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Developing Niger Delta: Buhari administration has kept promise, says Dokubo

President Muhammadu Buhari has kept his promise to the Niger Delta and support for this administration should be sustained in the region as it continues its development efforts, the Special Adviser to the President on Niger Delta Affairs /Coordinator of Presidential Amnesty Programme, PAP, Prof. Charles Dokubo has said.

According to the Vanguard, he noted that this was important because the Niger Delta sustains the nation’s economy and there is need to maintain the development of the region.

Speaking in Abuja, when a group of Niger Delta youths paid him a visit recently, Dokubo noted that Buhari means well for the region, adding that their continuous support for the president and his administration would attract more development to the area.

He said, “We must work and support President Buhari because to transform you is not only to pay you N65, 000. We should realise that this office is being supported very well by this president. He is giving us the backing for the development of the Niger Delta, we must work for him.”

“If somebody gives you food, would you forget that person? If somebody changes your life or that of your brother, would you forget that person? “I am so happy that you came here today, this is because since I took over here, this is the first time our people have come here to show me this kind of support officially, and this goes a long way. This office belongs to all of you.”

In its efforts towards ensuring more development in the region, the Buhari administration started the implementation of its ongoing New Vision for the Niger Delta, which is designed to “develop a new and prosperous Niger Delta through the Federal Government’s forthright partnerships with State Governments, the Private Sector and Local Communities.”

Ongoing projects under the Niger Delta New Vision include: the take-off of Maritime University in Okerenkoko, Delta State, the Commencement of Ogoni Clean-up, approval for the establishment of Modular Refineries, continuation of the Presidential Amnesty Programme and investments in infrastructure and development projects in the region.

‘FG remains committed to Ogoni clean-up, Niger Delta’s development’

The Federal Government has pledged commitment to thorough clean up of Ogoniland, and development of the Niger Delta region.

This was stated by the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Niger Delta, in the Office of the Vice President, Mr. Edobor Iyamu, during a one-day High Level Advocacy Workshop on the Clean-up of the Niger Delta, organised by the African Centre for Leadership, Strategy & Development, (Centre LSD), which held on Friday in Abuja.

Noting that the Clean-up is in phases, Iyamu said, “if you read the report on the Ogoni clean up, it would take 30 years to complete.”

According to the Guardian, Iyamu emphasized a lot of work has been done in line with the 2011 UNEP report, since the Buhari administration kickstarted the Ogoni clean-up in 2016.

He said several companies have been awarded contracts to carry out the clean-up, adding that there would be subsequent award of contracts to interested companies.

Recall that in January, the Hon. Minister of Environment, Suleiman Hassan, kicked off the handing over of sites to contractors undertaking the remediation and clean-up of impacted sites in Ogoniland, Rivers State.

Speaking further, Iyamu said there have been a lot of social engagements and programmes in Ogoni communities by HYPREP, while some studies have been carried out to find out the extent of contamination.

He said, “This exercise has not been done anywhere. It is an ongoing process and I am sure it can only get better. With subsequent awards, I am sure we are going to get more qualified people. One of the things we tried to do from the office of the vice president is to constantly put stakeholders under pressure.

“No one is going to take the region for granted. The New Vision for the Niger Delta is designed to bring development to the region, and we have recorded several milestones.

“Today, we have the Maritime University, which is fully operational and we also have the four modular refineries, which are located in Imo, Akwa Ibom, Delta and Rivers states, with about 60-90 per cent completion.”

Also speaking at the event, the Acting Executive Director of the African Centre for Leadership, Strategy & Development, (Centre LSD) Mr. Monday Osasah has lauded the FEDERAL Government on the commencement of the official handover of polluted sites to remediation firms on the Ogoniland Clean-Up.

He said, “Cleaning the Niger Delta is social justice, and having achieved relative calm so far, we believe that further tampering with citizens expectation by the lull in the process might be problematic. We are therefore pleased that Hydro Carbon Pollution Remediation Project (HYPREP), the body responsible for the clean up has commenced the official handover of polluted sites to remediation firms. We hope that the initial delay will be compensated by speed of the firms.”

