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#NDNewVision: Fact Sheet On Niger Delta New Vision

The Buhari administration’s Niger Delta New Vision is designed to “develop a new and prosperous Niger Delta through the Federal Government’s forthright partnerships with State Governments, the Private Sector and Local Communities.”

 

Ongoing projects under the Niger Delta New Vision include:

  • Take-off of Maritime University in Delta State
  • Commencement of Ogoni Clean-up
  • Approval for the establishment of Modular Refineries
  • Continuation of the Presidential Amnesty Programme
  • Investments in infrastructure and development projects

 

Maritime University, Delta State:

  • The Maritime University in Okerenkoko, Delta State, commenced operations in 2017 and, in November 2017, invited job applications for academic staff.

 

  • President Muhammadu Buhari administration had approved an increase in the take-off grant from the N2bn earlier announced to N5bn.

 

  • Lectures commenced fully in April 2018 with a total of 196 students accepted into the University.
  • The NUC approved commencement of academic activities in three faculties namely; Transport, Engineering and Environmental Management, with 13 departments across the three faculties.
  • In November 2018, Maritime University and the University of Lagos signed an MoU with the Caribbean Maritime University (CMU) for mutual exchange in human capital development
  • Also, the CMU has offered scholarships to two students of the Maritime University.

 

Ogoni clean-up:

  • In June 2016, the Buhari administration started the implementation of the 2011 United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) report on Ogoniland devastated by decades of oil spills.

 

  • The Hydrocarbon Pollution Restoration Project (HYPREP) (under the Federal Ministry of Environment) was established. Headed by Dr. Marvin Dekil, the Project Coordinator, HYPREP has carried out key activities so far:

 

  • Training and hiring of some Ogoni graduates educated in Environmental Sciences to develop capacity for the Cleanup project.

 

  • Demonstration of technologies in some of the oil impacted areas in Ogoniland, namely Bodo, K-Dere, B-Dere, Korokoro, Kwawa, Nsisioken etc where interested companies showcased their remediation technologies at no cost to government.

 

  • A total of 201 samples were collected and analysed from eleven (11) sites in this exercise across the four (4) LGA.

 

  • Delineation and scoping of selected hydrocarbon impacted sites is on-going.

 

  • Twenty-Six (26) sites out of the Sixty-Four (64) investigated sites by UNEP across the four (4) Ogoni Local Government Areas have been earmarked. This is in line with the recommendations contained in the UNEP fact sheets.

 

  • Over 20,000 patients were treated, and 365 surgeries carried out in Ogoniland during HYPREP’s Medical Outreach Programmes aimed at collecting preliminary data towards the implementation of UNEP recommendation on Health Study.
  • Towards the implementation of UNEP recommendation on the provision of emergency measures (water supply and health study), HYPREP commenced the survey and sampling of drinking water sources in Ogoniland, and provision of potable water for communities.

 

  • A total of 600 water samples was collected and analysed from 47 impacted communities across the four (4) LGAs of Ogoniland – Eleme, Gokana, Tai and Khana
  • Next Phase of Clean-up: Remediation of selected twenty-six (26) sites identified in the 1st phase of the Clean-up exercise.
  • The Next Phase will also include the conclusion of Procurement Processes for contracting experts for the remediation and clean-up of impacted sites, Construction of new comprehensive water schemes and rehabilitation of existing ones, Livelihood Assessment/Implementation Plan, Detailed Health Impact Assessment Study.

 

 

Modular Refineries:

  • Establishing modular refineries in the Niger Delta region would promote socio economic development and provide jobs for unemployed youths, thereby sustaining peaceful coexistence in the Region. It will also increase local content, mitigate negative environmental degradation associated with illegal refinery activities, crude oil theft and pipelines vandalism.
  • The location of a modular refinery is strategic and influenced by proximity to the source of crude oil, producing marginal fields and tie-in to supply infrastructure or clusters.
  • Three modular refinery projects have commenced construction:
    1. Niger Delta Petroleum Resources – Establishment of additional 10,000bpd Modular Refinery in Ogbele, Rivers State.
    2. OPAC Refineries – To establish 7,000bpd refinery in Umuseti-Kwale, Delta State (phase one)
    3. WalterSmith (Petroman) – To Establish 5,000bpd refinery in Ibigwe, Ohaji, Imo State.
  • Two modular refineries are expected to be inaugurated by the end of this year.

