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How Nigerians are benefitting from Amnesty Programme

No fewer than 177 persons profiled from various communities across 20 distribution centres in the Niger Delta states, including Ondo, have benefited from a succour provided by the Presidential Amnesty Programme.

According to a statement from Murphy Ganagana, media aide to the Special Adviser to the President on Niger Delta and coordinator of the Amnesty Programme, Prof. Charles Dokubo, the items for various trades distributed to the beneficiaries included welding equipment, tailoring, catering, deep freezers and generators of different sizes.

Daily Trust reported that the exercise, which will eventually involve thousands of recipients drawn from various communities in Rivers, Bayelsa, Delta, Edo, Cross Rivers, Imo, Ondo, Akwa Ibom and Abia states, commenced in Warri, Delta State last Friday.

The statement said that at another phase of the empowerment programme in Rivers State on Sunday, Prof Dokubo described the gesture as a show of President Muhammadu Buhari’s love for the people of the oil rich Niger Delta.

Speaking on behalf of recipients of the items at the Warri distribution centre, the community leader in Ogbeinbin, Warri North Local Government Area of Delta State, Chief Solomon Ogumogu, commended the initiative.

He said, “We are happy for what is happening today. Since the beginning of the Amnesty Programme 2009, we have never experienced anything like this before. The Amnesty Programme was targeted at those involved in the armed struggle, the people that carried arms fighting for their freedom, but majority of communities in the Niger Delta had been neglected.”

Peace in Niger Delta, increase in oil production, achievements under Buhari – Kachikwu

The prevailing peace in the Niger Delta, which has led to the increase in oil production and revenue to the country, is one of the many achievements of the Buhari-led administration.

This was stated recently by the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Dr. Ibe Kachikwu, who added that President Muhammadu Buhari’s integrity and sterling performance would speak for him, even as Nigerians prepare to vote in Saturday’s presidential elections.

Speaking further, Kachikwu said the administration of Muhammadu Buhari has facilitated development in the Niger Delta region, which has led to the increase of oil production and revenue to the country, assuring that the federal government will continue to maintain the Amnesty Programme in the Niger Delta.

He further said that the Federal Government has made impressive mark on the economy, agriculture, security, transportation and roads infrastructure among other commendable projects nationwide.

According to Daily Trust, the minister said this at the unveiling of the Buhari Support Organisations (BSO) on Wednesday in Asaba, Delta State. He stated that President Buhari would never support anybody to rig elections.

Op-Ed: Maritime University, Ogoni Clean-up, Modular refineries… Buhari administration’s achievements in Niger Delta

The development in the Niger Delta under the Buhari administration through its New Vision is restoring peace and curbing the decadence that initially enveloped the region, writes Mary Oyibocha-Agbajoh in the Vanguard

 

Leadership is the art of motivating a group of people to act towards achieving a common goal. However, it requires a lot of hard work and sacrifice so as to meet up the people’s expectations.

This sole reason, requires leaders not just to understand the plight of the people they serve but also have a firm grip on issues affecting the masses so as to ensure a smooth transition and growth of the capacity of the people they serve.

Having this capability puts you in the top 1% of leaders and is a skill President Muhammadu Buhari internalizes even though some partisan individuals of influence are feeding a wrong message about the agenda of the President, because over the years our mindset as a country and people was used to a system where anything goes and rot is left unchecked.

Therefore, the process of re-evaluating, strategizing and taking a bold step forward is what the government of President Muhammadu Buhari is establishing as a foundation unto greater achievements. To prove wrong critics on the Buhari administration, take a look at the establishment of the New Vision for the Niger Delta, which is geared towards enhancing the well-being of the people in the region.

This administration saw to the actualization and take off of the Maritime University Okerenkoko, Delta State. The University got functional approval by the National University Commission (NUC), to commence undergraduate programme, effective from 2017/2018 session, and commenced academic activities on the 12th of April 2018. To ensure that the university enjoys privileges as other federal university Buhari approved an increased in the take – off grant allocated to the Maritime University Okerenkoko Delta State from N2billion to N5billion. Similarly, in November 2017 another N1billion was approved by the President to aid the support of essential infrastructural works and staff recruitment in the university.

