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Niger Delta New Vision birthed take-off of Maritime University, development projects in region – Osinbajo

Speech by His Excellency, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, SAN, GCON, Vice President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, at the 1st Matriculation Ceremony of The Nigeria Maritime University, Okerenkoko, Delta State, on Saturday, 6th April, 2019

(Delivered by Mr. Edobor Iyamu, Senior Special Assistant to the President on Economic Matters/Niger Delta, Office of the Vice President)

Protocol

I bring very warm greetings from His Excellency Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, SAN, GCON, on whose behalf I’m standing here before you today.

Hearty congratulations to the management and staff of the Maritime University, Okerenkoko Delta State, on the commemoration of this milestone occasion, the inaugural matriculation ceremony. Congratulations also to all of the matriculating students. As the pioneer set of students of this landmark institution, you are all standing on the threshold of history, and we rejoice with you.

This is a day that we have long awaited and looked forward to, and I am delighted that it has come, and we are here to witness it. A year ago, on the 12th of April 2018, to be precise, this University commenced academic activities, with a total of 370 students spread across 13 undergraduate programmes in three Faculties, namely: Transport, Engineering and Environmental Management.

In addition, there were 85 students admitted into the University’s Basic programme. They sat for the JAMB examinations, and the 59 who were successful were given admission into the University.

This University is one of the strongest demonstrations yet of the total and unflinching commitment of the Buhari Administration to the development and the progress of the Niger Delta. The President is a man of his word, and he has made that clear over and over again with regards to the Niger Delta, in the last four years.

You will recall that he touched on the issue of the Delta in his inauguration Speech on May 29, 2015. It was a measure of his determination to rewrite the story of a neglected region. People had come before him and paid lip service to the issues. You are all witnesses to how the Ogoni Clean-up failed to leave the drawing board.

The seriousness with which we view the Niger Delta informed the series of unprecedented engagements that resulted in the comprehensive development Plan known as the New Vision for the Niger Delta; with the goal of ensuring that the huge resources of the Delta are put to work for the good of the people of the region.

That New Vision has guided us every step of the way, and is what has helped propel the Ogoni Clean Up to fruition, and helped birth this University in which we are gathered today.

Since 2016, when the Buhari Administration flagged off the Clean Up of Ogoni land, we have seen actual implementation and progress. As I speak, 21 companies have been awarded remediation contracts, and 15% of the contract sum released by way of mobilisation fee. Some of the contractors have since commenced work on the affected sites, and others are currently mobilising to site. This award of contracts followed a very open and transparent international procurement process, as well as the laying down of a robust governance and oversight framework for the Clean Up. And while the remediation is ongoing, there are also a lot of efforts aimed at ensuring that affected communities enjoy basic amenities like clean water, and that jobs and training opportunities are extended to them.

Our Modular Refinery Programme is another important cornerstone of the New Vision for the Niger Delta. There are currently four modular refineries at different levels of completion, across the region, as follows:

  • Niger Delta Exploration & Production situated Rivers State
  • Opac Modular Refinery situated here in Delta
  • Ikwe-Onna situated in Akwa-Ibom
  • Walter Smith in Imo State

One of them, the Niger Delta Exploration & Production is a brownfield project that is being expanded by 5,000bpd in the first phase. That expansion is now about 98% completed and will commence test-running from the 16th of April, 2019. The remaining three are greenfield projects and are all scheduled for commissioning this year.

The Amnesty Programme has continued to receive funding and support from the Buhari Administration, because we understand just how important it is for the young people of the region. We will continue to ensure that it delivers on its mandate and responds fully to the needs and yearnings of the beneficiaries.

Permit me to also highlight our Gas Flare Commercialisation Programme, aimed at ensuring that we bring an end to the tragedy that is gas-flaring in the Niger Delta. The impact of this is going to be enormous, not just in terms of health and the environment, but also in terms of economic opportunities. The successful bidders for the gas flare sites will be expected to create economic value from the gas hitherto being flared, and this will create jobs and wealth for citizens and for communities. Adverts for the commercialisation of the flare sites have already gone out and submissions of Expression of Interest are being received.  The next stage will be the shortlisting and award of concessions to the successful bidders.

