Niger Delta

The Niger Delta question: An Ijaw struggle? (1)

BY SOLOMON ABUTOH

“For Zion’s sake will I not hold my peace and for Jerusalem’s sake I will not rest until her righteousness goes forth as brightness and her salvation as a lamp that burnet ‘(Isaiah 62; 1)’

The above scripture aptly describes the perspective from which this piece is being put across at this time of our national.

At independence, Nigeria’s political structure rested on a seemingly okay but fragile tripod, inform of three regions; North, West, and East. On January 15th, 1966 however, the first military putsch led by Major Chukwuma Nzeogwu set the tune for other events that were to unfold.

February 23, 1966 saw Major Isaac Adaka Boro declaring Independent Niger Delta at Akaima, a movement that was swiftly crushed by federal troops within 12 days, Boro himself got killed in the process.

The ensuing 30- month civil war occasioned by the declaration of Republic of Biafra by Lt Col Chukwuemeka Ojukwu, a declaration that had the entire Eastern States, including now Rivers, Bayelsa, and part of then Mid –West Region under its purview , saw Ojukwu putting his Oxford, Sand Hurst education, and father’s wealth in pursuit, prosecution of an apparently misunderstood but just cause.

That Col. Phillip Effiong was second in command ,and Col. Victor Banjo was one of the key commanders,meant Biafra was not an entirely Igbo affairs. Though the war ended on January 10th 1970 with” no victor no vanquished “ the very remote causes for the secessionist bid stare us starkly in the face, even today!

After the civil war and further balkanization of the nation in the name of states’ creation, all seemed calm at least on the surface. On December 20th 1996, I dispatched a letter on state of the nation to late General Sanni Abacha, a letter which apparently necessitated the “Nigeria praise” programmed through out the country for the whole of the 1997, with General Gowon coordinating.

Late Pope John Paul ll was to visit Nigeria at the instance of the Federal Government at a cost of over 900 million Naira. At the end of the day, the man Abacha still died right in his fortress! Former CSO Al-Mustapha currently standing trial in Lagos, must still recall that letter. Whether they acted well by ignoring the author of such a letter is another matter.

On October 8th 1998, I dispatched another letter to General Abdulsalami Abubakar through his cousin,Umar Abdullahai resident in Minna, warning clearly that the Niger Delta region which seemed quiet was a time- bomb set to explode. Again, the author was ignored, with the Federal government preferring to set up the Popoola commission, at a whopping cost of 15.3billion Naira, money which went down the drain!

In November 2002, I published an article on page 27 in the Global Health –Link Magazine, which dwelt on the Niger Delta situation, with emphasis on Ogoni land, Odi.Sunday, December15th 2002, on page 20 of the Punch Newspapers saw my extensive interview on the Niger Delta question.

January 1st 2003, page 32 of the Global Health -Link Magazine , in my column entitled state of the world , I made specific reference to Nigeria as the “gathering of dark clouds”. On the 10th of June 2006, page 14 of the Punch Newspapers, I had another extensive interview on the Niger Delta question (four years from the first one)

That the Niger Delta region eventually exploded, with federal government losing an estimated 290.5 billion Naira in oil revenue daily , Warri and Port Harcout refineries closed down points, power supply down to 2,200 mw, from 6000 mw, the question now is where are we coming from, where are we now, where do we go from here? The Niger Delta region is populated by various ethnic nationalities including the Urhobos, Itsekiris,Edos, Ijaws, Ogonis, Efiks, Ibibios, Andonis,Kalabairis,Igbos yes, Igbos – a Swiss firm prospects oil around Owerri, Imo state .

Then came 14th of September, 2008, when late President Umaru Yar’Adua ordered 7000 troops backed by two warshipis,14 gunboats to execute the deepest military offensive ever in the Niger Delta region.

This JTF action saw militants in MEND and NDVF, with the Ijaws already assuming overlordship over every other ethnic nationality abandoning their camps, weapons, huge catches of arms, cash, and even their Egbesu shrines/ (of course our Ijaw brethren who apparently have been saying to the seer, do not see, and to the Prophet, do not prophesy to us right things, had to learn the hard way, that the Sovereign GOD will not give His glory to another, nor His praise to carved images-(Isa 30:8-10, Isa 42:8) The amnesty programme was to follow, this programme by my candid assessment remains epileptic, non-transparent and wasteful.

Recently, the Government of Delta state, on Saturday, August 27th rolled out the drums to celebrate 20th anniversary of the creation of this state, at the Grand Hotel Asaba, the state capital. One of the highlights of the celebrations was the honour of prominent citizens of the state.

The lopsided nature of the honours list however, portrays the organisers as either lacking adequate sense of history or deliberately mischievous. I wish to point out here, that Delta State has come a long way, first as part of Western region, then Mid-West, Bendel, and eventually Delta State.

As the MEND Aaron list comprised of people even outside the core Niger Delta region, so were people who made tremendous contributions and sacrifices to get us where we are today.

I am talking about HRH Oba Akenzua of Benin, HRH Oba M.A. Abutoh, JP, MFR, Orefe II, First Ovie of Oghara Kingdom, Chairman and Secretary General of House of Chiefs respectively, Mid-West, Pa, Anthony Enahoro, Samuel Jereton Mariere.

Mr.  Abutoh, a clergyman, wrote from Lagos.

Source: Vanguard, 18th December 2011.

 

‘How Abacha Killed Saro-Wiwa to Forestall N/Delta Struggle’

Alfred Ilenre

Alfred Ilenre, Secretary–General, Ethnic Minority and Indigenous Rights Organisation of Africa (EMIROAF), in this interview with KUNLE ODEREMI, sheds light on his fears for the country and  other issues. Excerpts.

WHat significant progress hasNigeria made in 12 years of civil rule?
The act of Nigeria moving from an era of a draconian military dictatorship to a civil rule is a worthy achievement. Outside that, there has been nothing significant worth commending except that corruption in high and low places have become a lifestyle. There has been a lot of limitations hindering the work of democratic transition in the country.

Could we have achieved more? How?
Certainly the civil administration in 1999 started with a lot of obstacles that have limited its achievements. The fact that the elected president, in 1999, was a former military head of state in the person of General Olusegun Obasanjo, a leader with an unchangeable mindset was a minus. When it is realised in the index of all the generals, who served as heads of government between 1945 and 2000, that only seven made some striking successes in governance. They are: President Tito of Yugoslavia, General De Gaule of France, General Park of South Korea, General Suharto of Indonesia, Gamel Nassir of Egypt, General Pinochet of Chile and Dwight Eisenhower of America. There is a caveat that they would have done better if they had not had military background. The overhanging image of military image over the present politicians is a big restriction on their performance.

Are there prospects of a progressive leap ahead?
The youths have started to question the validity of Nigeria and the basis of the present geo-political formation of the country. Is the historical fact that the colonialists forced the different tribes to live together enough to sustain the continued existence of the country? The Pro- National Conference Organisation (PRONACO) organised a peoples national conference led by the late elder statesman, Chief Anthony Enahoro, supported by great names like Professor Wole Soyinka, Professor Jadesola Akande, AIG Bappop, Idika Kalu, late Beko Ransome Kuti and others. It had actually presented a draft constitution worth looking into by the new corps of Nigerian politicians.

How would you analyse the rate of corruption among the ruling elite?
The level of corruption and corrupt practices since 1999 has been on the upward scale. It is sad. It would be correct to say that only children under age five, who do not have the need for much wealth, that are currently not benefitting from the ugly fall outs of corrupt practices in Nigeria. This is not the fault of the politicians. The system that allows it is to blame. Read the 1999 Constitution, every provision in the document tacitly gives room for corrupt practices.

What is responsible for this trend?
It is the system. The United Kingdom is often rated as the world’s most disciplined and stable democracy, the United States of America is said to be the most vibrant democracy while the Federation of India is portrayed as the world’s most robust democracy. If the operators of these countries were to be transplanted to operate the Nigerian system they will fail, because the system has tolerance for corruption and abuse office.

Aren’t the anti-graft agencies showing the capacity to deal with the situation?
The anti-corruption agencies were handicapped from the outset. For any country, however poor, to be able to confront corrupt practices, there must be a welfare package accessible to all citizens across board; provision of affordable education, health and housing facilities, full employment, aged and physically-challenged persons benefits, among others. There must be something available in the system for a citizen to say “I am entitled to this benefit because I am a Nigerian.” Give people the hope.