 

Presidential Amnesty Programme (PAP):

  • The Presidential Amnesty Programme (PAP) is an intervention programme initiated by the Federal Government to address agitations and militancy in the Niger Delta region.

 

  • PAP engages ex-militants and youths from impacted communities in formal education, vocational skills acquisition and empowerment schemes.

 

  • The Amnesty Programme has helped in maintaining peace and security in the Niger Delta, and improving the nation’s economy.

 

  • There are currently 5,578 persons enlisted in the programme.

 

  • So far, the programme headed by the Coordinator, PAP, Prof. Charles Dokubo, has facilitated the setting-up of small and medium scale businesses for about 4,450 ex-militants, while some foreign firms have offered direct employment to several trainees.

 

  • For enhanced post-training engagement, the Programme plans to fast-track the establishment of small businesses for already trained youths in areas such as agriculture, particularly Poultry and Fish farming; Welding/Fabrication, and

 

BONNY-BODO ROAD PROJECT:

  • The N120 billion Bonny-Bodo road project was flagged-off in October 2017 by the Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, SAN. The 34-kilometre road project, linking Bonny Island to the mainland was first mooted about 40 years ago.

 

  • The ongoing Bonny-Bodo bridge and road project is a Public Private Partnership arrangement 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 and boost socio-economic development in the region.

 

Export Processing Zone (EPZ):

  • The Federal Government approved the establishment of the Export Processing Zone (EPZ) comprising the Gas City Project at Ogidigben, and the Deep Seaport in Gbaramatu, Warri South-West LGA, Delta State.

 

  • When fully operational, these projects are expected to boost socio-economic activities and improve the security landscape of the Niger Delta region.

 

 

VP Osinbajo hails collaboration as Caribbean University partners Maritime University, UNILAG

The academic partnership between Caribbean Maritime University (CMU) in Jamaica, and two Nigerian universities – University of Lagos and the Nigerian Maritime University, Okerenkoko, in Delta State – would be mutually beneficial to each country’s human capital development, according to Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, SAN.

Prof. Osinbajo stated this during a meeting on Wednesday at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, with representatives from the three universities; a delegation from the Caribbean Maritime University (CMU) led by the President, CMU, Prof. Fritz Pinnock; and his Nigerian counterparts – the Vice Chancellor, Maritime University, Prof. Maureen Etebu; and the Vice Chancellor, University of Lagos, Prof. Oluwatoyin Ogundipe.

According to the Vice President, “The Maritime University is an important part of our journey of developing the Niger Delta, as it would tackle restiveness among youths by providing them with education and training, and so benefit them. So, the Maritime University is a win-win for Niger Delta and Nigeria.”

Prof. Osinbajo further said the partnership between the CMU and the two Nigerian universities (Maritime University and UNILAG) was coming at the right time to help develop the country’s human capital.

“Our relationship with Jamaica is a very important one for us and we must continue to explore the very many areas of collaboration to benefit us all. We are truly grateful for the hand of fellowship extended to us,” the VP added.

Also at the meeting was the Acting High Commissioner of Jamaica, Abuja, John Clarke; and a former governor of Bayelsa state, Timipre Sylva, who is the Pro-Chancellor/Chairman of the Governing Council of Maritime University.

The Maritime University, which commenced full academic activities in April, is part of the Buhari administration’s Niger Delta New Vision aimed at developing the region.

Similarly, Prof. Etebu said the CMU has offered scholarships to two students of the Maritime University. ‘we are going to draw strength in terms of experience and exposure from the Carribean university,” she said. Also speaking, Prof. Ogundipe said UNILAG’s postgraduate programmes in Maritime Studies would gain from the collaboration with CMU to meet international standards.

It would be recalled that the Maritime University was granted approval in January this year by the National Universities Commission (NUC) to commence undergraduate degree programmes effective from the 2017/2018 academic session.

Also, the National Universities Commission (NUC) had approved that academic activities commence in three faculties namely; Transport, Engineering and Environmental Management, with a combined total of 13 departments with various specializations – from Marine Engineering, Marine Economics to Climate Change, Fisheries and Aquaculture.

The University commenced lectures in April this year following the admission of students into the university for the 2017/2018 academic year.