These and more are examples of how we are walking the talk in the Niger Delta region, which we view not in terms of its past, but in terms of its potential. And this is a potential that is not limited to oil and gas, but is actually focused more on the development of human capital. We are confident that the Niger Delta will sooner than later come to be defined, not by crude oil, but by the quality of its human resource, the abundance of its agriculture, its rich cultural potential, and so on.

We have a vision that the Maritime University will come to be known around the world as a Center of Excellence in Maritime matters, and a repository of expertise and knowledge on the Niger Delta.

For all the matriculating students, and the pioneer staff, you can see why you have a great burden and responsibility on your shoulders. I enjoin you to discharge these with dedication and pride, and to continue to carry yourselves as excellent ambassadors of this University.

Once again, I congratulate you on this auspicious occasion, and I wish you the very best for the future.

God bless the Maritime University, God Bless the Niger Delta, and God Bless the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

Thank you.

 

Editor’s note: The Vice President was represented at the event by Mr. Edobor Iyamu, Senior Special Assistant to the President on Economic Matters/Niger Delta, Office of the Vice President

Niger Delta development: Minister charges NDDC to do more

The Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Pastor Usani Uguru Usani, has charged the new management of the Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC, to do more for the development of the Niger Delta region.

The Minister was speaking at the NDDC headquarters in Port-Harcourt, when he paid a working visit recently to the new management team of the Commission. He was accompanied by his Minister of State, Prof. Claudius Daramola, the ministry’s Permanent Secretary, Alhaji Aminu Aliyu-Bisalla and other directors of the supervising ministry.

The aim of the NDDC is to establish in the Niger Delta region a strong and progressive society in which no one will have any anxiety about basic means of life and work; where poverty and illiteracy no longer exist and diseases are brought under control; and where their educational facilities provide all the children of the Niger Delta Region with best possible opportunities for the development of their potentials.

NDDC sees to the implementation of their mandate by executing relevant projects in the entire region.
Projects are conceptualized, designed and executed based on extensive consultation with locals, input from interested parties and critical analysis by experts. These projects are awarded based on their ability to give maximum impact to the local region and beyond the constraints of allotted budget. NDDC is therefore seen as a good harvest of concrete achievements as evidenced in the array of projects and programs they have embarked upon.

The NDDC has taken giant strides to facilitate the all-round development of the Niger Delta and its people, the Commission said.

Usani stated that the current NDDC management, being an interim one, was expected to do more for the people of the Niger Delta than a regular board. “We expect every functionary and staff of the commission to appreciate this fact and put up the very best efforts in the performance of their duties,” he said.

The Minister noted that, “Brief as this management may be, we are charging you to put in your best. There is a lot that can be achieved, especially as the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari continues for the next four years.”

He emphasised that the policy of the Buhari administration was that there would be nothing like abandoned projects. “That is why you can see many of the projects started 20-30 years ago, especially infrastructure are still being reviewed and executed,” he said.

He also urged the NDDC management and staff to recognise the important and special place they occupy in the development of Niger Delta and in the bigger economic picture of Nigeria.

The Minister said: “It may be too early to assess the performance of the new management team. But it is essential for us to know that the task for the management is a greater burden than it would have been if it has longer time to stay.”

He said that his ministry would continue to supervise the Commission to ensure that it performs maximally “because the performance of NDDC goes a long way to determine the forms of agitation we get from the different segments of members of Niger Delta society. I will be pleased to have a peaceful environment for the period you will be in charge of affairs in the Commission.”

Earlier in his remarks the NDDC Acting Managing Director, Prof. Nelson Brambaifa, said that in the absence of the Commission’s board of directors, the minister takes over as the supervising authority, stating: “It is only fair and wise that he comes once in a while to see how we are faring and to see whether we are following laid down procedures.”

According to him, the new management of the commission was working tirelessly to deliver on its mandate within the shortest possible time.

Prof. Brambaifa said that henceforth, payment to contractors would be made promptly without unnecessary bureaucratic bottlenecks, noting that the Commission had fine-tuned its processes and was now using a more efficient procedure in paying for projects and meeting its financial obligations.

Also speaking, the NDDC Acting Executive Director Finance and Administration, Mr. Chris Amadi, said the Commission was very much aware of the need to fast-track the development of the Niger Delta region and was appropriately taking directives from its supervising ministry.

He said, “We took up payments of contractors who have been owed for years. We made sure that those which fell under 10 million got their payments even in their homes. We are now compiling payments for 20-30million. We have also paid for the water hyacinths and some of the palliatives and interventions which the Commission set out to address the challenges of youth restiveness to ensure peace in the region.”

