Waltersmith Refinery, Partners to build Industrial Park in Imo

Waltersmith Petroleum and Refinery Company, a modular refinery in Ohaji/Egbema community in Imo State, has said it is working with partners to build an industrial park in the state.

This was stated by the Chief Executive Officer of the refinery, Mr Chikezie Nwosu, at the closing ceremony of a technical skills acquisition programme for some graduates. He said the project is being undertaken with support from the United Nations Industrial Development Organisation (UNIDO) and the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA).

Nwosu said the Industrial Park will attract petrochemical, pharmaceutical, research and other light manufacturing companies that feed off the hydrocarbon value chain.

He said, “The industrial park is being developed with the support of the United Nation Industrial Development Organization and United Nations Economic Commission for Africa as part of Nigeria’s country program with the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment.”

Niger Delta: Why Amnesty Office redesigned scholarship scheme to focus on STEM

The Office of the Presidential Amnesty Programme (PAP) has redesigned its scholarship scheme to focus on Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics, not only to align the manpower needs of the Niger Delta to present realities,, but also because the region must field its best to compete with other ethnic nationalities in the country.

The Interim Administrator of the Presidential Amnesty Programme, Col. Milland Dikio (retd.), who stated this recently when he visited the Ijaw National Congress headquarters in Yenagoa, Bayelsa State, said  he was stunned by the discovery of huge misapplication of human and material resources upon his assumption office.

According to him, a quality education-driven survey he carried out on the types of schools that beneficiaries of the PAP’s scholarship scheme were sent to in the past led to the discovery of the anomaly.

The PAP boss, who noted that the humanities were also important, said, “When I came on board, I saw quite a lot of misapplication of human and material resources and so, we started asking the question: Are we getting the best for our people?

“For example, when we carried out a survey of the universities we sent our beneficiaries to, only two came within the first 100. So, if the likes of our heroes like Isaac Boro went to the best schools in Nigeria, how come we are paying good money to send our children to poor schools?”

Dikio further said the PAP master’s degree scholarship scheme would be focused on raising people, who possessed the skills to belong to “the boardroom” and participate effectively in decision-making.

The PAP Boss and his team was welcomed by the INC President, Prof Benjamin Okaba, who said Dikio had provided a paradigm shift through his style and disposition.

ICYMI: Ogoni Cleanup: 17 contaminated sites certified cleaned – Minister

The Federal Government had on Wednesday disclosed that 17 contaminated sites have been cleaned up and certified clean on the Ogoni Clean-up exercise.

It also said that six water projects in the area have been awarded, while 400 Ogoni women have graduated in various small businesses in agriculture, aquaculture, poultry, among others.

The Minister of Environment, Mohammed Mahmoud made the disclosure while responding to a question from the State House Correspondents to give an update of Ogoni clean up.

According to Mahmud, “Just yesterday (Tuesday) we passed the budget of the Ogoni Clean-up otherwise known as HYPREP – Hydrocarbon Pollution Remediation Project. It has gotten a lot of boost.

“We have a brand new Governing Council. We have a brand new board of trustees and we are Increasing the participation of union ordinarily they are technical support.

“And now we want to involve them even further by making them like some kind of project management consultant. And also we are looking at bringing in more indigenous people that will be part of this process, because what we realise is for any project to succeed, you must have the buy-in of the community.

“And so far, so good, I can tell you that project has moved forward, we have about 17 contaminated sites that have been cleaned up and certified, clean. And then just recently also, we awarded contracts for six water project, this water project should have been awarded earlier from the very beginning of the project. But we awarded the contract at about over N6 billion. Again, we’re working towards additional eight water projects that will be coming very soon. In fact, we just got the approval to advertise for that and also to go into the complex side.”

The minister added that the government was still working on the simple side of the project while that of the complex side will be coming soon, adding that it will include remediation of the soil and the groundwater.

“So the project is moving fast, we are catching up the little time we have lost in the last couple of years, especially because of the COVID also, but so far, so good,” he said

Mahmud further explained that, “There’s also a component of livelihood. And we have just graduated 400 Ogoni women in various small businesses like agriculture, aquaculture, poultry, and all that.

“And also youths that have been trained, as welders and plumbers, we have just also distributed 5000 need assessment forms for people to indicate their interest what they want to do so that they can be trained, and be given some kind of lovely, which is a major component of the clean up.”

In the same vein, the minister reiterated government’s commitment to end gas flaring in the country come 2030.

“This is something that other countries have done and Nigeria is looking at various ways this can be achieved. It’s still being worked on and this is part of the 2050 gas neutrality.”

