will continue to execute programmes and projects that will make our people to be prosperous.’’

In spite of the COVID-19 and the slowdown of so many things we are doing as a state, there is need to go down and check the things that we intend to continue in the next few weeks.

“I first visited the Alihami-Agbor-Nta-Oki road; it was a surprise visit and the contractor himself was not on site but the workers were on site and it afforded me the opportunity to have first-hand knowledge of level of work being done.

“A lot of drainage work has been done and some sections of the road have been stone-based.

“That road is very important because when it is completed to Edo border, it means that those going to Jesse, Oghara and Sapele axis will have a much faster route.

“That is very good for us and our people because it connects Delta with a section of villages that are actually in Edo and then to the Jesse end.

“The road interconnectivity is good for commerce and economic development of the benefiting communities and we will continue to construct as many roads as our finances can enable us,” Okowa said.

The governor, who also inspected the Owanta gully erosion and road project, said that the place was terrible before now as several homes had been lost to the erosion, but expressed optimism that with the work being done now, several homes had been saved.

“It’s actually a project of Delta with the World Bank.

“This is one of the five sites in Delta and the contractor, Levante Construction is doing well.

“We are happy with the work being done and he has assured us that even through the rain they will continue working to ensure that a lot of homes are saved.

“We are in the process of awarding contracts for other erosion control projects in the state,’’ he said.

Okowa said the FRSC training school was a collaborative project between the state and the corps because “we believe that the school will have an impact on the economy of this area.’’

“We are providing the buildings; they will provide other needed infrastructure and provide the staffing to enable the school take off.

“Right from the lockdown, we allowed some contractors to return to site with strict adherence to the NCDC protocols and that is why we allowed the erosion control project to continue because it can have been very devastating impact.

“I am glad that the contractors are on course and they have assured me they will continue to work throughout the rains,’’ the governor said

The governor, however, revealed that the state had recorded 106 confirmed cases on COVID-19 to date.

He said that though the numbers were restricted to certain local government areas, the state had continued monitoring the development.

For us in Delta, we have 106 cases of COVID-19 now but they are actually restricted to certain local government areas at the moment.

“And we are monitoring the trend and whatever decisions we are going to take as we move into future is going to be based on the data that is available before us.

“This is to ensure that we are taking informed decisions and having a targeted approach; that is our intention and we hope that God willing, we will continue to do our best to combat the pandemic,” he said.


Edited By: Chioma Ugboma/Grace Yussuf (NAN)

 

 

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Economy

9 ships expected at Delta ports – NPA

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The Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) says nine vessels are being expected at the Delta ports.

The NPA made this known in its daily publication, ‘Shipping Position’, a copy of which was made available to the News Agency of Nigeria on Thursday in Warri, Delta.

It said that the ships, which included Matrix Asa, MT Halima, MT Tornado and Matrix Pride, were laden with  petrol, diesel, bitumen and general cargo.

The NPA said four of the ships laden with frozen fish, petrol  and general cargo were awaiting anchorage at the Koko Midstream, Bennett and Koko anchorage.

MV Baltic Mantis and MV Savanna Wind  laden with wheat and frozen fish, respectively, are awaiting anchorage at the Bennett to discharge inward.

MT Mosunmola and AS Pioneer laden with AGO (diesel) and container are awaiting at the Koko Anchorage and Koko Midstream, respectively,” it said.

Five of the vessels laden with crude oil and other products are  waiting at Fairway Buoy, according to NPA.


Edited By: Kamal Tayo Oropo/Ijeoma Popoola (NAN)

 

 

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Metro

Delta: Victims of Ogbeogonogo market fire disaster get FG’s assistance

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Hajiya Sadiya Farouq, Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development, on Wednesday offered succour to victims of Ogbeogonogo Market fire when she paid a sympathy visit to the popular Asaba market in Delta.

A statement by the information unit of the ministry quoted the minister as telling the traders to be consoled by the fact that no life was lost in the inferno.

Signed by Mrs Rhoda Iliya, Deputy Director (Information), the statement further quoted the minister as expressing deep shock over the incident while commiserating with traders who lost wares in the fire.

Among relief materials given to the traders were 120 pieces of sewing machines, 100 pieces of hair dryers, 80 pieces of grinding machines, 625 bags of 12.5kg rice, 625 bags of 12.5kg maize and 625 bags of 25kg beans.

Others included 31 bags of 20kg salt, 63 kegs of vegetable oil, 85 cartons of tin tomatoes, 56 cartons of seasoning, 1,875 bags of cement and 300 bundles of roofing sheets.

Also delivered were 625 bags of 3 inches nail, 750 pieces of ceiling boards and 300 packets of zinc nails.

It quoted the minister as expressing her appreciation to the state governor, Dr Ifeanyi Okowa, for providing immediate relief.

