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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

House of Reps pass Petroleum Industry Bill

The House of Representatives has just passed the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB).

This comes after the House Committee of the Whole, on Thursday, considered the report of the Ad hoc Committee on PIB and passed the bill. The report was laid on Wednesday by the Chairman of the Ad hoc Committee, Mohammed Monguno (APC, Borno).

The current version of the PIB is titled, “A Bill for an Act to Provide Legal, Governance, Regulatory and Fiscal Framework for the Nigerian Petroleum Industry, the Development of Host Community and for Related Matters.”

Among others, the various provisions in the bill seek to scrap the Petroleum Equalisation Fund and the Petroleum Products Pricing Regulatory Agency with a view to replacing them with a new agency to be known as the Nigerian Midstream and Downstream Regulatory Authority, which would be saddled with the responsibility of carrying out technical and commercial regulation of the midstream and upstream petroleum operations in the industry.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Niger Delta: Akpabio calls for improved funding of NDDC

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

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

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

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

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

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

FG to hold National Summit on Modular Refineries – Ita Enang

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

L-R: The Chief Executive Officer of Innoson Kiara Academy, Mr Endi Ezengwa, Special Adviser on Youths to NDDC Interim Administrator, Engr. Udengs Eradiri, and the NDDC Deputy Director Commercial and Industrial Development, Sir Daniel Ajunwa, during an inspection at the Innoson Vehicle Manufacturing Company in Nnewi, Anambra State

NDDC to Train Niger Delta Youths at Innoson Motors

The Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC, says it will soon commence the training of Niger Delta youths at the Innoson Kiara Academy, a Technical and Vocational Institution, affiliated to the Innoson Vehicle Manufacturing Company, as part of its skills acquisition programme.

The NDDC Interim Administrator, Mr Efiong Akwa, represented by his Special Adviser on Youths, Engr. Udengs Eradiri, said this after inspecting the facilities at the Innoson factory in Nnewi, Anambra State. He was accompanied by the NDDC Deputy Director Commercial and Industrial Development, Sir Daniel Ajunwa.

The statement by the Commission noted that the NDDC already had a partnership with the motor manufacturing company for the training of youths in different aspects of automobile maintenance, stating that the visit to the factory was to firm up the partnership.

According to Akwa, “There are lots of skills that our young ones can get from this facility. They can be trained in fabrication, assembly, painting and corrosion control, among others. We think that because of the growing economy of the Niger Delta and Nigeria, it is important that we begin to grow our own skills to be better able to manage our economy.”

The NDDC Chief Executive Officer observed that the Presidential Amnesty Programme had trained several Niger Delta youths in the facility and they came out with valuable skills. He stressed: “We want to continue with that kind of development and get to a situation where we will have a plant in the Niger Delta that will also be manufacturing vehicles. We will take the partnership to a point where a replica of the Innoson factory will be set up in the Niger Delta region.

“We are aware that the training facility here teaches skills, attitude and entrepreneurship. We know that if you learn a skill, you should be able to translate that into financial gains.”

The Chief Executive Officer of Innoson Kiara Academy, Mr Endi Ezengwa, thanked the NDDC for considering the facilities at Innoson Motors for the training of Niger Delta youths, stating that he looked forward to seeing the partnership come into effect.

According to him, “the skills from our factory is what we want to transfer to our young ones, so that apart from maintenance of vehicles, they can also manufacture vehicles to some degree. For instance, they can manufacture engine bolts, tools for agriculture and generally imbibe the concept of manufacturing.”

Ezengwa said that many of our youths had too much energy that needed to be properly harnessed and channeled into constructive use, such as in fixing vehicles and contributing to the industrialisation of the Niger Delta region.

He assured that the Innoson Group would in due course set up workshops in the Niger Delta region in collaboration with organisations like the NDDC.

In his own remarks, the NDDC Deputy Director Commercial and Industrial Development, Sir Ajunwa, said that the training partnership would be rewarding if the benefitting youths would be sufficiently empowered to set up on their own after the training.

He said that NDDC placed a lot of premium on industrial development and human capacity building and assured that the youths to be selected for the training would be spread across the nine Niger Delta states.

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.”

