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Collaboration will fast-track development in Ondo coastal areas, says NDDC

Community leaders and stakeholders across coastal communities of Ondo State have been urged to appeal to youths in the area to give room to development by embracing peace.

This was stated by the commissioner on the Board of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NNDC), Mr. Lucky Aiyedatiwa, who made the call in Igbokoda headquarters of Ilaje Local Government Area of the state. He noted that community thrives in a peaceful atmosphere, according to the Tribune.

Speaking at the NDDC stakeholders meeting recently on peace building and community engagement in the Niger Delta region of the state, Aiyedatiwa said the goal of the commission in the area could not be realized unless the youths and other stakeholders cooperate with the commission.

The commissioner stressed the need for the collaboration or engagement among the NDDC, stakeholders and communities, in order to implement and deliver projects and programmes in coastal communities.

He noted that the NDDC was ready to empower the people of Ilaje and Ese- Odo local government area, however spoke on the need for a friendly environment and peaceful coexistence.

He, however, pointed that “despite the presence of NDDC in the region, as indicated by these various projects and programmes, community agitation, restiveness, kidnapping, pipeline vandalism has not ceased, but they are rather on the rise.

“The reason for this is not far- fetched. The people are asking for more and NDDC is very slow in delivering on projects and programmes”, He said.

Aiyedatiwa further said that despite challenges confronting the commission in the area, “NDDC has provided employment for indigenes of Ilaje and Ese Odo and Ese Odo, and other parts of the state.

Road construction, rehabilitation, jetties, walkways, waterways, electricity, health programmes and scholarship are various projects and programmes by NDDC in Ondo State. These are indications of the execution of its mandate in the region, “he said.

NDDC to begin construction of road in Abia

The Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) has commenced the construction of the dilapidated Ubahu- Ihube- Okigwe expressway in Umunneochi local council of Abia State.

The 15-kilometre road being undertaken by the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) with a bridge will cost about N372 million and has nine months delivery time, the Guardian reports.

However, the Chairman/Managing Director of Free Flow Construction Company Ltd, Mr. Chidiebere Udeh, the contractor handling the project firm, promised to deliver in three months if the NDDC would fulfill its contractual obligations.

He said, “I am a son of this LGA and am poised to work round the clock including Sundays to deliver the work hence I urge the Commission to do the needful in accordance with the terms of the contract. You can see our healthy equipment and personnel are on ground and the communities are giving us all the cooperation and assistance”.

The flag-off of the construction of the dilapidated Ubahu- Ihube- Okigwe expressway was by large crowd of people from Ubahu Nneato rural community and adjoining ones in Umunneochi local council.

The traditional ruler of Onuogu Ogwe, further said, “we are elated to see the turning of our dilapidated rural road linking us directly to Enugu-Okigwe – Port Harcourt expressway into a tarred one in our life time”.

President Buhari’s victory is for all Nigerians – NDDC Boss

*Says peace in Niger Delta outcome of VP Osinbajo’s intervention in region

The victory of President Muhammadu Buhari in the recent presidential elections is a testimony to the overwhelming confidence of Nigerians in his capacity and commitment to rebuilding Nigeria and taking the country to the Next Level.

The Acting Managing Director of the Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC, Prof. Nelson Brambaifa, made this assertion in a congratulatory message to President Buhari after his re-election for another four-year term on February 23.

In a statement from the Commission, Prof. Brambaifa said that President Buhari has remained focused on his change agenda to strengthen governance and tackle corruption, establish food security across the nation, improve healthcare efficiency, improve national security and protect lives and property, as well as rebuild infrastructure and create jobs for all Nigerians.

The NDDC boss stated that “it was important to note that President Buhari has shown commitment towards the sustainable development of the Niger Delta region,” adding that, for the first time since its establishment, the Commission was receiving the full statutory financial contribution of the Federal Government because of President Buhari’s determination to rebuild the region.”

Prof. Brambaifa said: “It is also important to recall that it took President Buhari for the Federal Government to begin to repay over N1.8 trillion owed NDDC since its establishment, so that more funds would be available to discharge our mandate, as well as our obligations to our contractors.

“It took the decisive action of the Federal Government, under the direction of Mr. President, to help restore peace, security and social stability in the Niger Delta. Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, SAN, led a region wide interaction with the Pan Niger Delta Forum, PANDEF, and major stakeholders in the region and the peace we enjoy today is the result of his strategic intervention,” he added.

In November, 2016, in a move to address concerns in the region and see to its development, President Muhammadu Buhari held a meeting with Niger Delta leaders under the aegis of Pan-Niger Delta Forum, PANDEF. PANDEF made a 16-point demand to the Federal Government which was subsequently captured in the FG’s 20-point agenda to develop the region.

