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We’ll Ensure Completion of Critical Niger Delta Development Projects – Osinbajo

*VP highlights Niger Delta’s diverse human capital, cites progress of FG’s New Vision initiative for the region

In furtherance of its New Vision development agenda for the Niger Delta, the Buhari Administration will ensure the completion of critical projects it has embarked upon in the region, according to Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, SAN.

Prof. Osinbajo who was represented at the event by the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Niger Delta Affairs, Office of the Vice President, Mr. Edobor Iyamu, stated this on Tuesday at the 6th Anniversary Lecture/Niger Delta Awards Organised by Gbaramatu Voice Newspaper, which held in Lagos.

According to him, “in 2017, following my tour of the Niger Delta, which involved extensive consultations with key stakeholders in the region, the New Vision for the Niger Delta was birthed in response to the various challenges which had been plaguing our people. The objective of this New Vision is to ensure that the people of the region benefit maximally from their wealth, through promoting infrastructural developments, environmental remediation and local content development.”

Prof. Osinbajo said that the administration’s Niger Delta New Vision initiative has recorded some landmark achievements in the areas of education, environmental remediation, infrastructure and local content development, among others.

He added that “as part of the quest to expand economic opportunities in the region, this administration has promoted investments in modular refineries. The objective of this initiative is to address our present energy demands and empower the Niger Delta people through promoting local content.”

The Vice President stated that while there are several modular refineries at different stages of completion across the region, three have been completed including the Niger Delta Petroleum Resources (NDPR) Modular Refinery in Rivers State; OPAC Modular Refinery in Delta State, and Walter Smith Modular Refinery in Imo State.

He also noted the ongoing remediation exercise in Ogoni land, Rivers State, which was kick-started by the Buhari administration under the recommendations of UNEP.

According to the VP, “It is important to note that the Ogoni clean-up is the first of its kind in the history of the Niger Delta. Indeed, this is the first time the Federal Government is directly involved in remediation activities within the region.”

“We are equally committed to expanding infrastructure in the region, this includes the ongoing construction work on the 34-kilometers Bonny-Bodo Road/Bridge, which has been abandoned for decades. When completed, the project, which was flagged off in October 2017, would connect several major communities and boost socio-economic development in the region.

“The Itakpe-Ajaokuta-Warri Rail Line project, which was commissioned by Mr. President in September 2020, and has the capacity to handle both passengers and freight services, is connecting several communities and promoting commerce within the region.

“The Federal Government is also developing a number of deep sea ports across the region, including the Bonny, Warri, and Ibom Deep Sea Ports, among other development projects such as the establishment of Export Processing Zones to boost economic activities.

“In 2018, the National Universities Commission (NUC) approved the commencement of undergraduate degree programmes at the Nigerian Maritime University in Okerenkoko, Delta State, which happens to be situated in the great Gbaramatu Kingdom.”

The Vice President noted that “beyond its oil wealth, the Niger Delta region is incredibly blessed with diverse human capital across education, sports, technology, creative arts, entertainment, economy, and many other sectors.”

Speaking on the theme of the event, “The Dwindling State of Crude Oil Demand in the Global Market: The Way Forward”, the Vice President stated that factors such as the attendant decline in demand for our crude oil, the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on global energy demand and on government’s earning, the current situation, require creative and holistic approach to foster economic growth.

Noting that despite the fact that crude oil accounts for about 90 percent of Nigeria’s foreign exchange earnings, the VP stated that the Federal Government from inception had shown a commitment towards the creation of economic opportunities for Nigeria’s population in a post-oil future.

The Vice President highlighted initiatives being taken by the Federal Government to reposition Nigeria’s economy by taking advantage of global trends in the energy sector.

This includes the SolarPowerNaija Programme under the Economic Sustainability Plan (ESP) which will complement efforts towards providing affordable electricity access to 5 million households, serving about 25 million Nigerians in rural areas and under-served urban communities nationwide.

The VP also highlighted efforts by the Federal Government on energy transition from crude oil to natural gas, as well as its National Gas Expansion Programme, also a component under the ESP.

He said, “as part of our drive to encourage investments in gas production and optimize our nation’s enormous gas potential, the Federal Government declared the period of 2020-2030 as the decade of gas. To this end, last November, the Federal Government launched its National Gas Expansion Programme, which focuses on the distribution of Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) and Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG) across gas stations operated by the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC).

“By the end of this year, this administration will commence distribution of CNG as part of our strategy to gradually replace the high sulfur petrol. Our objective is two-fold. First, this is the administration’s effort at managing the necessary energy transition from crude oil to natural gas. We intend to increase our domestic gas supply to meet this demand by exploiting our abundant reserves of natural gas.