Where is the missing link and how can we get out of the quagmire?
The problem of Nigeria is caused by foundational errors. Remove these errors and Nigeria will bounce back in a matter of less than five years and become the attraction of the world. Nigeria agreed on the creation of 11 Regions before or immediately after Independence: Lagos, Yoruba and the Mid-West regions in the West; Igbo, Rivers and Calabar- Ogoja Regions from the East; and Sokoto, North Central, Kanuri, Hausa, Middle Belt Regions from the North. The Northern Peoples Congress (NPC) / National Council of Nigerian Citizens (NCNC) coalition government at the centre aborted this agreement. We have to draw up a new constitution that will return Nigeria to true federalism.

To what extent can we tackle the problems facing the country through constitutional framework?
The present constitution, which Chief Rotimi Williams said told a lie against itself, should be dropped and another constitution worked out to replace it. It is not to the credit of the present crops of politicians to rely on military decrees, edicts and barrack laws to administer a democratic government. When the military struck in 1966 they dismissed the constitution and ruled by decrees because dictators do not care about a written constitution. Why should civilian rulers depend on decrees?

What must be done to stem the current tide of insecurity in view of what some have described as the frightening state of the nation, and how did we get to this stage in the first place?
We all saw it coming. All the governments in Nigeria, since Independence, have been riddled by crises and violence. Since 1962, when the Alhaji Abubakar Tafawa Balewa regime unconstitutionally declared a state of emergency in Western Nigeria and jailed Chief Obafemi Awolowo and his colleagues based on false charges of treason, there has not been any peace in the country.

The Ironsi regime that overthrew the civilian regime of the country’s first Prime Minister, Sir Tafawa Balewa, witnessed the cruel, infantile and his unwarranted killing and those of two regional premiers and several government officials. The Gowon regime fought a needless civil war. The General Murtala/ Obasanjo, Alhaji Shehu Shagari, Buhari, Babangida and the Abacha regimes were all riddled by blood-spilling conflicts. The country is a victim of wrong, geo-political structure where enemy tribes were forced together without first resolving their ethnic differences. The way out is a Sovereign National Conference to sort out the areas of contradiction among the federating tribes.

My fears are that Nigeria may become a failed project and the black race would have once again lost a good opportunity to build a powerful heterogeneous state out of vibrant, resourceful and self-confident ethnic groups to serve a counter-force to the re-colonisation drumbeat.

Why?
Because of the diverse ethnic composition of Nigeria, the nationalists decided to build a federal union made up of different nationalities as the federating units. The military people and their civilian collaborators changed all that to build a unitary state that presents noting, except fraud, violence, militarism and a congealing act of corruption.

Has the goal that motivated the Ogoni struggle been achieved?
The Ogoni struggle started in the 1990 with Movement for the Actualisation of the Sovereign State of Biafra (MOSOP), led by Ken Saro-wiwa. The main purpose was to draw the attention of the Nigerian government, the oil extraction companies and the international community to the extent of the damages to the Ogoni environment due to crude oil drilling. The report of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) scientific assessment of the level of pollution in Ogoniland, which says the damage done to the Ogoni environment is much deeper than as portrayed by Ken Saro-Wiwa, is a vindication that the Movement for the Survival of the Ogoni People (MOSOP) non-violent struggle is a worthy cause.

The Nigerian state, under the leadership of the General Sanni Abacha, saw Ken Saro – Wiwa as an irritant and decided to kill him so as not to infect the rest of the Niger-Delta. But the recent amnesty patched work by the Nigeria state to woo the Niger-Delta militants is a demonstration that Ken Saro–Wiwa fought a just cause.

To what extent have the authorities and the people appreciated the supreme price paid by Ken Saro–Wiwa and the MOSOP struggle?
At the announcement of the hanging of Ken Saro–Wiwa and the other eight Ogoni activists on November 10, 1995, the Commonwealth of Nations suspended Nigeria from its membership, the UN indicted the country, the European Union imposed economic sanctions and the world civil society ensured that Nigeria earned the tag of a pariah state. That showed the degree at which the world community was aggrieved at the killing of Ken Saro-Wiwa. The fact that environmental rights activists all over the world condemned the act is a mark of honour and respect for the soul of Saro-wiwa. I am convinced, in my mind, that there will be a government in Nigeria, someday, that will honour November 10, as Saro-Wiwa day.

Ken Saro-wiwa was very clear about what he wanted and expressed them in books, newspaper publications, at conferences, workshops and talk shops at local and international levels. He visited as many as 76 countries before he commenced the Ogoni struggle. He was not a poor man. He appeared at the UN in 1992 to present the Ogoni case at both sessions of the UN Working Group on   Indigenous      Populations  and  the  UN    Sub-Commission on the Prevention of Discrimination and Protection of Minorities.

He was in 1992 elected Vice-president of the Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organisation, (UNPO), and became an Executive member of the governing council of the International Alliance of Indigenous and Tribal Peoples of the Tropical Forests the same year. He contributed to the making of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) and the establishment of the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues.  Ken Saro-Wiwa was convinced that Nigeria was wrongly constituted by the colonists. He did not like a situation, where enemy tribes were forced to live together, without their prior, free, clear and informed consent. He called for a people’s national conference where the ethnic nations will discuss and determine the basis of their co-existence. It was clear to him that Nigeria was only surviving on luck and sustained by violence. The adoption of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples is a clear sign, that like slavery, colonialism and military dictatorship the days of the unified Nations states are numbered.

Ken Saro-Wiwa paid the supreme sacrifice so that the people of Ogoni and the entire Niger- Delta may live. In Ken’s final words, “you can only kill the messenger, but you cannot kill the message. It lives on”.

What is the import of the resurgence of armed struggle in the North?
In the old North of Ahmadu Bello, Aminu Kano, J.S Tarka, J.S Olawoyin, Ibrahim Imam and others, the talakawas had land holdings, however small, where they could plant and harvest both food and cash crops to earn a living that would enable them live a life of self-worth and hope. Today, most of the talakawas have lost their farms to the new rich who have taken over their land in the guise of large-scale farming and industrialisation. What we see daily are trailer-loads of able-bodied peasants from sahelian and savannah zones in the North dumped in cities at the heart of the tropical forest zones in Southern Nigeria environment they are not familiar with. When people are reduced to a level where they no longer have values for their own lives, you do not expect them to have value for the lives of others. The problems are more grave than they seem. What is happening in the North with the frequent street violence compounds the problems. Nigeria needs a cultural reconstruction to survive.
Source: Tribune, 19th November 2011.

 

Expert Tasks Niger Delta Youths On Community Development

Joy Olekanma

Port Harcourt — Youths in the Niger Delta region have been called upon to engage in projects that promote development in their various communities.

A development expert, Mr. Jude Kemona Onyia made this call while speaking to newsmen in Port Harcourt, shortly after he received an award as an icon of community development from the Rivers State Youth Federation (RSYF).

Onyia said engaging in development-oriented project in the communities would help in preparing the youths as future leaders in their various communities and in the nation as a whole.

He however, lamented on the involvement of youths in violence and criminal activities including kidnapping and armed robbery in recent times while appealing to youths in the region to embrace peace as it is the only panacea to development.

In his words, "What we ask for is development and for development to come to the Niger Delta, there must be peace.

Where there is war, there is hardly any development".

Onyia, who is also the assistant sales officer of the Pipelines and Products Marketing Company (PPMC), Port Harcourt Depot, urged every child in the region to imbibe peaceful virtues, no matter the condition they find their selves.

He said; "I implore every child or growing adult in Rivers State to imbibe peaceful virtues, no matter the condition you find yourself. We should continue to tour the path of peace because; there is nothing good more than the path of peace.

Source: Daily Champion, 11th November 2011.

 

Shell must pay $1 bn for Niger Delta clean-up – Group

LONDON  (AFP) – Oil giant Shell should commit $1 billion (700,000 euros) as a first step to clean up the Niger Delta following two devastating oil spills in 2008, rights groups said Thursday.

Shell and Niger Delta 2

Shell has accepted responsibility for the spills in the southern Nigerian state of Ogoniland that affected the Bodo fishing community and has agreed to pay compensation, which is currently being decided in the British courts.

But Amnesty International and the Centre for Environment, Human Rights and Development (CEHRD) accused Shell in a report of failing to act quickly enough to fix the damage and demanded the Anglo-Dutch group make the billion-dollar contribution.

“It is time this multi-billion-dollar company owns up, cleans up and pays up,” said Aster van Kregten, Nigeria researcher for London-based Amnesty International.

“Shell’s failure to promptly stop and clean up oil spills in Bodo has devastated the lives of tens of thousands of people.”

A spokesman for Shell’s Nigerian operations insisted discussions were underway with the government to establish a clean-up fund for the Niger Delta and said efforts had been made to clean up after the Bodo spills.