In furtherance to reducing the epidemic of oil pollution in the Niger Delta area the administration launched the Ogoni clean-up project, and it set aside $ 170million USD for the clean-up. The Ogoni clean-up project is being managed by the Hydrocarbon Pollution Remediation Project (HYPREP) of the Federal Ministry of Environment. To enhance the remediation work President Buhari – led administration trained graduates from Ogoni land, who studied Environmental Science. The administration also flagged off the Ogoni Health Outreach Programme and about 5,815 patients were attended to and 65 surgical cases treated.

The amnesty programme feared to be abolished took a whole lot of people by surprise as an additional N35billion was approved for the rehabilitation and sustainability, re- integration of ex- agitators of the Niger Delta area.  The indigenes of the communities were not left out, as they were given full academic scholarship in other to attain quality education with monthly stipends.

The unemployed youths today in the Niger Delta region are hopeful for a brighter future, as the Buhari led administration through the N- Power scheme has put a smile on their faces by empowering them with N30, 000 monthly allowances to ensure their wellbeing. The N- Power initiative has in no small measures curb youth restiveness in the area.

The license to operate modular refineries given under administration, would see to eradication of unemployment in the region by creating more jobs, business opportunities which will be of essential benefit to the youths in the region and Nigeria as a country, when the refineries kicks off.

Aware of the importance of infrastructure and good road network in the socio- economic development of a society, the Buhari administration has ensured the resumption of all abandoned projects awarded to different contractors across the Niger Delta region 2006, including the East West Road and the second Niger Bridge both projects are at the phase of completion.

It was the Buhari led administration that flagged off by the Vice President Yemi Osinbajo the N120 billion Bonny – Bodo road project.

To ensure that there is no scarcity of food, and the prices are affordable for the masses the administration gave priority to the Agricultural sector, by setting presidential initiatives to boost it in the nine states of the Niger Delta Region and Enugu. The administration has completed six cassava processing plants in Bayelsa, Rivers, Abia, Ondo, Cross River and Imo states. In acquiring skills, the hand of this administration is feasible in the areas of business, trade, and craft.

One hundred and thirty youths in the Niger Delta were trained on poultry, agriculture, crop production and were given N1 million naira each by the Buhari- led administration. This contributed to the complete phase out of youth restiveness. Women who specialized in poultry and snail production were empowered between 350k- 500k each to start up business. Other women were trained in ICT and business hub, poultry and fish production.

Recently the Presidential Amnesty Programme commissioned a vocational in Agadagba – Obon Ese Odo Local Government Area, Ondo State for training the youths in oil and gas related field.

Vice President Yemi Osinbajo paid a visit to the Niger Delta region where he met with elders and discussed with them, as regards restoring peace in the region.

The administration through the Ministry of Petroleum headed by President Muhammadu Buhari as the Petroleum Minister introduced the Nigerian Gas Flare Commercialisation Programme, which was aimed at addressing the exit of gas flaring in the Niger Delta region.

This administration has put frame work for community – based participation in the oil and gas pipelines, and the oil and gas assets in the Niger Delta region.

The development in the Niger Delta in this administration is in no small measure restoring peace and curbing the decadence that initially enveloped the region.

 

Culled from The Vanguard

We will drive a new vision for Niger Delta – NDDC Boss

*Rivers Monarchs laud FG, NDDC on development

The Acting Managing Director of the Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC, Prof. Nelson Brambaifa, says the new dawn at the Commission is an opportunity to do things differently for the development of the Niger Delta region.

Prof. Brambaifa spoke during a reception in honour of the NDDC Acting Executive Director Finance and Administration, EDFA, Mr. Chris Amadi, at the Palace of the Chairman of Supreme Council of Ikwerre Traditional Rulers, Eze Blessing Wagor, Nye-Nwe Ali Isiokpo.

In a statement from the Commission, the NDDC Chief Executive Officer was quoted as describing the Acting Executive Director Finance and Administration as a worthy, brilliant and smart son of the Niger Delta region. “You can be sure that he would perform creditably in his new assignment,” he assured.
Responding, Amadi assured that the executive management led by Prof. Bambaifa would deliver faithfully on the mandate of the NDDC, stating that it would endeavor to enlist the support and cooperation of all stakeholders in the Niger Delta region.

The Acting EDFA stated that NDDC as a regional development agency had been undertaking development projects and programmes for the benefit of the people of the region. He added: “I can assure Ikwerre people that we will do our best within the time available to ensure that everyone got their due.”

Amadi said that the NDDC Acting Managing Director had asked him to raise the issue of vandalized power infrastructure in Isiokpo at the next executive management meeting. He assured that the light situation in Isiokpo and other Ikwerre communities would be treated with dispatch.