Niger Delta: US Consulate, NDDC Strategize for Sustainable Development

The United States Consulate in Nigeria says it continues to discuss and work with the Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC, to strengthen collaboration on strategies to improve peace and security to facilitate the sustainable development of the Niger Delta region.

Speaking during a courtesy visit to the NDDC management at the Commission’s headquarters in Port Harcourt, the Political and Economic Consul, Mr Osman Tat, who represented the United States Consul General in Lagos, F. John Bray, said one of the primary goals of the US mission was to support Nigeria’s economic development.

The American delegation had earlier held a strategy meeting with the NDDC Managing Director, Mr. Nsima Ekere and the Chairman of the Commission’s Governing Board, Senator Victor Ndoma- Egba (SAN), on plans to drive the regional development process.

The US envoy explained that the meeting with the NDDC leadership was part of the regular consultations undertaken by the US Consulate in Lagos and the Embassy in Abuja. According to him, the Consulate recognised the fact that NDDC had a large number of projects spread across the nine states of the oil-producing region of Nigeria.

Osman Tat observed that it was important to consult with the Board and Management of NDDC in order to get a sense of how the projects were being executed to develop the region

He said: “We have looked at several projects being executed by the NDDC and the ones they intend to undertake in the future.

“We have had a fruitful discussion with the NDDC on projects implementation and we are interested in seeing that the projects and development activities are well executed for the benefit of the people of the Niger Delta.”

Osman Tat affirmed that NDDC was at the nexus of development, adding that its projects cut across different sectors ranging from healthcare to education and infrastructure. He said that the projects were necessary to ensure peace and security in the Niger Delta.

The diplomat stated the interest of the United States in seeing a free, fair, transparent and non-violent election in Nigeria in 2019.

In his remarks, the NDDC Chairman, Senator Ndoma-Egba said that the NDDC was at the heart of the Niger Delta, noting that the Commission had the solemn mandate to develop the region by engaging key stakeholders.

Senator Ndoma-Egba emphasised the need for an enduring peace in the Niger Delta region, stating that security was critical for development and growth.

He said that the NDDC, being an interventionist agency had little or no role to play in partisan politics. “We are only interested in ensuring that there is a peaceful atmosphere in the Niger Delta region. And the only way we can achieve that is by bringing projects and development to the region,” he said.

#NDNewVision: Niger Delta Ministry to hold national confab 

 

The third regular meeting of National Council on Niger Delta organised by the Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs is set for the 22nd to 27th July, 2018 in Umuahia, Abia State.

The theme “Fostering synergy and institutional coordination for Development in the Niger Delta region” is to address a myriad of issues. Some of which are: infrastructural development, environmental management, human capital development, security, agriculture among other issues affecting the Niger Delta region.

At the previous meeting held in Akure, the Ondo State capital in September 2017, the Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, SAN, while addressing the stakeholders directed that the Ministry meet regularly in order to quicken the development of the oil-rich Niger Delta region. Since the Ministry’s creation in 2008, it only held its first meeting in 2013 until the Buhari administration held the second one four years later in 2017.

Thus, the determination of the Buhari administration to ensure consistency in the meeting schedule has brought about the planned third National Council. 

The meeting will feature various stakeholders, civil societies, development partners charged with the responsibility of developing the region. The meeting will be chaired by the Honourable Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Usani Uguru Usani, supported by the Minister of State for Niger Delta Affairs, Prof. Claudius Omoleye Daramola, while the technical sessions will be lead by Permanent Secretary of the Ministry, Aminu Aliyu Bisalla.

For the Records: #7BigWins in Focus – Big win 5 – Niger Delta and security

By Dr. Emmanuel Ibe Kachikwu

*Puts in focus a “blueprint for Niger Delta’s development that can be sustained for posterity”

Let me welcome you to an 8 parts serial podcast that will look critically at the 7 big wins that were instruments of our intervention in the oil industry when we came in and see how we fared in each of those and what we need to do going forward.

All over the world these 7 big wins has been praised as a right model for intervention. But, let us now go neck deep and get a 3D view of what really has happened. In this edition, we are going to focus strictly on the Niger Delta security issues; what we met, what we did, what the future holds for us.

