#NDNewVision: We are making progress in the Niger Delta – Vice President Osinbajo

President Muhammadu Buhari administration would continue to make efforts towards the development of the Niger Delta region through its New Vision, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, SAN, has said.

The VP said this during an interview he granted a group of journalists and social media practitioners in Lagos State, over the weekend.

The Federal Government’s 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.”

The New Vision for the Niger Delta was birthed following the President’s meeting with Niger Delta leaders under the aegis of Pan-Niger Delta Forum, PANDEF, in November 2016. On behalf of the President, Vice President Osinbajo, undertook a tour of the oil producing communities.

Giving an update on the progress of the FG’s Niger Delta New Vision, the VP noted that the take-off of the Maritime University, modular refineries and the Ogoni clean- up efforts were indicators of the Buhari administration’s commitment to develop the region.

The Vice President also said the administration was continuing it engagement with all the groups in the Niger Delta to ensure continued peace and stability in the oil-rich region.

Below are the excerpts of the interview:

Q: Crude oil as the main driver of the economy, and FG dialogue with groups in the Niger Delta region.

Vice President: First of all, the dialogue started in 2016 and it continues. We began to dialogue with all the groups in the Niger Delta and we hold very regular meetings with PANDEF, which is the umbrella body. We also hold regular meetings with many of the groups in the Niger Delta and they are all actively involved with us.

I don’t know whether you are familiar with the Maritime University. The Maritime University has taken off, you know. Only a few days ago, the announcement was made that they are eligible for JAMB (the University was recently granted approval by the National Universities Commission (NUC) to commence undergraduate degree programmes effective from the 2017/2018 academic session). Interviews are taking place for the Maritime University, forms have been provided and we are talking to all of the principal parties in that zone who are interested in the work the Maritime University is doing. Many people are involved in that process. That is the kind of thing we are talking about to provide the kind of facility to help people in the Niger Delta, especially in Maritime University.

Also, look at modular refineries, 38 licensed modular refineries investors have indicated interests (10 of the licensed refineries are at an advanced stage of development). One, of course, has started in Bayelsa; another is being shipped in at the moment. There are about three or four different engagements with modular refineries operators. So we are putting that together, and one of the critical things with modular refineries is that we are trying to ensure that, first of all, it is private-sector driven. Government has to provide the licenses, but also there is community involvement; communities also have a stake in the modular refineries. So we are doing that as well. We are working very hard on that.

Q: Alleged claims that PANDEF leader said FG isn’t doing anything in the region.

Vice President: I don’t know when Chief Clark made that statement. I think that, by and large, all of what I’m saying is being done.  It is obvious for everyone to see. I’ve no real problem demonstrating this, but as a matter of fact, if you look on our website, on the all of the Niger Delta issues, we have almost a blow-by-blow account of what we are doing, including the Ogoni clean up.

I think there is a lot going on. You can’t address all of the problems at once. We have provided plenty of information. We have Inter-ministerial meetings where the different stakeholders meet constantly with leaders of the Niger Delta. I think you can imagine development is something that no one can be completely satisfied with at any point in time; that’s why it’s called development.

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[Interview] ‘Modular refineries will engage Niger Delta youths, tackle fuels scarcity’ – Prof. Adeola Adenikinju

 

In this interview, Prof. Adeola Adenikinju, of the Centre for Econometrics and Allied Research (CEAR), University of Ibadan, Oyo State, who has consulted for the Nigeria Liquefied Natural Gas, talks about the importance of modular refineries in the Niger Delta

What do you think are the benefits of modular refineries in the Niger Delta?

I think there is the need for a policy to streamline – define the structure of modular refineries that the country needs. It is a good development to have modular refineries in Nigeria and I think their existence will contribute to mitigating the perennial crisis of fuel scarcity. It will also help to some extent to address the issue of fuel subsidy along with its attendant challenges. The establishment and smooth running of modular refineries will also bring about employment to the benefit of the Nigerian economy. It will create job opportunities especially for our youths and professionals who currently walking on the streets without a job. But the important thing is that modular refinery is all about small-scale refining. If we have small-scale refineries you can be sure that they are easier to manage even though its impact on the general economy may not be as huge as the conventional refineries. One other thing is that the efficiency of modular refineries can be very high. I support the widespread establishment of modular refineries and I think the Federal Government should support it.