The Federal Government had in May said it will this month award licences under the Nigerian Gas Flare Commercialization Programme (NGFCP) to qualified bidders as part of efforts to end gas flaring in the country and expand her gas footprint.

The Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR) had last year December said 45 out of 178 gas flaring sites in the country were identified for award to successful bidders.

Why FG is intensifying Peace Efforts in Niger Delta – Amnesty Boss, Dikio

With the visit of the Interim Administrator of the Presidential Amnesty Programme (PAP), Col. Milland Dikio (retd), to Gbaramatu, Delta State, last Monday as part of his ‘back to the region tour’, the Federal Government is ramping up peace efforts in the Niger Delta.

The Interim Administrator, Col Dikio, had visited the Pere of Gbaramatu, His Royal Majesty Ogboro Gbaraun II Aketekpe, and other key stakeholders of the kingdom in the company of the Speaker of the Bayelsa State House of Assembly, Rt.Hon. Abraham Ingobere and top officials of the Presidential Amnesty Programme.

Dikio reiterated the Federal Government’s commitment to the sustenance of peace in the region during his visit, adding that the PAP under his leadership recognizes the pivotal role of the traditional institutions and the need to partner effectively with them in peace building and mitigating violence within their domain.

“My visit today to your kingdom is in continuation of my tour to the region. I am here today to underscore the importance of the traditional institution to peace building and the mitigation of conflicts. We want to partner with the traditional institution to ensure the sustenance of peace in our region,” he said.

In his response, the Pere of Gbaranmatu Kingdom, Oboro Gbaraun II, lauded the Interim Administrator for the visit, while assuring him of the support of his kingdom to PAP to deliver on its mandate of securing peace and development within the kingdom.

The Monarch sought the support of the PAP’s helmsman to help improve the lot of the people of Gbaranmatu Kingdom through the provision of skill acquisition, employment and any other opportunities.

The monarch lamented that his kingdom had suffered terribly over the years from what he described as “failed and empty promises” from the Federal Government.

He stressed that the unfulfilled promises have made Gbaranmatu to become synonymous with crises arising from youth restiveness.

He said: “ Traditional rulers are the people that can help to maintain the peace of the region but if help is not forthcoming or promises are not fulfilled by the government, there is nothing they as traditional rulers can do to stop the people from reacting negatively which may lead to the disruption of peace in the region.”

He implored Dikio as a son of the of Niger-Delta whose track record as an accomplished military officer, a first class administrator with a reputation for integrity to ensure that the PAP is able to achieve its mandate in the region.

Niger Delta: Akpabio calls for improved funding of NDDC

The Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Sen. Godswill Akpabio, has called for improved funding for the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) to enhance the infrastructural development of the region. Akpabio made the call in his keynote address during the NDDC strategic capacity building workshop on Friday in Uyo.

He said the funding system was poor because budgetary provisions for the commission were staggered and did not come as and when due. The minister who called for an amendment of the laws establishing the agency should the need arise, added that he was determined to leave the commission better than he met it.

“The commission is broke because the funding system is poor. We must leave the NDDC better than we found it even if it means that the lawmakers have to tinker with the law. “The current funding patterns and budgeting processes must embrace good governance to achieve the best we can, while asking for more funds to carry out more sustainable projects and programmes,” Akpabio said.

The minister said corruption, weak political and institutional governance, transparency and lack of proper consultation and engagement with the communities and state governments among others, were challenges confronting the commission. “Corruption is one of the greatest problems of the Nigerian society and it also finds its ugly and devastating effects in all sectors of the polity, including the NDDC.

“The level of corruption engulfed all the sectors including government, parastatals, ministries, government officials and community leaders even the youth leaders and the NDDC is not left out. “Weak political and institutional governance in the Niger Delta has led to the misuse of public resources, poor service delivery and poor enforcement of the law. “The consequence has been the lingering restiveness, breakdown of trust, abuse and misuse of power between officials and the communities, embezzlement and attendant violence,” he said.

In his welcome address, the Interim Administrator/Chief Executive Officer of the NDDC, Mr Effiong Akwa, said the retreat was in furtherance of consultation with its stakeholders for speedy development of the region. Akwa said that the NDDC was done with its unsavoury past, stressing that continuous consultation and collaboration for effective development were the focus of the commission. He urged all stakeholders and the Niger Delta to join hands for the benefit of the people.

Ogoni CleanUp: FG flag-off of water projects in Ogoniland

As part of the key emergency measures recommended by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) in the Cleanup of Ogoniland, the Federal Government has flagged off key water projects in Ogoniland to provide potable water to the impacted communities.

