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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

FG to set up cassava processing centre in Ogoniland

The Federal Government says it is planning to set up a cassava processing centre in Ogoniland to serve as alternative source of livelihood for the people of the area.

According to Leadership, Dr Marvin Dekil, Project Coordinator, Hydrocarbon Pollution Remediation Project (HYPREP), under the Ministry of Enviroment, made the disclosure.

He was speaking at the graduation of 15 Ogonis from the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) in Onne, Rivers.

According to Dekil, who was represented by HYPREP’s Head of Legal Services, Mrs Grace Ekanem, the centre will be used to generate income and make Ogoniland become an economic hub for cassava processing in the Niger Delta region.

“To this end, the 15 Ogonis whom we are graduating today were trained on fabrication of cassava processing machines.

“HYPREP will ensure their skills are put to good use with the set-up of a cassava processing centre that would generate income and create economic hub for the communities,’’ he said.

It will be recalled that through the projects carried out by HPREP under the supervision of the Ministry of Environment a lot has been achieved in  Ogoni land.

HYPREP  trained graduates who studied environmental sciences to build their capacity for the remediation work in Ogoni land, provision of portable water, medical outreach, empowerment of women and youths, and currently trained youths on the fabrication of gari processing machines.

The President Muhammadu Buhari’s led administration has shown commitment to the cleanup of Ogoni land, through the establishment of the Niger Delta New Vision, in which the people of the region are getting a better source of livelihood.

Buhari’s administration achieved the establishment of the Maritime University Okerenkoko Delta State, Ogoni health outreach programme where about 5, 1815 patients were attended to, and 65 surgical cases treated.

The administration has further shown commitment towards the Presidential Amnesty Programme, to ensure rehabilitation and sustainable re- integration of ex- agitators of the Niger Delta region, which is running smoothly.

The administration also ensured that indigenes of the region are placed on full academic scholarship in other for them to have access to quality education with monthly stipends etc.

The recent development shows the federal government’s commitment towards the development of the region

Meanwhile in a statement according to Dekil, the UNEP Report recommended that the Federal Government should provide alternative source of livelihood for oil impacted communities of Ogoniland.

“So, HYPREP, in a tripartite collaboration with the Stakeholders Democracy Network (SDN) and IITA, developed the template for the training aimed to empower Ogoni youths.

“Three months ago, we ushered in 15 young men and women into a life transforming training in the fabrication of machines for the processing of cassava.

“It has been a long journey for the trainees, who have had previous training in machine fabrication. The trainees are the first batch of the programme,” he said.

Dekil urged the trainees to leverage on the opportunities provided by the training to change their lives and become good ambassadors of their communities.

He commended the IITA and SDN for supporting the programme and assured the FG’s commitment to full implementation of the Ogoni clean-up exercise.

He added that no fewer than 400 women, 100 from each of the four local government areas that make up Ogoniland, would be trained on vocational skills in agriculture.

“The women will be trained for six months in different skills by the United Nations Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR) at the Songhai farms (in Tai LGA of Rivers).

“The training will be in batches until a total of 1,200 Ogoni women are trained in the livelihood programme,” he assured.

Also speaking, Dr Richardson Okechukwu, Head of Station of IITA said the 15 trainees were taught how to fabricate basic processing machines for roasters, graters, presser, bhurr mill, sifter, peeling and cabinet dryer.

He said the centre specialised on agro-business and crop value-chain processing in cassava, plantain, maize and banana as well as post-harvest processing.

On his part, SDN’s Senior Project Officer, Jesse-Martin Manufor said that cassava is a staple food for many Nigerians as well as important cash crop that produces garri, starch and flour.

 

Ogoni Clean-Up: HYPREP, Rivers State Ministry partner to provide potable water for Ogoniland

The Rivers State Government has given approval to a request by the Hydrocarbon Pollution Remediation Project, HYPREP to re-activate state water facilities in Ogoniland as part of effort to provide potable water for Ogoni communities.

In a statement from HYPREP, the Rivers State Commissioner for Water Resources and Rural Development, Prof. Kaniye Ebeku gave the approval to HYPREP when the Project Coordinator, Dr. Marvin Dekil led a team of Management Staff to his office in Port Harcourt, Rivers State.