“Secondly, we are aiming to develop CNG into an alternative automobile fuel as a means of affording Nigerians cheaper, cleaner and additional fuel. In this way, we will reduce the ecological and economic costs of energy. The Gas Masterplan provides for investment in the necessary infrastructure for gas transportation across the nation. All of these will basically reduce our local crude oil dependency, whilst strengthening our drive for cleaner sources of energy as a nation. And crucially, it will create jobs in what will be a fast-expanding frontier of opportunity.”

In line with the Administration’s New Vision for the Niger Delta initiative to develop the region, the Vice President noted that the Federal Government has “also invested significantly in the Niger Delta as the region that holds the energy resources that have powered our progress for six decades as well as the keys to an emergent gas economy.”

The Vice President further noted that the Administration places top priority on peace and security in the region.

“In terms of addressing concerns around public safety and social security in the region, while ensuring peace and stability in the region, the administration has, among other things, sustained its commitment to the Presidential Amnesty Programme under which youths and ex-agitators are engaged in formal education, vocational skills acquisition and empowerment programmes that offer a pathway towards productive and dignified livelihoods,” he said.

Commending the publishers of Gbaramatu Voice Newspapers for organizing the event, the Vice President said the ‘cumulative effect of all these measures will have a positive transformational impact on the Niger Delta and on the future of our nation as a whole while ensuring sustainable peace and progress in the Niger Delta.

Photos: OPAC Modular Refinery, Kwale, Delta

In line with the Buhari administration’s New Vision for the Niger Delta, the establishment of modular refineries in the region is already underway in the oil-rich region.

The Niger Delta New Vision is hinged on the commitment of President Muhammadu Buhari administration to develop the region and ensure that the people of the region benefit maximally from the wealth of their land. The New Vision speaks to a progressive partnership among the federal government, state government, private sector and  local communities.

“One of the nagging issues we were confronted with during my tour (of the Niger Delta) was how to deal with the proliferation of artisanal refinery and its attendant negative environmental impact. Our solution was to promote the establishment of modular refineries,” Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, SAN, said recently.

Following the approval of for the establishment of private-sector-led Modular Refineries across the Niger Delta region by the Federal Government, several modular refineries have now been now completed or undergoing construction.

Below are recent photos of OPAC Modular Refinery in Kwale, Delta State, which will be set for operations soon.

Presidential Amnesty Programme To Prosecute Erring Staff, Contractors

The Presidential Amnesty Programme (PAP) says it has uncovered unsavoury acts of fraud perpetrated by some vendors/contractors. The office is currently investigating these activities to determine how widespread and the extent of involvement or connivance with internal elements within the programme.

According to a statement signed by the Interim Administrator, PAP, Col. Milland Dixon Dikio (rtd), “while this investigation is ongoing, it will not stop the payment of those whose contracts and documents have been verified and reconciled as soon as the expected funds are released.”

The statement further read, “However, It will be recalled that before the close of the year 2020, the Presidential Amnesty Programme had sequentially paid a minimum of 104 contractors that had hitherto been owed. This process will continue until everyone is paid what they are owed, subject to the availability of funds.

“It must be noted that while the continuing process is evidence of the PAP’s commitment to its mandate which covers the delegates, the investigations will continue to ascertain the issues that gave rise to this allegation.

“Meanwhile vendors/contractors whose contracts have not been revalidated, have not received an approval to self-fund or been mobilized for their respective contracts are advised to suspend and maintain the status quo.”

President Buhari to inaugurate Itakpe-Warri rail line today

President Muhammadu Buhari will today commission the Itakpe-Warri standard gauge rail line, running through Kogi, Edo and Delta states, with commercial operations on the line expected to commence.

The rail service has 12 stations with two located between Itakpe, Ajaokuta and Warri. They include Itakpe; Eganiy; Adobe; Itogbo; Agenebode; Uromi; Egehen; Igbanke; Agbor; Abraka; Okpara and Ujewu.

The Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, is expected to  lead the Federal Government delegation to the event.

The 276 kilometres rail line, otherwise known as the Central Railway line, was originally designed for the transportation of Iron ore to Ajaokuta (Kogi) and Aladja Steel Rolling mills (Delta State). It was also designed to transport processed steel to the port in Warri, Delta.

The Itakpe-Ajaokuta-Warri railway project was first awarded in 1987, the project was initially planned to be delivered in 5 years. However it was abandoned for 33 years due to paucity of funds. The construction of the Itakpe-Warri railway line was abandoned after 254 kilometres had been constructed.