What can the Federal Government do to sustain the idea and establishment of modular refineries in the country?

They (modular refineries) need to be encouraged and properly structured to ensure that the issue of quality is guaranteed. These refineries are not going to be set up just for the sake of being a solution to fuel scarcity or to stop the proliferation of illegal refineries. Quality assurance should be a top priority. The Federal Government must ensure that the modular refineries meet the needed specifications to produce fuel. Government can also collaborate with academia and research institutions on how to work with these modular refineries to ensure good quality is guaranteed so that Nigerians can be sure that what they are buying is safe and can meet their needs. These will encourage Nigerians to support the idea too. In my own view, I think the Federal Government needs to incorporate the overall structure of fuel supply value chain in Nigeria.

 

How can this help to deal with the menace of illegal refineries?

When there are regulations, and the operators of the modular refineries are monitored – while eliminating black-market or underground operators – there will not be any illegal activities in that direction. When there are proper regulations and the supply chain is not disrupted or compromised, the modular refineries should be able to operate within the legal ambit, knowing that if they commit any infractions or violate any regulations, then they can be sanctioned. It can work and the government should see it as something that can create a pathway for job creation, reduction of illegal activities in the Niger Delta and promote peaceful existence. It will also reduce the amount of foreign exchange that will be spent on exporting crude oil and importing its refined products.

With modular refineries, do people have to worry about the issue of pollution?

Once the process is legalised, standards requirements are spelt out, and regulations, quality control measures are put in place, those being issued modular refinery licences will ensure that they play according to the rules. Once the Federal Government specifies exactly how it wants the modular refineries to operate in terms of protecting the environment – stating the amount of emissions legally acceptable and the type of equipment that can be used – I think the operators would have to play ball. It is now the responsibility of the government or its authorised agencies to monitor these modular refinery operators periodically to ensure they act accordingly. All this will spur other people to invest to ensure that those conditions are met. They will be able to invest to ensure that quality standards are met – that will help to reduce pollution or degradation of the environment. Like I said, it is when you have people operating illegally that the environment – the air, water and land – is damaged reckless abandon. The government should find a way to encourage those operating illegal refineries to understand that their working with the government is to improve the value chain and thus bring them on board to operate legally and according to laid down regulations. The DPR is there to ensure that the fuel supplied to the country meets certain specifications and quality. If the fuel didn’t make it, then there will be sanctions.

What about the cost of establishing modular refineries?

Modular refineries are like small-scale enterprise; and anything that is small-scale, you don’t need billions of dollars to set them up. They can easily come on board, easy to set up. The cost of operation is not very expensive compared to huge ones. The downtime of a modular refinery is minimal compared to big refineries. Therefore, I think modular refineries do have comparative advantages that Nigerians can harness. I will like to reiterate that establishment of these refineries should provide an opportunity for the oil industry to work with the universities and research institutions so that we can we ensure the development of local capacity to produce some of the equipment needed to keep the refineries running.  

[INTERVIEW] Maritime university will benefit Niger Delta youths, create jobs, attract investment to region, says VC

#NDNewVision: MARITIME UNIVERISTY WILL BENEFIT NIGER DELTA YOUTHS, CREATE JOBS, ATTRACT INVESTMENT TO REGION, SAYS VC

*University will boost the marine industry, Nigeria‘s education system”

In line with the Federal Government’s new vision for the Niger Delta, significant strides have been made to ensure smooth take-off of Nigeria’s first maritime university, explains the Vice Chancellor of the Maritime University, Okerenkoko, Delta State, Prof. Ongoebi Etebu, in this interview with NDNewVision

How soon should we expect the Nigeria Maritime University to take off and what are the programmes you’re starting with?