He said further: “We are requesting Ikwerre people to identify areas that require intervention from the NDDC as soon as possible, so as to assist us to ensure equitable distribution of infrastructural development across the region.

“The Acting MD is from Bayelsa State, the Ag. Executive Director Projects is from Delta State and I am from Rivers State. What that means is that we will ensure that no state in the region is marginalized or short changed.”

Amadi said that as the new management team came on board, it realized that there were school desks and chairs that were already delivered to the NDDC for distribution to primary and secondary schools across the region.

He added that the management directed the immediate distribution of the desks and chairs for schools in Rivers State. According to the EDFA, the first schools to benefit will be those in Akpor kingdom. “We will continue in that vein to cover other communities in Rivers State since the Commission had already distributed the items in other states in the region.” He said.

Speaking on behalf of the Isiokpo kingdom, Eze Wagor, said the appointment of Amadi as NDDC EDFA was the first real “patronage” of an Isiokpo son since 1999. For this position of trust extended to our son, he declared: “We shall reciprocate and continually show appreciation and support to the Federal Government of Nigeria.”

Eze Wagor appealed to the NDDC to step up infrastructural development in the Ikwerre Local Government Area. He particularly pleaded for the rehabilitation of the vandalized electricity supply to Isiopko from the national grid, noting that “the entire area has been without power supply for more than 18 months.”

A thanksgiving service at St. John’s Anglican Church, Adanta, Isiokpo had earlier been held in honour of Amadi.

In the same vein, traditional rulers in Ikwerre, Rivers State have lauded the efforts of the Federal Government and the Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC, in fast-tracking the development of the Niger Delta region.

Nye-Nwe Ali Akpor, Eze Aniele Orlu-Oriebe, who spoke at a reception organised by the Akpor Kingdom in honour of Amadi, at the former Akpor Grammer School ground in Ozuoba, Obio/Akpor Local Government Area, applauded the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari, while commending the efforts of the NDDC as an interventionist agency.

“The NDDC has done well, so far, in delivering on its mandate of intervening to mitigate the infrastructural and other developmental challenges of the Niger Delta region of Nigeria. We encourage this current management to do more, especially for the people of Akpor kingdom,” he said.

The NDDC Acting EDFA was also received in the palace of Eze Apara Rebisi of Port Harcourt, Eze Victor Woluchem XII, who was also full of praise for the Federal Government.

Amadi noted that the NDDC was more determined to fast-track the development of all parts of the Niger Delta region, including Ikwerre communities, noting that they “have a duty and responsibility to ensure an equitable spread of projects across the Niger Delta region.”

“I am here in dual capacity as an honouree and a representative of the Acting Managing Director of the NDDC, Prof. Nelson Brambaifa. I am giving assurances that whatever is required in the area of infrastructural development would be done.”

Niger Delta: Maritime Varsity will boost job opportunities, save nation foreign exchange – VC

Nigeria would benefit immensely from the Maritime University, Okerenkoko, Delta State, as it would boost job opportunities for Nigerian professionals in the Maritime industry, and it would also save the nation foreign exchange.

The Vice Chancellor of the Nigeria Maritime University, Okerenkoko, Delta State, Prof. (Mrs.) Maureen Ongoebi Etebu,

stated this recently during a tour of the institution’s impressive teaching facilities and infrastructure at the take-off campus while she attributed the progress of work in the university to President Muhammadu  Buhari’s commitment to the region.

Highlighting the benefits the  nation is poised to gain from having the institution, Etebu further said the institution would save the nation a great deal of foreign exchange it hitherto spent on  training Nigerians in maritime sector in other countries.

She affirmed that the standard of training in the institution was at par with international best standards, negating the need to  further send students abroad to obtain such trainings.  She stated the university had registered with the International Maritime Organisation, a body that upholds the highest standard of maritime practice and training in the world. She further affirmed that the university,  which  is working in collaboration with the Caribbean Maritime University, has brought peace to the Niger Delta region.

She said,” We can now do local training and not send our citizens out of the country,  because we have set standards that can compete with  anywhere in the world; and  through NIMASA, we are registered with the IMO (International Maritime Organisation).

‘When you train cadets here in Nigeria you give them the exposure they can get abroad. Right now  we are  collaborating with Caribbean Maritime University and  we are also making arrangement with the World Maritime University in Sweden. We will be producing high rate cadet without spending any dollars or pounds which will save  our nation a great deal of foreign exchange,’ she said.

