Niger Delta: 2,500 Amnesty beneficiaries for training in fishing sector

In line with the Federal Government’s Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP) to boost the economy, the Presidential Amnesty Programme has disclosed its plans to train 2,500 beneficiaries of the Amnesty Programme.

According to a statement from the Amnesty Office, the Special Adviser to the President on Niger Delta Affairs and Coordinator, Amnesty Programme, Prof. Charles Dokubo, further said 2,000 of the beneficiaries would be employed in the fishing sector at the end of the programme.

Senior Special Assistant to the President, on Niger Delta, Mr. Edobor                 Iyamu, addressing the SAD Amnesty at the meeting in Abuja

Dokubo was quoted as saying that 100 fishing trawlers would be built in Burutu, Delta State, for the training programme expected to commence soon.

 “Towards this end, 100 fishing trawlers are to be built in Burutu, Delta State, for the training programme which is expected to commence soon, at the end of which 2000 of the beneficiaries would be employed,” the statement read.

Inaugurating an implementation committee comprising five subcommittees for the project, Dokubo was quoted as saying that the training will open a vista of opportunities for beneficiaries.”

Ex Delta Gov, Uduaghan, lauds Buhari administration’s Niger Delta New Vision

Former Governor of Delta State, Emmanuel Uduaghan, has commended the Buhari Administration’s Niger Delta New Vision.

He made this disclosure in a statement made available to journalists on Wednesday titled ‘Moving On To The Bigger Playing Field’.

In the statement, Uduaghan noted that the toughest challenge for any leader in the Niger Delta since 1997 has been the issue of Peace and Security.

The New Vision, which is being implemented by the Federal Government, is aimed at developing a new and prosperous Niger Deltaand ensuring that the people of the region benefit maximally from the wealth of their land.

Uduaghan said, “Since the inception of the current All Progressive Congress, APC, the administration at the Federal level, there has been an encouraging interest and activities by President Muhammadu Buhari to bring a permanent solution to the Niger Delta crisis and it has pointed in a direction that is at once Progressive and Developmental”.

He further said that “Rather than using the military to harass our people, the Buhari Administration has embarked on various engagement processes that have led to agreements and brought hope to the people of the Niger Delta”.

“In the last years, Mr President has personally engaged several regional leaders and youths. Senior officials of his administration also engaged many Niger Delta leaders and youths. Very significant is that Mr President mandated the Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, SAN, to visit virtually all the oil-producing states, engaging various stakeholders. This is unprecedented in the history of the region. Such engagement processes have brought some measure of peace in the Niger Delta. Things can only get better”.

Uduaghan further disclosed that, “beyond the engagement processes, the Buhari administration has embarked on some infrastructural and human capital development activities in the region.”

He said, “In Delta State, the opening of a Maritime University; the setting up of a steering committee for the EPZ (GAS CITY), the plan for a deep sea port, the dredging of the Escravos-Warri River; the opening of the railway line to Delta Steel Company, the soon to be flagged off, by Mr. President, the Omadino-Escravos Road that will pass through many riverine communities; the various road construction works by the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), the various TCN projects across the State are some of the positive activities in the region”.

“There are also various human capital development programmes especially the school feeding and the “social security net” that is making 5,000 Naira available to the poor, the continuation of the YouWin programme, the various SME programmes, and several other projects across the region that has brought hope to the people”.

Uduaghan further said, “In this era of partisan politics, it is necessary for the people of the Niger Delta, and Delta State, in particular, to identify more with the Federal Government led by the APC. By so doing, we can push some of the agreements between our leaders and the Federal Government through, and also engage the government to do more.”

However, he enjoined other well-meaning leaders in the region, who have very useful contributions to make, to come on board and join hands in supporting the Federal Government to pursue a robust development agenda that would uplift their people.

Niger Delta New Vision workshop: Partnership for regional development & nation-building: A Reporter’s Diary

By Jahrock Ujewe

The Agenda for Niger Delta New Vision media workshop held on August 2, 2018 at BON Hotel in Warri, Delta State, was different from another workshop I had attended prior to that day. Apart from focusing on the Niger Delta region, it brought together representatives from media houses and Civil society Organisations (CSOs), and offered them the opportunity to deliberate on government’s development efforts in the region. For critics, who had the perception that the President Muhammadu Buhari-led administration was not doing enough for the region, it was an eye opener for them, as some of the gains made were unveiled in the course of the session.