Ogoniland has been blighted by oil pollution for decades and a landmark UN environment agency report released in August said the region might require the world’s biggest ever clean-up.

The United Nations Environment Programme report called for the oil industry and the Nigerian government to contribute $1 billion for a clean-up fund.

Thursday’s report however focused solely on the Bodo spills of 2008.

The Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria (SPDC), the Shell subsidiary which operates a joint venture in Nigeria in which the state oil company has a major stake, insisted its bid to clean up after the spills had been hampered.

“The reality is that our efforts to undertake (a) clean-up in Bodo have been hampered by the repeated impact of saboutage and bunkering spills,” the tapping of pipelines to steal oil, said an SPDC spokesman.

But van Kregten said: “This claim has been strongly disputed by the communities and NGOs who point out that the process of collecting data on oil spills is flawed.”

The SPDC spokesman said the subsidiary was already implementing many of the recommendations in the report.

“SPDC is committed to working with the Nigerian government and other stakeholders to improve the environment in the Niger Delta,” he said.
Source: Vanguard, 10th November 2011

 

Niger Delta Leaders Storm Presidency Over FUPRE

Omon-Julius Onabu

A high-powered delegation of leaders from oil producing communities in the Niger-Delta region will 'storm' the Presidential Villa, Abuja, to find ways of resolving the lingering crisis bedevilling the Federal University of Petroleum Resources Effurun (FUPRE), located near Warri in Delta State.

THISDAY gathered that the visit to President Goodluck Jonathan, which was expected to hold in Abuja this weekend, is in line with the on-going "positive engagements with the Presidency" by the regional leaders under the banner of Oil Mineral Producing Areas Stakeholders Forum (OMPSTAFOR).

The visit, THISDAY gathered, was in response to an earlier invitation from the Presidency that OMPSTAFOR should hold a discussion with the President on how to address the crisis bedevilling the university , which had allegedly made the fate of the future graduates of the institution uncertain.

THISDAY further gathered that the presidential invitation was prompted by a petition received from the stakeholders' forum, urging the president to intervene on the crisis in the interest of the innocent students and the entire oil-rich region.

A source close to OMPSTAFOR told THISDAY in Warri yesterday that the members of the forum, including concerned traditional rulers cum community leaders under the canopy of Traditional Rulers of Oil Mineral Producing Communities of Nigeria (TROMPCON) have been engaged in series of consultative meetings in apparently readiness for the visit to Abuja.

FUPRE has, in the last five years of its existence, been rocked by certain management problems that culminated in the dissolution of the university council by the Federal Government in October. However, the delegation was expected to include the Secretary of the OMPSTAFOR, Prince Maikpobi Okareme; HRM Ovie of Olomu Kingdom, Ogoni Oghoro Owhorode; HRM Oharisi III Ovie of Ughelli; HRM Bini Pere III Agadagba of Egbema Kingdom; Prof. Enuvie Akpokodje of the University of Port-Harcourt, Dr. Diamond Emuobor; Prof Joe Omo Udoyo, as well as Mr. O.J. Oghenejakpor. Others are Mr. Monday Whiskey; Chief A. Popo; Chief E. E. Ebimami; Mrs. Brisibe; Captain Joseph I. Timiyan; HRM Johnson Egbo Ewhiri II Ovie of Emede; HRM Udogri Ovie of Uzere, HRM S. Evah Pere of Egron, among others.

Among the associated predicaments with the alleged maladministration are those of accreditation of the courses or academic programmes of the university and "the unacceptable levels of development of infrastructure, including appropriate number of academic staff and lecturers."

The lack of accreditation of the existing academic programmes was, however, blamed on poor infrastructure base, including laboratories, technical workshops, functional library and relevant research facilities.

The fact that FUPRE is a technical and specialised institution demands a lot of things must be put in place in view of the accreditation of the various courses, paramount among which are academic accreditation, even an interim, would be impossible without the necessary infrastructure being put in place, the source said.

During one of such meetings reportedly held on Tuesday at Effurun, the group reportedly reviewed the activities and correspondence with the Federal Government, especially through the Federal Ministry of Education, including several recommendations to the government on the way out of the lingering management challenges in FUPRE. The highpoint of the recommendations, contained in the letter to the honourable minister dated 18 September, this year was the call on Mr. President to declare as illegal, null and void the activities of members of the dissolved council of the university particularly after the Federal Government had duly dissolved the council.

The OMPSTAFOR delegation has also reportedly resolved to demand that the NNDC should take over the construction of access roads within the FUPRE campus while special funds should made available in order to fast-track development of infrastructure in he university.

Nonetheless, the dissolution of the Governing Council of FUPRE was consequent upon the recommendations contained in the letter sent to the Minster of Education dated September 18, by the forum. Aside from the main focus of the proposed visit to the presidential villa this weekend, the group if expected to dialogue with Mr. President on a number of other relevant issues such as suggestion for the "taking over of the state Polytechnic, Ozoro, Delta, established in 1981 by the then Bendel government of late Prof Ambrose Alli."
Source: This Day, 10th November 2011

 

Why Shell is leaving Delta State, Of All Places

TOYIN AKINOSHO

Shell Nigeria has almost sold off its entire stakes in 10 acreages in the country since 2008.

The first two sold were the company’s non-operated interests  in the country’s extensive deepwater terrain.

The remaining eight acreages - located on land and in swamp-and all of which Shell held operating interests, are domiciled in the Delta State of Nigeria.

This is curious, especially if you’re locked on the theory that Shell is selling these properties because they are problematic. And we know that the key problem, in the Niger Delta Basin, is militancy.

Shell Nigeria’s acreage positions span four states of the Federal Republic; Rivers, Bayelsa, Akwa Ibom and Delta.

So, why would Shell choose to divest from Delta State, rather than, say, Bayelsa state? And only Delta state for that matter?.

The company is leaving these acreages as a result of  “business exigency”, but how come that all the eight onshore  leases the company is walking away from are all contiguous, around the same location?

Shell has said that the sale of these eight, out of a total of 35 operated acreages on the Nigerian shelf, does not mean it is exiting Nigeria entirely. These eight tracts are around 25% of the total number of Shell’s 31 leases under Joint Venture with TOTAL, Agip and the state hydrocarbon company NNPC. (The remaining  four(4) tracts are under Production Sharing Contracts).

By any standard, this is quite a large number. But it could be worthwhile to take a look at what the Anglo Dutch major and its European co-travellers, are divesting from.

The Oil Mining Leases(OMLs) 4 38 and 41, which were sold to Seplat Petroleum in January 2010, have in them, such iconic producing fields as Sapele and Oben. The latter, with 937Billion cubic feet of gas, lies at the western end of the much reported OB-OB (Oben-Obrikom) gas pipeline, under consideration for construction, which will link the more industrialized, Western Nigerian gas market to the gas rich Eastern Nigeria.

The OML 34, being sold to the Niger Delta E&P, hosts the storied Utorogu Gas  Plant, which is at the heart of Shell’s claim to being the major gas supplier to the country’s thermal electricity generating facilities.

The Odidi Gas Plant, built with over $300Million and commissioned less than 12 years ago, is located in OML 42, one of the last four acreages on the auction block.

Those who say: “Why Delta State?”,  need a bit of refresher course in recent Nigerian history. The acreages in Delta State were the site of the most serious damage to Shell operated facilities in the last 15 years. Inter ethnic clashes between Ijaw and the Itshekiri between 1997 and 2000 created much cloudier air of uncertainty in the region than the Ogoni face off with the Nigerian authorities, in the early to mid 90s. Damages were inflicted heavily especially on OML 42, which used to be an economically robust acreage; Facilities constructed to extract oil from promising fields like Egwa, Odidi and Ajuju were heavily destroyed in the low intensity inter ethnic wars.  Jones Creek, the site of Nigeria’s first horizontal drilling, was equally battered. Though the field itself had dwindled in production, there were a number of new projects lined up around it, results of new discoveries in the neighbourhood. The Odidi Gas Plant was barely commissioned when it was damaged by marauding throng of angry youth claiming territory. The Movement For Emancipation of the Niger Delta, which announced itself several years later, in 2006, had a lot of learning from this inter ethnic war which shook the foundations of Nigerian Democracy.

Even so, Shell’s  assets in Delta state suffered more from the historic bomb blasts of pipelines with which MEND announced itself in 2006. The Trans Forcados Pipeline was hit in three places, including Patani and the mouth of the Forcados River, all in Delta State. This took out 300,000Barrels Of Oil Per Day BOPD-much more than the entire production of Gabon-for at least 18 months. While Shell worked to fix the line, residents along the route helped themselves to crude by doing more damage, cutting the line with hacksaws.