He said further: “We have paid major contractors to motivate them to go back to site and complete their projects. We have commitments from several of them that projects are on-going and will soon be completed.”

Amadi stated that NDDC had commenced projects inspection, starting with the new headquarters of the commission and would be embarking on major projects’ inspections across the region.

We’re not owing Niger Delta ex-militants Stipends, Allowances – PAP

The Presidential Amnesty Programme (PAP) is up-to-date with payment of stipends, books and in-training allowances to Niger Delta ex-militants.

According to a Pulse Nigeria report, Mr Murphy Ganagana, Special Assistant Media to the Coordinator, PAP, Prof. Charles Dokubo, made this known in Abuja, while responding to claims by some people that the Amnesty office owed.

It could be recalled that the amnesty deal by the Nigerian government for militants in the Niger Delta was aimed at reducing unrest in the oil-rich region.

Late former President Umaru Yar’Adua offered an unconditional pardon and cash payments to rebels who agreed to lay down their arms.

The government targeted up to 10,000 militants who attacked the six Niger Delta states and cost the country a third of its oil production.

Meanwhile the President Muhammadu Buhari led administration assured of its continuity and commitment to the Amnesty programme, through its NIGER NEW VISION initiative.

The New vision has seen to several developments in the Niger Delta area’s which includes the empowerment of ex- militant (establishment of recreational centres, cash payments, scholarship opportunities etc).

At the briefing Ganagana said that the payment of allowances to the beneficiaries have been regular and prompt ever since the present leadership took over the management of the Amnesty programme.

“As we speak today, we are not owing ex-agitators under the Amnesty programme any stipends, in-training or books allowances,. We have paid up-to -date as funds are being released.

“We do also not owe in-training allowances to any scholarship beneficiary of the programme, especially those within the country.

Ganagana further explained that those who were claiming that the amnesty office owed them one year in backlog payments, were illegally deployed to various institutions for training without due process or the consent of the Coordinator.

He said: “in March 2018 shortly after Dokubo resumed office, some Niger Delta people who were not captured in the Amnesty programme database were illegally deployed for training without the Coordinator’s authorisation.”

“There were two categories of group of persons that were illegally deployed by a former official of the Amnesty programme within the period under review.

“Some of them were captured in the database making them bona-fide beneficiaries of the programme while some were not captured.

“But the Coordinator after some considerations decided to pay only the tuition fees of those ones who were not captured and have been given admission in various institutions for training.”

He said that the legal beneficiaries were entitle to tuition fees, books and in training allowances. “So, it is out of place for those who were illegally deployed for training to claim that they are being owed allowances,” he said, adding that the amnesty programme has the mandate to training, reintegrate and empower 30,000 ex-agitators of the Niger Delta region so as to maintain peace in the region.

Niger Delta: “NDDC to fast-track completion of ongoing projects”

*Inspects work on new headquarters

The Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC, has renewed its drive to fast-track the completion of its projects spread across the nine Niger Delta states, especially major projects that will transform the region significantly.

The mandates of the commission (NDDC) include the development of the oil- rich Niger Delta, the formulation of policies and guide lines for the development of the Niger Delta area, and implementation of all measures approved for the development of the Niger Delta region by the Federal Government and the States of the commission.

The NDDC Acting Managing Director, Prof. Nelson Brambaifa, set the tone for the Commission’s plans to drive development efforts while inspecting the new 12-floor permanent headquarters complex of the Commission at the Eastern Bye-Pass in Port Harcourt on Tuesday.

The Commission’s Chief Executive Officer, who inspected work on the new headquarters alongside the Acting Executive Director Projects, Engr. Dr. Samuel Adjogbe, described the project as “fantastic.”

He said: “You know that our first objective is to provide a conducive working environment for people working in NDDC. From what I have seen, my predecessors have done very well but we will improve on what they have done and with all things being equal, by the fourth quarter of this year, we might be able to call all the nine governors to come here and commission this edifice.”

Prof. Brambaifa charged NDDC contractors handling other on-going projects to take a cue from the work going on at the new headquarters, urging that they should take their jobs seriously.

The NDDC boss said that the Commission was anxious to complete the headquarters project to add value to the work of the NDDC towards meeting its mandate, adding that this was in line with the resolve of the new management of the Commission to promptly complete all ongoing projects.