One startling moment at the workshop was when the current Vice Chancellor of the Maritime University, Okerenkoko, Delta State, Prof. Maureen Etebu, presented a paper on the journey so far at the institution. Contrary to the general misconceptions about the school, Prof. Etebu began her submission by saying that the university has fully commenced academic operations, and most importantly, the recently concluded recruitment exercise to fill vacant positions in the institution was done with uttermost sense of merit and credibility. This was an eye-opener for me and some other media representatives present, as the Vice Chancellor further disclosed that the Maritime University will be holding its first matriculation ceremony in October.

If the Maritime University, which currently has about 300 pioneer students, holds successfully its first matriculation ceremony, it will put to bed the negative reports about the current government’s interest towards the take-off of the school and it will definitely be a plus to its desire to ensure the government is a continuum, in terms of inherited projects and project implementation.

Due to the existence of illegal refineries in the Niger Delta region, there has been calls for government to look at alternative means to exploit these activities for economic gains. It was really interesting to know that the present Buhari administration is responding now, thereby showing its commitment to the environmental well-being of the Niger Delta region. The Technical Assistant to the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources on Refineries and Downstream Infrastructure, Mr. Christopher Ilukhor, while delivering a  on Modular Refineries, noted some gains recorded so far. As part of the Niger Delta New Vision, the President Muhammadu Buhari-led administration has licensed some modular refinery operators to commence operations. Two of such refineries are being constructed in the region.

Participants were shown pictorial evidence of the level of work done at one of the modular refineries in Kwale, Delta State. This refinery would soon commence operations and it would create some substantial amount of quality jobs for Nigerians. This is clearly a departure from the past, where promises were made but not fulfilled.

My experience at the workshop will not be complete, if I do not talk about the break out session on the role of the media in communicating the Niger Delta New Vision.

Among other things, the Niger Delta New Vision is about the progress and stability of the region. This breakout session for the media, anchored by Philip Jakpor, sought to correct the negative impression created by the usual narratives in the media about the Niger Delta.

I must admit that a section of the media has portrayed the region as being hostile to investors and other agents of meaningful development. While the Niger Delta has been subjected to exploitation and underdevelopment, the need for balanced reportage was adequately stressed. Putting the region in the right perspective in news reports will not only attract investors, but guarantee sustainable development and stability.

The workshop deservedly came to an end with the Senior Special Assistant on Economic Matters, in the Office of the Vice President, Mr. Edobor Iyamu, saying that the Niger Delta region is perpetually in the eye of the Federal Government, noting that the Buhari administration remains determined to implement its developmental plans for the region. That says a lot.

As a media professional, I am ready to partner with the government on the Niger Delta New Vision towards a prosperous region by setting the agenda right in my reportage.

Niger Delta: NDDC Promises More Infrastructure 

The Chairman of the Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC, Victor Ndoma-Egbe says the commission will continue to restore hope to the people of Niger Delta region.
According to AIT online, the NDDC chairman stated this during the inspection of remedial works on the 30 kilometre Okigwe/Akokwa road in Imo state.
The 30-kilometre Okigwe/Akokwa road is a major federal road linking the sister states of Imo and Abia.
Some sections of the road have been major headache for motorists and commuters operating within that axis until the intervention of the NDDC to restore the failed sections
He said the NDDC is committed to the well-being of Niger Deltans, hence the need to implement projects that would change their fortunes
The emergency intervention project was awarded three months ago and seventeen kilometers of asphalt has been carried out.
In the same vein, Vanguard reported that the State Commissioner on the board of Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC, Dr Ogaga Ifowodo,  has assured  that the era of abandonment of projects in the commission was over, adding that the commission had set aside 70 per cent of its annual budget for completion of some  existing projects.
Ifowodo, was quoted while speaking at  the palace of the Ovie of Enhwe, in Isoko South Local Government Area, Delta State,  His Royal Majesty, Anthony Efekodha.
According to the Vanguard, he said the commission decided that 70 percent of its annual budget would go for completion of existing projects while 30 per cent would be for new projects, expressing hope that this measure would ensure the completion of many viable seemingly abandoned projects.

Niger Delta: Amnesty office partners NOSDRA on disaster reduction

*NOSDRA commends Dokubo for his efforts at deepening peace, stability in region

Special Adviser to the President on Niger Delta and Coordinator, Amnesty Programme (PAP), Prof. Charles Dokubo, has said PAP will collaborate with the National Oil Spill Detection and Response Agency (NOSDRA) on disaster reduction programmes in the Niger Delta.