Speaking at the meeting, Dr. Dekil informed the Commissioner and his team that HYPREP was set up with the mandate to remediate Ogoniland and provide sustainable livelihood for the people in line with UNEP Report, adding that in fulfilling this mandate HYPREP has a responsibility to provide potable water in the impacted communities as specified in the report.

The Project Coordinator said the visit was also to request for collaboration with the Rivers State Ministry of Water Resources and Rural Development in the provision of water in the impacted communities.  He said the request to collaborate with the Ministry was necessary to avoid duplication of projects.

Dr. Dekil explained that in the process of providing water in the impacted communities, HYPREP would need to access the existing water facilities towards rehabilitating them and also install new ones, in both cases he said, the technical expertise of the professionals in the Ministry will be needed especially as the initial facilities were installed by them.

The Project Coordinator assured the Commissioner that HYPREP projects were not at variance with the water policy of the Ministry which is community driven adding that every project of HYPREP was tailored towards community participation and ownership to ensure sustainability.

Prof. Ebeku commended the HYPREP Coordinator, for seeking collaboration with the State Government saying it will eliminate duplication of projects which would have amounted to waste of Government resources.  He called on other government agencies and development partners to emulate the HYPREP approach to project implementation.

The Commissioner assured Dr. Dekil of his full support and that of his team to the collaboration and said he will do everything within his power to fast track the process from the Ministry’s end to ensure that potable water is available in Ogoniland for the benefit of the people.

At the end of the meeting, a Committee comprising experts from the State Ministry of Water Resources and Rural Development and HYPREP was set up to work on the modalities for the collaboration towards the provision of potable water for the impacted communities in Ogoniland.

“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

 

Op-Ed: Maritime University, Ogoni Clean-up, Modular refineries… Buhari administration’s achievements in Niger Delta

The development in the Niger Delta under the Buhari administration through its New Vision is restoring peace and curbing the decadence that initially enveloped the region, writes Mary Oyibocha-Agbajoh in the Vanguard

 

Leadership is the art of motivating a group of people to act towards achieving a common goal. However, it requires a lot of hard work and sacrifice so as to meet up the people’s expectations.

This sole reason, requires leaders not just to understand the plight of the people they serve but also have a firm grip on issues affecting the masses so as to ensure a smooth transition and growth of the capacity of the people they serve.

Having this capability puts you in the top 1% of leaders and is a skill President Muhammadu Buhari internalizes even though some partisan individuals of influence are feeding a wrong message about the agenda of the President, because over the years our mindset as a country and people was used to a system where anything goes and rot is left unchecked.

Therefore, the process of re-evaluating, strategizing and taking a bold step forward is what the government of President Muhammadu Buhari is establishing as a foundation unto greater achievements. To prove wrong critics on the Buhari administration, take a look at the establishment of the New Vision for the Niger Delta, which is geared towards enhancing the well-being of the people in the region.

This administration saw to the actualization and take off of the Maritime University Okerenkoko, Delta State. The University got functional approval by the National University Commission (NUC), to commence undergraduate programme, effective from 2017/2018 session, and commenced academic activities on the 12th of April 2018. To ensure that the university enjoys privileges as other federal university Buhari approved an increased in the take – off grant allocated to the Maritime University Okerenkoko Delta State from N2billion to N5billion. Similarly, in November 2017 another N1billion was approved by the President to aid the support of essential infrastructural works and staff recruitment in the university.

In furtherance to reducing the epidemic of oil pollution in the Niger Delta area the administration launched the Ogoni clean-up project, and it set aside $ 170million USD for the clean-up. The Ogoni clean-up project is being managed by the Hydrocarbon Pollution Remediation Project (HYPREP) of the Federal Ministry of Environment. To enhance the remediation work President Buhari – led administration trained graduates from Ogoni land, who studied Environmental Science. The administration also flagged off the Ogoni Health Outreach Programme and about 5,815 patients were attended to and 65 surgical cases treated.