On the fourth of January this year, the National Universities Commission afforded us an opportunity to commence graduate degree programmes. They approved three faculties; namely Faculty of Marine Transport with four departments including Nautical Science and other departments like Transport, Logistics; the third one, Marine Economics and Finance, and lastly, Port Management. Then, Faculty of Engineering; where we have Marine Engineering, Chemical Engineering, Electrical Engineering, Mechanical Engineering, Petroleum and Gas. Finally, we have the Faculty of Environmental Management; we have Environmental Management and Pollution Control, Meteorology and Climate Change, Fisheries and Marine Geology.

We are going to admit JAMB candidates with the quota the examination body gave to us. Recently, we have made efforts to get all necessary approval from the NUC and JAMB and so far, every step has been successful. The NUC and JAMB have been gracious and cooperative to ensure a smooth take-off of the Nigeria Maritime University. So, it is with eagerness that we look forward to admit candidates for the 2017/2018 academic session. No doubt, that is good news to every well-meaning Nigerian. So much is going on right now, including on-the-spot assessment of available facilities of the university to ensure a successful commencement of academic activities. We have a temporary site and efforts are at top gear to ensure the permanent site is ready as soon as possible. As soon as possible, once we get the clearance from JAMB, we’re going to advertise our programmes and admit qualified candidates. In terms of approval, the NUC also gave us approval to do basic studies –that is, to establish School of Basic Studies. We also got approval to have a unit of General Studies – just to cater for courses like English and other languages. You know the emphasis now is that all specialised universities should have specialised programmes.

What about the recruitment of academic and non-academic staff?

Let me also state that we have completed the process of submission of application for academic positions. We are collating the applications at the moment. We are working day and night to make sure that the applications are collated and sorted out for consideration. The number of applications that we received is 6,155.

How do you think the Nigeria Maritime University will benefit the host community and the nation?

No doubt, you’ll agree with me that there are many benefits that come with the establishment of a university like this – one of a kind in the country. The benefits are innumerable. The impact of the institution will be felt both at home and abroad. You know that the maritime venture is global and we intend to ensure that Nigeria attracts the best of local and foreign attention in terms of investments in various aspects of the maritime sector. The Federal Government is committed to the development and sustenance of peace in the country, particularly to make sure that youths in the Niger Delta region are meaningfully engaged. The university is not just for the region. The Maritime University is an international community that should not be tied with only the Niger Delta – doing so will make it a local university. But it is not.

The university as an international community will benefit the entire country and the marine industry at large, and then, particularly the Niger Delta. We intend to draw students from all over the country. The admission will be first of all based on merit, then catchment area, and then educationally disadvantaged states. The university is going to improve life of the entire country, namely the marine industry.

What are your short-term goals for the university?

One of the goals is to connect the institution with the world. It is important to let the world know that this kind of university exists in Nigeria; and also, to promote the good works of this administration in ensuring that the Maritime University kicks off. I am also committed to ensuring that institution’s facilities are such that can provide conducive environment for learning and teaching. We will also ensure that our recruitment is such that academic excellence will be at the fore. We will look out for academic and non-academic staff with passion for values and development as epitomised by this institution.

Ongoing Project At Nigeria Maritime University, Okerenkoko

How safe is the location the university is sited?

There is no cause for alarm. There are existing tertiary institutions operating in the Niger Delta region. They operate without any hitch. The students, academic and non-academic staff go about their daily activities peacefully. The Maritime University will not be an exception. It will be a delightful place of learning. Parents, guardians and prospective students have nothing to worry about. You should visit the university; it is a serene environment, ideal for learning. There is no security threat – either to students or workers – as to where the school is sited. It is a beautiful, naturally serene environment. It may interest you to note that in our advert for academic positions, we specifically stated that place of submission of application should be at the campus at Krushe. Did you believe that all over Nigeria went there to submit their applications?

I will like to appreciate the administration of our amiable President, Muhammadu Buhari and Vice President Yemi Osinbajo who has been driving this process. We are so grateful to the administration. Many thanks also to members of the inter-ministerial committee that the government set up to see to it that this university should see the light of the day. We also appreciate the efforts of the Ministry of Education, the Ministry of Petroleum Resources and the minister who visited the temporary site on fact-finding mission through which the present administration got to know that there are huge facilities on the ground, and the NUC. More so, I want to assure Nigerians that we will do our very best to lay a solid foundation for the university’s take-off.