Also speaking, the NDDC Acting Executive Director Projects, Engr. Dr. Samuel Adjogbe, commended the contractors for doing a good job, noting that the quality of work was high and the completion target of the last quarter of this year was achievable.

Gas flaring to end in three years – NGFCP

The new framework – the Nigerian Gas Flare Commercialisation Programme (NGFCP), initiated by the Federal Government to monetise the volume of gas flared in Nigeria’s oil fields is expected to ensure that wasteful practice ceases to exist in the country within three years from when it becomes operational.

A gas flare, alternatively known as a flare stack, is a gas combustion device used in industrial plant’s such as petroleum refineries, chemicals plants, natural gas processing plants as well as  oil or gas production sites having oil wells, offshore oil and gas rigs and landfill.  In industrial plants, flare stacks are primarily used for burning off flammable gas released by pressure relief valves during unplanned over-pressuring of plant equipment.

The policy position of the Federal Government of Nigeria (FGN) is that gas flaring is unacceptable and the FGN has initiated a number of actions to reaffirm its commitment to ending the practice of gas flaring in our oil fields. Specifically, the FGN has ratified the Paris Climate Change Agreement, and is a signatory to the Global Gas Flaring Partnership (GGFR) principles for global flare-out by 2030 whilst committing to a national flare-out target by year 2020.

Furthermore, in recognition that flared gas could be harnessed to stimulate economic growth, drive investments and provide jobs in oil producing communities and indeed for Nigerians through the utilization of widely available innovative technologies, the Federal Executive Council (FEC) has approved the Nigerian Gas Flare Commercialisation Programme (“NGFCP”). This programme was launched by the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources Dr. Ibe Kachikwu   on December 13, 2016.

The NGFCP is designed as the strategy to implement the policy objectives of the FGN for the elimination of gas flares with potentially enormous multiplier and development outcomes for Nigeria. The objective of the NGFCP is to eliminate gas flaring through technically and commercially sustainable gas utilization projects developed by competent third party investors who will be invited to participate in a competitive and transparent bid process. The commercialisation approach has been considered from legal, technical, economic, commercial and developmental standpoints. It is a unique and historic opportunity to attract major investment in economically viable gas flare capture projects whilst permanently addressing a 60 year environmental problem in Nigeria.

The NGFCP will offer flare gas for sale by the Federal Government of Nigeria through a transparent and competitive bidding process. A structure has been devised to provide project bankability for the Flare Gas Buyers, which is essential to the success of the Programme.

According to a THIS DAY report Nigeria would need at least $3.5 billion investments to activate the new market-based initiative it had set up to end the practice of gas flaring at oil fields in the Niger Delta by 2020, Derefaka had disclosed.

Besides its expected environmental impacts on the oil-bearing Niger Delta region, the programme according to its operation’s officer, Mr. Justice Derefaka, was equally estimated to contribute about $1 billion to Nigeria’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP), while providing up to 300,000 direct and indirect jobs as well as unlocking about 600,000 metric tonnes (mt) of Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG) to be supplied to six million Nigerian homes.

Providing an update on the progress of the programme upon the March 22 cut-off date for submission of Expression of Interest (EoI) and issuance of Request for Qualification (RfQ) package for its first bid round to be conducted, Derefaka, noted that about 700 bids had so far been harvested, and that the opening of the Statements of Qualification (SOQs) will follow next.

“The NGFCP is designed as the strategy to implement the policy objectives of the federal government for the elimination of gas flares from Nigeria’s oil and gas fields in the near term (2-3 years), with potentially enormous multiplier and development outcomes for Nigeria.

“It is also designed as the contribution of the petroleum sector to Nigeria’s Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDC) under the Paris Agreement (COP21). It is an approach to eliminate gas flaring through technically and commercially sustainable gas utilisation projects developed by competent third party investors who will be invited to participate in a competitive and transparent bid process.

“The commercialisation approach has been considered from legal, technical, economic, commercial and developmental standpoints. And it is a unique and historic opportunity to attract major investment in economically viable gas flare capture projects whilst permanently addressing a 60-year environmental problem in Nigeria,” Derefaka said.

According to him: “Third party investors are to access and utilise flared gas that is currently being sent to flare and convert same into Flare-Gas-to-Market-Products (FG-2-MP) and demonstrate project development experience and proven technology in commercial application.

