The Green Shirts of the Niger Delta

By Brigadier General Paul Boroh (Rtd)

When T.Y. Bello (Toyin Sofekun-Bello) sang: “The land is green, is green, oh oh oh; the land is green, is green, can’t you see” she might have had the Niger Delta in mind. No part of our country  is more lush fully green than the Niger Delta  with its all-year round rainfall.  Even in times of tragic oil pollution, some plants stubbornly sprout with their green coated in oil, as if to say, ‘this land is ours’

The irony however is that the rich natural vegetation of the Region has not translated into food self-sufficiency or security. Like most parts of the country, the Niger Delta has become like Abdul, the man in the fairy tale who wants to get rich without working. Yes, oil is a rich resource, but as we know, it is a wasting one; not only will it not last, but also, its importance is diminishing daily with humanity finding alternative ways of powering energy and automobiles. In fact, future cars will be run on recycled water. This is why the Government of President Muhammadu Buhari harps not just on the need for alternative sources of income for the country, but with its Green Initiative, backed by various programmes like the CBN Anchor Borrowers Programme and those of the Bank of Industry, point at agriculture as what would save the country.v

When in July, 2015, I was appointed the Special Adviser to the President on Niger Delta and Coordinator of the Presidential Amnesty Programme with the sustainable reintegration of 30,000 ex-Militants as a main target, I  worked out in the back of my mind, the fastest and best way to achieve this. My conclusion is   to let the Amnesty Beneficiaries blend with the greenery of the Region by attracting them to return to culture the land and fish ponds.

This I also found as the answer to the Federal Government’s primary objectives in the Niger Delta which are to ensure peace and sustainable development. So apart from continuing the existing projects such as developing the human capital resource of the Region through tertiary education, professional and vocation training and empowerment, my team and I took the sure turn to agriculture. We entered into partnership with various organisations like the Bio Technology Resource Centre, university Agriculture faculties and established farms to train the ex-Agitators.

These seedlings we are planting are beginning to sprout. You can imagine my joy when on Friday October 13, 2017, before the chiefs, elders and people of George Town, Okrika, Rivers State, twenty young men in green overall stood before us, the mass media and the world, as I handed over to them a modern, zero-waste, integrated cluster farm. These were part of the 105 youths the Presidential Amnesty programme had trained under the Songhai Rivers Initiative Farm. While their colleagues are being empowered with single stand- alone farms and ponds, this was our first experiment to group ex-Agitators into cluster farms, register them as cooperatives and watch them become not just self-employed, but also employing other unemployed youth.

The model farm, fully funded by the  Presidential Amnesty Programme which we handed over to the Beneficiaries, has 30 Ponds, one  Run-off Earthen Pond, 5000 Bird Poultry including Broiler and  Layers, Free Range, Cropping and Processing Sections,1 Administration and Sales Office, 2 Feed Stores, 2 Implement Stores and one Control Room.

 I told the Beneficiaries that they have a once in a life time opportunity not just to make a decent living for themselves and their families but also to employ a number of the unemployed. I also  informed them that  the Amnesty Office was further empowering them by handing over to them as a start-off package, 1000 fingerlings to 2000 post fingerlings,  100 Point of Lay Birds and an additional 200 broilers, 10 Piglets  and a Crop Section with  Cucumber, Pepper, Pumpkin and Okra.

Perhaps the most critical aspect of this farm is that it is designed to be one  with an all-year round production by running a staggered stocking and harvesting plan. With this, commercial sales have been programmed  with the sale of eggs by  November 1, 2017 and, smoked fish, broilers  and vegetables in December, 2017. We opted that smoked fish, rather than fresh fish be sold, first to add value and secondly to make more profit.

I was also very happy with George Town  which provided the land for the farm. I was elated when the traditional leader of the town, Chief Akuro Richard George said with this project, we had brought  Federal presence to them  and that the  project has established a bond between the George Town  people and the Federal Government. His request that the Presidential Amnesty Programme establishes   a skills acquisition centre in George Town to cater for lots of unemployed youths, is one that sits well with the Presidential Amnesty Office.

My happiness knew no bounds when the  Chairman of the ex-Agitators  Cooperative, Mr. Emmanuel.T. Promise,  thanked the Federal Government for giving them the opportunity  of their lives to  run a  viable and sustainable business of their own.  These are men who had picked up arms to fight the country, but who are now a role model for their peers and are resolved to run their lives in peace and security.

