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From Niger Delta creeks to billionaire farmer: An ex-militant’s story

In 2017, when Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, on behalf of President Muhammadu Buhari, went on a tour of the Niger Delta to quell the rising tension in the region, it not only birthed the Niger Delta New Vision for the region’s development & revamped the bedrock to a stable economy, it also open the door to a new frontier, an agriculture revolution.

Weeks after he left the Niger Delta, the tension and occasional assault on oil pipelines almost went extinct. It was as if the VP had used a magic wand from one of Harry Potters’ sold out series. Peace enveloped the region and the falling oil prices which could easily have colluded with insecurity and uncertainty in the region quietly went away.

There was a new hope for Nigeria and he was rightly applauded locally and internationally for intervening at a time when things were most sensitive. But not only did he calm things in the Niger Delta, he opened an avenue for some of the ex-militants.

For those who have had the privilege to be in this same room as Prof. Osinbajo, you’ll agree that he is the full package. He is a leader, father, orator, inspirational speaker, lawyer, pastor, teacher etc but most importantly is the fact that he loves Nigeria. He loves Nigeria so much that sometimes you wonder why? This he shares in common with President Buhari who has so much belief in him that he sent him to deliver a Holy Grail. But that is a story for another day.

When Retson Tedheke listened to a speech by Prof. Osinbajo where he noted that there was a new oil well in Nigeria and he explained that if they can carefully mine it, they will have gold on their hands. That oil well was agriculture and a certain entrepreneur, Tedheke, was inspired by the Vice President’s speech

At the time, he was an ex-militant, but the entrepreneur in him was always going to come out, it only needed an inspirational speech and an outlet from the erudite professor of law. Oh boy, did that speech work? Yes, it did. It worked like magic. He caught the bug right there and he knew in his mind what he was going to do to put himself on the billionaire list.

Born in Delta state, but then resident in the creeks in Bayelsa, Tedheke made his way to the North Central part of Nigeria, specifically Nasarawa State. If you say Nasarawa State chose him, then you are right, but if you say he chose Nasarawa, you are also right. It was a partnership made in heaven, and only him and the people Gaa’te community in Nasarawa can explain how they have blossomed over the last few years.

On arriving at Ga’ate, the people took to him, they saw something him and at that point they knew they were going to make history together. While still getting to know his new surroundings, Tedheke was gifted three hectares of land to start his new adventure.

This is nothing like the creek, here he needed to learn a new language, meet new people, develop new relationships and make history if he could and somehow all these happened before he could even say Jack Robinson.

As it is with most successful people, Tedheke embraced his humble beginning and got straight to work. All the distractions available in the creek were no more, now was the time to work and make a name for himself and the community that had been so generous to him.

He had heard that President Buhari was determined to diversify away from crude oil and that he had his eyes on agriculture especially rice, which Nigeria had to potential to produce for its near 200 million population and also export to other countries.

The first farm produce was therefore rice and he did get it right. First, he showed how selfless and patriotic he was by branding the rice Ga’ate, after the community that had given him a home and the needed piece of land to start off. This legacy will never go away, the actions by the community and Tedheke showed that Nigeria is stronger together and that there is more to achieve collectively.

This was not a relationship based on ethnicity, religion or tribe but one built on ‘will’ and the Nigerian spirit that cannot be broken. Hand in hand, they started from 3 hectares to 3,000 hectares. Tedheke then went on to found National Farmers Group and Cooperative Society Ga’ate, Nasarawa, a cooperative that currently supports hundreds of farmers and workers.

Reflecting on his achievements in Nasarawa, he said, “We did it by being true Nigerians and developed it close to Abuja so anyone can see what we do. I’m originally from Bayelsa state, born in Delta state, now I live here and the Governor (of Nasarawa) is my Governor,” an emotional Tedheke said.

The business that started with N1.5 million is now worth about a billion naira through crowdfunding. With about 300 to 500 workers on the farm from across the country and hundreds more in indirect labour, Ga’ate is gradually becoming a community to reckon with and is finding its way on the global map.

The limelight beamed on Tedheke and Ga’ate when on Thursday, October 17, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, accompanied by the Nasarawa State Governor, Engr. Abdullahi Sule, paid a visit to the NFGCS Farm Centre, which Tedheke founded. It marked the germination of an inspired seed of words into a forest of achievement.