The VC, who was in the company of staff members, also affirmed  that  graduates  of the university would soon bridge the gap of local skilled  content in the maritime industry. She noted that such development would equally save the nation foreign exchange spent on the wages of skilled expatriate  workers. ” when you go to ships you hardly find Nigerians, but in another two years this would be rectified as we should have graduated our first batch from the department of  transport and logistics management and environmental management.  And in another three years we will be producing marine engineers  that can help man this area where we lack man powers.’

Etebu also  thanked  President Buhari’s  administration for its trail-blazing role in the development of the university. She praised the Federal Government for releasing funds for the continued development of the institution, noting that it was an indication that President Muhammadu Buhari and Vice President Yemi Osinbajo were fully working for the development of the region.

She said, “The Federal Government has been magnanimous to us. We are grateful to the Federal Government for its support, without which, the maritime University would not have taken off.”

“Indeed, we have been able to start only because the Federal Government energized the process and release funds to the Maritime University. Recall that the His Excellency (Vice President) even visited here (Niger Delta) and we are grateful. You can see what we are doing with the funds that were released to us. And since the university started there has been peace in the Niger Delta region.”

In November 2017, President Muhammadu Buhari  approved an increase in the take-off grant allocated to the University from the N2bn earlier announced to N5bn. This sum was included in the 2018 budget presented to the National Assembly in November 2017. Similarly, an additional N1B was approved by the President to support essential infrastructure works and staff recruitment in the University in November 2017. The Delta State government has also donated two 500KVA generators to the University.

These grants have  in no small measure aided the take-off of the institution, which arguably boasts world-class teaching facilities which include: state of the art lecture rooms kitted with projectors and air conditioners, school laboratories, Olympic size swimming pool, library, ICT centre,  event hall, cafeteria, hostels, a health centre that also serves neighbouring communities, amongst others.

It would be recalled that the Maritime University commenced full academic activities in April 2018, when its first batch resumed lectures for the 2017/2018 session.

According to the VC, at least 300 undergraduates wrote the first and second semester exams in 2018.

As at January 27, the University has so far pre-screened 476 new students who have commenced academic activities for the 2018/2019 session. Of this number, the faculty of Engineering had the highest number of pre-screened students comprising 280 students.

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

The NUC approved that academic activities commence in three faculties namely; Transport, Engineering and Environmental Management.

The Faculty of Transport has four departments, namely: Nautical Science, Transport Logistics Management, Marine Economics and Finance, and Port Management.

The Faculty of Engineering has five departments – Marine Engineering, Civil Engineering, Electrical Engineering, Mechanical Engineering and Petroleum and Gas Engineering, and the Faculty of Environmental Management has four departments: Environmental Management and Pollution, Meteorology and Climate Change, Fisheries and Aquaculture, and Marine Geology.

In October, last year. the NMU signed an academic partnership with the Caribbean Maritime University (CMU) at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, in the presence of the Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, SAN. Under this MOU, the CMU has offered scholarships to two students of the Maritime University.

Staff of the university also thanked the Federal Government for its  unwavering support  in making the university a success story, insisting that the institution would save  the nation a great deal of foreign exchange. Professor Francis Nwosu of the Department of Fisheries and aquaculture noted that the university’s output would in the long run  contribute to the economic growth of the nation, “Maritime university wants to develop  our human resources that will exploit the resources of the ocean and that will add to our nation’s economic growth.

VC commends Buhari administration for making Maritime University a success story

*Says progress of University shows FG’s commitment towards developing Niger Delta & maritime sector

VC, Nigeria Maritime University, Prof. Etebu

Vice Chancellor of the Nigeria Maritime University, Okerenkoko, Delta State, Prof. (Mrs.) Maureen Ongoebi Etebu, has praised the Federal Government under President Muhammadu Buhari for the continued development of the university and making it a success story.

Etebu said this has helped in sustaining peace in the Niger Delta region, while adding that the University has become a beacon of hope to Niger Delta youths.

She further stated that the Buhari administration’s efforts towards the development of the University also shows its commitment to improving the maritime sector, which is fundamental to the growth and development of the nation’s economy

The VC stated this on Monday while showcasing the institution’s impressive teaching facilities and infrastructure at its take-off campus to the Niger Delta New Vision team from the Office of the Vice President.

