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Groups, CSOs back Buhari on forensic audit of NDDC

*President orders forensic audit of NDDC from 2001 to 2019

The state Chairmen of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the South-south and South-east regions have commended President Muhammadu Buhari over his directive for a forensic audit of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC).

They also called on the president to urgently inaugurate the new board to superintend over the Commission’s activities for a holistic review and reforms.

The Nation reported that the call and commendation by the chairmen were contained in two separate statements issued by Akwa-Ibom State APC Chairman, Hon. Ini T. Okopido, who is the leader of the South-south Chairmen of the forum, and his Abia State counterpart, Hon. Donatus Nwankpa, leader of South-east Chairmen of the forum respectively, which was made available to journalists in Benin-city

The forum expressed satisfaction on the calibre of those Buhari has already appointed to take over the task of the region’s development, and appealed for their inauguration to pilot the affairs and bring their wealth of experience to bear on the Commission.

The chairmen, while commending the president for his ‘love’ for the development of the Niger Delta region, assured him of their unflinching support to carry out his holistic reforms in the interventionist agency.

Similarly, civil society groups and concerned individuals on Thursday hailed President Muhammadu Buhari for directing that a forensic audit be conducted on the operations, programmes and activities of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC).

A development economist, Jeffrey Emerson, the executive director, Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC), Auwwal Rafsanjani, and the president of Ijaw Diaspora Coalition, Johnson Ebibai, all said the directive was a step in the right direction, Premium Times reported.

“This is a good development, now that the President has finally responded to the concern by civil society and the demand for him to take action to stop the monumental corruption and outright stealing and diversion of public funds in these agencies meant to help the people and communities in the region,” Mr. Rafsanjani said on Friday.

It would be recalled that President Muhammadu Buhari had ordered a forensic audit of the operations of the Niger Delta Development Commission from 2001 to 2019.

The decision followed persistent criticisms of the operations of the commission. A statement by the Special Adviser (Media and Publicity), Femi Adesina, said Buhari gave the directive after receiving governors of the states that make up the NCDC, led by Governor Seriake Dickson of Bayelsa State.

The President said what was presently on ground in the South-South region did not justify the huge resources that had been made available to the agency.

He said, “I try to follow the Act setting up these institutions especially the NDDC. With the amount of money that the Federal Government has religiously allocated to the NDDC, we will like to see the results on the ground; those that are responsible for that have to explain certain issues.

“The projects said to have been done must be verifiable. You just cannot say you spent so much billions and when the place is visited, one cannot see the structures that have been done. The consultants must also prove that they are competent.”

“I am acutely aware, with my experience, that projects in your area are very expensive; that is why if any job is given, we must make sure that the company is competent and has the capacity to do it well with experienced consultants”, the President said.

Buhari however said that he would wait for the report of the audit before deciding on the next line of action regarding the organisation.

Earlier, Dickson expressed the disappointment of other governors with the operations of the NDDC which, they said, was characterised by poor choice of projects, shoddy handling, uncompleted jobs and lack of the required support for the efforts of the states and local government administration in the region covered by the organisation.

He, therefore, called for the repositioning of the NDDC in order to achieve the objectives for which it was set up.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

How FG’s New Vision has changed Niger Delta – Iyamu

The proactive approach of the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari has positively changed the narrative in Niger Delta region, the Senior Special Assistant to Vice President on Niger Delta, Edobor Iyamu, has said.

Speaking recently with The Leadership, Iyamu explained that the Niger Delta New Vision, which is a Federal Government partnership with state governments, private sector and the local communities, has helped to give positive narratives about the region.

According to him, the Buhari administration’s New Vision has changed the previous narratives of underdevelopment or  failed projects of the previous administration that has led to underdevelopment in the region.

He recalled that in 2016 during the height of the pipeline vandalisation, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, SAN, embarked on a tour in the region and met with all the relevant stakeholders, youth groups, elders in the region and others groups.

Iyamu said the requests  from the region were taken on board which then “led to the 16-point agenda and of course the federal government response which was the 20 point agenda and that came about what is known as the new vision for the Niger Delta.’’

Speaking on the Presidential Amnesty Programme initiative to train Amnesty beneficiaries on fish farming, Iyamu said: “That is why I said we are doing things differently. Under this project, the partnership is different from what obtained in the past whereby beneficiaries are just trained and nothing happens thereafter.