Still there were acreages on sale that are not carrying the scars of battle. What Shell is doing, largely, is portfolio restructuring. The major economic benefit for the company and its partners  in places like Oben, Ugheli and Utorogu would have been the gas they were supplying to power plants. The fact that payment by the power utility PHCN weren’t quite forthcoming rendered the acreages less and less attractive. And the difficulty in receiving payment are compounded by bureaucratic headaches that agencies like the NNPC and the Power Holding Company create.

One company who has done this sort of portfolio restructuring, albeit at a much lower scale, is TOTAL . 10 years ago, TOTAL quit OML 57 in the Niger Delta’s western swamp after the 2003 inter ethnic battle . Two years earlier it had given up OML 59. But then TOTAL commenced a round of farm -ins, especially in acreages belonging to local firms after then.  The company is also acquiring properties around what it considers its heartland: the south east offshore Niger Delta. This is why it is involved with Conoil in OPL 257 and it has returned to OPL 223. It has also bought  into the Nigeria/Sao Tome Joint Development Zone.

The trickster god of Geology is also a key culprit in forcing Shell out of Delta state. In at least two of those acreages the quality of crude has been a challenge. Aferolo, the geologic belt stretching from Kokori in OML 30 (sold to Elcrest)to Ogini field(sold to Afren) is all filled with heavy crude with a light oil rim. Some of these fields have high in- place volume, but the real work is to lift the crude.

Shell is still holding the cards in these sales in its favour. Even after receiving close to $2billion, it will still be some kind of landlord, standing at the crude evacuation gate. Crude handling tariff is a crucial part of an operator’s economics. None of the companies which have bought the acreages is going to build a crude handling facility anytime soon. Everybody signs a crude handling agreement. They send their crudes to Forcados, Nigeria’s flagship terminal in OML 41. See? The grand plan is not to leave.

Mutiu Sunmonu, CEO of Shell companies in Nigeria may be right: “We are consolidating to strengthen our current and future stand in Nigeria “
Source: Business Daily, 27th October 2011.

 

FG approved compensation for Asaba Genocide

White papers published after the military government inquiry on the Asaba Genocide which occurred during the Nigerian civil war, approved the payment of full compensatory damages to the innocent victims and families of the massacre, it has been learnt.

Making the revelations while speaking to Daily Champion, Military Historian and Human Rights Crusader, Emma Okocha, said: "Our work of over two decades have been very fulfilling; as we have uncarpeted the hidden Asaba horrific story, pushing the genocide from the kitchen whispers of the traumatic to the global stage, where Asaba, Ishiagu and Igbodo have taken their bloody places in the Genocide map of the world".

He said all the groups in Nigeria are ultimately receiving due compensation for all the adversities and crimes visited on them by the federal government and its agencies committed both in peace times and others which occurred during the civil war.

Okocha who wondered why the federal government which has rewarded the Yorubas after the June 12, 1993 protests; the Ijaws since the Kiama Declaration, has forgotten its own White Paper on Asaba.

Authenticating his revelations Okocha referred to the open statement credited to the civilian Minister of Information, Chief T.O .S Benson who on the launching of Murtala Mohammed Book before the Military Head of State, Gen. Sani Abacha in 1997, surprised the whole audience with the details of the White Paper and the commander’s role while he was in Asaba.

He said: "I think it is about time that the federal government should pay the Anioma and Asaba people the indemnity that they ought to have. It could be monetary, it could be apologies, and it could be revisiting the Whitepapers that were released after the enquiry set up in 1969 which admitted the massacre in Asaba by the Federal troops.

"Of course, papers were released by government to pay indemnity for these people but because the federal government was at war and there was no oil boom at the time, they did not pay. This is the time to do the right thing and give to Caesar what belonged to Caesar. If the Ijaw people can take over the whole delta by whatever demand they have made, it is about time for President Goodluck Jonathan’s government to pay Asaba a due compensation."

Okocha who said his concern was basically to uncover the genocide and prove to the world that genocide indeed took place in Asaba, said it has been proved beyond any doubt that the 1967 massacre at Ogbosowa Market square was intended to wipe out the people of Asaba and Anioma.
Source:  Daily Champion, 28th October 2011.

 

 

Niger Delta killings: Shell has questions to answer —Reps

CHUKWU DAVID, Abuja

The House of Representatives yesterday mandated its Committee on Petroleum Resources (Upstream) to invite Shell Development Company Ltd to explain their alleged involvement in the series of killings and clashes in some Niger Delta communities, particularly Rumuekpe in Rivers State.

The decision followed a motion moved by Hon. Andrew Uchendu, in which he alleged that the Shell Development Company Ltd was instrumental to several communal clashes in the oil rich Niger Delta region, resulting in the loss over sixty innocent lives.

According to Hon. Uchendu, a Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO) and a London-based oil and Gas Watchdog, in their recent publication indicted Shell Development Company of directly funding rival groups in the Niger Delta over the years, leading to the death of about 60 persons and destruction of communities in the region.

But in reacting against the motion, Hon. Daniel Reyenieju representing Warri North/South/West Federal Constituency of Delta State insisted that the oil companies operating in the region were not responsible for the frequent communal clashes in the area.

He rather accused the leaders of the Niger Delta communities, whom according to him, were scrambling to present themselves as landlords to the multi-nationals of sponsoring the crisis in order to achieve their selfish interest.

The motion, however, received the overwhelming support of members and they mandated the relevant Committee of the House to make inquiry into the allegations and report to the House further action.

Similarly, the House referred a motion on "Dearth of Quality Customer Service Delivery and Protection in Nigeria" to the Joint Committee on Commerce and Governmental Affairs to conduct an investigation on the institutional and organisational lapses that have led to the poor quality of service delivery in the country.

Presenting the motion to the House, Hon. Eseme Eyiboh noted with dismay that the poor quality of service delivery in public institutions in Nigeria had crept into the private sector and indeed all the sectors of the economy.

He pointed out that the SERVICOM programme which was launched by the Federal Government in 2005 was designed to address obvious gaps in services delivery using some selected sectors of the economy.

Eyiboh further observed that section 2 (i) of the Consumer Protection Council Act, empowered the Council to ensure that consumer interest received due consideration and provide redress for obnoxious practices or the unscrupulous exploitation of consumers by companies, firms, trade association or individuals.

The legislator expressed concern that in spite of the mandate of the Consumer Protection Council and that of other consumer watchdogs in the country such as the Nigerian Communications Commission, NCC, the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority ( NCAA) Federal Road Safety Commission (FRSC) and the Standards Organisation of Nigeria ( SON) etc, service delivery has remained poor in the country.

He therefore, added to his prayer that the investigation should identify factors militating against the effective performance of consumer watchdogs in all sectors of Nigerian economy and make appropriate recommendations to the House within four weeks.

Another motion sponsored by Hon. Ezenwa Onyewuchi on the "Need to Investigate the Influx of Substandard Goods in Nigeria also successfully received the approval of the House.

Consequently, the House referred the motion to the Committee on Commerce, which will invite the Director-General of the Standard Organisation of Nigeria to explain the continued influx of sub-standard goods into the country.

The House further mandated the Committee on Commerce to work with Standards Organisation of Nigeria and ensure that the influx of sub-standard goods was totally stopped in the country.

Moreover, the House of Representatives equally mandated its Committees on Communications, Labour, Local Content and Interior to investigate the current crisis between Airtel Nigerian Ltd and its staff and report to the House within two weeks.

The resolution was sequel to a motion moved by Hon. Yusuf Tajudeen under matter of urgent public importance, drawing the attention of the House to the on-going crisis in the domain of the GSM service provider, Airtel over alleged termination of the appointments of about 3000 Nigerian workers at the company.

The sponsor of the motion implored the House to call on Airtel operators to revert to status quo pending the investigation of the House, so that the affected employees would not be made to face unwarranted trauma.

It would be recalled that over three thousand Nigerians working for the Airtel GSM provider have been protesting their alleged lay off by the company without due process.
Source: Daily Champion, 6th October 2011.

 

S’South leaders want laws to protect oil areas

FROM LEMMY UGHEGBE, AZIMAZI JIMOH MOMOH, TERHEMBA DAKA (ABUJA) AND CHIDO OKAFOR (WARRI

Reps probe Shell’s alleged role in violence

PENGASSAN, NUPENG declare strike

LEADERS of the Niger Delta oil communities yesterday decried what they described as the neglect of their areas by oil companies.

The leaders, who spoke under the auspices of the South-South Elders and Leaders Forum, therefore sought laws to protect the areas.

They specifically accused Chevron of being insensitive to the plight of the people of the oil-producing areas where it conducts its business.