It would be recalled that in November 2016, President Buhari held a meeting with Niger Delta leaders under the aegis of Pan-Niger Delta Forum, PANDEF. PANDEF made a 16-point demand to the Federal Government which was subsequently captured in the FG’s 20-point agenda to develop the region. Following that meeting with elders in the region, in 2017, on behalf of the President, the VP Osinbajo undertook a tour of oil producing communities.in the region, and the Buhari administration’s Niger Delta New Vision was birthed, which focuses on the wholesome development of the region.

The statement further noted that the NDDC boss pointed out that the victory of President Buhari is a victory for all Nigerians, particularly the people of the Niger Delta region, stating that “it affirms our confidence in President Buhari’s determination to give all Nigerians a government which addresses their needs and bolsters our shared commitment to making the Niger Delta, in particular, a region which fulfills the expectations of the people.”

Prof. Brambaifa declared that the people are expectant that “the next four years will usher in a better country, under the leadership of President Buhari, which will improve their lives.” He avowed that NDDC will work even harder to facilitate regional development and improve the living conditions of the people.

He added: “We are happy to associate with you and will continue to work with you to fulfil your vision of a better country and your mission to make Nigeria and the Niger Delta a better place.

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: NDDC to distribute Solar-powered lamps to communities

The Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC, is working to ensure the provision of solar power to communities of the Niger Delta region that are not covered by the national grid.

The NDDC Managing Director, Mr. Nsima Ekere, said this when the leader of the Sustainable Energy Practitioners of Nigeria, SEPAN, Federal Ministry of Environment and Asteven Group, Dr. Magnus Onuoha, paid him a courtesy call at the NDDC headquarters in Port Hacourt.

Mr. Ekere was presented with the Green Global Champion Award which the Agency won at the recently concluded global Climate Conference, at Katowice Poland for the contributions of the NDDC to the development of the region.

According to a statement by the Commission, the NDDC boss said the Commission had over the years been involved in a lot of projects in the Green Energy sector. He said: “We believe that one of the ways of closing the gap between electricity distributions in the country is to encourage green energy initiatives in a captive supply market.”

Ekere stated that the NDDC was committed to the project and will deepen its collaboration with private sectors and organizations like Green Global Economy Initiative in providing green power to rural communities in Nigeria and the Niger Delta region in particular.

In his remarks Dr. Onuoha thanked the NDDC for ensuring that 20 per cent unconditional emissions reduction as committed to by the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari in 2015 was realized. He also lauded the NDDC for keying into the implementation of Nigeria’s Nationally Determined Contribution under the Paris Agreement of 2015, noting that the NDDC deserved commendation for being in the Vanguard of the promotion of low carbon resources efficient Nigerian green economy.

He noted with joy the agency’s commitment to distribute 90,000 small solar lanterns to tertiary institutions in the nine states of the region at 10,000 per state, with effect from January 2019.

Onuoha explained that the distribution was expected to generate 3.5 million metric tons of carbon and would be reported by the Department of Climate Change Federal Ministry of Environment as part of Nigeria’s Nationally Determined Contribution efforts.

Niger Delta: 200 set for NDDC 2018 Post-Graduate Foreign Scholarship

The Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC, has presented award letters to 200 graduates from the Niger Delta region for its 2018 Post-Graduate Foreign Scholarship Programme.

According to a statement by the NDDC, during a pre-departure briefing and orientation at the Hotel Presidential in Port Harcourt, the NDDC Managing Director, Mr Nsima Ekere, charged the scholars to be ambassadors of the Niger Delta region as they carry the flag of Nigeria to foreign lands.

The NDDC Managing Director, who was represented by the Director Special Duties, Dr Princewill Ekanim, said that the Foreign Post-Graduate Scholarship Programme was an important component of the Commission’s human capital development programme.

He said: “We recognise the need to bridge the huge manpower deficit in the Niger Delta region, especially in Engineering, Science and Technology, EST, the fields that drive the oil industry. Our aim is to build a pool of professionals that can compete at the global stage.”

Ekere noted that the programme which started in 2010 had so far benefited 1,904 students, mostly at the Masters’ Degree level.  He said that about 4,000 candidates applied for this year’s programme, out of which 200 were selected.

The NDDC boss said: “Our scholars over the years have made outstanding results. In 2016, one of the beneficiaries in the masters’ programme, graduated as the overall best student at the Coventry University in the United Kingdom. In 2017, another beneficiary graduated with a distinction and was the best graduating student in the department as well as the entire post-graduate programme in environmental studies.”

Ekere advised the scholarship beneficiaries to avoid distractions so as to also excel in their studies. “We are sending you out to go and study and come back to impact the Niger Delta region and the entire Nigerian system for good. That is the essence of the scholarship programme,” he emphasised.

