Dayo Ibitoye: Driving the Niger Delta New Vision through the SIWP

By Dayo Ibitoye 

Niger Delta, the region that produces the lifeline of Nigeria’s economy – oil, is home to about 31 million people in nine states. Oil was discovered in the region in Oloibiri, which is in present day Bayelsa State, in 1956. However, ever since oil was discovered in the region, there has been a roller coaster of security and development issues.

The Federal Government, in her bid to resolve the insecurity issues bedevilling the region, took significant steps to engage the Delta’s disaffected communities. In 2009, it introduced the amnesty programme, a disarmament programme which granted an unconditional pardon to all persons who have directly or indirectly participated in militant activities in the Niger Delta. The Presidential Amnesty Implementation Committee upheld the fact that militant’s disarmament was only a first step towards bringing development to the Niger Delta since there cannot be development without peace.

Another significant issue the Federal Government had to deal with was crude oil theft, which became widespread as a result of pipeline vandalism and related criminal vices in the country’s oil sector. Efforts by the Federal Government to curtail the illegal diversion of oil in the Niger Delta through increased security spending in recent years as well as the hire of private security firms and equipping officers of the Nigeria Security and Civil Defense Corps (NSCDC) did not lead to any measurable gain.

Under the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari, there have been significant strides to improve the fortunes of the region. One of these steps was engagements with key stakeholders in the region. In November 2016, President Buhari engaged the Pan Niger Delta Development Forum (PANDEF), which provides a concerted regional voice with the capacity to articulate and advance regional concerns and interest as well as engage with the Federal Government. In its first meeting with the Federal Government, PANDEF submitted a 16-point demand, which was subsequently captured in the Federal Government’s 20-point agenda for the development of the Niger Delta region.

The Buhari administration also explored further consultations with stakeholders in the region. On behalf of the President, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, SAN, was delegated to lead the consultations and undertake a tour of the oil producing communities in January 2017. The government issued a call for a roadmap to end militancy and promote concerted development in the region by outlining its 20-point agenda, which represents broad sets of objectives and clearly defined statements of intents for the region covering oil and gas investment, infrastructure development, agriculture and youth employment, as well as security stabilization measures in the region. These interventions by the Government has been tagged the Niger Delta New Vision. The Niger Delta New Vision is designed to develop a new and prosperous Niger Delta through the forthright partnerships between the Federal Government, State Governments, Private Sector and Local Communities.

 

To enable the effective implementation of the New Vision for the Niger Delta, the Federal Government constituted an Inter-Ministerial Working Group (IMWG), which is chaired by the Vice President, with membership drawn from the critical agencies of government involved with Niger Delta. These include the Ministries of Niger Delta, Environment, Petroleum Resources, Works and Housing, NDDC and Presidential Amnesty Programme. The IMWG meets quarterly to review development in the region and prescribe strategic responses. The Vice President mandated the Inter-Ministerial Technical Working Group, which is a subset of the Inter-Ministerial Working Group to develop a development compact called the Strategic Implementation Work Plan which incorporates the PANDEF’s 16-point agenda and the 20-point agenda of the government, along with the various initiatives planned by the Ministries and agencies as well as the oil and gas operators in the region.

 

The Federal Government has since made significant success in the implementation of the Niger Delta New Vision. Some of the projects in the SIWP that has received significant attention include the take-off of Maritime University in Delta State, commencement of Ogoni Clean-up, approval for the establishment of Modular Refineries, the continued implementation of the Presidential Amnesty Programme and infrastructural investments like the Bonny-Bodo Road and Ibaka Deep Sea Port.

 

However, despite the commitments and attendant responsiveness from the Federal Government, a lot of advocacy is still needed to enable the speedy adoption and implementation of the SIWP.  So far, the Federal Government has demonstrated its political will to ensure that the SIWP is fully implemented. Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) play a significant role in the success of the implementation of the SIWP and by extension the success of the Niger Delta New Vision. CSOs, as we all know, is a vehicle through which citizens can aggregate their interests, voice their preference and exercise the power necessary to effect sustained change.  One major foreseeable hindrance to the implementation of the SIWP is the low political and budgetary commitments to the implementation of the SIWP by the Government. CSO advocacy will be vital to driving more Government commitment to hasten this process. This will require CSOs to play a variety of complementary role that includes stepping down the message of the SIWP to citizens and local community representatives in the Niger Delta. The Federal Government has also made several promises to work alongside the CSOs to actualize this laudable initiative.