FG, firm sign $100m concession agreement for Warri Port Terminal

Spurred by the desire to boost efficiency in port management, the Federal Government and Ocean & Cargo Terminal Services Limited, on Tuesday, signed a concession agreement for Terminal B of Warri Old Port.

This is sequel to the National Council on Privatisation’s approval of the technical and commercial bid of $100.78m submitted by Ocean & Cargo Terminal Services Limited on June 18, 2018.

Mr Alex Okoh, Director-General of the Bureau of Public Enterprises, noted that the objective of the Federal Government in port concessioning, was to achieve efficiency in the country’s port management, with the ultimate aim of improved service delivery.

The BPE boss who signed the document on the government’s behalf also observed that the process was geared towards the modernisation of port facilities, while achieving reduction in the cost of shipping and clearing goods, an arrangement that would relieve the government of the encumbrances of financing the sector.

Okoh said, “In fact, the concession of the seaports in Nigeria represents one of the success stories of the privatisation and commercialisation programme in Nigeria.

“The concessionaire is expected to focus on these objectives as they perform their business. The government expects nothing less than strict adherence to the terms of the concession agreement from the concessionaire.”

“Consequently, the pursuit of your business objectives must be tailored in a way that will also assist in the realisation of these objectives,” he told the concessionaire.

Dr. Taiwo Afolabi, chairman, Ocean and Cargo Terminal Services, however, expressed his happiness as he signed on behalf of his company, the PUNCH reports.

Ms. Hadiza Bala Usman, Managing Director, Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), who was present during the ceremony also expressed delight at the conclusion of the concession of the terminal, noting that the concession of the port ‘is an important milestone in the economic development of the country.’

This crucial development once again reiterates the federal government’s unwavering commitment to the development of the Niger-delta, a region, which president Buhari’s administration has accorded great importance and initiated many critical projects.

#NDNewVision: Fact Sheet On Niger Delta New Vision

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

 

Ongoing projects under the Niger Delta New Vision include:

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

 

Maritime University, Delta State:

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

 

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

 

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

 

Ogoni clean-up:

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

 

Modular Refineries:

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

 

Presidential Amnesty Programme (PAP):

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

BONNY-BODO ROAD PROJECT:

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

 

  • The ongoing Bonny-Bodo bridge and road project is a Public Private Partnership arrangement jointly funded by Nigeria LNG and the Federal Government.

 

  • When completed, the 34-kilometres road would connect several major communities in the Niger Delta region and boost socio-economic development in the region.

 

Export Processing Zone (EPZ):

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

 

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

 

 

#NDNewVision: PHOTOS of Modular refineries in Niger Delta

As part of the Niger Delta New Vision of President Muhammadu Buhari administration, two modular refineries in Niger Delta region are expected to be inaugurated by the end of this year.

OPAC Refinery, Umuseti, Delta State

Two modular refinery projects have commenced construction out of the 10 licensed projects identified for possible groundbreaking. They are the: Niger Delta Petroleum Resources – Establishment of additional 10,000bpd Modular Refinery in Ogbele, Rivers State; OPAC Refineries – to establish 7,000bpd refinery in Umuseti-Kwale, Delta State (phase one). Another refinery, WalterSmith (Petroman) – to Establish 5,000bpd refinery in Ibigwe, Ohaji, Imo State – is expected to come on board in the near future.

 

 

Niger Delta Petroleum Resources (NDPR) Refinery, Ogbele, Rivers State

The key objectives of establishing modular refineries in the Niger Delta region include the following:

  • To promote availability of petroleum products in the country and boost economic development nationwide,
  • To promote socio-economic development and  provide jobs for unemployed youths in the region, thereby sustaining peaceful coexistence in the Niger Delta,
  • To increase local content in Region,
  • To mitigate and eliminate negative environmental degradation associated with illegal refinery activities, crude oil theft and pipelines vandalism.

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.

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.”

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)