Bayelsa Oil and Gas Park to be Ready in 2022, says NCDMB

The Nigerian Oil and Gas Park being developed by the Nigerian Content Development and Monitoring Board (NCDMB) at Emeyal 1, Bayelsa State would be completed in the 4th quarter of 2022, the Executive Secretary NCDMB, Engr. Simbi Kesiye Wabote has said.
According to a statement from the Commission, Wabote spoke on Wednesday after inspecting construction work at the project site in company with senior management of the Board.
He hinted that his assessment visit was a prelude to the planned tour by the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Chief Timipre Sylva to the Board’s major projects, including the oil and gas park projects at Emeyal 1 and Odukpani in Cross River State and the Composite Gas Cylinder Manufacturing facility at Polaku.
Wabote expressed delight with the quality and speed of work by the wholly Nigerian contractors. He noted that their work compared favorably with similar jobs across Nigeria and provided evidence that the Board was always acting in accordance with its guidelines on patronage of local service companies.
The park will create a low-cost manufacturing hub that will produce equipment components and spare parts to be utilized in the nation’s oil and gas industry.
The project started with a groundbreaking ceremony on April 27, 2018 and has now reached about 68 percent completion, with four major structures nearly completed, while foundation work was starting on some buildings and parts of the project.
According to the Executive Secretary, “we did the groundbreaking ceremony in 2018 and we were practically inside water; but today, we are seeing structures coming up. We still have a long way to go because most of the buildings are getting to the finishing stages while some are just starting. We believe that we will complete this project by Q4, 2022.”
Explaining the benefit of the park scheme to the nation’s economy, Wabote hinted that the facility would stimulate the manufacturing of oil and gas components in-country and reverse the current trend whereby the sector depended on importation for most of its finished products.
The park would also save the much-needed foreign exchange for the nation and create jobs for our people, he said.
“It will also enhance our capacity and bring about technological innovations because most of those manufacturing will be done here. For the community, it will create a lot of jobs and there will be a spin-off effect to other economic activities. The benefits are enormous.”
He also assured that shortage of electricity would not affect companies that would set up in the park. He said: “We have been able to conquer the challenge of electricity at this site. We have built a 10megawatts gas plant to guaranty power to the site.”
The Executive Secretary also confirmed that Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC) was supporting the oil and gas project through a Capacity Development Initiative (CDI).
Shell’s commitment to the project included the construction of Effluent Treatment Plant, Fire Station and acquisition of two fire trucks. The company also committed to construct water treatment plant, sewage systems and piping network for water.

NDDC’s Administrator Harps on Security in Niger Delta

The Interim Administrator of the Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC, Mr. Efiong Akwa, has stressed the need for peace and security to create the necessary environment for the rapid development of the Niger Delta region.

Akwa stated this when a delegation from the Nigerian Navy Hydrographic School paid him a courtesy visit at the NDDC new headquarters in Port Harcourt.

According to a statement by the Commission, he said that NDDC needed the support of security agencies to succeed, noting that the presence of international oil companies in the Niger Delta region had made the area susceptible to kidnapping and other forms of criminality.

The NDDC Chief Executive Officer said that much as the mandate of the Hydrographic School was basically training, it should also help with surveillance to provide information and data that would help the other security agencies to ensure a safe marine environment in the region.

He added: “The school should be able to share information and intelligence to make the Niger Delta region a place people will want to visit and set up businesses.”

Akwa said that as an interventionist agency, NDDC had a responsibility to ensure that those who safeguard the lives and property of the people were given the necessary support to enhance their capacity to maintain security in the Niger Delta region.

He deplored a situation where after three decades, the Nigerian Navy Hydrographic School was still unable to get international accreditation because of the absence of some critical infrastructure.

He said: “It is regrettable that you have training boats yet you don’t have a jetty. I assure you that NDDC will assist the school to achieve the objective for which it was established.

“Getting accreditation is something we should be proud to help you achieve because it will enhance the capacity of the Nigerian Navy to project us to the outside world as a people that are ready to make progress in the maritime sector.

“We are going to take your designs for the jetty to our Planning Department to incorporate in our 2021 budget and I am confident that the National Assembly will do justice to it. The jetty will be taken care of as soon as the budget processes are through.”

Earlier, the Commanding Officer, Nigerian Navy Hydrographic School, Capt. Mahmud Fana, appealed to the NDDC for support in providing critical infrastructure that would qualify the training school for international accreditation.

He said: “We are having setbacks because of infrastructure deficiency and we need to have the right environment to be able to provide needed security in our area of operation.”

Fana observed that the Hydrographic School was selected for accreditation in 2018 by the International Hydrographic Organisation but following an inspection of their facilities, the accreditation was withheld pending the availability of some facilities, such as surveying boats and a jetty.

He said that a 2018 contract for the construction of a jetty for the school by NDDC was cancelled on account of design deficiencies. However, he said, the school had now produced an appropriate design and would, therefore, want the NDDC to re-award the contract for the construction of the jetty.