In the words of Jan Eliasson, a former UN Deputy Secretary-General, “There is no peace without development, and there is no development without peace’’. The SIWP, if effectively adopted and implemented, will help to ameliorate development in the Niger Delta, and improve the living conditions of the people through economic and infrastructural development. Maintaining the peace and stability in the region is needed to ensure this is a possibility.

 

 

Busayo Anike: How deep sea ports can develop Niger Delta, boost national economy

By Busayo Anike

Under the New Vision for the Niger Delta region, the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari has proposed the establishment of Ibaka Deep Sea Port in Akwa Ibom State. The port is expected to boost economic activities in the region.

Up to five Deep Sea Port projects are in works in various part of Nigeria – Lekki, Badagry, Ibaka, Olokola, Ogidgben, Agege – in Lagos, Akwa Ibom, Ondo/Ogun, Delta and Bayelsa states. Of these locations, Lekki, Badagry and Akwa Ibom are often more reported about; with Lekki being a hive of development and technological advancements for the nation as the Federal Government recently pledged $1.5 Billion dollars into its progression, with Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, SAN, stating the project was a step in line to the federal government Economic Recovery Growth Plan (ERGP) – and the Akwa Ibom Deep Sea Port (IDSP) proposed to project economic advantages beyond its contemporaries currently under construction in other parts in Nigeria, as it is strategically positioned in the Gulf Guinea among up to 19 countries requiring various maritime services.

A deep sea port characterized by its location around a river or water channel that acts as a gateway to a large body of water channel that allows for protected staging and anchoring, or docking, for ships to load and unload consignments. Usually, deep sea ports are built in locations that have direct access to the open waters of the sea/ocean. Of the reported total of more than the 100 sea ports expansion in the world, more than half (up to 75%, as the studies show) are Deep Sea Ports (also known as Deepwater Ports).

The recent evident need for Deep Sea Ports, as stated, is a step towards regrowth of the nation’s economic plans. As the existing ports located in Lagos State, Rivers State, Cross Rivers and Delta state can no longer be solely depended upon. As Nigeria is largest importer and exporter of cargo in the West African region, it would be a reasonable goal to have one of the Deep Sea Ports to become the central hub for west and central African port services. As it is evident that bigger ships contain more cargo than the smaller ships and as companies obtain these bigger ships, a Deep Sea Port is the next logical conclusion.

The advantages a Deep Sea Port provides to a nation as large as Nigeria are numerous. Right of the gate, the construction and maintenance of a Deep Sea Port as large as the projected port in Lekki, Lagos would require thousands of constant workers, thereby providing countless jobs, stable jobs, for citizens both skilled and unskilled. With a targeted 1.5 million Twenty-foot Equivalent Units (TEU) container capacity annually, the Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo, said the completed project would generate up to 170,000 jobs in the economy; as President Buhari promises the Lekki Deep Sea Port would generate up to $200 billion dollars for the nation. In the global market, a Deep Sea Port would put a nation like Nigeria ever boldly on the map of the world’s business markets. It has been reported that over 100 global companies have begun displaying eager interests in the Akwa Ibom Deep Sea Port development. As disclosed by the State Commissioner of Housing and Duties, Akan Okon, up to 75% of paper work leading to actualization of the port have been achieved and cleared. “I am happy to tell you that as of today, the 27th of February, 2018, the bidding is still open, with over 100 companies across the globe displaying interest, with more expected to arrive,” said Akan Okon.

Like adding a train stop to a settlement to attract businesses, tourists and a prosperous population, the deep sea ports would vastly contribute to the growth of a city, a region and a nation. Placing a deep sea port, as opposed to a regular port, would bring in business of immeasurable scales to a community, with job opportunities especially being the selling factor and most importantly curbing youths restiveness.