The inauguration of the Itakpe-Warri rail line is a significant feat worth celebrating, as the rail line was mooted about 33 years but was abandoned. Although in 2009, the construction of the Itakpe-Warri railway line was reactivated, with the Goodluck Jonathan led Federal government then approving the redesign and completion of the remaining 22 kilometers. But under President Buhari’s administration, it has been completed and will be running. This has set the pace for many more projects to be completed in the Niger Delta region.

It is another demonstration of the commitment of the Buhari administration to develop the Niger Delta.  The Warri-Itakpe rail line is one of the achievements under the Niger Delta New Vision of the Buhari administration.

The contractors who constructed the rail line are China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation (CCEC), Technique Engineering Architecture Marketing (TEAM) and Julius Berger who have lived up to expectations in terms of quality delivery on the project. They have since concluded their jobs, which they did well and met the desired structure for the rail line, of which the project will be effectively managed by the Nigeria Railway Commission (NRC).

In July, the largest station on the Itakpe-Warri route – the Agbor railway facility and station, was named after former President Goodluck Jonathan.

The rail station will resume commercial activities after the commissioning as soon as discussions are concluded between Dangote and Bua cement. Also, the Ajaokuta steel company and other manufacturers around the railway area are also expected to move their products through the train.

NIGER DELTA: BUHARI ADMINISTRATION 5TH ANNIVERSARY FACT SHEET (MAY 2020)

NEW VISION FOR THE NIGER DELTA #NDNewVision

The Buhari administration’s New Vision for the Niger Delta brings together a robust set of promises, solutions, targets and initiatives aimed at ensuring that the people of the Niger Delta benefit maximally from the oil wealth in the region.

The New Vision offers a detailed response to the 16-point Demand Agenda submitted to President Buhari by the Pan Niger Delta Forum (PANDEF) in November 2016.

Tangible results of the New Vision so far include:

  • Take-off of the Nigerian Maritime University in Okerenkoko, Delta State. The University was granted approval in January 2018 by the National Universities Commission (NUC) to commence undergraduate degree programmes effective 2017/18 session, and commenced academic activities on April 12, 2018.
  • President Buhari approved 5 billion Naira in take-off grant for the Maritime University.
  • The Maritime University commenced full academic activities for the 2017/2018 academic year with a total of 370 students spread across 13 undergraduate programmes in three Faculties approved by the NUC, namely: Transport, Engineering and Environmental Management.
  • Ogoni Clean-Up: Setting aside of US$170m seed funding for the Ogoni Clean Up, in an Escrow Account established for that purpose. The Escrow Agreement Signing Ceremony took place in April 2018.
  • The Clean-Up commenced in January 2019, with the handover of the first batch of sites to the selected remediation firms, after a painstaking procurement process.
  • A total of 21 sites has so far been handed over to contractors by the Hydrocarbon Pollution Restoration Project (HYPREP) under the Federal Ministry of Environment for ongoing remediation works and restoration of the environment. The Ogoni clean-up is the first of its kind in the history of Niger Delta.
  • Approvals for the establishment of private-sector-led Modular Refineries across the nine States of the Niger Delta – the first three Refineries have now been completed, while construction is ongoing on others (Ikwe-Onna Refinery, Akwa Ibom;  Azikel Refinery, Bayelsa; and AIPCC Refinery, Edo).
  • The 3 Modular Refineries now completed are: Niger Delta Petroleum Resources (NDPR) Modular Refinery, Rivers; OPAC Modular Refinery, Delta; and Waltersmith Refinery, Imo.
  • Infrastructure projects include the ongoing construction work on the 34-kilometres Bonny-Bodo road. When completed, the Bonny-Bodo road (and bridge), which was flagged off in October 2017, would connect several major communities and boost socioeconomic development in the region.
  • There is also the Itakpe-Warri rail line project, which is now complete and ready for commissioning. The rail line would handle passenger, commercial and freight services.
  • The Federal Government is also in the process of developing sea ports in the region, including Warri, Ibaka deep sea port, among other development projects like the establishment of Export Processing Zones to boost economic activities.

VIDEO: #NDNewVision: How President Buhari administration is transforming Niger Delta

How President Buhari’s led administration is transforming the Niger Delta region. (A review of some of the programmes and activities of the administration in the last five years)

#NDNewVision: New modular refinery set to be commissioned

A new 5,000 barrels per day modular refinery will soon be commissioned in the Niger Delta.