The amnesty programme feared to be abolished took a whole lot of people by surprise as an additional N35billion was approved for the rehabilitation and sustainability, re- integration of ex- agitators of the Niger Delta area.  The indigenes of the communities were not left out, as they were given full academic scholarship in other to attain quality education with monthly stipends.

The unemployed youths today in the Niger Delta region are hopeful for a brighter future, as the Buhari led administration through the N- Power scheme has put a smile on their faces by empowering them with N30, 000 monthly allowances to ensure their wellbeing. The N- Power initiative has in no small measures curb youth restiveness in the area.

The license to operate modular refineries given under administration, would see to eradication of unemployment in the region by creating more jobs, business opportunities which will be of essential benefit to the youths in the region and Nigeria as a country, when the refineries kicks off.

Aware of the importance of infrastructure and good road network in the socio- economic development of a society, the Buhari administration has ensured the resumption of all abandoned projects awarded to different contractors across the Niger Delta region 2006, including the East West Road and the second Niger Bridge both projects are at the phase of completion.

It was the Buhari led administration that flagged off by the Vice President Yemi Osinbajo the N120 billion Bonny – Bodo road project.

To ensure that there is no scarcity of food, and the prices are affordable for the masses the administration gave priority to the Agricultural sector, by setting presidential initiatives to boost it in the nine states of the Niger Delta Region and Enugu. The administration has completed six cassava processing plants in Bayelsa, Rivers, Abia, Ondo, Cross River and Imo states. In acquiring skills, the hand of this administration is feasible in the areas of business, trade, and craft.

One hundred and thirty youths in the Niger Delta were trained on poultry, agriculture, crop production and were given N1 million naira each by the Buhari- led administration. This contributed to the complete phase out of youth restiveness. Women who specialized in poultry and snail production were empowered between 350k- 500k each to start up business. Other women were trained in ICT and business hub, poultry and fish production.

Recently the Presidential Amnesty Programme commissioned a vocational in Agadagba – Obon Ese Odo Local Government Area, Ondo State for training the youths in oil and gas related field.

Vice President Yemi Osinbajo paid a visit to the Niger Delta region where he met with elders and discussed with them, as regards restoring peace in the region.

The administration through the Ministry of Petroleum headed by President Muhammadu Buhari as the Petroleum Minister introduced the Nigerian Gas Flare Commercialisation Programme, which was aimed at addressing the exit of gas flaring in the Niger Delta region.

This administration has put frame work for community – based participation in the oil and gas pipelines, and the oil and gas assets in the Niger Delta region.

The development in the Niger Delta in this administration is in no small measure restoring peace and curbing the decadence that initially enveloped the region.

 

Culled from The Vanguard

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ogoni clean-up: HYPREP commence provision of potable water in Ogoniland

Towards the implementation of the UNEP Report on the provision of emergency measures (water supply and health study), the Hydrocarbon Pollution Remediation Project (HYPREP) has commenced the survey and sampling of drinking water sources in the impacted communities of Ogoniland.

The exercise, which started in November and lasted for 10 days, was carried out from house to house and also within a radius of 500m from each impacted site. The aim was to ascertain the extent of contamination   of drinking water sources in the impacted Ogoni communities to obtain baseline data that will guide HYPREP in the preparation of bid documents.

A total of 600 water samples will be collected and analysed from 47 impacted communities across the four Local Government Areas of Ogoniland, namley , namely Eleme, Gokana, Tai and Khana.

According to a statement from the Project Coordination Office, “HYPREP will not leave any stone unturned in carrying out its mandate as it has continued to get the unwavering support of President Muhammadu Buhari led administration to ensure a successful clean-up of Ogoniland and restoration of livelihood.”

For the Records: #7BigWins in Focus – Big win 5 – Niger Delta and security

By Dr. Emmanuel Ibe Kachikwu

*Puts in focus a “blueprint for Niger Delta’s development that can be sustained for posterity”

Let me welcome you to an 8 parts serial podcast that will look critically at the 7 big wins that were instruments of our intervention in the oil industry when we came in and see how we fared in each of those and what we need to do going forward.