Ogoni clean-up: NDDC begins training for technical assistants

The Managing Director of the Niger Delta Development Commission, Dr Nsima Ekere, on Friday hosted a two-day training workshop for technical assistants in the Ogoni clean-up and remediation project at the conference hall of the National Oil Spill Detection and Response Agency in Port Harcourt, Rivers State.

According to the PUNCH, Ekere, who was represented by the NDDC Director, Special Duties, Dr. Princewill Ekanim, said that the commission would collaborate with Hydrocarbon Pollution Remediation project, to provide the necessary support in the effort to tackle the environmental concerns of the Ogoni people and restore their native occupation of farming and fishing.

“There are over 5,000 impacted sites in the Niger Delta region and about 25 per cent are in Ogoniland,” he said.

The NDDC stressed the need to make the exercise a success to provide the road map to the clean-up of all hydrocarbon impacted sites in the Niger Delta region.

Ekere said, “The commission is to work with oil companies operating in the region and other stakeholders to carry out this task.’’

The Project Coordinator for HYREP, Dr. Marvin Dekil, underscored the essence of the training on oil spill assessment, stating that it would develop the capacity of the young environmental scientists as well as foster the involvement of the Ogoni community in the project.

Niger Delta: Air Force to deploy drones to protect oil facilities

In line with combatting insecurities in the Niger Delta region, the Nigerian Air Force has said it would deploy its recently inducted drones or unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) to help protect oil and gas pipelines, as well as oil installations in the creeks of Niger Delta.

In a statement by the Director of Public Relations and Information, Air Vice Marshal, Olatokunbo Adesanya, the Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar, noted that the operation was  to ensure that the maritime domain is safe for social and economic activities by preventing oil theft, pipe vandalism, militancy, kidnapping and other forms of economic disruption.

Abubakar was quoted as saying this while playing host to the Managing Director and Country Chairman of Shell Companies in Nigeria, Mr. Osagie Okunbor at the Nigerian Air Force Headquarters recently, Vanguard reported.

The CAS confirmed that over the years, the Nigerian Air Force has been actively involved in combating all manners of economic sabotage, thereby ensuring protection of national assets and at the same time, promoting general safety of the maritime environment. In view of this, NAF inducted an operational drone named “Tsagumi”.

He added that the Tsagumi could also be used to police operations, manage disasters, convoy protection, maritime patrol, monitor pipeline and power line as well as map and border patrol duties.

Vanguard reported that the newly inducted UAV has day and night capability, an operational endurance in excess of 10 hours and a mission radius of 100km.

The CAS further chipped that the NAF was ready to partner with Shell Companies in Nigeria to produce more of the TSAGUMI UAV, an option that will help eliminate the cost of importing drones from other countries. He disclosed that this act will help develop and promote local content as well as save more foreign exchange for the country.

Abubakar said, “Consequently, the Service will be willing to send experts to Shell to make necessary presentation on the capabilities of the Tsaigumi UAV and explore mutually beneficial ways to better secure Shell facilities while further developing the NAF’s UAV capability.”

In his remarks, Okunbor thanked the NAF for its continuous support, noting that the deployment of UAVs in the region would indeed further help to secure oil facilities and other crucial economic assets.

It would be recalled that the NAF recently launched its Operation Thunder Strike against Boko Haram.

NDPHC boosts power supply, commissions 2 injection substations

*Over 70 distribution projects ongoing across the country

THE management of Niger Delta Power Holding Company (NDPHC), owners of National Integrated Power Projects (NIPP) has commissioned two injection substations of 30 Mega Volt Ampere (MVA) capacity to boost electricity supply in Lagos and its environs.

The Managing Director of NDPHC, Mr. Chiedu Ugbo, who inaugurated the project on Tuesday in Lagos, said the two 15 MVA power injection substations would boost electricity supply to customers within Ikeja Disco and its environs.
Ugbo said that the company was not just concerned with increasing the quantum of power distributed, but also the quality of electricity is supplied, according to Tribune.

The NDPHC boss said that one of the injection substations is a 15 MVA, a 33/11KV capacity which currently has a peak load of 7.7 megawatts, adding that it was a dream comes true for the people of Lagos.
He said the project was constructed by the Niger Delta Power Holding Company (NDPHC) under the National Integrated Power Project (NIPP) of the Federal Government.