Also, oil giant, Shell Development Company Limited is to face the House of Representatives Committee on Petroleum Resources (Upstream) investigative panel to explain its involvement in the series of killings, and clashes in the Niger Delta particularly in Rumuekpe in Rivers State.

This came after a report recently also indicted the Anglo-Dutch company for fuelling killings in the Niger Delta.

And apparently miffed by the rising insecurity, especially kidnapping in the Niger Delta region, the Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (PENGASSAN) and the National Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers (NUPENG) have declared a three-day warning strike beginning from October 10 to 12, 2011.

Most of the victims of the kidnap saga especially in Delta and Edo States have been members of the bodies.

The South-South leaders cited the recent development in the Ugborodo community in Warri, Delta State, as reflective of the attitude of Chevron across the Niger Delta communities, saying it was dehumanizing and unacceptable.

In a statement signed by the leader of the forum, former Minister of Information, Chief Edwin Kiagbodo Clark, the group said: “We have observed for some time now, the dismay, anger, non-chalant and insensitive attitude of Chevron over the demonstration of the Ugborodo community in the past three days, particularly against the neglect, discrimination, dehumanization, marginalization and the devastating erosion of their area by Chevron as a result of the oil exploration, which has also seriously affected the ecosystem.   What is happening to Ugborodo community today is being repeated all over the Niger Delta by the operations of all the other oil companies.”

Clark lamented that “these oil companies believed that their partnership with the Federal Government has given them a licence to destroy and neglect the welfare of the oil-producing communities in the Niger Delta, dehumanize, marginalize and discriminate against the people to the extent of reducing them to mere existence.”

He noted: “For instance, minor contracts meant for the host communities have been given to contractors who operate outside the oil host communities and this is part of the agitations of the Ugborodo community.”

According to him,  while there is neither drinking water nor electricity in Ugborodo, Chevron has built a small modern city which is comparable to any small town in Nigeria for its own workers with well built hospitals, 24 hours electricity, modern drinking water, among other facilities.

Clark urged the Federal Government to facilitate the passage of bills that promote and protect the interest of oil-producing areas in the country, lamenting that the Petroleum Industry Bill which is one of such bills  had suffered to many setbacks.

A report published on Monday by London-based oil and gas industry watchdog, Platform, allegedly  accused Shell of escalating armed conflicts in the Niger Delta  region resulting in the killing of about 60 persons.

The Platform said among other charges, that Shell paid hundreds of thousands of dollars in cash and contract deals to feuding militant groups as well as government security agents that attacked, and killed many in the region.

The allegations came barely a month after a United Nations-sponsored study accused Shell of being responsible for serious environmental damage of the Ogoni area of the Niger Delta.

The Aminu Waziri Tambuwal-led House of Representatives yesterday said the allegations were “too weighty to be overlooked” for a region that has witnessed violence in recent years, resulting in low government oil earnings.

Titled: “Alleged funding of killings and clashes in the Niger Delta by Shell Development Company” and  sponsored by Andrew Uchendu, the House expressed worry that Shell has often been accused of doing little to develop the communities it  has operated in and that the company has often times been accused of directly funding rival groups in those areas.

Consequently, the parliament mandated its Petroleum Committee to get the oil company to explain its role before a decision is taken by the house on the matter.

Meanwhile, the Nigeria Police have been urged to immediately track down an Enugu-based businessman, Alexander Ndubuisi who was alleged to have set his pregnant wife and two children ablaze.

In a statement signed by Representative Ogbuefi Ozombachi, (PDP, Enugu State), he expressed disappointment that Ndubuisi had been allowed to escape despite the grievous nature of the alleged crime.

He said: “It is indeed sad that a man in his right senses set his pregnant wife and two children  on fire. There could be more to the incident than we have read in the reports available. The police should ensure that the fleeing Alexander is arrested and made to face the law. He should not go unpunished.”

It was reported that Ndubuisi set his pregnant wife and two children ablaze last Saturday in his shop in Enugu.
Source:
The Guardian, 6th October 2011.

 

N’Assembly to monitor Ogoni oil spill clean-up

FROM KELVIN EBIRI (PORT HARCOURT) AND TERHEMBA DAKA (ABUJA)

DEPUTY Speaker of the House of Representatives, Emeka Ihedioha, has said the Legislature will monitor the

Emeka Ihedioha, Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives

restoration of the devastated environment of Ogoniland and other communities affected by oil spills in the Niger Delta.

The lawmaker spoke as the Ogonis called on the Federal Government to immediately implement the key recommendations of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) report, which outlined the disastrous effects of oil pollution in Ogoniland.

Ihedioha, while acknowledging the submission of the UNEP report on the Ogoni oil spill as a first step in redressing the despoliation of affected communities, cautioned against attempts to pass the buck by concerned corporate operators stating that “all those involved must take full responsibility for the consequences of exploration activities as it is the case in developed countries where some of them are headquartered.”

Recalling the rapid global response, which greeted the Gulf of Mexico oil spill in the United States last year, Ihedioha expressed hope that the Federal Government would waste no time in driving an implementation process that would address the grave environmental issues raised in Ogoniland and other areas of the Niger Delta.

The deputy speaker expressed the unwavering commitment and focused determination of the House as representatives of the people of Nigeria, to ensure that the principles of international best practices and values of good corporate governance are brought to bear in the oil and gas industry in the overall interest of host communities and the larger Nigerian nation.

“In this regard, the passage of the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) will be given expeditious attention when the House resumes from its recess, among other results-driven measures that would be taken to ensure that corporate actors and relevant government departments and agencies in the oil and gas industry do not shirk in their responsibilities to reclaim and protect the environment in which they operate and as well as improve the lives and living conditions of the inhabitants,” he said.

The Ogonis have set up a technical committee to do a detailed analysis and review of the UNEP report with a view to highlighting obvious gaps, especially the public health implications, and making recommendations of possible steps to be taken by the Ogoni people, but not limited to legal action in appropriate jurisdictions.

The decision was reached at a special Ogoni congress called

under the aegis of Movement for the Survival of the Ogoni People

(MOSOP) to review recent developments in their struggle for justice, especially the developments in the case brought by the Bodo Community in the United Kingdom Courts against Shell, as well as the UNEP report of the environmental assessment of the area.

The UNEP report, which was submitted to President Goodluck Jonathan penultimate Thursday, revealed large scale of contamination of drinking water, which has exposed communities to serious health risks. For instance, at Nisisioken Ogale, the report disclosed that families are drinking water from wells that are contaminated with benzene - a known carcinogen - at levels over 900 times above World Health Organisation guidelines. The site is close to a Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) pipeline.

In a statement, which was endorsed by the MOSOP President, Ledum Mitee, the congress which was attended by over 5,000 Ogoni people, noted that the recent spill in the Gulf of Mexico was cleaned within a record time and not within 20 to 30 years as recommended in the case of Ogoni by UNEP.
Source: The Guardian, 15
th
August 2011.

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We ‘ll monitor clean-up of Ogoni oil spills – Ihedioha

BY EMMA OVUAKPORIE
ABUJA— Deputy Speaker, House of Representatives, Emeka Ihedioha has said the legislature will play an effective oversight function to monitor the restoration of the devastated environment of Ogoni land and other communities affected by oil spills in the Niger Delta.

Niger Delta 1

While acknowledging the submission of the report of the United Nations Environmental Programme, UNEP, on the Ogoni Oil Spill as a first step in redressing the despoliation of affected communities, the Deputy Speaker cautioned against attempts to pass the buck by concerned corporate operators.

He explained that “all those involved must take full responsibility for the consequences of exploration activities as it is the case in developed countries where some of them are headquartered.”

Recalling the rapid global response which greeted the Gulf of Mexico oil spill in the United States of America last year, Ihedioha expressed hope that the Federal Government would waste no time in driving an implementation process that would address the grave environmental issues raised in Ogoni land and other areas of the Niger Delta.

The Deputy Speaker expressed the unwavering commitment and focused determination of the House as representatives of the people of Nigeria, to ensure that the principles of international best practices and values of good corporate governance are brought to bear in the oil and gas industry in the overall interest of host communities and the larger Nigerian nation.

“In this regard, the passage of the Petroleum Industry Bill, PIB, will be given expeditious attention when the House resumes from its recess, among other results-driven measures, that would be taken to ensure that corporate actors and relevant government departments and agencies in the oil and gas industry do not shirk their responsibilities to reclaim and protect the environment in which they operate and as well as improve the lives and living conditions of the inhabitants”.
Source: Vanguard, 15
th
August 2011.

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Ex-militants Deported
By Dele Anofi

Eight ex-militants sent abroad for training have been ordered deported by the Federal Government.