His Excellency, the President was kind enough and gracious enough to appoint me with the twin positions of both the GMD of the NNPC and the Minister of State for Petroleum. Niger Delta was a burning issue at the time. There was key unrest in Niger Delta, a huge amount of militant activities going on. There was reduction in production volumes, so much reduction leading to a consistent loss that led us almost to a cripple in the oil industry. Actually, at the lowest point we were down to about 800,000 barrels. All the infrastructure that we had were compromised; vandalism and militancy compelled the integrity of the infrastructure to disappear.

These sustained attacks continued for over a 10-month period. In February 2016 for example; the Forcados oil export line was breached, leading to very major attacks in other oil and gas assets. In May 2016, the Nembe creek truck line was attacked; in November 2016, series and series of attacks.

What else did we meet? We met the complete absence of a coordinated effort at developing the Niger Delta development model. There was, therefore, a consistent lack of investors’ interest in Niger Delta area, because of what really had happened was that with all the militancy attacks, uncertainties on policies, the lack of coordination in terms of development, everybody basically watched for what the next alarm bell was going to be.

The sheer amount of problems that we inherited in Niger Delta meant that literally if nothing was done, the country was getting crippled; no money for investments, no money for infrastructures, no money to run the budgets. We had to move in very rapidly with the support of His Excellency, the President.

We dealt with three main fundamentals. We decided to deal first with the environment and security issues. What were we going to do about that environment, the issues that had been burning in all the areas of Niger Delta?

The first thing we realized was that the one-on-one engagements, as good as they were, were obviously not leading us to the Promised Land. Of course, I did the whole yeoman’s job of taking a tour on the Niger Delta myself and getting into the creeks, at very great risk to my life and that of a lot of my staff, to engage the militants in their domain. I think the advantage in that was that it brought understanding and we then began a sustained community engagement.

The first thing we did was to work with the leaders of the areas to work towards the setting up of the PANDEF group. We thank all the PANDEF members; leader, Chief Clark and all of them who did fantastic work in trying to put together this Pan-Niger Delta Forum. We worked coordinating with them. So once that was set up, it was easy to have a body that could engage the Federal Government.

Then we dealt with the issue of Ogoni clean-up. The President had made a promise during his campaign that he was going to take this as a burning issue and he did and he inaugurated the Ogoni clean-up process that was launched very ceremoniously and we began the engagements and the financing that will enable us address the Ogoni cleanup. But not only Ogoni needs to be cleaned up, a whole lot of other areas need to be cleaned up. This is basically the beginning map on which we are going to work.

We came up with the Nigerian Gas Flare Commercialization Programme, which was trying to address the exit of flare. The United Nations had set a 2030 deadline; we set a 2020 deadline. We are aggressive about it because we knew that unless the environmental issues in Niger Delta were addressed, no amount of investment would get a buy-in with the people.

With all the sustained engagements that we had, we had series of ceasefires which enabled us to bring back production volumes. In December 2015, we had a 30-day ceasefire agreement. It brought back production rapidly from the all-time low of about 800,000 barrels to about 2.2 million barrels. In June 2016, we had another 60-day ceasefire agreement, which lasted for a while. In April 2017, leading up from the 60-day ceasefire that continued and working with PANDEF and other elements, and with the assistance of the Vice President’s visit; we got to a point where we basically moved our production to an all-time 800,000 barrels volume to volumes in region of 2.2 million barrels.

We looked at infrastructure and not only did we deal with repairing some of the infrastructures that were broken down to enable oil begin to flow again. We came up with the concept of what to do with the illegal refining that was going on in the region. So, we came up with the modular refinery concept. Till date, we have targeted development and approved about 10 of those; two are basically on land now and beginning to construct. Hopefully, within the next one year, we will be able to deliver real results. But we are pushing for the other eight.

The AKK Pipeline that had been abandoned for a very long time was put back. The Federal Executive Council approved this and now engagements are going on to sort out this contract and begin that construction. That AKK pipeline will enable you deliver gas from the South into the North and open up gas delivery to homes, and development in terms of petrochemicals. So it is a huge infrastructure development.

We have been able to go visit some of these modular refineries. We visited the one in Ogbele, in Rivers State; we also have visited the one in Kwale (Delta State). Those are the two that are basically on ground and ready to take off. But there are 8 additional ones that are basically all getting ready for completion for financing and moving on.