He noted that was inspired by the Buhari administration’s focus on agriculture diversification of Nigeria’s economy. He said receiving the VP on his farmland, as well as the Nasarawa State Governor was the “happiest day of my life.”

Rivers’ Waste Treatment Plant will complement FG’s remediation efforts in Ogoniland – Osinbajo

*Says Public Private Partnership key part of Buhari administration’s economic plan

The Liquid Waste Treatment Plant in Rivers State, will complement the Federal Government’s remediation efforts in OgoniLand and Niger Delta.

Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, SAN, stated this on Friday at the commissioning of the Port Harcourt Dockyard Liquid Waste Treatment Plant in Rivers State. VP Osinbajo was welcomed the by Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike; and accompanied by Gen. Abdusalam Abubakar, Chairman of African Circle Pollution Management Limited.

He said, “While this is a facility to treat waste generated on vessels, it is also a wonderful complement to the more general work on the environment which we are currently doing expressly regarding the clean-up of Ogoniland and the innovative connective solutions to ending gas flaring as developed by the NNPC.

“We would no longer be a country defined by the size of pollution challenges, but instead by the wholeness of our remediation response and, even more importantly, our preventive action.”

The Vice President further stated that encouraging Public Private Partnership and private capital investment, especially in commercially viable public infrastructure remains a major policy thrust of the Buhari administration.

Prof. Osinbajo, who stated this today at the commissioning of the Port Harcourt Dockyard Liquid Waste Treatment Plant in Rivers State, said a “a successful public private partnership, private leadership in major aspects of the economy and encouraging private capital investment is more strategic and important.”

Noting that “government cannot fund all public infrastructure,” the Vice President stated that the Ease of Doing Business initiative of the Buhari administration was to encourage public-private investment and make the country more attractive to investors.

“You are all aware of our Ease of Doing Business agenda, with the goal of making Nigeria one of the easiest and most attractive places to trade and invest in the shortest possible time. We are well on our way there,” he said.

The Vice President Osinbajo commended African Circle Pollution Management Limited, the company that built the Liquid Waste Treatment Plant, for being wholly indigenous, while referring to its growth over the years.

Continuing, the VP said, “I am told that the company has invested more than $8 million in this fully automated liquid waste treatment plant. The construction of this modern waste treatment plant is in fulfillment of the provisions of the agreement the company signed with the Federal Government through the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA).

“In line with that Built, Operate and Transfer agreement, the African Circle Limited agreed to build this facility in accordance also with the IMO MARPOL 73/78 convention: to provide facilities for liquid and solid waste created on both vessels for the navigation districts of Lagos, Port Harcourt, Warri, Calabar and Onne. The agreement, I’m told, is for a period of 20 years, and with the expiration of that period the facilities would be handed over to the NPA.”

While reiterating the Federal Government’s commitment to a sustainable development agenda, the VP added, “barely two years ago, we demonstrated our commitment to supporting environmentally friendly projects by the launching of a first sovereign green bond in Africa and the fourth in the world.

“The proceeds of the bond is to finance environmentally friendly projects in afforestation, renewable energy and the formation of green energy, enabling Nigeria to reduce its CO3 emission by 40 per cent by the year 2030.”

PHOTOS: Osinbajo commissions Liquid Waste Treatment Plant in Rivers

Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, SAN, today commissioned the Liquid Waste Treatment Plant in Port-Harcourt, Rivers State. He was received by Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike; and accompanied by Gen. Abdusalam Abubakar, the Chairman of African Circle Pollution Management Limited. 21st June, 2019. Photos: NOVO ISIORO.

Noting that the Plant complements FG’s environmental remediation efforts in Niger Delta, the Vice President said, “While this is a facility to treat waste generated on vessels, it is also a wonderful complement to the more general work on the environment which we are currently doing expressly regarding the clean-up of the Ogoniland and the innovative connective solutions to ending gas flaring developed by the NNPC.

“We would no longer be a country defined by the size of pollution challenges but instead by the wholeness of our remediation response and even more importantly, our preventive action.”