Ugbo said that the project would go a long way in boosting the economy of the state through the expansion and sustainability of small-scale businesses.

According to him, “As from today, the residents within the Ikeja Disco and its environs would start benefiting from the effective and efficient power supply. The substation is currently serving Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) within the community including banks, eateries, shopping plazas, roadside shops, welders, block industries as well as religious places of worship.

“Part of the 11kv line from injection substation has been connected to Ikeja Disco existing network. This connection makes the substation coverage wide in serving the communities within Alimosho Local Government Area.
“We are working tirelessly to ensure that all pending project is completed soonest, We have over 70 distribution projects ongoing across the country.”

The NDPHC boss said that when all pending projects are completed it would increase electricity supply to various communities across the country.

He said that the project was part of the Federal Government’s power sector recovery programme to boost electricity generation and distribution system.

The managing director said that NDPHC projects would help to address key bottlenecks in the distribution network and improve access to affordable and reliable electricity service to Nigerians.

He, however, lauded Mr Babatunde Fashola, the Minister of Power, Works and Housing, under whose leadership, NDPHC was transformed better for effective service delivery.

Ugbo said that over 40 projects have been completed in the last two years under his watch while commending his predecessor, Mr James Olotu for his effort in ensuring effective monitoring and completion of projects to meet world standard.

Our plan to transform education in Niger Delta – NDDC

*FG to launch Niger Delta Digital Learning Programme

*Laptop, Tabs factory proposed for region

The Federal Government in collaboration with the 9 Niger Delta states and the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) will launch a pilot of the Niger Delta Digital Learning programme this September.

The initiative will transform the education of primary and secondary school students in the region by replacing antiquated traditional teaching methods and textbooks with digital content delivered through tablet computers and mobile devices.

This will standardise the learning process, improve teacher’s productivity and increase student’s learning capacity. The programme will help the region to develop its human capacity in line with the Federal Government’s commitment to invest in human capital development as expressed in the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP).

More details will be released in the coming days.

Towards a healthy Niger Delta: NDDC pledges N50m to fight malaria

The Niger Delta Development Corporation has inaugurated the Governing Board of the NDDC Professorial Chair on Malaria Elimination and Phyto-medicine Research at the University of Port Harcourt (UNIPORT) Rivers State.

This was disclosed today by the Managing Director/ Chief Executive Officer of the NDDC, Mr. Nsima Ekere.

The endowment fund, which is worth N50 million, will help reduce cases of malaria through strategic control, curtailing breeding, transmission, as well as help reduce cost of treatment.

The fund will be redeemed in two instalments of N25 million per annum for an initial period of two years. Ekere said the corporation has already released the first tranche of N25 million for the Malaria Chair Research Program.

He said, “Considering the prevalence of the malaria in tropical Africa and particularly the Niger Delta region, the importance of this research fund cannot be over emphasised. A healthy Niger Delta will help the NDDC in its mandate and determination to build a wealthy region.”

Shun selfish agenda, Dokubo urges Niger Delta leaders

*Presidential Amnesty Programme major factor for peace in region – PANDEF

The Special Adviser to the President on Niger Delta Affairs and Coordinator, Presidential Amnesty Programme, Prof. Charles Quaker Dokubo,has urged to leaders and elders of the Niger Delta region to shun all selfish agenda and advise government in a manner that would bring prosperity to the region and its people.

Dokubo said this on Wednesday in Abuja when members of the national executive committee of Pan Niger Delta Forum (PANDEF), met with him. He also urged them not to pursue individual interests, but offer him advice and guidance that would benefit the people of the region, the Independent reported.

He noted that issues of the Niger Delta were being addressed by the Federal Government, describing the amnesty programme as work in progress, just as he said it was time for Niger Deltans to put things in order and do the needful.

“We’ve questioned authority, we’ve questioned governance; and now, we also have the time to set our house in order; to do the things that we are supposed to do. I believe that the guidance you are going to give me will only benefit our Niger Delta people; guidance that is not supposed to benefit individuals, but our people, I believe we shall be on course,” he said.