“With the concept we have today in partnership with Concept Amadeus and Amnesty Office we ensure prerequisite training and engagement so that all the beneficiaries trained are engaged and not only being engaged but, are also going to be given national certificates that they can use anywhere in the world so they don’t have to work in Nigeria only. With the quality of training, they can go to anywhere in the world and get employed, which, in my view is a very good thing. So they are getting the kind of certificate that has an international standard.”

Why we support Buhari govt – Niger Delta ex-agitators

*NDDC to improve procurement process, fund management

A group of ex-Niger Delta agitators has pledged to support the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari.

In a statement recently by the Niger Delta Creek Force, the group congratulated the President on his successful inauguration on May 29, 2019, describing Buhari as a visionary leader with a burning desire to develop the Niger Delta in particular and Nigeria in general.

The NDCF expressed confidence that Buhari would consolidate his achievements and turn things around for the betterment of the Niger Delta during his second term in office, according to the PUNCH.

It called on other previously aggrieved groups in the region to sheathe their swords and rally round the All Progressives Congress-led Federal Government to usher in development which had eluded the region for so long.

Noting that the President had done well in the area of youth empowerment programmes, a development it said had impacted positively on the lives of youths in the region, thereby reducing crime and criminality in the region; the group expressed optimism that the peace and the ongoing development in the region in terms of infrastructural development and human capital development would be sustained and consolidated.

Meanwhile, the Acting Managing Director of the Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC, Prof Nelson Brambaifa, has said the Commission will continue to follow the proper public procurement procedures to ensure that its funds are applied judiciously for development purposes.

Prof. Brambaifa stated this at the opening of a one-week workshop for the Commission’s executive management and directors at the Golden Tulip Hotel in Port Harcourt.

The NDDC Chief Executive Officer said that the Commission’s mandate included delivering services that give full value for money, noting that it was necessary for the management to be prudent in its efforts to drive development in the Niger Delta region.

Prof Brambaifa said that the workshop on the procurement processes would impact positively on the workings of the NDDC as it relates to public procurement and the management of funds for the interventionist agency.

He remarked: “Our goal is clear; we want everyone to be conversant with the procurement process because it is not something that should be left for only procurement officers. The experts have made it simple for us to understand the issues in procurement.

“I have no doubt that someday we will fully integrate the electronic data management into our procurement system. We will adopt the electronic platform to enhance the efficiency and transparency of our processes.”

The NDDC boss said that it was important that the Commission’s staff fully understand the procurement process to ensure that funds meant for development projects and programmes were used judiciously.

The NDDC Director for Procurement, Engr. Theophilus Alagoa, explained that the training was organised to enlighten officers of the Commission to know their roles in the procurement process.

He said further: “We want NDDC staff to wake up to their responsibilities by arming them with knowledge. We noticed that a lot of people don’t know their roles.  In fact, every department in NDDC has the power to procure for itself. The procurement unit is only there to ensure compliance with the Public Procurement Act.”

$500m modular refinery to be established in Ondo

The Ondo State government has partnered with a firm, Crown Refinery and Petrochemical Limited, to establish a modular refinery in the coastal area of the state.

According to the PUNCH, the state would reportedly provide only the land while the company will provide the equipment and the personnel, some of whom would be employed from the state.

The proposed initial design capacity of the modular refinery is about 30,000 barrels per stream day, which is expected to be completed within 36 months. This can be scaled to 60,000 bpsd, the Chief Executive Officer, Crown Refinery and Petrochemical, Mr Kassim Adeleke, stated.

Giving more details to journalists about the project, Adeleke, who led the team to the governor’s office, said $500m would be spent at the initial stage, saying the money would be sourced from the development partners of the company.

Recently, the state government and the company signed a Memorandum of Understanding on the multimillion-dollar project proposed to be sited in Ugbonla and Ogboti coastal towns in the Ilaje Local Government Area of the state.

It was learnt that the project would foster the development of the area and consequently boost the economy of the state, as it was projected to employ over 2,000 people, both directly and indirectly.

This is in line with the Niger Delta New Vision of the Buhari administration for the establishment of modular refineries in the region to spur development and provide more employment opportunities for youths in the region.

The PUNCH reports that the Ondo State Governor, Mr Rotimi Akeredolu, while receiving the MoU from the Secretary to the State Government, Mr Sunday Abegunde, who had earlier signed the document with the representatives of the company, expressed delight over the development and pledged the support for the project.