But, the area where I think we have done a lot of work is in Capacity Building and Economic Empowerment. The greatest problem of Niger Delta has been that it’s not because money hasn’t gone in. Inter-agency researches have shown that over $40 billion have gone into Niger Delta in a period of, maybe, 15 years.

So what we’ve tried to do, was working under the Office of the Vice President, to try and working in conjunction with the Ministry of Niger Delta, Ministry of Environment, NDDC, NNPC, Oil companies, everybody; we were able to show the sheer amount of money over a period of time that had gone in, and the sheer amount of money that was available still to go in. And that led to a very integrated work that produced a report that enabled us to see what everybody’s budget was and what we needed to do. It ran into trillions.

And so working under an inter-ministerial group put under the Vice President, we’ve now began to build capacity, and build economic empowerment on the grounds of that and making sure that we supervise each of those intervening government agencies to do what they are supposed to do and the oil companies to take up also their responsibilities.

But we have also gone further than that. I have gone ahead to set up State technical committees and gone from state to state to take that whole vision and give it fruition. So, in those states, with the State Governments being the Chairmen of some of those; we have had our own representatives; we’ve had oil companies’ representatives, we’ve had Government Agencies. And the whole idea is to look at the blueprint of what oil is produced in a state, what volumes are available, what opportunities for economic empowerment are there and what are the burning issues in those areas. These technical committees have been launched in three states; in Edo State, in Delta State and in Imo State, and we are looking to complete that whole process.

If we succeed in doing that, for the first time, what you are going to have is a complete blueprint, complete local engagement, complete local intervention and supervision of the Niger Delta development model and that is something that can be sustained for posterity.

So, those interventions have helped; those technical teams have helped. Like I said, we’ve done it in about three states. We are going to continue to push the envelope in other states. Now, obviously in all these have rallied from the initial work done when we first started with all the problems we had, to the Vice President’s visit that was monumentally successful and helpful; to obviously the presidential cloak that has been given to this to make it succeed.

Where do we go from here? A lot of work still needs to be done, let’s not kid ourselves. What we have done is take a very difficult environment and bring some sanity to it.

So today, when we celebrate over 2 million barrels, when we celebrate $75, $77 price in oil, when we celebrate enhanced and increasing reserve size for this country, when we celebrate the highest capital budgets that this country has seen in decades, it is all because we found a way to find sanity in this very, very difficult environment. But we still have a lot of work to do.

Those engagements we talked about with the state technical committees are a key pivot; we must sustain and complete the process. And thereafter, there must be active; and there must, on a month-to-month basis, explore what the opportunities are, and ensure that the local populace are getting those opportunities.

There are regulatory interventions; the Assembly is working hard at PIB, and there’s Host Community Bill they are also doing. All these Bills, when passed, will give legal parameters to some of the interventions that are essential and create a sustained platform for these interventions in the future.

The President is completely committed to the success of this and we are working with the Ministry of Environment to continue the Ogoni clean-up. I have just directed that funds necessary for this must be released with a very short period of time so that this Ogoni clean-up can actually move from the drawing board to actual practical realities. And I’ve called on both NNPC and the oil companies to fund this sufficiently for us to move forward.

We’ve also began a programme to engage the Ogonis where there has been substantial problems, to get the community buy-in; to get the community’s participation. A few weeks ago, we held the Ogoni re-entry meetings. We are going to get into some of those, and not just Ogoni, but a lot of the areas to see how we can get people to believe gain and have faith in the processes that we are rolling out.

We are currently working on a framework for community-based participation in the protection of oil and gas pipelines, and oil and gas assets. How do we get the communities to take ownership of these pipelines, protect them, ensure an efficient delivery without complications and also ensure that in future they get benefits from some of the economic interventions that come out of all of these?

So, a whole lot of work needs to be done. It is almost like you are looking at the bill of rights in some of these areas. How do we develop things that people are entitled to; people execute, communities are involved, constant engagements continue, and the Government’s interest in this continues to ride.

But this where we met security, this is where we met the Niger Delta, this is what we have done in the two and a half, three years that we have been there. But like I said, the work continues.