While expressing his determination to chart a new direction for the amnesty programme, Dokubo emphasised the need for qualitative training that would give jobs to beneficiaries, noting that this was the panacea to sustainable peace in the Niger Delta.

Dokubo said, “Without peace, there will be no development, and without development, there will be no peace. For me, that is a cardinal thing. The Niger Delta has gone through difficult period; agitations over marginalisation and the fight for redress of the situation.

“I believe that we have started redressing the situation. This policy did not start with me; it has been there for some time before I took over office. And what I have to do is to drive a new direction; a direction that has been influenced by meetings with people that are better exposed to the situation here.

“I believe we should train people and train them in such a way that they should have qualifications that will give them job, and that is the direction I am going to adopt.

“Contracts on training and all that will not just be trainings; there must be a City and Guides issue that we must address. We must have the capacity to give our delegates some qualification that would enable them to work wherever they could; that will empower them. It’s not only about mass education; it’s qualitative education. Let our people have quality education that will make them stand tall. That is what I want to do,” he stressed.

Earlier, Air Comdr. Idongesit Nkanga (rtd), PANDEF National Chairman, had attributed the peace in the Niger Delta to the amnesty initiative, which he said, was vital for development of the region.

East-West Road: FG set up 4-man Ministerial Committee

*Committee to ensure speedy completion of project

 

The Federal Executive Council (FEC) presided over by Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo, SAN, has approved a four-member ministerial committee charged with the responsibility of ensuring speedy completion of the East-West Road in the Niger Delta and ₦142.5 billion for construction of roads across the country.

Briefing state house correspondents on the outcome of the council’s meeting, The Minister of Transportation, Mr. Rotimi Amaechi, revealed that the committee consists of Minister of Information and Culture, Mr. Lai Mohammed; Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Mr. Usani Uguru Usani; and the Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Mr. Babatunde Fashola. He stated further that the members of the committee would undertake an inspection tour round the construction site to appraise the ongoing project in ensuring its speedy completion of the East –West Road which was mooted in 2006 under the administration of former president Olusegun Obasanjo.

The chairman of the committee, Amaechi advertently disclosed that the council approved ₦1.67 billion for the procurement of equipment for the Lagos–Kano narrow gauge in line with an initial interim agreement signed between the federal government and the GE (General Electrical).

The council also approved ₦1.2 billion for the purchase of 18 flat-bed wagons to be operated on the narrow gauge rail line by the Nigerian Railway Corporation.

He said ₦18.874 billion of the amount would be expended on the maintenance of the Third Mainland Bridge in Lagos as part of the federal government’s National Bridge Maintenance Strategy.

Fashola said the Third Mainland Bridge contract was awarded to one of the original contractors for the project, Borini Prono of Italy.

He said the construction company was expected to carry out maintenance works on 33 out of the 177 piles of the bridge which were in critical condition.

According to him, part of the repair works on the bridge will also involve the maintenance of General Expansion Joint Replacement and will be completed within 27 months.

The minister said the budget for the repair on the bridge was captured in the 2017 appropriation law. He said council also approved ₦80.19 billion as revised amount for the second section of the 84 kilometres Lagos-Ibadan expressway project.

275 Niger Delta youths benefit from agriculture training, empowerment

No fewer than 275 youths in Niger Delta region have benefited from the Nigerian Agip Oil Company (NAOC) and its Joint Venture agro skills acquisition through the Green Rivers Project scheme.

The Vice Chairman/Managing Director of NAOC, Massimo Insulla, said the special agricultural scheme was introduced in 2016 to meet the present day economic and social realities and to bridge the gap between the aging farmers and make agriculture attractive to youths.

The Guardian reported that, Insulla, who spoke at the graduation ceremony for pioneer class of 2017/2018 NAOC-JV Agro-Skills Acquisition Training Programme in Port Harcourt at the weekend, said the scheme was introduced to increase employment generation.

He added that the choice of agriculture for the empowerment of youths was in line with the Federal Government’s vision on diversification.

The trainees were drawn from the four states of NAOC operations, Rivers, Bayelsa, Delta, and Imo States were trained in Skills such as fisheries, poultry, livestock and crop farming.