The ongoing cleanup efforts is being undertaken by the Hydrocarbon Pollution Remediation Project (HYPREP), under the Federal Ministry of Environment.

Recall, that HYPREP had carried out a survey of drinking water sources across the four Local Government Areas of Ogoniland. A total of 600 water samples was collected and analysed from 47 impacted communities across the four (4) LGAs – Eleme, Gokana, Tai and Khana.

HYPREP also commenced the process for the construction of new comprehensive water schemes and rehabilitation of existing ones in these communities.

The event, which was well attended by leaders from the host communities, representatives from UNEP, Shell Nigeria and other stakeholders in the Niger Delta region, is a milestone in the ongoing cleanup of Ogoniland.

At the flag-off of the water projects in Ogoni, the Officer Overseeing the Project Coordinating Office (PCO), HYPREP, Prof. Phillip Shekwolo, called on Ogoni people to support the laudable agenda of the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari to ensure the cleanup of Ogoniland.

Shekwolo also commended the efforts of the Minister of Environment, Dr. Mohammad Mahmood, in accelerating the contract approval process.

Recall that the Minister had paid a courtesy visit to the Palace of HRH Barile Y. Deebom, Mene Ken-Khana Kingdom last week, where he stated that eight additional water projects will soon commence in Ogoni. The Minister also launched the 5,000 NEEDS Assessment forms for the livelihood programme.

Why We Are Promoting Modular Refineries, New Vision For Niger Delta – Osinbajo

*How to turn artisanal refiners into strategic partners in the oil-producing areas, by VP

The integration of artisanal and modular refinery operators into mainstream oil and gas sector promotes the inclusion of more local content in the industry and advance the use of home-grown technology in the refining of petroleum products, according to Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, SAN.

Prof. Osinbajo stated this today in an address delivered virtually at a National Summit on the Integration of Artisanal and Modular Refinery Operations in Nigeria.

According to the Vice President, “we are confident that the integration of artisanal and modular refinery operations into the oil and gas sector will not only promote the inclusion of more local content in the industry; it will advance the use of home-grown technology in the refining of petroleum products and also curtail illegal oil activities in the Niger Delta region.”

It will be recalled that following Mr President’s directive, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo in 2016 embarked on a tour of oil-producing communities in the Niger Delta, in a bid to address lingering issues in the region.

This was preceded by the President’s meeting with Niger Delta leaders under the aegis of Pan-Niger Delta Forum, (PANDEF) which led to the PANDEF 16-point demand to the Federal Government and was subsequently captured in the Federal Government’s 20-point agenda to develop the region.

“One of the nagging issues we were confronted with during my tour was how to deal with the proliferation of artisanal refinery and its attendant negative environmental impact. Our solution was to promote the establishment of modular refineries,” Prof. Osinbajo recollected.

Speaking on how to resolve the issue, the Vice President noted that “these artisanal refiners will be seen as investors and considered for strategic equity partnerships with technical and financial partners.

“This vision is hinged on the commitment of this present administration to develop the region and ensure that the people of the region benefit maximally from the wealth of their land. Indeed, the New Vision speaks to a progressive partnership between the federal government, state government, private sector, and the local communities.”

Explaining the Federal Government’s position on the adoption of a viable model, Prof. Osinbajo said, “the transition from artisanal refineries to modular refineries has been delayed because of the operators’ expectation that this process will be fully underwritten by Government.

“However, what this framework envisages is a private sector-led partnership with equity participation from the state government or its agencies, registered local cooperative societies and the integration of regional refinery stakeholders, with the private investor having majority equity.”

While calling on stakeholders at the summit to fashion a workable and viable blueprint that will guide and facilitate the integration of artisanal and modular refinery operators, the Vice President said the gains of a seamless integration are enormous.

“We are confident that the integration of artisanal and modular refinery operations into the oil and gas sector will curtail illegal oil activities in the Niger Delta regions.

“It will also promote the availability of petroleum products, stabilize prices, eliminate shipping costs and provide employment opportunities for the youths in the region and Nigeria in general,” Prof. Osinbajo stated.

In addition, the Vice President said “we recognize that with enough artisanal and modular refineries in the country, we should be able to conserve foreign exchange now utilized for the importation of petroleum products and promote socio-economic development.

“The resultant proliferation of employment opportunities will also have the effect of curbing youth restiveness which is largely driven by a dearth of socioeconomic opportunity. With most of the youth engaged in productive endeavours, the region will be able to turn a new page in its history.”