All over the world these 7 big wins has been praised as a right model for intervention. But, let us now go neck deep and get a 3D view of what really has happened. In this edition, we are going to focus strictly on the Niger Delta security issues; what we met, what we did, what the future holds for us.

His Excellency, the President was kind enough and gracious enough to appoint me with the twin positions of both the GMD of the NNPC and the Minister of State for Petroleum. Niger Delta was a burning issue at the time. There was key unrest in Niger Delta, a huge amount of militant activities going on. There was reduction in production volumes, so much reduction leading to a consistent loss that led us almost to a cripple in the oil industry. Actually, at the lowest point we were down to about 800,000 barrels. All the infrastructure that we had were compromised; vandalism and militancy compelled the integrity of the infrastructure to disappear.

These sustained attacks continued for over a 10-month period. In February 2016 for example; the Forcados oil export line was breached, leading to very major attacks in other oil and gas assets. In May 2016, the Nembe creek truck line was attacked; in November 2016, series and series of attacks.

What else did we meet? We met the complete absence of a coordinated effort at developing the Niger Delta development model. There was, therefore, a consistent lack of investors’ interest in Niger Delta area, because of what really had happened was that with all the militancy attacks, uncertainties on policies, the lack of coordination in terms of development, everybody basically watched for what the next alarm bell was going to be.

The sheer amount of problems that we inherited in Niger Delta meant that literally if nothing was done, the country was getting crippled; no money for investments, no money for infrastructures, no money to run the budgets. We had to move in very rapidly with the support of His Excellency, the President.

We dealt with three main fundamentals. We decided to deal first with the environment and security issues. What were we going to do about that environment, the issues that had been burning in all the areas of Niger Delta?

The first thing we realized was that the one-on-one engagements, as good as they were, were obviously not leading us to the Promised Land. Of course, I did the whole yeoman’s job of taking a tour on the Niger Delta myself and getting into the creeks, at very great risk to my life and that of a lot of my staff, to engage the militants in their domain. I think the advantage in that was that it brought understanding and we then began a sustained community engagement.

The first thing we did was to work with the leaders of the areas to work towards the setting up of the PANDEF group. We thank all the PANDEF members; leader, Chief Clark and all of them who did fantastic work in trying to put together this Pan-Niger Delta Forum. We worked coordinating with them. So once that was set up, it was easy to have a body that could engage the Federal Government.

Then we dealt with the issue of Ogoni clean-up. The President had made a promise during his campaign that he was going to take this as a burning issue and he did and he inaugurated the Ogoni clean-up process that was launched very ceremoniously and we began the engagements and the financing that will enable us address the Ogoni cleanup. But not only Ogoni needs to be cleaned up, a whole lot of other areas need to be cleaned up. This is basically the beginning map on which we are going to work.

We came up with the Nigerian Gas Flare Commercialization Programme, which was trying to address the exit of flare. The United Nations had set a 2030 deadline; we set a 2020 deadline. We are aggressive about it because we knew that unless the environmental issues in Niger Delta were addressed, no amount of investment would get a buy-in with the people.

With all the sustained engagements that we had, we had series of ceasefires which enabled us to bring back production volumes. In December 2015, we had a 30-day ceasefire agreement. It brought back production rapidly from the all-time low of about 800,000 barrels to about 2.2 million barrels. In June 2016, we had another 60-day ceasefire agreement, which lasted for a while. In April 2017, leading up from the 60-day ceasefire that continued and working with PANDEF and other elements, and with the assistance of the Vice President’s visit; we got to a point where we basically moved our production to an all-time 800,000 barrels volume to volumes in region of 2.2 million barrels.

We looked at infrastructure and not only did we deal with repairing some of the infrastructures that were broken down to enable oil begin to flow again. We came up with the concept of what to do with the illegal refining that was going on in the region. So, we came up with the modular refinery concept. Till date, we have targeted development and approved about 10 of those; two are basically on land now and beginning to construct. Hopefully, within the next one year, we will be able to deliver real results. But we are pushing for the other eight.