Niger Delta: FG will continue to support economic development initiatives – VP Osinbajo

Full text of Speech by the Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, SAN, at the launch of Africa Atlantic Gulf Of Guinea Fisheries Limited, an Initiative by the Presidential Amnesty Programme and private sector partners to train 2,500 Nigerians, which held at the State Banquet Hall, Abuja, on Friday, 24th May, 2019

 

*VP’s Speech delivered by the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Niger Delta Matters, Office of the Vice President, Mr Edobor Iyamu

 

I am delighted to be here today to witness the inauguration of a landmark initiative aimed at improving the lives and wellbeing of young Nigerians in the Niger Delta, and contributing to the growth of the Nigerian economy.

In the last four years, our administration has focused on reviving the Nigerian economy and repositioning it for true, inclusive and diversified growth. You will all recall the situation we inherited in 2015, and the economic recession that shortly followed, which led to the development of the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP).

I am delighted to note that two years on, the ERGP has greatly justified its existence. Nigeria emerged from the recession in the second quarter of 2017, and since then has enjoyed eight consecutive quarters of growth. And just last week the Nigerian Bureau of Statistics released data that showed the healthiest first Quarter growth since 2015. Inflation is down, and manufacturing confidence has consistently been on the rise for more than two years. There is still a long journey ahead of us, towards the levels of growth that the ERGP envisions, but we are well on our way, and will not be resting on our oars.

Today’s ceremony is especially gladdening because not only does it advance the goals of the ERGP, it also brings together in one initiative several of our economic development priorities: Ease of Doing Business, Jobs, Young People, the Niger Delta, and Agriculture and Food Security.

Distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen, in 2017, I travelled extensively around the Niger Delta, visiting communities and listening to their stories and their views on what the Federal Government ought to focus on. It became very clear to me that people were seriously counting on our administration to depart from the longstanding pattern of paying lip service to the development agenda for the region. For too long the people of the Niger Delta have had to endure failed promises and neglected aspirations.

The jinx that attended the Ogoni Clean-Up until recently is a very telling example of this. Years after the UNEP Report, there appeared to be little or no political will or determination to implement the recommendations, until the Buhari Administration emerged.

From the start we have left no one in doubt as to our commitment to set the ball rolling. I am delighted that, after two and half years of painstaking preparation and putting in place the proper governance and accountability frameworks, the much-awaited remediation of Ogoniland has finally commenced.

It is, of course, a long term task, and it is important for us as stakeholders to keep this in mind and not expect any overnight successes. It is also important that we continue to join hands to ensure that the progress we are seeing is not slowed or rolled back in any way.

Distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen, this initiative being launched today is a public private partnership bringing together the Presidential Amnesty Programme, on behalf of the Federal Government of Nigeria, and private sector partners, including Concept Amadeus, and a number of Greek technical partners. The project will build 100 fishing trawlers – in Nigeria – and also train about 2,500 young Nigerians from the Niger Delta – beneficiaries of the Presidential Amnesty Programme – in fishing techniques and the fishery value chain generally.

Nigeria is a country blessed with immense agricultural resources and potential. Much of that potential has hitherto remained unexploited, and we are very determined to change this. For this reason, this initiative is very much welcome, as it will significantly scale up our domestic fish production and build capacity and value within the fishing industry. It will also produce substantial savings in foreign exchange, considering how much we currently spend annually on the importation of fish.

I commend the Presidential Amnesty Programme, and the office of the Special Adviser to the President on the Niger Delta, who have worked hard to ensure the successful implementation of this project.

I would also like to express our gratitude to all the technical partners, who conceived and designed the project, and have demonstrated commitment to ensuring that it succeeds and delivers on all of its objectives.

Let me use this opportunity to reiterate the support and commitment of the Federal Government to the success of this project. It is interesting to note that this initiative is actually one of the earliest success stories of our Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP) Focus Labs, which we set up in 2018 to resolve the most urgent bottlenecks hindering the progress of business and investment in Nigeria.

It is our hope not only that this project will expand and cater to thousands more young Nigerians, but also that this partnership becomes a model that can be replicated in other agricultural value chains, across the country.

On that note, I have the honour and privilege of officially launching the Africa Atlantic Gulf of Guinea Fisheries Limited, the Special Purpose Vehicle that will implement this transformative agricultural partnership.

I look forward to hearing about and seeing the success stories and testimonies from this partnership. I thank you for listening.