He said, “Ondo State is safe for investors; we will do everything to ensure that this project is successful. Ondo State is strategically positioned among the Niger Delta States and Lagos State, which is the nation’s economic nerve centre, to make all business-minded investors reap bountifully from their investments in the state.”

Earlier, the Chief Executive Officer, Crown Refinery and Petrochemical, who led the team to the governor’s office, Mr Kassim Adeleke, said the company’s core business is to refine crude oil into petroleum products.

He explained that the refinery would be designed to process both imported paraffin and Nigerian crude into petroleum products, oils and lubricants.

Adeleke said, “We are going into the business of refining crude oil. The government of Ondo State would provide the enabling environment and incentives to support us as we actualise this vital investment. Apart from the project having the capacity to refine crude oil, it will also be producing 120,000 tonnes of base oil and 25,000 tonnes of lubrication oil on a yearly basis.

“The company will also be providing several infrastructural projects in the states and would create about 2,000 direct and indirect employment opportunities for indigenes of the state. It would also give scholarship to indigent students in the host communities.”

He said in Ondo State, he found professionalism, swift decision making, friendly communities and passion, such that in less than one year of opening talks with the state government, the company was set to commence the project.

In line with the Niger Delta New Vision plan of the Federal Government, four modular refineries, which are at different stages of completion, have so far been established in the region. They include: the NDPR Modular Refinery, Ogbele, Rivers State; OPAC Modular Refinery, Delta State; Ikwe-Onna modular refinery, Akwa-Ibom State; and the Walter Smith refinery, in Imo State.

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

#NDNewVision PHOTOS: 1st Matriculation Ceremony, Maritime University

Photos from the 1st Matriculation Ceremony of the Nigeria Maritime University, Okerenkoko, Delta State, which held today, Saturday, April 6, 2019, at the University’s take-off campus. Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, SAN, was represented at the event by Mr. Edobor Iyamu, Senior Special Assistant to the President, Economic matters/Niger Delta, Office of the Vice President.

The occasion was attended by the Acting Governor of Delta State, Barr. Kingsley Otuaro; representative of the Hon. Minister of Education; the Pro-Chancellor/Chairman of the Governing Counciil, Nigeria Maritime University, Chief Timipre Sylva, Director-General/CEO, Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Dr. Dakuku Peterside, top government officials, traditional rulers from Gbaramatu Kingdom, amongst others.

 

Buhari administration remains committed to Niger Delta’s development – VP Osinbajo

*Says Maritime University poised to become Centre of Excellence, as Institution celebrates 1st Matriculation ceremony

 

The Nigeria Maritime University, Okerenkoko, Delta State, is proof of the unwavering commitment of the Buhari Administration to the development and progress of the Niger Delta.

This was stated by Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo, SAN, during the University’s maiden Matriculation ceremony, which held on Saturday, April 6, at its take-off campus in Kurutie, Warri South-West Local Government Area of Delta State.

Prof. Osinbajo, who was represented at the event by Mr. Edobor Iyamu, the Senior Special Assistant to the President, on Economic matters, Office of the Vice President, noted that President Muhammadu Buhari “is a man of his words and he has made that clear over and over again with regards to the Niger Delta, in the last four years.”

 

It would be recalled that the take-off of the Maritime University was actualized under the Buhari administration following the commencement of its operations in 2017.

The take-off of the Maritime University is in fulfilment of the Buhari administration’s commitment to develop the Niger Delta in line with its New Vision for the region.

The Vice President’s speech, which was delivered by Mr. Iyamu, highlighted the determination of the Buhari administration to change the narrative of a region that had been neglected in the past.

He said, “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.”

Congratulating the management and staff of the University in his speech, Vice President then urged students of the institution to become excellent ambassadors of this University.

“I congratulate you all 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,” he noted.

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

The Vice President further noted that the Federal Government is focused on developing the human capital of the Niger Delta in different sectors, noting that in the near future, the region would not only be known for its oil and gas potential, but also in the quality of its human capital resources.

“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,” he added.

He also noted the ongoing Ogoni Clean-up/remediation efforts, the establishment of modular refineries in the Niger Delta and the Presidential Amnesty programme that has helped to maintain the peace and stability on the region, and the Gas Flare Commercialisation Programme, aimed at ending gas-flaring in the region.

“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.

“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.

Prof. Osinbajo noted that the long-term impact of the administration’s Gas Flare Commercialisation Programme, would not just improve health and the environment, but also increase economic opportunities as it would “create jobs and wealth for citizens and communities in the region.”