He said the scope of the collaboration would include sensitisation campaigns on environmental hazards, occasioned by decades of oil exploitation and safety measures.

In a statement by his Special Assistant on Media, Murphy Ganagana, he explained that plans are underway for a conference on oil exploration and environmental degradation to look into the geological background of the Niger Delta and impact assessment.

He reiterated the readiness of his office to partner NOSDRA towards curtailing the effects of environmental degradation on communities in the Niger Delta, the SUN reported.

The amnesty boss gave the assurance on Wednesday in Abuja at a meeting with NOSDRA Director General, Sir Peter Idabor.

He described plans for disaster reduction programmes in the Niger Delta in partnership with his office as a step in the right direction.

Dokubo said, “I think we have to look at the ripple effects of environment degradation. Environmental degradation and economic resurgence is one issue we should always look at. It has taken a long time and now that the government has decided that clean up period has come, it is commendable. I face a peculiar problem in the sense that whenever there is a crisis, most of the people I deal with will go and blow up pipelines and I always tell them they are blowing up pipes that are in their own environment and that children yet unborn will suffer from these activities.

“Now that you want to create awareness, I think that it is very good. Oil pollution, these are not things that we hear in developed countries. The new technologies are available that we can use now, but for our environment, it is already devastated. To resuscitate it, to create the awareness that this environment belongs to us and if we don’t take care of it, it is going to affect us negatively, it is a good step and I think we will all do that.”

Earlier, Idabor said the agency was concerned about the health of people living in the Niger Delta, especially the infusion of toxic substances through food chains.

While commending Dokubo for his efforts at deepening peace and stability in the Niger Delta, Idabor called for the conversion of deep pits, created during the construction of major roads in the Niger Delta, to fish ponds to create jobs and wealth for PAP beneficiaries.

“We have noticed that your activities have drastically reduced cases of vandalisation of pipelines in the Niger Delta, and we commend you for that. We are here to rub minds with you. We are responsible for the national oil spill contingency plan which is geared towards the third-tier oil spills in the country.

“As part of our operations, we are very much concerned about the health of our people there, and sometimes, our greatest concern is the infusion of some of these toxic substances through the food chains and the effect on the health of our people. So, one of the things we do in our office is to help create awareness; to sensitise people on how to deal with this problem of having oil spillage in their immediate environment.

Development and Infrastructure in the Niger-Delta: Fruits of Buhari – Osinbajo’s Stabilizing Interventions

By Chukwudi Enekwechi

Acting President Yemi Osinbajo has become famous among Nigerians for gainfully using the powers of his office to advance the socio-economic agenda of the President Muhammadu Buhari administration. For example in the heat of the Niger Delta crisis when militants resorted to blowing up oil installations, which crippled the country’s economy Professor Osinbajo took up the gauntlet and waded into finding lasting solutions to the problems in the Niger Delta region.

His interventions as manifested in his engagement with the Niger Delta leaders under the umbrella of Pan Niger Delta Forum led to the acceptance of dialogue by the Niger Delta agitators who eventually dropped their arms and saved the country from a total economic collapse and perennial restiveness in the region.

While it clear that some demands of the Pan Niger Delta Forum have not been fully implemented by the federal government, yet we see an obvious commitment on their part to fulfill most of their obligations to the Niger Delta region, and Professor Osinbajo is at the helm of seeing all these come to fruition. His inclination towards the maintenance of peace in the region has helped to stop the incessant interruption in the production and exploration of oil as a result of militancy, thereby improving the country’s economy and development.

In finding solutions to the problems confronting the region he has adopted some pragmatic approach, and the results are visible to all Nigerians. The reopening of Maritime University Okerenkoko in Delta state and establishment of modular refineries resonated well with the people and stakeholders of the region. The setting up of the modular refineries is a practical solution to the degradation of the region’s environment traceable to oil exploration.

Gladly the Buhari/Osinbajo administration is committed to the environmental remediation of the region as exemplified in the start of Ogoni clean-up programme.

The various empowerment programmes of the federal government which are targeted at supporting the youths of the region to lead useful lives have helped to provide the youths with gainful employment. In addition, the impartation of knowledge in various skills to the youths has played an important role in enhancing the productivity of the companies and other public institutions in the region.
The strengthening of the capacity of the Niger Delta Development Commission to deliver maximally on its mandate has raised the tempo of development in the region, especially in the area of infrastructural development and improvement in living standards.