“Our Govt remains focused on economic growth, development of Niger Delta”

*As FG, partners launch initiative to train 2,500 beneficiaries of Amnesty Programme

 

The Federal Government under the Buhari administration will continue to support initiatives aimed at improving the lives and well-being of Nigerians in the Niger Delta, and contributing to the growth of the Nigerian economy.

This was stated on Friday by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, SAN, during the launch of Africa Atlantic Gulf of Guinea Fisheries Limited, an initiative by the Presidential Amnesty Programme and private sector partners to train 2,500 beneficiaries of the Amnesty Programme.

During the event, which held at the State House Banquet Hall, Abuja, it was noted that the initiative, which would train about 2,500 beneficiaries of the Presidential Amnesty Programme in fishing techniques and the fishery value chain, is also designed to also build 100 fishing trawlers in Nigeria.

The initiative is a Private Public Partnership between the Presidential Amnesty Programme, on behalf of the Federal Government, and private sector partners ,which include Concept Amadeus and a number of Greek technical partners.

“Today’s ceremony is especially gladdening because not only does it advance the goals of the ERGP, it also brings together in one initiative several of our economic development priorities: Ease of Doing Business, Jobs, Young People, the Niger Delta, and Agriculture and Food Security,” noted Osinbajo, who was represented at the event by the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Niger Delta Matters, Office of the Vice President, Mr. Edobor Iyamu, who delivered the VP’s remarks.

Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, who was represented by the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Niger Delta matters (office of the vice president) Mr. Edobor Iyamu at the launching of the Atlantic Gulf of Guinea Fisheries Limited today the 24th of May 2019 at the state house auditorium Abuja, stated that the Land mark initiative is aimed at improving the lives and well being of Niger Deltans.

Iyamu (2nd from right) represented the VP at the event

Osinbajo said “in the last four years, the Buhari administration, has its focus on reviving the Nigerian economy and repositioning it for true inclusive and diversified growth”.

The Vice President stated that the Buhari administration, in the last four years, has focused on reviving the Nigerian economy and repositioning it for true, inclusive and diversified growth.

“You will all recall the situation we inherited in 2015, and the economic recession that shortly followed, which led to the development of the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP). I am delighted to note that two years on, the ERGP has greatly justified its existence.

“Nigeria emerged from the recession in the second quarter of 2017, and since then has enjoyed eight consecutive quarters of growth. And just last week the Nigerian Bureau of Statistics released data that showed the healthiest first Quarter growth since 2015. Inflation is down, and manufacturing confidence has consistently been on the rise for more than two years,” he said.

Prof. Osinbajo emphasized that the Buhari administration remains fully committed to the development of the Niger Delta region through its Niger Delta New Vision.

He said, “For too long the people of the Niger Delta have had to endure failed promises and neglected aspirations. The jinx that attended the Ogoni Clean Up until recently is a very telling example of this. Years after the UNEP Report, there appeared to be little or no political will or determination to implement the recommendations, until the Buhari Administration emerged.

“From the start we have left no one in doubt as to our commitment to set the ball rolling. I am delighted that, after two and half years of painstaking preparation and putting in place the proper governance and accountability frameworks, the much-awaited remediation of Ogoniland has finally commenced.

“It is, of course, a long term task, and it is important for us as stakeholders to keep this in mind and not expect any overnight successes. It is also important that we continue to join hands to ensure that the progress we are seeing is not slowed or rolled back in any way.”

While commending the Presidential Amnesty Programme, and the Office of the Special Adviser to the President on Niger Delta, for the hard work put into the successful implementation of the Project, he reiterated the support and commitment of the Federal Government to the success of the project.

He added, “Nigeria is a country blessed with immense agricultural resources and potential. Much of that potential has hitherto remained unexploited, and we are very determined to change this. For this reason, this initiative is very much welcome, as it will significantly scale up our domestic fish production and build capacity and value within the fishing industry. It will also produce substantial savings in foreign exchange, considering how much we currently spend annually on the importation of fish.

“It is interesting to note that this initiative is actually one of the earliest success stories of our Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP) Focus Labs, which we set up in 2018 to resolve the most urgent bottlenecks hindering the progress of business and investment in Nigeria.”

Others dignitaries at the event include the Special Adviser to the President on Niger Delta and Coordinator, Amnesty Programme, Prof. Charles Dokubo, the Hon. Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Usani Usani, amongst others.