The modular refinery, Niger Delta Petroleum Resources Refinery, in Ogbele, Rivers State – is currently refining 1,000 bpd and was recently upgraded to 6,000 bpd.

This is in line with the Niger Delta New Vision plan of the Buhari administration to develop the Niger Delta region.

“The Buhari administration is very excited about the commissioning of this project and is indeed committed to changing the negative perception and narrative of the Niger Delta,” the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Niger Delta Affairs, Mr. Edobor Iyamu, stated.

There are currently six modular refineries at different stages of completion in the Niger Delta region.

How we’ll develop the Niger Delta- Akpabio

The newly appointed Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Senator Godswill Akpabio and Minister of State, Mr. Festus Keyamo have resumed with the pledge to develop and positively change the narratives of the Niger Delta, in line with the Buhari administration’s Niger Delta New Vision.

The New Vision for the Niger Delta 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.”

At a reception organised by the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry, Mrs. Didi Walson-Jack and management staff in Abuja on Wednesday, the Ministers said they were prepared to leave huge footprints of success stories in the ministry with developmental projects that would address the needs of the people.

Akpabio said the issues of capacity building, inadequate infrastructure, poverty alleviation, youth restiveness, entrepreneurship, environmental degradation, amongst others, will be tackled head-on.

According to newspaper reports, Akpabio pledged to work harmoniously with the Minister of State to ensure that they lived up to the expectations of the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari.

Akpabio added that he loved leaving marks anywhere he worked and called on staff and management of the Ministry to ‘put all hands on deck to ensure that our developmental efforts yield fruits’.

He said, “I love leaving marks wherever I visit, it is a great privilege on our part being selected to work with you, to see how we can turn around the fortunes of the Niger Delta region.

“Of course you know why this ministry was set up, specifically that region would have been like a golden egg, but has been neglected for long. If not because we’re just coming for the first time, I would have asked for your achievements so far, especially in the areas of construction of bridges, employment and others.

“Being a Niger Delta person, I will ensure that things are better for further and effective development of the region. So, the president is looking forward to commissioning a lot of projects in the Niger Delta region. I believe the Niger Delta region and its people, they are looking forward to the alleviation of poverty in their lives and transformation of infrastructure.”

In the same vein, Keyamo pledged to give his best in appreciation of the confidence repose in him by President Buhari.

Ogoni Clean-up on track, Nigerians should support HYPREP – Bassey

Environmental Rights Activist, Nnimmo Bassey, has called on Ogonis and all Nigerians to support the Hydrocarbon Pollution Remediation Project (HYPREP) in the on-going clean-up of Ogoniland.

Bassey made the call when he led a delegation of members of Oil Watch Africa from 15 African countries to HYPREP on an assessment visit to some remediation sites in Ogoniland.

Receiving the team, the Project Coordinator of HYPREP, Dr. Marvin Dekil who explained the processes adopted by HYPREP in the clean-up, informed the team that the clean-up project commenced eight years after the report was submitted to the Federal Government of Nigeria by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).

In a statement by HYPREP, Dekil was quoted as saying that the time between the date of submission in 2011 and 2016 when the clean-up was officially flagged off by President Buhari necessitated the review and modification of some of the strategies recommended in the report.

The Project Coordinator said the review and modification of some of the strategies does not mean that HYPREP has deviated from the recommendations in the UNEP Report as all such modifications are done with the input of UNEP.

While inspecting one of the remediation sites, Bassey expressed satisfaction with the works HYPREP is doing and confirmed that remediation has commenced in Ogoniland.

He expressed disappointment that despite the several activities going on at various sites across Ogoniland, people are still saying the clean-up has not commenced. Bassey said he appreciates the anxiety of the people who expect to see the work move at a very fast pace but pointed out that the clean-up project is a highly technical and complex work that requires expertise, experience and a lot of preparation.

Speaking to HYPREP staff, Nnimmo Bassey said members of the Oil Watch Africa are in Port Harcourt for a conference on the impact of oil on the continent, adding that it was important for the team to visit Ogoniland to see the work that HYPREP is doing and to see the state of the cleanup efforts.

The environmental rights activist said the visit was also to enable members from other African countries learn about the consequences of pollution and how difficult it is to restore the environment after pollution has occurred. Bassey said keeping the environment clean was everybody’s business as hydrocarbon pollution affects both the environment and humans and urged all stakeholders to ensure that Ogoniland remains clean after the clean-up.

He dispelled speculations that HYPREP funds are being mismanaged, explaining that the structure set up for the management of finances and for appropriating funds for HYPREP project is very well set up.