The Nigeria Maritime University commenced full academic activities for the 2017/2018 academic year in April, 2018, with a total of 370 students spread across 13 undergraduate programmes in three Faculties, namely: Transport, Engineering and Environmental Management.

Earlier, in her address, the Vice Chancellor of the institution, Prof. Ongoebi Maureen Etebu, described the occasion as an epoch-making moment, praising the President Muhammadu Buhari-led administration for providing the fertile environment for the institution to come into being.

Etebu said the university is a ship set to sail, as the school now boost of three vibrant faculties.

The matriculation ceremony was held for all in-takes from the 2017/2018 and 2018/2019 academic sessions.

The occasion was attended by the Acting Governor of Delta State, Barr. Kingsley Otuaro; representative of the Hon. Minister of Education; the Pro-Chancellor/Chairman of the Governing Counciil, Nigeria Maritime University, Chief Timipre Sylva, Director-General/CEO, Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Dr. Dakuku Peterside, top government officials, traditional rulers from Gbaramatu Kingdom, amongst others.

Another highlight of the well-attended ceremony was the presentation of cash awards to some high-flying students, who have excelled in their respective course of studies, since the inception of the institution, with CGPA of 4.0 and above.

President Buhari’s victory is for all Nigerians – NDDC Boss

*Says peace in Niger Delta outcome of VP Osinbajo’s intervention in region

The victory of President Muhammadu Buhari in the recent presidential elections is a testimony to the overwhelming confidence of Nigerians in his capacity and commitment to rebuilding Nigeria and taking the country to the Next Level.

The Acting Managing Director of the Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC, Prof. Nelson Brambaifa, made this assertion in a congratulatory message to President Buhari after his re-election for another four-year term on February 23.

In a statement from the Commission, Prof. Brambaifa said that President Buhari has remained focused on his change agenda to strengthen governance and tackle corruption, establish food security across the nation, improve healthcare efficiency, improve national security and protect lives and property, as well as rebuild infrastructure and create jobs for all Nigerians.

The NDDC boss stated that “it was important to note that President Buhari has shown commitment towards the sustainable development of the Niger Delta region,” adding that, for the first time since its establishment, the Commission was receiving the full statutory financial contribution of the Federal Government because of President Buhari’s determination to rebuild the region.”

Prof. Brambaifa said: “It is also important to recall that it took President Buhari for the Federal Government to begin to repay over N1.8 trillion owed NDDC since its establishment, so that more funds would be available to discharge our mandate, as well as our obligations to our contractors.

“It took the decisive action of the Federal Government, under the direction of Mr. President, to help restore peace, security and social stability in the Niger Delta. Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, SAN, led a region wide interaction with the Pan Niger Delta Forum, PANDEF, and major stakeholders in the region and the peace we enjoy today is the result of his strategic intervention,” he added.

In November, 2016, in a move to address concerns in the region and see to its development, President Muhammadu Buhari held a meeting with Niger Delta leaders under the aegis of Pan-Niger Delta Forum, PANDEF. PANDEF made a 16-point demand to the Federal Government which was subsequently captured in the FG’s 20-point agenda to develop the region.

It would be recalled that in November 2016, President Buhari held a meeting with Niger Delta leaders under the aegis of Pan-Niger Delta Forum, PANDEF. PANDEF made a 16-point demand to the Federal Government which was subsequently captured in the FG’s 20-point agenda to develop the region. Following that meeting with elders in the region, in 2017, on behalf of the President, the VP Osinbajo undertook a tour of oil producing communities.in the region, and the Buhari administration’s Niger Delta New Vision was birthed, which focuses on the wholesome development of the region.

The statement further noted that the NDDC boss pointed out that the victory of President Buhari is a victory for all Nigerians, particularly the people of the Niger Delta region, stating that “it affirms our confidence in President Buhari’s determination to give all Nigerians a government which addresses their needs and bolsters our shared commitment to making the Niger Delta, in particular, a region which fulfills the expectations of the people.”

Prof. Brambaifa declared that the people are expectant that “the next four years will usher in a better country, under the leadership of President Buhari, which will improve their lives.” He avowed that NDDC will work even harder to facilitate regional development and improve the living conditions of the people.

He added: “We are happy to associate with you and will continue to work with you to fulfil your vision of a better country and your mission to make Nigeria and the Niger Delta a better place.

“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