The occasion further convinced me that this is the way to go; that this cluster farm which we registered with the  Rivers State Government as “Okrika Agro Farmers 105 Cooperative and Investment and Credit Society Limited”  must be  replicated in other parts of the Niger Delta. Already, we have 1,000 Beneficiaries   who have either been trained, being trained or are on the waiting list to be trained in agriculture.

As we continue with this, our attention is also directed at rice farming for which we have already trained 305 Beneficiaries with two of them establishing their rice farms in Ughelli. My vision is to produce tens of thousands of youths in the Niger Delta cladded in their green overall and shirts, turning the Region into a Green Belt and blending with the green vegetation.  This is the beginning of what I call the “Green Shirt Movement” The Land is green and is becoming greener, can’t you see?

Brigadier General Paul Boroh (Rtd)  is the Special Adviser to the President on Niger Delta and Coordinator of the Presidential Amnesty Programme.

Buhari signs bill establishing University of Petroleum Resources

President Muhammadu Buhari Tuesday in Abuja pledged continued support for the socio-economic development of the Niger Delta region.

Giving the assurance at a brief ceremony in the State House to sign the bill establishing the University of Petroleum Resources, Effurun, Delta State, into law, the president said “this administration is fully committed to supporting the Niger Delta in its endeavours to achieve socio-economic development.”

He appealed to all communities in the region to strive for peace through dialogue in resolving all conflicts not only among them, but also with business entities and the authorities.

With the signing of the bill into law, the path has been cleared for the establishment of the specialised university in the Niger Delta, charged with training and research in petroleum technologies.

Premium Times 

Akwa United FC of Uyo win AITEO Cup

On an exciting evening of football at the Agege Stadium, Lagos, 2015 champions of Nigeria’s oldest and biggest domestic competition, Akwa United FC of Uyo on Sunday retained the title, now named AITEO Cup.

After a 0-0 scoreline at the end of 90 minutes, the Promise Keepers prevailed 3-2 after penalty shoot –out to become the first winners of the AITEO trophy.

during the 2017 Aiteo Cup Final match between Akwa United v Niger Tornadoes on October 15th 2017 at Agege Stadium Lagos
©Kabiru Abubakar/fotodezamora

Victory handed Akwa United, whose goalkeeper Olorunleke Ojo won both the Best Goalkeeper and Most Valuable Player awards and whose Coach, Abdu Maikaba was adjudged the Best Coach, a ticket to represent Nigeria in the 2018 CAF Confederation Cup competition.

Akwa United forward Christian Pyagbara also claimed the Top Scorer’s award with his seven goals in this year’s competition.

The colourful final was watched by eminent personalities, including Governors Akinwunmi Ambode (Lagos), Udom Emmanuel (Akwa Ibom) and Abubakar Sani Bello (Niger State), CAF President Ahmad, CAF Vice Presidents Kwesi Nyantakyi and Omari Selemani, CAF Emergency Committee members Souleman Waberi and Amaju Melvin Pinnick, Executive Committee members of NFF, chieftains of sponsors AITEO, NFF Management, Members of the Lagos State Executive Council and members of the diplomatic community.

BONNY-BODO ROAD PROJECT: A PROMISE KEPT BY PRESIDENT BUHARI TO TRANSFORM NIGER DELTA – VP OSINBAJO

FG keeping faith with Niger Delta New Vision to bring prosperity to the region, says VP Osinbajo

The new vision for the Niger Delta is a new way of thinking and of doing, aimed at ensuring that the people of the Delta benefit maximally from the wealth of their land. It is the embodiment of our commitment to achieving a clean break from the neglect and the failed promises that defined the past.

 

 

ADDRESS BY HIS EXCELLENCY, PROF. YEMI OSINBAJO, SAN, GCON, VICE PRESIDENT, FEDERAL REPUBLIC OF NIGERIA, AT THE GROUNDBREAKING CEREMONY OF THE BONNY-BODO BRIDGE/ROAD PROJECT, HELD AT BONNY ISLAND, RIVERS STATE, ON THURSDAY, OCTOBER 12, 2017.

 

I rejoice with the people of Rivers State on this significant day, marking the flag-off of the Bonny-Bodo Road/Bridges project, which will link the Island of Bonny to the Mainland of Bodo.

The idea behind the Bonny-Bodo Bridge is about 40 years old; but until now, it has remained merely an idea.

It is no secret that at one time in our very recent past, Nigeria earned in excess of $100 for every barrel of crude oil sold, yet significant projects like the Bonny-Bodo Bridge remained undone.

Today, we are earning probably 60% less than in the past five years, but we are spending the highest ever amount on capital projects so that projects like the Bonny-Bodo Bridge are being done.

The Buhari administration is proving that the clear advantage of good governance is that you can do more with less.    