Ex-militants

Accused of breaching ethical contract are: Igoli Chinese, Kingdom Weri, Omieh Jonathan, Orunnisiede Brinumugha, Otto Agbuwatse, Ogosi Ekankumor, Suama Agbaboh and Thursday Sinclair.

They are expected back from Sri Lanka this week.

They will lose all the rights enjoyed as pardoned ex-militants, in addition to possible prosecution on their return.

No fewer than 16 ex-militants have been deported from the United States, Ghana and South Africa on account of indiscipline and poor conduct.

Special Adviser to the President on Niger Delta Mr. Kingsley Kuku said the government would not tolerate indiscipline or acts capable of bringing Nigeria’s name into disrepute by those regarded as its ambassadors.

Since its proclamation in October, 2009 by the late President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua, 26, 358 youths have been documented for amnesty; 16,000 have gone through demobilisation in Obubra camp, in addition to undergoing various skill acquisition programmes in Nigeria and overseas.

A statement by the Head, Media and Communication, Amnesty Office, Mr. Henry Ugbolue, yesterday said:

“Determined to stamp out indiscipline among trainees currently enrolled in the Presidential Amnesty Programme, the Special Adviser to the President on Niger Delta and the Chief Executive Officer of the Amnesty Programme, Hon. Kingsley Kuku, has approved the repatriation from Sri Lanka back to Nigeria of eight trainees.

“The eight trainees who have serially breached the Code of Conduct for the Programme’s trainees are Igoli Chinese, Kingdom Weri, Omieh Jonathan, Orunnisiede Brinumugha, Otto Agbuwatse, Ogosi Ekankumor, and Suama Agbaboh and Thursday Sinclair

“The eight trainees were expelled from a vocational training centre in Sri Lanka for offences ranging from fighting to wilful destruction of training equipment.

“The eight trainees who travelled out to Topher Zhang Maritime Vocational Centre Sri Lanka a month ago, to commence vocational training in either undersea welding or boat building are due back in the country this week and shall be immediately handed over to the State Security Services (SSS) for proper profiling and possible prosecution.

“Hon. Kuku has instructed the Accounts Department of the Amnesty Office to stop forthwith the remittances of monthly stipends to the accounts of the affected trainees.

“The Federal Government, the Special Adviser added, will no longer condone serial cases of indiscipline among Amnesty Programme’s trainees posted to vocational or skills acquisition centres both within the country and abroad.

“Indeed Hon. Kuku says the Amnesty Office is considering outright expulsion of unruly trainees from the Programme”.
Source: The Nation, 15
th
August 2011.

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Pollution or No Pollution, Oil Production Goes on in Ogoni

By Chika Amanze-Nwachuku and    Onwuka Nzeshi

Irrespective of a damning United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) report which says it would take 30 years and $1 billion to clean up the mess in Ogoniland, the Nigerian Petroleum Development Company (NPDC) will soon restart production on the 30 Shell oil wells in the community.

Oil Spill
A senior source at the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) told THISDAY at the weekend that NPDC had not shelved its plan to commence production on the wells abandoned by Shell in the wake of the crisis that greeted the hanging of former President of the Movement for the Survival of Ogoni People (MOSOP), Ken Saro-Wiwa, and eight of his kinsmen by the then military administration.

He said the re-entry plan was at an advanced stage and the NPDC would ensure that various stakeholders were carried along in whatever decision that would be reached at the end of the day.
The Group General Manager, Group Public Affairs at the NNPC, Dr. Levi Ajuonuma, also confirmed in a telephone chat Sunday that the re-entry plan was on course.

He said NPDC would begin production from the oil wells after the necessary arrangements had been put in pace.
“The re-entry plan is in progress. We have not shelved the idea because of the UNEP report. The NPDC will take over the operatorship of those oil blocks, but with a different philosophy. The philosophy will be that of unity, oneness and respect for the host community,” Ajuonuma said, adding that the corporation would have to appeal to the Ogoni people that producing oil in their community would improve their lot.

The Group Managing Director (GMD) of the corporation, Mr. Austen Oniwon, had in January disclosed that NPDC would soon commence oil production from the abandoned wells in line with NNPC’s mandate to produce 250,000 barrels of crude oil per day in 2015. 

He said to achieve the set mandate, the NPDC had grown its asset base three-fold preparatory to becoming a big player in the upstream sector, while the enabling environment had been provided by the Federal Government.
The news of the planned re-entry had elicited reactions from the Ogoni people who vowed to resist any attempt by NPDC, Shell or any company for that matter to restart oil exploration in the area.

The Ogoni had also criticised the report that Shell and the NPDC, its appointed operator, were close to signing an agreement on the operatorship of the fields without the consent or approval of their people.
A prominent Ogoni leader, Mr. Ledum Mitee, had told THISDAY that the Federal Government was yet to contact the Ogoni people on NPDC’s plan to restart oil production in their area.

He said any company that would be allowed to explore oil in Ogoniland must be acceptable by the people of Ogoni, pointing out that government should first consult the Ogonis on whoever would take over the operatorship of those oil blocks.

"I have not been contacted about the plan by the NPDC to begin production, although the government was considering appointing it the new operator. Our position as always is that Shell must be replaced. So it is important that government first discusses whoever will be coming with us. I should expect government to contact us for discussion first and for us to know who is coming, what the company stands for and what they are bringing to the table. We don't want Shell or something like Shell or a company that will work for Shell,” Mitee said, adding: "The people of Ogoni should know who the company is, what the company stands for and what it is putting on the table, before being allowed to operate in their area.”

The Federal Government had on June 4, 2008, announced that oil fields abandoned by Shell in Ogoniland would be handed over to another operator.

Government reasoned that since there was a total loss of confidence between the Ogoni people and Shell, the best thing was to allow an operator acceptable to them (Ogonis) to take over exploration activities in the area.

The pronouncement had pitted Shell against the Federal Government, with the oil giant insisting that it would not hands off those blocks to any operator other than a Joint Venture partner. Shell had faulted government’s decision and resisted initial plans to hand over the control of the Nigerian oil fields to Chinese oil companies.

However, the appointment of NPDC as the new operator had received the commendation of Shell, which said it would continue to be a shareholder in the Ogoniland operations even though NPDC would become the operator.

UNEP recently indicted Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria (SPDC) in a report that showed that pollution from over 50 years of oil operations in the Niger Delta had caused serious environmental contamination and threat to human lives in Ogoniland, Rivers State.

The landmark report set out scientific evidence for the first time of devastating pollution in Ogoniland, part of the country's main oil-producing Niger Delta region, where Shell operated. It said the pollution might require the world's biggest ever clean-up, while detailing urgent health risks, especially badly contaminated drinking water. Shell faced criticism from UNEP, which said: “Control and maintenance of oil field infrastructure in Ogoniland has been and remains inadequate.”

The SPDC’s Managing Director, Mr. Mutiu Sunmonu, however pledged that the oil giant would take "seriously" the UN study on unprecedented pollution, but reiterated that the company was not to blame for most of the spills.

"It's important for me to emphasise that we are taking the UNEP report very seriously," Mutiu Sunmonu told AFP in an interview after the report was released. "We are looking at it in greater detail. We are taking a comb through the report to see exactly what necessary follow-up actions will be required of SPDC."

The House of Representatives over the weekend said it would take very “keen interest” in the proposed clean-up lands as well as the restoration of all other communities affected by oil spills in the Niger Delta.

The lower chamber of the National Assembly said it would put in place effective oversight mechanisms to monitor the restoration of the devastated lands and waters and provide sustainable legislative solutions to guard against a reoccurrence of the phenomenon.
Deputy Speaker of the House, Hon. Emeka Ihedioha, who disclosed this, stated that the 7th session of the House would intensify the current efforts to re-enlist the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) and ensure the passage of the legislation as soon as possible. 

He said the House would remain committed and unwavering in its determination to ensure that the principles of good governance, corporate social responsibility and international best practices were brought to bear in the oil and gas industry in the overall interest of oil-bearing communities and Nigeria at large.

“The passage of the Petroleum Industry Bill will be given expeditious attention when the House resumes from its recess, among other result-driven measures that would be taken to ensure that corporate actors and relevant government departments and agencies in the oil and gas industry do not shirk their responsibilities to reclaim and protect the environment in which they operate and as well as improve the lives and living conditions of the inhabitants,” he said.

Ihedioha described the submission of the UNEP report to the Federal Government as the first step in redressing the despoliation of affected communities in the oil rich Niger Delta.  