In his opening remarks, the NDDC Director for Education, Health and Social Services, Mr. Goshua Okejoto, urged the beneficiaries to make the best use of the opportunity given to them to acquire technical expertise for the benefit of the people of the Niger Delta region.

The EHSS director, who was represented by the deputy director, Mrs. Winifred Madume, reminded the beneficiaries that they owed the Niger Delta a duty to succeed. He added: “As you go to your various schools, conduct yourselves well as we expect excellent performance in all that you do.”

Speaking on behalf of the beneficiaries, the best Ph.D. awardee, Miss Mary Essien, thanked the NDDC for making the selection process fair and transparent. She pledged that they would do their best to be good ambassadors for the region.

The successful graduates for the 2018 post-graduate foreign scholarship programme had gone through electronic examination conducted at the Rivers State University, Port Harcourt, before a final selection interview.

NDDC commissions Oku Iboku Roads, inspects UNIUYO projects

The Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC, has inaugurated the 5.15-kilometre Oku Iboku Internal Road Project in Itu Local Government Area of Akwa Ibom State. It also inspected the road and erosion control project which it is executing at the University of Uyo.

Speaking at the commissioning of the Oku Ibokun roads and drainage, the NDDC Managing Director, Mr. Nsima Ekere, urged the benefiting communities to be grateful to the All Progressive Congress, APC, administration of President Muhammadu Buhari.

In a statement by the NDDC, Ekere was quoted as saying that: “I am very happy with what I am seeing today in this community. Oku Iboku is one of the very prominent towns in Akwa Ibom state. It has a history and pedigree. It is not wrong that the community was not even remembered before now.

“Recall that we have had various vilifications and attacks by the government of Akwa Ibom State. They have repeatedly said that NDDC has not constructed even one kilometre of road in Akwa Ibom State.

“Earlier today, we inspected the road that links Nsasak Junction-Akon in Essien Udim Local Government Area that connects Abia State. This is a 30-kilometre road project, out of which 15 kilometres have been completed. The contractor is currently working on the bridge to link both states. I saw 15-km of solid and quality road being handled by an indigenous contractor, who is also from Akwa Ibom State.”

The NDDC boss noted that the Commission also engaged a local contractor to execute the Oku Ibokun internal roads. He expressed satisfaction with the quality, stating that it would compete with roads in any part of the world.

Ekere expressed disappointment with the attitude of some officials of the Akwa Ibom State Government whom he accused of misleading people. He said: “Somebody needs to educate some of the officials of the Akwa Ibom State Government that as responsible officers of government, they should not speak until they are sure of their facts. Again, I repeat, NDDC is not competing with any of the state governments in the region. We are just here to complement the efforts of the state governments.”

The village head of Ikot Essien, Chief Evans Enwan, commended the NDDC for building a quality road for his people. He, however, pleaded with the Commission to extend the road to Mben Inyang.

At the 1.2-kilometre University of Uyo dual carriage access road, Ekere said that NDDC took on additional responsibilities when the university authorities appealed for help to tackle the drainage challenges on the road.

The MD said: “We include the 1.4 kilometres drainage outfall to address the challenge. That way we are sure that when the road is completed it will stand the test of time. Again, a local contractor has proved his mettle here and that is why we are committed to using them so long as they are qualified and have technical and financial capacity.

“We want to empower them to improve on their capacity so that ultimately they can engage the engineering graduates from our universities to give them hands-on experience in construction projects.”

Ekere commended the UNIUYO students for maintaining peace and allowing the contractor to work without hindrance. He promised that the NDDC would put in more efforts to complete the hostel in the university.

According the MD, “the hostel has been largely completed, what is left is external works and landscaping as well as a few finishing touches to the building. The contractor will meet the NDDC Director of Project Monitoring and Supervision so that whatever needs to be done is done urgently.”

Ekere stated that the NDDC was building hostel projects in other universities, adding that they were experiencing some hitches which would soon be resolved. He said: “Most of the hostel projects were awarded many years ago and the contractors unfortunately had not delivered on them. Some of them were awarded when a bag of cement was sold for 60 Naira.

“In some of them, the scope of work has had to be reviewed and the process of getting approvals from the Bureau of Public Procurement to increase the contract sums takes time. Right now, we are in the process of reviewing them to ensure that these projects are completed. We want our students to as much as possible study in comfort. NDDC is committed to doing whatever has to be done within its capacity to ensure that we add value to the educational system in the Niger Delta.”

He assured that the NDDC hostel projects in the various universities in the Niger Delta region would be re-activated as soon as possible and the contractors would be mobilised back to site to complete them.

 

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)