It said that the minister also commended the officials of the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) for their prompt response and the immediate activation of the Crisis Response Protocol, adding that the ministry would support efforts to ascertain the cause of the fire.

The Ministry, in consultation with relevant agencies and stakeholders, is evolving new strategies for an ‘All-Hazard Approach’ that will prioritise fire prevention and mitigation to avert these fire incidents,” Farouq was further quoted as saying.

Delta special duties commissioner Pirah Omamofe, who led the minister and her team through the burnt market, thanked the federal government for the prompt response, urging the minister to consider more support for persons affected by other disasters.

The News Agency of Nigeria reports that the inferno, which gutted the market on Tuesday, June 2, reduced the popular Ogbeogonogo Market, Asaba, to ashes.

No life was lost as the market had been under lock and key since the outbreak of the Coronavirus pandemic in the country.


Edited By: Edwin Nwachukwu and Ephraims Sheyin (NAN)

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General news

Delta govt. urges contractors to speed up projects

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The Delta Government has called on contractors handling some road projects in the state to speed up work before the beginning of rainy season.

The State Commissioner for Works, Chief James Augoye, made the call on Wednesday in Agbarho in Ughelli North Local government Area of the state while inspecting the three-kilometre Agbarho-Orherhe-Otokutu road and the bridge Section 1 project.

Augoye noted that the project was earlier awarded to another contractor but the contractor failed to mobilise to the site.

The commissioner commended the contractor handling the project, ”Feborze Global Venture”, for the quality of work and urged them to complete the project within three months.

“You will recall that this project was earlier awarded to another contractor, who failed to mobilise to the site until the governor directed that the project be re-awarded to this present contractor.

“I must commend their pace and quality of work and I urge them to complete the project within the next three months,” he said.

The Project Manager, Mr Ifeanyi Ochuba, said that the project was 75 per cent completed, saying that it would be completed in the next three months.

The commissioner also inspected a three-kilometre road with reinstatement of collapsed bridge at Oduaran road in Ughelli.

According to him, the road was cut-off last September due to flooding in the area, hence the need to commend the contractor for the pace of work.

As at September, last year, this road was cut off and the governor directed that the road should be reconstructed and the bridge reinstated,” Augoye said.

Chief John Oguma, the Chairman of Obakpor Engineering Company Ltd., handling the project, said the project was delayed due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Oguma gave an assurance that the project would be completed in July 2020.


Edited By: Modupe Adeloye/Adeleye Ajayi (NAN)

 

 

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General news

Delta will complete Trans-Warri road, bridge projects in 2021 -Commissioner

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Delta government says the ongoing construction of Trans-Warri road and bridges in Warri South Local Government Area of the state will be completed in 2021.

The Commissioner for Works, Chief James Augoye, made this known on Wednesday in Warri while briefing newsmen shortly after inspecting the project.

“The essence of the inspection is to ensure that all contractors handling state projects are on site in line with the state government’s directive to them to return to site following substantial relaxation of the lockdown occasioned by COVID-19 pandemic,” he said.

The commissioner said that the multi-billion Naira road project, which comprised the 25.8 km and 19 bridges linking Ubeji, Ifie, Ijala, Ogbodede, Inorin, Ajigba, Orugbo, Usele, Ode-Itsekiri was awarded in 2006.

He said that the contractor moved to site in November 2007.

“Although, the project has several links to other communities, this administration decided that the contractor should concentrate on the main alignment.

“The contractors are presently trying to complete the remaining five bridges and once they are done with that they will continue on the road work.

“The quality of work is very high and I must commend the contractors for doing a good job.

“However, let me urge them to increase the pace of work to ensure that this project is completed by the end of next year,” he said.

Augoye said that the project had opened up the Ubeji community to Ifie side of the Warri River.

“The project has attracted six tank farms and other multi-billion naira investments,  I urged the contractors to speed up the pace of work in order to meet the December, 2021 completion timeline.

“As you can see, the road has not been completed, but it has opened up the other side of the river to some economic activities.

“And if this other side of the river is completed, it means that it will create more economic activities for the people around this area,” he said.

The Special Director of the project, Chief Otimeyin Adam, commended the state governor for his commitment toward the completion of the project.

He said that Gov. Ifeanyi Okowa’s administration had reduced the state government’s indebtedness to the contractor from N9 billion to N3 billion.

Otimeyin expressed optimism that the project would be completed as scheduled.

Earlier, Area Manager of Setraco, Delta Region, Mr Joseph Helby said that the company was determined to complete the project at the end of 2021.

“We have completed 14 of the bridges, while work is ongoing on the remaining five bridges.

“We have also completed 95 per cent of the internal roads in Ode-Itsekiri and we look forward to completion of the entire project at the end of 2021,” Helby said.


Edited By: Debo Oshundun/Grace Yussuf (NAN)

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