The summit was convened by the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Niger Delta Affairs, Sen. Ita Enang. Dignitaries at the meeting include the Minister of State, Budget and National Planning, Prince Clem Agba; representatives of the Minister or Niger Delta Affairs, Godswill Akpabio; Minister of Science and Technology, Ogbonnaya Onu; and Minister of State, Petroleum Resources, Chief Timipre Sylva.

Other dignitaries who joined the meeting virtually include Hon. Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Hajia Zainab Ahmed, and Hon. Minister of Environment, Dr. Mahmood Abubakar.

Buhari commissions new NDDC headquarters

President Muhammadu Buhari says the inauguration of the new headquarters building of the Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC, marks an important milestone in his administration’s effort to reposition the Commission for the overall development of the Niger Delta region.

Speaking at the virtual commissioning of the new headquarters complex at the Marine Base, Port Harcourt, President Buhari, observed that the new headquarters building was initiated by the defunct Oil Minerals Producing Areas Development Commission, OMPADEC, in 1996.

Buhari said: “In 2015, as part of my administration’s objectives, we started a holistic reform of the NDDC for greater service delivery for the people of the region. To achieve this goal, I reassigned the supervision of the NDDC to the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs for administrative efficiency.

“Second, was the appointment of Forensic Auditors to review the operations of the NDDC from inception to 2019 to ensure that appropriations made to the NDDC are commensurate with what is on ground.”

The President commended the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Senator Godswill Akpabio, for providing the required leadership that saw to the completion of the office complex, noting that money spent on rent would now be saved and deployed to other areas of needs to the region.

Buhari said: “I commend the management and staff of the NDDC for staying on course and keying into the development agenda of my administration. I am particularly pleased to note the cordial relationship between the NDDC and the National Assembly and hope that this relationship will be strengthened for the benefits of the people of the Niger Delta region.”

Speaking earlier, the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Senator Godswill Akpabio, said that he was the first minister to visit the new headquarters when it was under construction.

He noted that for over 15 years the old headquarters on Aba Road was not connected to the national grid and thanked the President for making it possible for this anomaly to be halted.

Akpabio declared: “The President deserves a big reward for showing love to the people of the Niger Delta. I also thank the Interim Administrator and the former Managing Directors of the NDDC for their efforts to see to the completion of the new headquarters.”

In his welcome address, the NDDC Interim Administrator, Mr Efiong Akwa, commended President Buhari, the Minister of the Niger Delta Affairs and members of the defunct Interim Management Committee for a job well done.

The NDDC Chief Executive Officer thanked the President for reassigning of NDDC to the Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs, stating that the office complex stood as a monument to what Niger Delta people stood for, as “a people who are strong and resolute.”

“It is noteworthy to observe that President Buhari, in a demonstration of the remarkable political will, initiated three major policies that impacted positively on the speedy completion of this project.”

First was the re-assignment of the supervision of the NDDC to the Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs. Then second, was the appointment of forensic auditors to review the activities of the Commission form inception up to the year 2019. With the forensic audit exercise, it can no longer be business as usual in the Commission.

Third was the policy direction for the completion of all abandoned projects which have positive impact on the people. The completion of this edifice is, therefore, a direct consequence of Mr President’s focused policy direction.”

I specially commend the Governor of Rivers State and the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs who turned Mr. President’s directive into completion of the project.

Speaking on behalf of the governors of the nine Niger Delta states, the Imo State Governor, Senator Hope Uzodinnma, expressed gratitude to President Buhari for the realisation of the new headquarters.

He said that credit must be given to President Buhari for making the project a reality, stating: “With the completion of the new headquarters, the NDDC will stop the money being wasted on rents and channel it to more productive ventures.

The governor commended President Buhari for setting up a forensic audit and appointing an Interim Administrator to manage the NDDC until the end of the forensic audit.

In his goodwill message, the Amayanabo of Twon-Brass, King Alfred Diete-Spiff, said he was pleased to be part of commissioning of what he described as a magnificent complex. “This is the right step in the right direction, we the chiefs and elders of the Niger Delta stand behind the President and the leadership of the NDDC,” he said.

President Buhari performs groundbreaking ceremony for Bonny Deep Sea Port, others

*Other projects are Port Harcourt-Maiduguri Rail Line and Railway Industrial Park, Port Harcourt

President Muhammadu Buhari on Tuesday presided over the virtual groundbreaking ceremony of the rehabilitation and reconstruction Of Port Harcourt — Maiduguri Eastern Narrow Gauge Railway Project, Bonny Deep-Sea Port and Railway Industrial park, in Port Harcourt, Rivers State.