“The NGFCP is also designed as an important climate change action plan for the nation. And, it is the first market driven program undertaken on this scale globally. Bidders will have flexibility of choosing which flare sites to bid for, the gas price, and the end market or gas product, as well as the technology to be used.”

Continuing, he explained that: “As at today, over 700 investors have registered to download the RfQ package to submit their statements of qualification (SOQs) for participation in the programme.

“In terms of developmental impact, the NGFCP benefits are huge, ranging from an overall inward investment of around US $3 – $3.5 billion; a potential annual revenues/gross domestic product (GDP) impact around $1 billion/annum.

“The NGFCP could also generate approximately 300,000 direct and indirect jobs and unlock and supply around 600,000MT of Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG) product to six million homes in Nigeria.”

Consistent with Nigeria’s commitments for reduction of greenhouse gas (GHG) under the Paris Climate Change Agreement, Derefaka, stated that the program would reduce Nigeria’s CO2 emissions by approximately 13 million tons per year, which could further be monetised under an emission credits or carbon sale programme

“The next critical path item, in compliance with the approved programme implementation timeline following the closure of submission of SOQ’s on the Friday, 22nd March, 2019, is the opening ceremony of the SOQs,” he added.

Our Next Target is Job Creation for Niger Deltans – Dokubo

The Special Adviser to the President on Niger Delta, Prof. Charles Dokubo, has said that creation of job opportunities for Niger Deltans that have been trained under the Presidential Amnesty Programme, will be vigorously pursued this year.

According to a Vanguard report, Dokubo who is also Coordinator of the Presidential Amnesty Programme (PAP), stated this during an interactive session with journalists in Abuja.

Dokubo categorically stated that priority would be given to creating jobs for the people of the Niger Delta to ease their burden and ensure that marginalization in the region becomes a thing of the past.

His statement, “Job placement is the next stage of my plan for this year and I believe that if we can achieve that, we are going to do well. The people of the Niger Delta will not cry their old cries again that they have been marginalized.”

“The amount of money government has spent on this programme is a lot and I know that if we judiciously expend it, most people from Niger Delta will benefit immensely. I want this programme to be a success, if not, our children yet unborn will keep asking us what we have done for them if we say we have fought for Niger Delta.

“This tale about being deprived should not be something we should keep saying. We have been given access. No part of Nigeria has more agencies than the Niger Delta. Now that we have these things, I implore the people of Niger Delta to know that the sky is their beginning if they will work when they are given a job” He said.

NDDC, EU to strengthen partnership on Sustainable Water Projects

The Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC, says it will strengthen its collaboration with the European Union, EU, through the Niger Delta Support Programme, NDSP, to resuscitate abandoned water infrastructure across the nine Niger Delta states.

According to a statement by the Commission, the NDDC Acting Managing Director, Prof. Nelson Brambaifa, stated this when a delegation from the EU-funded NDSP3 pilot project paid him a courtesy visit on Tuesday at the Commission’s headquarters in Port Harcourt, Rivers State.

He stressed the importance of institutionalising community-based management structure for the maintenance and sustainability of basic infrastructure in the Niger Delta region. He also harped on the need to develop a framework to ensure community ownership of water projects in the region.

Prof. Brambaifa commended the EU delegation for collaborating with the NDDC to ensure sustainability of water projects in the Niger Delta region, especially with the realisation that water was one of the basic needs of life.

He said, “We are looking forward to strengthening the collaboration with the EU, because water is life. We definitely need sustainable water projects because it is part of our mandate to bring potable water to the inhabitants of the Niger Delta region. It is one thing to organise a project like this, but it is another to ensure its sustainability. You don’t just start a water project and two months later you come to see that it had been vandalised.

“We are committed to this partnership with the EU to work out modalities to ensure that any water project we commission should be able to stand the test of time. We must find ways to safeguard our projects because it is one of our core mandates to bring sustainable development to the people of the Niger Delta.”

The NDDC Chief Executive Officer pledged to take the Niger Delta to the next level in line with the mantra of the President Muhammadu Buhari-led administration.

He called on the EU delegation to convince the international body to increase its financial commitment to the water project so as to help the region with safe drinking water that would address the challenges of water-borne diseases in the region.

The team leader of the NDSP, Albert Achten, told the NDDC boss that there was need to expedite action on the pilot project because its life span would terminate in May this year.