He however warned against the current attempts by operators and stakeholders in the petroleum sector to pass the buck rather than taking responsibility for their actions and inactions that resulted in the devastation of the environment.
Ihedioha said  all those involved must take full responsibility for the consequences of oil exploration and production activities as it is the case in developed countries where some of them also operate.

He recalled the rapid global response which greeted the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, United States of America last year and expressed hope that the Federal Government would waste no time in driving an implementation process that would address the grave environmental issues raised in the UNEP report on Ogoniland and other parts of the Niger Delta.
Source: This Day, 15th August 2011.

 

Amnesty: Nigeria, EU to partner on Niger Delta

By Emma Amaize, Regional Editor, South South
There was indication, last week, that some Nigerian government officials were beginning to think on collaborating with The Netherlands and other European countries , particularly in the area of amnesty programme for ex-militants.

Special Adviser to the President on Niger-Delta and Chairman of the Presidential Committee on Amnesty, Kingsley Kuku, is spearheading the move in partnership with a Nigerian-based organization in The Netherlands, Hope for Niger-Delta Campaign, HNDC, founded by Comrade Sunny Ofehe and Ben Television, United Kingdom, as it affects the amnesty programme for ex-militants.

The Special Adviser is actually going on the European mission with his heads high, as the amnesty programme, which was initially taken with a pinch of salt by some persons, ispositively impacting on the ex-militants. One of the biggestcritics of the amnesty programme, leader of the Niger-Delta Peoples Volunteer Force, NDPVF, Alhaji Mujahid Dokubo-Asari, who made no pretence about his not accepting the Federal Government amnesty, admitted, last week, in Lagos, that the academic and skill acquisition training for ex-militants by the Presidency, were the best things to happen in the region in recent times.

He spoke against the backdrop of training and provision of jobs to 40 former militants after their training in Nigeria and South Africa, saying, he was enthralled by the willingness of ex-agitators to participate in the programme. His words, “I thank God, not because of the amnesty progamme but thedesire of the youths to learn.”

Drumming int’l support

Head, Media and Communcation, Presidential Amnesty Committee Office, Abuja, Mr. Henry Ugbolue, told Saturday Vanguard, “The Special Adviser to the President on Niger Delta, Hon. Kingsley Kuku will use the visit to secure more practical support from the international community for the Niger Delta Amnesty programme. Just like he did recently at Chatham House, London, Hon. Kuku will be urging EU countries, particularly the UK, to issue visas to ex-agitators to enable them travel to these countries where schools and vocational training centres have been secured for them by the Amnesty Office’s training partners”.

According to him, “The Amnesty Office emphasizes offshore training for programme’s beneficiaries because of the glaring lack of capacity in local training centres to speedily offer vocational training to the teeming population of Niger Delta ex-agitators (26,358 in all) enrolled in the Amnesty Programme. Also, the United Nations (UN) expects all DDR programmes to take former combatants away from their natural habitats for transformation and reintegration purposes. The Amnesty Office has since inception been complying strictly with this UN code.Hon. Kuku remains exceedingly grateful to countries that have consistently issued visas to Amnesty Programme’s trainees, particularly the United States of America, Russia, South Africa, Malaysia, India, Poland and the United Arabs Emirate (Dubai). He is urging EU countries especially the UK to give similar support to the Amnesty Programme”.

“In Netherlands, Hon. Kuku is generally expected to drum up support for the Amnesty Programme in the following areas: assistance in placement of ex-agitators in education and vocational training and internship for work experience; assistance in funding and provision of machinery, equipmentand personnel to support entrepreneurial initiatives of the programme participants and the development of technology , business and agriculture villages; technical assistance in the community reintegration process and conflict resolution capacity building and justice issues; and provide ideas and information on best practice/ lessons learned from other DDR programmes.

His words, “The international community should prevail on oil and gas multinational corporations who have operations in the Niger Delta, to support the Federal Government efforts and initiatives to develop the Niger Delta region through economic empowerment and job creation for the people and well as facilitate immigration processes; particularly expedite travelling visa issuance for the participants that may be posted to education and vocational training centers in EU countries”. 

Success/challenges of amnesty programme

Founder and president of HNDC, Comrade Ofehe in on online statement on the proposed visit said, “As part of HNDC’s determination to ensure the success of the ongoing Amnesty programme by the Nigeria government, HNDC in collaboration with BEN television UK, will be hosting Kuku in The Hague, The Netherlands and the European Union Headquarters’ in Brussels, Belgium.

“The five- day official visit will commence on Monday 19th September 2011 and end on Friday 23rd September 2011. In The Netherlands, the Presidential Adviser is expected to meet with senior Dutch government officials, representatives of civil society groups, corporate institutions, experts/consultants and a tour of strategic places of interest.

“An International Conference entitled, “Success and Challenges of Nigerian Government Amnesty Programme; Role of International Community” will be held at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in The Hague on Tuesday 20th September 2011. In Brussels at the European Union Headquarters’, the Presidential Adviser will meet with senior European Union officials at the EU Parliament, the EU Commission and the EU Council”, he added.

Ofehe stated, “The visit will be rounded up with an International Press Conference in The Hague where he is expected to address the Press Corp and take questions relating to the Amnesty program in the Niger Delta region”, adding, “HNDC is confident that such an international engagement has become inevitable in the face of the mounting challenges of the program on the Nigeria government and the need to involve the international community inter alia the European Union in supporting the program”. 

What should occupy Kuku in Europe

With gas as the potential highest revenue earner in the world, what should be uppermost in the mind of the Special Adviser during his Europe trip should not just be how be improvement of amnesty programme for ex-militants alone, but the knowledge of how Nigeria can maximize its gas potentials. So far, the national gas master plan, has kick started with the approval for the establishment of gas central processing facilities in Delta, Rivers and Akwa-Ibom with some India and Saudi Arabia investors in Delta state recently for inspection of sites for the construction of 16 billion dollars petrochemical and fertilizer plants.

Borrowing a leaf

The story is told of Nigeria, which by 2011, is still trying to jump-start its gas industry, but 38 years ago, 1963 to be precise, the Dutch had the biggest public–private partnership to date, the N.V. Nederlandse Gasunie, between Esso (now ExxonMobil), Royal Dutch Shell and the Dutch government, which since 2005 is 100 per cent state owned. Since then, Holland’s destiny has been inextricably linked to the oil and gas industry. But Nigeria’s partnership with oil companies has always been skewed against the people.

Though, The Netherlands’s luck in the gas business , according to a research report, came at a price for the national economy, the revenues generated from the gas business were used by successive governments as current income, flooding public finances, overvaluing the national currency, and making exports in guilders far too expensive up until the emergence of the Euro in 2000. This vicious circle came to be known as the “Dutch Disease”. Many national manufacturing industries struggled to export while public investments and resources were lost in bureaucracy.

Things have changed for the better in the past decade, says the Minister of Economic Affairs, Maria Van der Hoeven, with revenues being used wisely for future prosperity. “In the last twenty years a considerable proportion of the oil and gas revenues have been used for investments to strengthen our economic position in the long term. Infrastructure projects were for a long time a top priority, but the last cabinet placed innovation and education as a national priority,” she explains. Van Mannekes is even more specific: “Today, about 5 per cent of the Dutch GDP comes from the revenues of the gas industry and the state profit share goes into funds partially for infrastructure development, roads, rails, and major R&D activities”. That is the magic.

On the 50th anniversary of the Groningen gas field the Netherlands has a lot to celebrate. Their expertise in the oil and gas business combined with the country’s strategic location at the door to Europe’s main markets have made the Netherlands a leader in oil and chemical refinery, as well as cutting–edge areas such as underground gas storage and seismic studies.

True to their merchant nature, the Dutch have been very good at selling not just their gas, oil and derivatives, but also their technology.

According to Mr. Hans de Boer, Managing Director of IRO, the Association of Dutch Suppliers in the Oil and Gas Industry, the Dutch industry is successfully exporting equipment as well as their skill in designing, constructing and operating offshore equipment for the wider natural gas value chain. “This is why IRO has a strong focus on exporting our members’ expertise to other markets worldwide. The upstream supply industry in the Netherlands had an estimated annual turnover of US$ 7 billion for 2009, of which 70 per cent is export–related”, he says.

All of this would not have been possible without the Port of Rotterdam. Known as the “Energy port of Europe”, it serves as a safe harbor for Western Europe’s refinery and maritime industries as they struggle to keep costs to a minimum. As Mr. Rob Nijst, Managing Director of VTTI, puts it, “Refineries in the hinterland are struggling with the increased competition from new refineries being built in the Middle East, India and China.

Thus, they have concentrated even more their regional activities around the Port of Rotterdam to gain in scale and international competitiveness”.