Bassey who is also a member of the HYPREP Board of Trustees (BoT) stated that people of integrity with very stringent control over finances are on the board of the Project, adding that the funds for the Project is held by the Ogoni Trust Fund with community people and other stakeholders as signatories to the account and not a kobo goes out without due process.

“HYPREP office does not determine which fund is released and which fund is being used. The strict nature of the control and the milestone set by HYPREP and the whole organizational structure, the BOT, GC, PCO, is such that any fund to be released must be matched by clear set goals and what it is going to be used for,” Bassey said.

He said ‘the clean-up is an excellent avenue to get youths employed to multiply skills that can be extended to other Niger Delta communities by the time the remediation project is expanded. This is an incubation lab. We must do all we can to ensure that this is a success that the environment is restored’. He encouraged youths to take advantage of the employment and training opportunities that the Project offers.

He emphasized that Ogoni clean-up is a signature project and that everyone involved in the delivery of this project desires to leave a legacy. Bassey called on everyone who doubts the commencement of the clean-up to visit the remediation sites across Ogoniland to see things for themselves and urged everyone to be patient with HYPREP since remediation is on course.

Buhari, Osinbajo working to develop Niger Delta, Group replies PANDEF

A group known as Coalition of Niger Delta Concerned Youths says the government of President Muhammadu Buhari is working to ensure that the demands of the Niger Delta region are met.

Reacting to the claim of the Pan-Niger Delta Forum (PANDEF) that Buhari is against the region, Isaac Eranga, coordinator of group, said the president has interest in the Niger Delta.

PANDEF had cited the suspension of DAAR Communications licence and the suspension of Walter Onnoghen, former chief justice of Nigeria (CJN), to buttress its point

But Ernaga said the claim of the forum is “laughable and nothing short of blind conjecture, especially in the face of facts”.

Eranga said with projects like the Ogoni clean-up and establishment of a maritime university in Delta state, Buhari has shown that he is committed “to develop and reposition the Niger Delta region for a better future.”

“For decades, despite being oil-rich and accounting for a huge percentage of Nigerias oil revenue, the region was given little or no attention in terms of development by successive governments in Nigeria, including under former president Dr. Goodluck Jonathanz who hails from the region,” he said.

“But the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari and Vice President Yemi Osinbajo changed all that with the Niger Delta New Vision, aimed at developing the region.

“No doubt, the Buhari administration  is making efforts to ensuring that demands from the region are met.

“While no government is perfect, PANDEF would agree that Buhari administration is backing its political will with efforts to ensure that Niger Delta gets more than their fair share of development.”

The statement further said projects being implemented through the FG’s New Vision “shows commitment of the Buhari government to develop and reposition the Niger Delta region for a better future.”

“In 2016, Vice President Osinbajo went on a tour to the Niger Delta region, meeting with the people and engaging with stakeholders and leaders, including PANDEF, to proffer ways to address the needs of the region. This was unprecedented, and it followed a meeting President Buhari had with PANDEF on the same issue. These robust engagements championed by the President and Vice President was what led to the Niger Delta New Vision to chart a way forward for the region’s development. No doubt, the Buhari administration is making efforts to ensuring that demands from the region are met.

“They include the take-off of the Nigeria Maritime University, Okerenkoko, Delta State, the commencement of the Ogoni Clean-up, of which 21 contractors have since moved to site for ongoing remediation works, an unprecedented work of environmental remediation and restoration never undertaken before in Niger Delta communities polluted by past decades of oil spills, and could become a veritable template for the clean-up of the entire region. Also, there is the establishment of modular refineries that will also improve the local economy in communities where they are located.

“What about the Presidential Amnesty Programme, that is still being implemented under the Buhari administration and contributing to the peace and stability in the region? What about the ongoing construction of the Second Niger Bridge that connects states in the South East and the South-South and will increase socio-economic development in the regions, but which before Buhari’s government, had been an idea merely designed on paper for about 40 years? These facts are in the public domain.

“Also, there is ongoing construction work on the 34-kilometres Bonny-Bodo road, a public-private partnership project, flagged off by Vice President Osinbajo in October 2017. This would connect several major communities in the Niger Delta region, and also boost socio-economic development in the region.

“There are other strategic development efforts being undertaken by Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) of government in partnership with the private sector and IOCs to bring needed interventions in the region, Also, regular engagements on Niger Delta’s development through the New Vision is being driven by the Office of the Vice President, of which CSOs and stakeholders, including PANDEF, have been invited on occasions to participate,” the statement read.