She said, “We are grateful to the Federal Government for its support, without which, the maritime University would not have taken off. They have been magnanimous to us,” while adding that the university’s development was in sync with the Federal Government’s New Vision for the Niger Delta.

“Indeed, we have been able to start only because the Federal Government energized the process and released funds to the Maritime University. Recall that the His Excellency (Vice President) even visited here (Niger Delta) and we are grateful. You can see the progress here already. And since the university started, it has contributed to the peace in the Niger Delta region,” she noted.

The VC, who was in the company of University staff members, added that the ongoing efforts in the university is an indication that President Muhammadu Buhari and Vice President Yemi Osinbajo were fully working for the development of the region.

ICT facilities at Maritime University

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

The Maritime University, which is the first of its kind in Nigeria, commenced full academic activities in April 2018, when its first batch resumed lectures for the 2017/2018 session.

It has 13 departments in three faculties namely: Transport, Engineering and Environmental Management.

The Faculty of Transport has four departments, namely: Nautical Science, Transport Logistics Management, Marine Economics and Finance, and Port Management. The Faculty of Engineering has five departments – Marine Engineering, Civil Engineering, Electrical Engineering, Mechanical Engineering and Petroleum and Gas Engineering, and the Faculty of Environmental Management has four departments: Environmental Management and Pollution, Meteorology and Climate Change, Fisheries and Aquaculture, and Marine Geology.

According to the VC, over 300 undergraduates wrote the first and second semester exams in 2018.

So far, the University has, at January 27, pre-screened 476 new students who have commenced academic activities for the 2018/2019 session. Of this number, the faculty of Engineering had the highest number of pre-screened students comprising 280 students.

Maritime University students during a parade in the institution on Monday

The VC also lauded the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) for its financial contributions towards the University’s development, a pointer to the synergy that underpins good relations among ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs) under the Buhari administration.

She said, “NIMASA have been a big brother to us. Whenever we go to them they are willing to accommodate us. The DG of NIMASA has indeed been very supportive.”

The Special Assistant to the Vice President on Communication Projects/Niger Delta, Mr. Arukaino Umukoro, expressed his delight at the institution’s facilities, which he attributed to the Buhari administration’s commitment to the development of the Niger Delta region and the nation’s maritime sector.

In November 2017, President Muhammadu Buhari had approved an increase in the take-off grant allocated to the University from the N2bn earlier announced to N5bn. This sum was included in the 2018 budget presented to the National Assembly in November 2017. Similarly, an additional N1B was approved by the President to support crucial infrastructure works and staff recruitment in the University. The Delta State government also donated two 500KVA generators to the University.

These efforts have aided the take-off of the institution, which arguably boasts world-class teaching facilities which include: state of the art lecture rooms kitted with projectors and air conditioners, school laboratories, Olympic size swimming pool, library, event hall, cafeteria, hostels, a health centre that also serves neighbouring communities, amongst others.

A lecture theatre at Maritime University

Noting that all lecturers in the university went through strict recruitment process before they were employed, the VC said, “All our academic staff have a minimum of second-class upper in their first degree. And they were all employed on merit without any powerful political connection,” she said, assuring that the university, which is a paramilitary institution, was poised to maintain its high standard.

Etebu said the University has great potential to positively impact development in the region and in the country.

“The maritime industry is global, and there are so many resources that have not been tapped until now. You have heard our university anthem, “sailing through the marine ways of the world”, so it’s limitless. Being a premier Maritime University, we want to keep the flag flying, and I know we would be number one for a long time.

Also, in October, last year, the NMU signed an academic partnership with the Caribbean Maritime University (CMU) at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, in the presence of the Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, SAN. Under this MOU, the CMU offered scholarships to two students of the Maritime University.

“One of the many advantages of this institution is that we do not go on strike, being a paramilitary institution. A four-year course will always remain a four-year course,” the VC added.

Similarly, the Dean, Faculty of Marine Transport & Logistics Management, Prof. Godwin Ovuworie, said, “Maritime University is a unique institution that would cater for the needs of Nigeria’s maritime industry for years to come. We thank the Vice President and the President for this project because Nigeria needs it.”

Staff of the University also commended the Federal Government for its continued efforts in developing the university.

Amnesty Programme catering to the needs of ex-agitators in Niger Delta, says group

*Lauds appointment of Dokubo

A group, the Forum for the Advancement and Upliftment of the Niger Delta (FAUND), has lauded the Presidential Amnesty Programme, which it said is fulfilling its key mandate of catering to the needs and aspirations of ex-agitators in the Niger Delta.