The AKK Pipeline that had been abandoned for a very long time was put back. The Federal Executive Council approved this and now engagements are going on to sort out this contract and begin that construction. That AKK pipeline will enable you deliver gas from the South into the North and open up gas delivery to homes, and development in terms of petrochemicals. So it is a huge infrastructure development.

We have been able to go visit some of these modular refineries. We visited the one in Ogbele, in Rivers State; we also have visited the one in Kwale (Delta State). Those are the two that are basically on ground and ready to take off. But there are 8 additional ones that are basically all getting ready for completion for financing and moving on.

But, the area where I think we have done a lot of work is in Capacity Building and Economic Empowerment. The greatest problem of Niger Delta has been that it’s not because money hasn’t gone in. Inter-agency researches have shown that over $40 billion have gone into Niger Delta in a period of, maybe, 15 years.

So what we’ve tried to do, was working under the Office of the Vice President, to try and working in conjunction with the Ministry of Niger Delta, Ministry of Environment, NDDC, NNPC, Oil companies, everybody; we were able to show the sheer amount of money over a period of time that had gone in, and the sheer amount of money that was available still to go in. And that led to a very integrated work that produced a report that enabled us to see what everybody’s budget was and what we needed to do. It ran into trillions.

And so working under an inter-ministerial group put under the Vice President, we’ve now began to build capacity, and build economic empowerment on the grounds of that and making sure that we supervise each of those intervening government agencies to do what they are supposed to do and the oil companies to take up also their responsibilities.

But we have also gone further than that. I have gone ahead to set up State technical committees and gone from state to state to take that whole vision and give it fruition. So, in those states, with the State Governments being the Chairmen of some of those; we have had our own representatives; we’ve had oil companies’ representatives, we’ve had Government Agencies. And the whole idea is to look at the blueprint of what oil is produced in a state, what volumes are available, what opportunities for economic empowerment are there and what are the burning issues in those areas. These technical committees have been launched in three states; in Edo State, in Delta State and in Imo State, and we are looking to complete that whole process.

If we succeed in doing that, for the first time, what you are going to have is a complete blueprint, complete local engagement, complete local intervention and supervision of the Niger Delta development model and that is something that can be sustained for posterity.

So, those interventions have helped; those technical teams have helped. Like I said, we’ve done it in about three states. We are going to continue to push the envelope in other states. Now, obviously in all these have rallied from the initial work done when we first started with all the problems we had, to the Vice President’s visit that was monumentally successful and helpful; to obviously the presidential cloak that has been given to this to make it succeed.

Where do we go from here? A lot of work still needs to be done, let’s not kid ourselves. What we have done is take a very difficult environment and bring some sanity to it.

So today, when we celebrate over 2 million barrels, when we celebrate $75, $77 price in oil, when we celebrate enhanced and increasing reserve size for this country, when we celebrate the highest capital budgets that this country has seen in decades, it is all because we found a way to find sanity in this very, very difficult environment. But we still have a lot of work to do.

Those engagements we talked about with the state technical committees are a key pivot; we must sustain and complete the process. And thereafter, there must be active; and there must, on a month-to-month basis, explore what the opportunities are, and ensure that the local populace are getting those opportunities.

There are regulatory interventions; the Assembly is working hard at PIB, and there’s Host Community Bill they are also doing. All these Bills, when passed, will give legal parameters to some of the interventions that are essential and create a sustained platform for these interventions in the future.

The President is completely committed to the success of this and we are working with the Ministry of Environment to continue the Ogoni clean-up. I have just directed that funds necessary for this must be released with a very short period of time so that this Ogoni clean-up can actually move from the drawing board to actual practical realities. And I’ve called on both NNPC and the oil companies to fund this sufficiently for us to move forward.

We’ve also began a programme to engage the Ogonis where there has been substantial problems, to get the community buy-in; to get the community’s participation. A few weeks ago, we held the Ogoni re-entry meetings. We are going to get into some of those, and not just Ogoni, but a lot of the areas to see how we can get people to believe gain and have faith in the processes that we are rolling out.

We are currently working on a framework for community-based participation in the protection of oil and gas pipelines, and oil and gas assets. How do we get the communities to take ownership of these pipelines, protect them, ensure an efficient delivery without complications and also ensure that in future they get benefits from some of the economic interventions that come out of all of these?