He, therefore, enjoined the partners to push for an effective and timely implementation of the EU and NDDC-NDSP3 pilot project.

Achten remarked that in the last two years a synergy had been developed between the EU-funded NDSP and the NDDC, stating that the key part of the synergy was the pilot project for reviving 45 abandoned water schemes in the nine Niger Delta states.

He recalled that the collaboration took off officially in November last year at a two-day Strategic Retreat for the Board and Management of the NDDC in Uyo, Akwa Ibom State. Further to that, he said that on February 2, 2019, the NDDC demonstrated its commitment to the project by writing to the Ministry of Budget and National Planning on the programme.

According to him, the project is up and running, as two very important tasks had been completed. He, however, stressed that time was running out since the contract between the EU and the Ministry of Budget and National Planning would end in the next few months.

He said: “We solicit the continued support of the NDDC for the project, especially as it concerns the release of funds. The NDSP part of the project is financed by the EU, but the logistics for some of the activities are expected to be taken care of by the NDDC.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

NDDC to begin construction of road in Abia

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Ogoni Clean-Up: The Buhari Administration is keeping its promise to Niger Delta”

By Arikpo Dum

After decades of struggles, Government’s attention was drawn to the plight of the people of Ogoni.  The United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP) was invited to undertake an assessment of oil pollution in Ogoniland with a view to finding a solution that will bring an end to the sufferings of Ogoni people.

In 2011, UNEP submitted a report to the Federal Government on Environmental Assessment of Ogoniland. Today, that document is popularly referred to as the “UNEP Report” among stakeholders.  The report contains detailed information on the assessment which covered contaminated land, ground water, surface water, sediment, vegetation, air pollution, public health, industry practice and institutional issues as well as recommendations and steps to be followed in carrying out the clean-up exercise.

On 2nd June 2016, the Federal Government flagged-off the Hydrocarbon Pollution Remediation Project (HYPREP) with the mandate to Remediate the Environment and Restore the Livelihood of the people.

A Project Coordination Office (PCO) for HYPREP was set up to execute the clean-up project in Ogoniland headed by the Project coordinator, Dr. Marvin Dekil.  HYPREP being a Federal Government Project is fully guided by the rules and regulations that apply in public service.  To ensure full accountability and adherence to extant rules, staff from relevant Federal Ministries have been deployed to the project.  However, the project takes into consideration the integration of local content in every aspect of the process.  In this wise, the project has engaged, at various levels, manpower of different skills drawn from all the impacted communities.

The UNEP Report of 2011 which serves as a blueprint for the implementation of the clean-up of Ogoniland specifies some emergency measures that should be carried out prior to the remediation exercise to provide temporary relief to a people that have suffered years of no access to potable water and possible health challenges due to oil pollution.  In implementing the UNEP Report, HYPREP commenced activities to update the baseline data of the UNEP Report which was written since 2011. To ensure accuracy, HYPREP had to carry out the exercise of collecting soil, surface and underground water samples in order to have the current status of the level of impact of oil spillage on the communities prior to the provision of portable water which is one of the emergency measures recommended in the UNEP Report.

HYPREP also carried out medical out-reach that covered Gokana, Tai, Khana and Eleme Local government areas where patients with various medical conditions were attended to including surgeries. The medical out-reach was to enable HYPREP collect primary data on the health status of people before the commencement of health impact study in the communities of Ogoni to ascertain whether there is a link between some ailments in the land and oil pollution.

In this regard, HYPREP has followed due process to engage qualified companies to carry out assessment and  rehabilitation of existing water facilities; designing  and construction of comprehensive water schemes; public health consultancy for the provision of a holistic report for the implementation of the recommendations in the UNEP Environmental Assessment Report on Ogoniland; and environmental consultancy to carry out scoping and assessment of oil impacted sites assessed by UNEP including those not captured in Ogoni land. These projects cover the four local government areas of Ogoni land.

HYPREP has through its Communication and Community Engagement Unit carried out sensitization exercise to the 21 impacted communities while successfully engaging the Traditional Rulers, Faith Based Organizations, Women Groups, Youths, Pressure Groups, Civil Societies, members of the press and Stakeholders.

The Project Coordination Office has engaged series of processes in preparation for the remediation works aside from soil and water sampling.  HYPREP has carried out delineation and has successfully mapped out areas for remediation for all the sites covering depth and spread.  Young scientists and others with relevant professional qualification from Ogoni have been trained and are currently working in HYPREP.