As Nigerians continue to applaud Professor Yemi Osinbajo for his proactive leadership style, especially in the latest sacking of the director general of Department of State Services, Mr. Lawal Daura for acting ultra vires in the security siege at the National Assembly, it is discernible that the duo of Acting President, Professor Osinbajo and President Muhammadu Buhari are determined to bring succour, not only to the people of Niger Delta but to all Nigerians.

His timely intervention in bringing the National Assembly siege to a stop played a significant role in restoring the confidence of Nigerians to the security agencies, and reemphasised that rule of law remains sacrosanct in Nigeria.

Enekwechi is an Abuja based Journalist

“Ogoni Clean Up is well on track”

By Kpobari Nafo Joseph

The attention of the Management of the Hydrocarbon Pollution Remediation Project, HYPREP has been drawn to separate publications in The Guardian Newspaper of 6th August, 2018 with the titles, “Niger Delta Leaders, Stakeholders Decry Slow Pace of Ogoni Cleanup” and the Guardian editorial, “What’s delaying the Ogoni cleanup project”, respectively. While we appreciate the writers and stakeholders behind the op-eds for raising some genuine concerns over the Ogoniland clean-up, as well as the people of Ogoni for their understanding and cooperation with the Project Coordination Office of HYPREP; we equally want to put the records straight on other issues brought forward in the reports as HYPREP is making crucial and final preparations for the remediation of polluted sites in Ogoniland.

The report stated that the Federal Government only contributes a paltry N20 million in the 2018 spending plan for the clean-up and that it translates to breach of covenant with the environmentally embattled people of Ogoniland. This is not the case, as the said N20 million is only an administrative cost to be borne by government and not part of the remediation funds. The Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) and other International Oil Companies (IOCs) are the contributing partners to the initial $1 billion for the clean-up project. As such, the issue of breach of covenant does not arise.

The other issue raised was the alleged slowness in implementation two years after the project was flagged off. What many persons know, including experts, but are not willing to admit is the fact that the Ogoni clean-up project is first of its kind in Nigeria in terms of scope and complexity and unlike what was done in the past for a clean-up that lacked detailed remediation plan and a variegation of remediation technologies to treat contaminated soil, underground water and swamp, the assessment that recommended the Ogoniland clean-up was carried out by an international body, the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and so its implementation must of necessity meet international standards.

What we have done in the last 15 months is to follow those procedures and processes as recommended by the UNEP report and are now at the terminal stage to enter the field for remediation. What we do not want to do as a project is to sacrifice global standards on the altar of speed to get momentary commendation that cannot stand the test of time. A little more patience with us and we will get there.

It is gratifying to note that the Guardian editorial Board rightly noted that the Federal Government is “expected to create an Ogoniland Restoration Authority distinct from all existing institutions, create an environmental restoration fund, co-ordinate multi-stakeholders efforts and oversee institutional as well as regulatory reforms.” It also noted that “As part of government’s duty, President Buhari has since approved the setting up of a Board of Trustees to commence the process of implementation and also a Trust Fund to finance the programme.”

As stated above, we have done this and more in the past one and half years in line with the provisions of the UNEP report. And as each stakeholder is expected to play their individual roles towards the successful implementation of the project, we call on the Ogoni people to sustain the peace we all enjoy for the overall attainment of corporate goals.

The success of the Ogoniland clean-up is to provide the template for the clean-up of the rest of the Niger Delta where there is oil pollution. This is the reason the project is called Hydrocarbon Pollution Remediation Project, and not Ogoniland Restoration Authority, as was recommended by UNEP, so that it can apply to other hydrocarbon impacted lands outside Ogoni by the time the Ogoniland clean-up is accomplished.

On the supposition that the current fast-track of the clean-up process is aimed at drawing good will for the President in the 2019 general elections, nothing could be further from the truth than that. The President had shortly after assuming office launched the clean-up in fulfillment of his electoral promise during the 2015 presidential election and had followed it up with the setting up of a Governing Council and Board of Trustees – structures that were lacking in the former HYPREP. This was done to make it run with less inference of government and to outlive any particular regime of government. The Project Coordination Office was to come after and since then we have been working to the point where we are now. It is only sheer coincidence that the last stage of the process leading to the actually remediation tails out just before an election year. For emphasis, the Ogoniland clean-up is not a campaign tool for the 2019 election, but a fulfillment of Buhari administration’s promise. From all indication, it is obvious that President Buhari and Vice President Yemi Osinbajo remain committed to the overall development of the Niger Delta region.