So, a whole lot of work needs to be done. It is almost like you are looking at the bill of rights in some of these areas. How do we develop things that people are entitled to; people execute, communities are involved, constant engagements continue, and the Government’s interest in this continues to ride.

But this where we met security, this is where we met the Niger Delta, this is what we have done in the two and a half, three years that we have been there. But like I said, the work continues.

What we can say is that provided Government continues to focus, provided the oil companies continue to focus on their key social responsibilities in these areas, provided that Government Agencies that are given responsibilities for intervention continue to carry out their jobs, provided communities realize that, at the end of the day, destruction of platforms leads to nothing but confusion and mayhem; but that working together with the Government, we can create an equitable problem-solving mechanism, provided State Governments and security apparatus carry out security intervention for peace in a manner that respects the fundamental human rights of citizens; we actually can take leverage from the total world attention that is looking at the work that we are doing in this area and get Niger Delta to where it should be.

Thank you very much for listening.

Kachikwu is the Honourable Minister of State for Petroleum Resources

(Podcast on May 23, 2018)

East-West Road: FG set up 4-man Ministerial Committee

*Committee to ensure speedy completion of project

 

The Federal Executive Council (FEC) presided over by Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo, SAN, has approved a four-member ministerial committee charged with the responsibility of ensuring speedy completion of the East-West Road in the Niger Delta and ₦142.5 billion for construction of roads across the country.

Briefing state house correspondents on the outcome of the council’s meeting, The Minister of Transportation, Mr. Rotimi Amaechi, revealed that the committee consists of Minister of Information and Culture, Mr. Lai Mohammed; Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Mr. Usani Uguru Usani; and the Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Mr. Babatunde Fashola. He stated further that the members of the committee would undertake an inspection tour round the construction site to appraise the ongoing project in ensuring its speedy completion of the East –West Road which was mooted in 2006 under the administration of former president Olusegun Obasanjo.

The chairman of the committee, Amaechi advertently disclosed that the council approved ₦1.67 billion for the procurement of equipment for the Lagos–Kano narrow gauge in line with an initial interim agreement signed between the federal government and the GE (General Electrical).

The council also approved ₦1.2 billion for the purchase of 18 flat-bed wagons to be operated on the narrow gauge rail line by the Nigerian Railway Corporation.

He said ₦18.874 billion of the amount would be expended on the maintenance of the Third Mainland Bridge in Lagos as part of the federal government’s National Bridge Maintenance Strategy.

Fashola said the Third Mainland Bridge contract was awarded to one of the original contractors for the project, Borini Prono of Italy.

He said the construction company was expected to carry out maintenance works on 33 out of the 177 piles of the bridge which were in critical condition.

According to him, part of the repair works on the bridge will also involve the maintenance of General Expansion Joint Replacement and will be completed within 27 months.

The minister said the budget for the repair on the bridge was captured in the 2017 appropriation law. He said council also approved ₦80.19 billion as revised amount for the second section of the 84 kilometres Lagos-Ibadan expressway project.

275 Niger Delta youths benefit from agriculture training, empowerment

No fewer than 275 youths in Niger Delta region have benefited from the Nigerian Agip Oil Company (NAOC) and its Joint Venture agro skills acquisition through the Green Rivers Project scheme.

The Vice Chairman/Managing Director of NAOC, Massimo Insulla, said the special agricultural scheme was introduced in 2016 to meet the present day economic and social realities and to bridge the gap between the aging farmers and make agriculture attractive to youths.

The Guardian reported that, Insulla, who spoke at the graduation ceremony for pioneer class of 2017/2018 NAOC-JV Agro-Skills Acquisition Training Programme in Port Harcourt at the weekend, said the scheme was introduced to increase employment generation.

He added that the choice of agriculture for the empowerment of youths was in line with the Federal Government’s vision on diversification.

The trainees were drawn from the four states of NAOC operations, Rivers, Bayelsa, Delta, and Imo States were trained in Skills such as fisheries, poultry, livestock and crop farming.