The livelihood programme is also being implemented as collection of data is continuous. HYPREP has already commenced the training of youths in the fabrication of garri processing machines through a tripartite agreement between HYPREP, Stakeholder Democracy Network (SDN) and the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA), Onne, a programme that is scheduled to last for 3 months.  The Rivers State Government through the Ministry of Employment Generation and Economic Empowerment has also expressed readiness to collaborate and partner with HYPREP to train women and youths of Ogoni under the Sustainable Livelihood Programme. The best part of it is that several Ogoni youths that could have been in the labour market have been trained and employed by HYPREP, while others have been trained and are ready to be engaged by the contractors.

As a project of the Federal Government, all procurement processes adopted by HYPREP for the award of contract for the remediation works was in line with the Procurement Act of 2007. HYPREP has in keeping to the laid down procedure, followed due process in handling the award of contract for the clean-up project.  Advertisements were placed on 30th March, 2018 in Federal Tenders Journal, local and foreign media for expression of interest by contractors for remediation works.  The technical and financial bid opening exercise were conducted transparently and all Public Procurement Regulations were strictly followed as contained in the Public Procurement Manual. On the other hand, all companies bidding for contracts in any Government Agency are expected to possess stipulated documents and undergo pre-qualification processes as contained in the Public Procurement Act and this also applies to HYPREP.

At the end of the rigorous procurement process, 21 contractors who qualified were invited to a kick-off meeting to enlighten them on how the project will be managed, what is expected of them, engagement of local content, relationship with the host community and other issues that will enhance the smooth running of the project. On the other hand, HYPREP also carried out community by community engagement to sensitize them of the engagement of contractors for the first phase of the clean-up project and what they should expect from the contractors.  They were also sensitized on the role of the traditional council, youths, women groups, interest groups and the community in general to the success of the project first as watch dogs to ensure the contractors delivered quality work and also to ensure security and peace during and after the clean-up.

To show and further confirm to the people of Ogoni the commitment of the Federal Government and the importance it places on the project, In January, this year, the Honourable Minister of Environment, Surveyor Suleiman Hassan Zarma, performed the ceremony of presenting the contractors to the communities and site handover in Alode and Obolo-Ebubu communities in Eleme Local Government Area and Buemene-Korokoro in Tai Local Government Area while the Project Coordinator of HYPREP, Dr. Marvin Dekil led the delegation for the site handover ceremony in Khana and Gokana Local Government Areas. A total of 16 sites has so far been handed over to contractors by HYPREP in Eleme, Tai, Khana and Gokana Local Government areas of Ogoni.  This site handover has taken place despite doubts and series of propaganda to discredit HYPREP and undermine the intentions of the Federal Government for the Ogoni clean-up.

The Federal Government with good intent has re-engaged the United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP) – (the same UNEP that did the study that provided the basis for the report and recommendations) to work with HYPREP for the next 12 months to provide technical support and build the capacity of staff to empower them for optimum and effective performance. Yet people still say that HYPREP is a scam.

I am aware of growing concerns about the implementation of the emergency measures, as an observer I have been privileged to listen to the presentation by the Project Coordinator of HYPREP stating that the process for the implementation of emergency measures was at its final stage.  Presently, the list of pre-qualified companies for the provision of potable water have been released on all HYPREP official social media platforms.  Just as he promised, shortly contractors will also be introduced to site for the provision of potable water for the impacted communities.

Since its inception till date, HYPREP has recorded several milestones in coordinating the processes for the commencement of the remediation work in Ogoniland. The Federal Government has stayed committed to its promise to clean Ogoniland.

In my opinion, rather than sponsor negative propaganda against HYPREP and the Federal Government, people that feel things should be done differently should approach HYPREP to iron things out. The Ogoni clean-up is the best thing that has happened to the people of Ogoni after four decades of struggles.  The great people of Ogoni should all form a united front and support HYPREP.  The Youths should secure their territory and ensure the environment is peaceful for the contractors to operate successfully.

The energy and resources used in sponsoring propaganda to bring down HYPREP should be channelled into supporting activities that will add value to the people of Ogoni.  Let every true Ogoni and all Nigerians support HYPREP in the Ogoni clean-up project.

 

Duum, a social commentator, writes from Port Harcourt, Rivers State