The entire perception of slowness of the project revolves round the fact that the Project Coordination Office insists on compliance with international best practices. When the process is fully completed, the Ogoni people, and indeed the entire Niger Delta, will be satisfied with the outcome that it was worth waiting for. HYPREP is not only carrying out remediation, but it is also providing potable water for the people, carrying out livelihoods training to give them alternative sources of income as well as conducting health impact study.

Also, HYPREP had advertised for pre-qualification of remediation companies and the list of successful companies published on our website, www.hyprep.gov.ng. We have also advertised for water and health impact study and the bids are now being evaluated. We have kick-started the process for livelihoods training and communities of Ogoni have graciously donated lands to support the process for which we are grateful. It must be categorically stated that the project is not a mirage as alleged in the said article; instead there is everything on ground to show that the Federal Government is committed to the clean-up project. Twice have we embarked on medical outreaches to Ogoni with an impressive record of more than 20,000 persons treated for various ailments and 300 surgeries carried out in Ogoniland; the testimonies are there for verification.

Also, we have carried out the delineation of impacted sites (which entails desk top study of UNEP data on all sites previously assessed, field investigation, sample collection and analysis, evaluation of analytical report, use of analytical results to calculate volume of soils to be treated) to get the current characterization status of the sites since the UNEP report was submitted in 2011 and the time lapse has necessitated a more recent investigation to update the data on those sites.

Again, I would like to emphasize that the clean-up of Ogoniland is not a subterfuge for the resumption of crude oil production in the area. Our mandate is a stand-alone – to remediate the environment and to restore livelihoods of the people.

We have not left the people of Ogoni in the dark about what we are doing. We have sensitized the leadership of impacted communities, engaged with Ogoni stakeholders at two different fora, as well as the youths and student bodies on all our activities. We now have records on a range of remediation technologies there is to be used for the clean-up as a result of a demonstration of remediation technologies that was carried out by volunteer companies at no cost to the project. Our assurance to the people of Ogoni and all Nigerians is that the project is on course to deliver on its mandate and we need their support.

Joseph is the Media Assistant to the Project Coordinator, HYPREP

#NDNewVision: “Ogoni clean-up funds will not be diverted, FG assures stakeholders

The Federal Government has assured indigenes of Ogoniland in Rivers State that the funds meant for the implementation of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) report, is sacrosanct to the project.

The Minister of State for Environment, Ibrahim Usman Jubril, gave the assurance at the 2nd stakeholders’ meeting on the implementation of the UNEP report on Ogoniland clean-up project by the Federal Ministry of Environment through the Hydrocarbon Pollution Remediation Project (HYPREP), in Port Harcourt, Rivers State capital, on Friday, according to The Nation.

Jubril, who was represented at the event by a head of department in the ministry, Dr. Ishaku Mohammed, insisted that no part of the fund meant for the clean-up of the area would be diverted to any other use, noting that the Ogoni clean-up exercise will serve as a template for the clean-up of the entire Niger Delta region.

He said: “Funding is the area of concern and we have opened an escrow account. We assure that the money for the project is sacrosanct for the project and will not be diverted to other uses. The structure of the process is formidable that no single member or individual can withdraw without going through the due process. We will provide credible feedback as it concerns the clean-up. That is the only way we can appreciate the federal government for having the political will to implement the remediation.”

Corroborating the minister’s remark, the President of KAGOTE, a social cultural organization in Ogoniland, who is also a member of Board of Trustee (HYPREP), Dr. Peter Medee, disclosed that the board has successfully opened an account with a foreign bank, adding that the success would guarantee security of funds for the project.

Medee said, “The Ogoni Trust Fund has been incorporated. Two Ogonis are trustees in the funds. Ogoni can use the fund without interference from the federal government and it is done in such a way that change in administration will not affect the project.

“No part of the funds for the clean-up is missing. We have received the funds from the International Oil Companies (IOCs) led by Shell. The first part of the money has been received and is now in the Ogoni Trust Fund. An Ogoni son is one of the three signatories to the account. We have successfully opened an account with Standard Chartered Bank of London. We are now sure that the fund is secured. The structures for the clean-up are serious.”

Also, the President of Movement for the Survival of Ogoni People, MOSOP and member of the Governing Council, Leborsi Pyagbara, stated that Ogoni people want clean environment.

He said: “We asked a question to stop Ogoni environment from devastation. It is only our collective will and support that will make the project a success. For us, we I’ll continue to raise the alarm. I got news that all the funding for this year for the project has been provided. It is left for us to see how we can put things in place to see that the clean-up is carried out.”