What we can say is that provided Government continues to focus, provided the oil companies continue to focus on their key social responsibilities in these areas, provided that Government Agencies that are given responsibilities for intervention continue to carry out their jobs, provided communities realize that, at the end of the day, destruction of platforms leads to nothing but confusion and mayhem; but that working together with the Government, we can create an equitable problem-solving mechanism, provided State Governments and security apparatus carry out security intervention for peace in a manner that respects the fundamental human rights of citizens; we actually can take leverage from the total world attention that is looking at the work that we are doing in this area and get Niger Delta to where it should be.

Thank you very much for listening.

Kachikwu is the Honourable Minister of State for Petroleum Resources

(Podcast on May 23, 2018)

10 facts about Niger Delta New Vision

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 Buhari administration, in line with its New Vision for the Niger Delta (#NDNewVision), is continuously making efforts to develop the region and ensure that the people of the region benefit maximally from the wealth of their land.

  • Take-off of Maritime University in Delta State. The Maritime University was granted approval this year by the National Universities Commission (NUC) to commence undergraduate degree programmes effective from the 2017/2018 academic session.
  • Lectures commenced fully in April. A total of 196 students have so far been accepted into the University to commence their academic programmes.
  • Commencement of Ogoni Clean-up: On April 27, 2018, The Vice President presided over the ceremonial signing of the Ogoni Trust Fund escrow agreement at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
  • With this signing, $170m is to be provided imminently from the first tranche of the $1 Billion for the Ogoni clean-up that was recommended by the UNEP.
  • Investments in Infrastructure: Bonny-Bodo Road: The N120 billion Bonny-Bodo road project was flagged-off in October 2017 by the Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, SAN. The Bonny-Bodo bridge and road project is a Public Private Partnership arrangement jointly funded by Nigeria LNG and the Federal Government, 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 project.
  • When completed, the 34-kilometres road would connect several major communities in the Niger Delta region and boost socio-economic development and improve the lives of people in the Niger Delta region.
  • Approval for establishment of Modular Refineries: 10 modular refineries will be located in five out of the nine states in the Niger Delta region.
  • Two modular refineries granted licences to operate in the Niger Delta region expected to be completed and ready for inauguration by December this year, in Rivers and Delta states.
  • On Tuesday, 24th April, 2018, a team from the Office of the Vice President and the Federal Ministry of Petroleum Resources visited the one of the refineries; the OPAC Refinery site, located at Umuseti, Kwale, in Delta State.
  • The Presidential Amnesty Programme: The Presidential Amnesty Programme engages ex-militants and youths from the impacted communities in formal education, vocational skills acquisition and empowerment schemes

 

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.”

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.

Navy pledges support for grassroots sports in Niger Delta

In line with the FG’s intent to restrain youth and foster peace in the Niger Delta region, the Nigerian Navy, through the Commander of Naval Anti-Piracy Task Group, Commodore Idi Abbas, has pledged a steadfast support for grassroots sports in host communities.

This he made known during a friendly football match organized by the Navy in Port Harcourt on Monday.

The friendly match which was organized between personnel of the Nigerian Navy Ship (NNS) Pathfinder and Osklean Football Academy Rumuolumeni, ended in a draw.

Commodore Abbas disclosed that the aim of the football match was to improve fitness of troops; address youth restiveness and encourage peace in the host community.

According to The Nation, Commodore Abbas said “The NNS Pathfinder organised the football match to keep our personnel fit, knowing fully that it is only when the personnel are fit that they will effectively deliver on the job.

The other reason is to further foster that cordial relationship of officers and ratings of the base and the host communities”

“This is just the beginning and it is hoped that other games would be looked into with participation of the host community.”

By doing this, the naval base will get to know its host community and the community members will also get to know their own neighbors.”

In his speech, he mentioned plans to expand the games to accommodate other sporting events like; volleyball and basketball, saying that the base had excellent facilities to host future games. He further advised participants to use the game to polish up their skills, to enable them represent the country in future sporting events.

The Supreme Ruler of Rumuolumeni community, Eze Ndubueze Olumeni, applauded the Navy for organizing the friendly match with the host community. He said that the community members had always hoped to have a good rapport with the naval base since it came into the community 25 years ago.

“This is a naval base and not a civilian environment, and so, it has been difficult for our people to feel free to enter here for any activity.

We appreciate this type of event and hope that if we continue like this; our relationship will improve and everyone will be happy for it.” He said.