In a statement signed by FAUND President, Nimitein Oyibo, the group also commended the Federal Government and the President Muhammadu Buhari for the appointment of Professor Charles Quaker Dokubo as Special Adviser to the President on Niger Delta and Coordinator of the Presidential Amnesty Programme (PAP).

It also described Dokubo’s appointment as a step in the right direction for the development of the Niger Delta.

“As a leading Niger Delta stakeholder and renowned academic, Professor Dokubo has provided a new vehicle for the people of the Niger Delta to feel first hand, the gains of the Buhari presidency with respect to plans and programmes designed for the advancement of the lives of the people of the Niger Delta,” the statement read.

It further stated that less than 6 months into Dokubo’s tenure as Coordinator of the Amnesty Programme, “the programme has been returned to its cardinal mandate of catering to the needs and aspirations of ex-agitators in the Niger Delta who have chosen the path of peace, stability and progress.”

According to the statement, “The Reintegration of the thousands of young men who laid down their arms in the Niger Delta has been moved into new gear with new enthusiasm and commitment.

“Entitlements to these young lads are now being paid on time and empowerment programmes have been greatly reconfigured to ensure that the beneficiaries are equipped with the knowledge, skillset and tools they require to live productive lives.”

The statement added that, “At a time when political players and stakeholders in the Niger Delta have become so divisive and offensive, we commend the foresight of the Buhari government in the appointment of a leading technocrat, academic and progressive to the very sensitive role and position.

“Prof. Dokubo’s humaneness, humility, sense of purpose and commitment to the advancement of the Niger Delta has in so small way, helped to mold the conscience and consciousness of hundreds of thousands of Niger Deltans scattered across the 9 states of the Niger Delta.

“Since his appointment as Coordinator of PAP, Prof. Dokubo, a professor of International Diplomacy, War, Defence and Peace Studies, has won new friends and followers for President Buhari in the Niger Delta than all other political leaders in the Niger Delta.

“We call on all people of the Niger Delta to support the efforts of Prof. Dokubo in fixing the Presidential Amnesty Programme in order that it can be returned to the mandate for which it was set up for. The era of reckless petition writing aided and abetted by disgruntled contractors and stakeholders should come to an end. The advancement and upliftment of the Niger Delta must be the concern of everyone.”

#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.

Niger Delta: Navy destroys 1,000 illegal refineries in creeks

The Nigerian Navy Ship, DELTA, on Wednesday said it had destroyed over 1,000 illegal refineries with swamp buggies in the Delta creeks.

Speaking with newsmen in Warri, the Commander, NNS DELTA, Commodore Ibrahim Dewu, said the illegal refineries were destroyed in the last 29 days in its ongoing raids.

He said the illegal refineries and the equipment were destroyed in Otumara, Ogbegugu, Okpuku creeks and Bennett Island with the aid of swamp buggies, amphibious vehicles used in traversing swamps.

“We decided to apply swamp buggies because they are more environmental friendly and make it difficult for the perpetrators to resuscitate the illicit businesses after crushing their facilities.

“So far the exercise has been successful and we will not rest on our oars until the illicit trade is completely eradicated in our maritime domain,” he said.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) recalls that the navy had in the past relied heavily on the use of fire to destroy illegal refineries.

The commander said the use of swamp buggies would bring a lasting solution to the ongoing economic sabotage.

On Tuesday, the commander led some navy personnel and journalists to Bennett Island in Warri South Local Government Area of the state to monitor the operation.

He told newsmen that the oil thieves had adopted a new method to prevent his men from carrying out the operation.

“The perpetrators in Bennett Island set fire round the illegal refineries to prevent us and the swamp buggy from gaining access.

“However, we were able to find our way into the sites and crushed their equipment despite the thick smoke and rain.

“Since we started clamping down on the illegal refineries with the aid of swamp buggies, the perpetrators have been restless’’, the commander said.

Dewu said the saboteurs were already feeling the impact of the destruction.

“This might have generated the recent campaign for the removal of the Commander, Joint Task Force (JTF), code name “Operation Delta Safe,’’ Rear Adm. Suleiman Apochi, by the people.

“The campaign against JTF is a distraction; we will not be deterred,’’ he said.

He warned the saboteurs to desist from the illicit act or be made to face the full wrath of the law.

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)