When completed, the 1,443-kilometre Port Harcourt-Maiduguri Rail Line will connect Rivers, Abia, Imo, Enugu, Ebonyi, Anambra, Benue, Nasarawa, Plateau, Kaduna, Bauchi, Gombe, Yobe and Borno states all by rail.

President Buhari noted that the groundbreaking ceremony of the three projects – Port Harcourt—Maiduguri Eastern Narrow Gauge Railway Project, Bonny Deep-Sea Port and Railway Industrial park – marked the commencement of the implementation of another important national infrastructure.

According to the President, the Port Harcourt to Maiduguri narrow gauge railway reconstruction project, with new branch lines to Owerri, Imo State and Damaturu, Yobe State, aims to resuscitate the once vibrant railway transportation in the Eastern railway corridor of the country, Port Harcourt — Maiduguri.

“We are further expanding it to achieve contemporary demand for transport in the North East and Southern geopolitical zones of the country. It is also designed to link other standard gauge rail lines under construction through the provision of transshipment centers. The funding of the railway is through loan to fund 85% project cost and the Federal Government contribution of 15% as counterpart funding,” the President said.

He added that the Bonny deep sea port and a Railway Industrial Park, Port Harcourt are to be constructed through direct investments by our Chinese partners and international financing agencies.

“These projects will serve transportation and supply chain network for domestic needs and export as well as support imports into the hinterland of the country through the new deep sea port in Bonny Island, Rivers State. This improved port is designed to be a regional and international transport hub. In line with the global trends, the Railway Industrial Park will have the capability for processing exports of raw materials with value addition and also export of locally made goods,” he said.

The President further said the socio-economic and environmental benefits of these projects include the creation of massive employment locally, further utilization of local contents and technology transfer, and increase in internally generated revenue.

While noting that the projects would also serve as a fulcrum for the achievement of the Federal Government planned Integrated Development Masterplan, President Buhari stated that, “In planning this project, prudent use of resources has been given priority, as by this endeavor, Nigeria will retrieve the old narrow gauge that has been lying in neglect for years and bring it to full functional state commensurate to a National railway service at a rational price.”

He said, “The Port Harcourt — Maiduguri railway will translate to reactivation of economic activities along the Eastern corridor, which has been greatly affected by insurgent activities and serve as a stimulus for industry and trade.

“The connection of the railway to a new seaport in Bonny Island and Railway Industrial Park, Port Harcourt is designed to increase the viability and boost transshipment of cargo and freight locally, across the West African sub-region and in the Continental Free Trade Area.”

FG to hold National Summit on Modular Refineries – Ita Enang

A national summit on the integration of Artisanal/Modular Petroleum refinery operations in the country will hold next week in Abuja.

This was disclosed at a news conference on Tuesday in Abuja by the Senior Special Assistant (SSA) to the President on Niger Delta Affairs, Sen. Ita Enang.

The summit, which is being organised by the Office of the (SSA) Presidency in collaboration with the Federal Ministry of Finance, Budget, and National Planning, is scheduled to hold on March 16 and 17 at the Sheraton Hotel and Towers, Abuja.

According to the organisers, the main objectives of the summit include to provide a platform for key stakeholders in government, Organised Private sector and development partners for drafting an acceptable template for the operations of local artisinal/modular refining activities in Nigeria.

It also noted that the summit will help highlight “current technologies in modular refineries by local and international fabricators and research institutions, while identifying and documenting Nigeria’s potential in the fabrication of components for modular refineries.

Enang noted that the conference would help to improve the production of refined petroleum products in the country, thereby reducing their prices to Nigerians.

According to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), He also said that the urgency of holding the conference was because the National Assembly had promised to pass the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) by April.

“Most of the issues that will be addressed at the conference are such issues that will require legislation, so any agreement that will be reached which requires legislature will be accommodated in the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB),” he said.

Enang, who said that the conference would help to protect the environment, emphasised that the summit was not for the purpose of legitimising illegal refining operations, but integrating the operators into the legitimate modular refining process.

According to him, this will stop all illegalities and create more employment for Nigerians.

He added that the summit will address issues such as the need for the localisation and advancement of home-grown technology in the production of petroluem products, as well as stopping illegal oil activities and mainstreaming artisanal petroleum refiners in the Niger Delta into the national economy.

According to him, the summit will also address the provision of employment opportunities for Niger Delta youths and Nigeria in general, and x-ray post-petroleum deregulation era and its challenges to the petroleum refining sector.

“It will also highlight the economic benefit of the sector, especially in strengthening the Naira, conserving foreign exchange and reducing the prices of petroleum products in the short- and long-term.”