In his inaugural speech on May 29, 2015, President Buhari promised to invest heavily in the Niger Delta, and to ensure peace and prosperity. Today is, therefore, not only for the flag-off of an important road project, it is also for the commemoration of a promise kept.

The Bonny-Bodo bridge and road project is a Public Private Partnership arrangement, in which the Federal Government and the Nigeria Liquefied Natural Gas Company Limited (NLNG) will each bear 50 percent of the N120.6 billion that it will cost to complete the bridge. It is only the latest in a series of similarly transformational infrastructure partnerships ongoing across the country.

Government’s gratitude goes to the NLNG for their enthusiasm and their cooperation, for putting their money towards this landmark project. I hope that other companies and corporations will emulate them in this regard.

This administration is a firm believer in the power and potential of the private sector to deliver the infrastructure that Nigeria urgently requires. It is clear that government cannot, on its own, plug Nigeria’s intimidating infrastructure deficit – nor should it even try to. The Federal Government welcomes the private sector to take the lead, proceeding with the assurance that we will be there every step of the way as enablers and catalysts.

It is the Federal Government’s firm belief that the greatest proof that democracy works ought to be found in the tangible improvements that citizens experience in their lives and communities.

This road, during construction, will create jobs directly for engineers, artisans, and labourers, and indirectly for food vendors and suppliers, transporters, quarry operators and so many others in the construction value chain.

Upon completion, the project will permanently transform the lives of tens of thousands of Nigerian citizens in and around Bonny Island. It will alleviate the hardship faced by commuters along the Bonny-Bodo axis; facilitate the operations of the NLNG, and bring significant benefit to the lives of farmers, traders, schoolchildren and travellers.

The Bonny-Bodo Bridge project is a dividend of the blossoming peace in the Niger Delta. For this, government’s gratitude goes to all the Stakeholders: Governors, Traditional Rulers, Community Leaders, Civil Society Groups, Women, Youths and all those who have accepted our hand of fellowship and demonstrated faith in our New Vision for the Niger Delta.

The first of November will make it one year since the meeting of Niger Delta elders under the aegis of the Pan Niger Delta Forum (PANDEF) with President Muhammadu Buhari, which set in motion a chain of events that delivered that new vision.

The new vision for the Niger Delta is a new way of thinking and of doing, aimed at ensuring that the people of the Delta benefit maximally from the wealth of their land. It is the embodiment of our commitment to achieving a clean break from the neglect and the failed promises that defined the past.

Since the beginning of the year, I have visited all the states of the Niger Delta and a number of the oil bearing communities, sharing the message of the new vision, and even more importantly, listening and engaging with citizens and communities.

Every part of Nigeria matters to us as a government. We will continue to demonstrate this in ways small and large,

Your Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen, on behalf of the President and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Muhammadu Buhari, GCFR, and on behalf of the Federal Government of Nigeria, I have the distinct honour and pleasure of flagging-off the Bonny-Bodo Bridge, as a symbol of change, of hope, of renewal, and of our commitment to investing in what truly matters the most – the welfare of our people.

Long live our democracy. Thank you and God bless the Niger Delta, and Nigeria.

VP OSINBAJO TO FLAG-OFF BONNY-BODO ROAD PROJECT

Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, SAN, will on Thursday flag off the construction of the N120 billion Bonny-Bodo road project.

The 34-kilometre road project, linking Bonny Island to the mainland for the first time in history, is jointly funded by Nigeria LNG and the Federal Government.

When completed, the 34-kilometres road would connect several major communities in the Niger Delta region such as Bonny Island, Ogoni, Okrika, Eleme and Andoni. It would also boost socio-economic development and improve the lives of people in the Niger Delta region.

The road project is in line with the Federal Government’s Niger Delta New Vision to “develop a new and prosperous Niger Delta through the forthright partnerships between the Federal Government, State Governments, Private Sector and Local Communities.”

It will be recalled that the Federal Ministry of Power, Works and Housing, in September, had signed a tripartite agreement of N120 billion with Nigeria Liquefied Natural Gas, NLNG, and Julius Berger Plc. for the construction of Bonny-Bodo road.

The Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Mr. Babatunde Fashola, at the tripartite agreement and contract signing in Abuja had noted that the project would revive and strengthen the nation’s economy.

Mr. Fashola further noted that the project was in line with the Buhari administration’s Economic Recovery and Growth Plan, of which infrastructure development is a major pillar.

He said, “The project portrays the commitment of the government to clean and build up as well as reposition the Niger Delta region recognising the private sector partnership in the country.”