The Netherlands’ gas revolution since Groningen has not changed just the balance of its energy basket but also its relationship with its European neighbors. According to Mr. van de Leemput, the Managing Director of NAM (the joint venture between Royal Dutch Shell and ExxonMobil, which explores the Groningen gas field and holds 54% of the Dutch gas assets), in only one generation almost 100% of the Dutch households have switched to gas for heating and 45 per cent of them use gas for electricity. The Netherlands also produces and exports 15 per cent of the gas consumed in the European Union. These are the kind of things Nigeria should strive for.
Source: Vanguard, 13th August 2011.

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Delta leaders ask govt to reverse sale of Shell’s assets

FROM MOHAMMED ABUBAKAR (ABUJA), KELVIN EBIRI (PORT HARCOURT) AND CHIDO OKAFOR 

ANPP, Ogoni group task Jonathan on UN report

TRADITIONAL rulers and community leaders who are hosts of Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC’s) OML 30 field in Delta State yesterday asked the Federal Government to intervene and reverse the sale of OML 30 in order to avert a possible breakdown of law and order in the community.

At a meeting of the stakeholders at the palace of the Ovie of Ughelli, HRM Oharisi III, the monarchs and leaders said the SPDC lacked the right to sell lands leased to them by communities to another operator without their consent.

They said several communities leased their lands to SPDC for an initial term of 20 years and that the terms had expired twice over and that the SPDC was now trespassing on the land without the renewal of all expired leases.

In a statement after the meeting by Oharisi III and HRM Ovwrawha Omogho, the Odion Ologbo of Oleh, the communities asked the Federal Government to suspend the ongoing sale of  OML  30 until the interests of the host communities had been addressed, saying, “whoever or whatever authority responsible for approving the inchoate sale of OML 30 by SPDC to some unnamed investors should immediately withhold  that approval in the interest of peace and justice pending the resolution of outstanding issues.”

Alleging that SPDC shrouded the bidding process for the assets in the communities in secrecy, they demanded  the immediate cancellation of all commitments already made on the proposed sale and called for a fresh and open bidding process,  saying there should be no urgency in the transfer of SPDC equity interest.

The stakeholders also urged the Bishop Matthew Kuka Committee/United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) report which  indicted SPDC for breaching national and international environmental laws and regulations to extend its mandate to OML 30 and other oil-producing communities in the Niger Delta to determine the level of environmental degradation and despoliation by SPDC of community lands before any further steps are taken in the proposed sale.

OML host communities suggested that a   joint committee of SPDC and OML 30 communities should work out appropriate compensation for the environmental pollution and degradation of community lands based on the principle of the UNEP/ Kuka report on Ogoniland.

The communities warned that they may no longer guarantee the peace in oil and gas operations in OML 30 host communities unless their stated grievances were urgently and satisfactorily addressed.

Besides, the Ogoni Solidarity Forum (OSF) has appealed to President Goodluck Jonathan to commence the implementation of the UNEP  report without  delay.

OSF National Coordinator, Celestine Akpobari, said in view of the extensive ruination of the Ogoni environment, the government should declare the entire Ogoni a national disaster territory and mobilize resources in conjunction with the polluter to immediately clean up the area, in a manner  reminiscent of the situation of the Gulf of Mexico.

Meanwhile, to ensure total and acceptable implementation of the UNEP report the All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP) yesterday called on the Federal Government to involve the oil-producing communities.
Source: The Guardian, 12th August 2011.

 

N’Delta monarchs want Jonathan to speed up devt

By Mike Odiegwu Yenagoa

Traditional rulers and elders from the nine oil-producing states in the Niger Delta have advised President Goodluck Jonathan to give issues of development in the region and in the country the deserved attention.

The stakeholders, under the aegis of the Association of Community Leaders of Oil Producing States said they reviewed the policies and development plans of Jonathan’s administration and concluded that there was a need to speed up project implementation in view of time.

The group in a statement referred Jonathan to the short regime of Murtala Mohammed, saying the President should emulate Mohammed in good governance and development.

The statement by the group’s National Chairman, Mr. Ishmael Frank-Oputu, said though the president had demonstrated passion for development through his utterances, he should hit the ground running.

The statement read, “The next four years is ample time for Jonathan to usher in transformation in the country because it took Murtala only six months to create Abuja and transform Nigeria. In Jonathan’s administration, we expect to see physical development on ground.

“We urge Mr. President to urgently tackle developmental issues in the nine oil producing states or else he would fail the people who have reposed so much trust in him. We are also calling on the Federal Government to create six new states out of the nine oil producing states within the current dispensation in order to fast-track the development of the Niger Delta region.”

The community leaders asked Jonathan to ensure commencement of work on the Greenfield Refinery at Oloibiri and the coastal road from Lagos to Calabar.”

“Another project to be addressed is a proposed road linking of Amassoma, Otuan, Oporoma and Igbomotoru communities all in the heart of the oil producing area of the Southern Ijaw Local Government Area of Bayelsa State,” the group said.
Source: Punch, 10th August 2011.

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UN to monitor Ogoni oil spill clean-up

FROM LAOLU AKANDE, NEW YORK
THE United Nations (UN) is said to be planning a close monitoring of the cleanup of Ogoni oil spill recommended by the United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP) in its report last week.

According to Martin Nesirky, the spokesperson to the UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, the UN leader is being briefed about the details of the UNEP report, which called for the biggest oil spill cleanup ever recommended.

Although Nesirky did not state what the initial reaction of the secretary-general was to the report, UN sources say the matter is high up  on  Ban’s agenda considering his global concern against pollution generally.

The UN sources added that the entire UN system especially the UNEP and United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) would be deployed with specific instructions to help Nigeria, the United Kingdom, Netherlands and the oil companies involved, especially Shell to conduct an acceptable cleanup that is to last several years.

The resolve of the UN to conduct an effective follow-up according to sources is because the UNEP report itself detailed how oil companies and the Nigerian government failed to meet their own standards, and how the stipulated process of investigation, reporting and cleanup was deeply flawed in favour of the oil firms and against the victims.

For instance, while in the United States (U.S.), oil spills get immediate responses in order to avert community and media uproar, in the Niger Delta of Nigeria, where there are far more incidents of pollution, response if it comes at all can take as long as months.

Besides, sources say it would take a concerted effort to ensure that local contaminated areas in Ogoni are cleaned up in as long as five years, and the heavily-impacted mangrove areas and swamplands could even take a much longer number of years  - as much as up to 30 years.

Short of an international focus and monitoring from a credible body like the UN, the cleanup may easily become a mirage, a source stated.

Equally, the report itself asked that all sources of ongoing contamination must be brought to an end before the cleanup of the creeks, sediments and mangroves can begin.

Indeed, western media outlets and non-governmental organisations have since been awash with comments on the findings of the UNEP, which has called for what is deemed as the biggest ever oil cleanup in world record.

For instance, Amnesty International while commenting on the UNEP report said “oil companies have been exploiting Nigeria’s weak regulatory system for too long.”

According to Audrey Gaughran of Amnesty International, the process of reporting and investigation of spills in Nigeria do not “adequately prevent environmental damage and they frequently fail to properly address the devastating impact that their bad practice has on people’s lives.”

Regarding follow-up measures, the UNEP report recommends establishing three new institutions in Nigeria to support a comprehensive environmental restoration.

A proposed Ogoniland Environmental Restoration Authority would oversee implementation of the study’s recommendations and should be set up during a transition phase, which UNEP suggests should begin as soon as possible.

The authority’s activities should be funded by an Environmental Restoration Fund for Ogoniland, to be set up with an initial capital injection of $1 billion contributed by the oil industry and the government, to cover the first five years of the clean-up.

A recommended Integrated Contaminated Soil Management Centre, to be built in Ogoniland and supported by potentially hundreds of mini-treatment centres, would treat contaminated soil and provide hundreds of job opportunities.

The report also recommends creating a Centre of Excellence in Environmental Restoration in Ogoniland to promote learning and benefit other communities impacted by oil contamination in the Niger Delta and elsewhere in the world.

Reforms of environmental government regulation, monitoring and enforcement, and improved practices by the oil industry are also recommended in the report.

The UNEP report stated already that the environmental restoration of Ogoniland oil region could prove to be the world’s most wide-ranging and long-term oil clean-up ever, if contaminated drinking water, land, creeks and other ecosystems are to be brought back to full health, according to a UN report.

It could take 25 years to 30 years, with an initial investment of $1 billion just for the first five years, to clean up pollution from more than 50 years of oil operations in the Niger Delta, ranging from the “disastrous” impact on mangrove vegetation to the contamination of wells with potentially cancer-causing chemicals in a region that is home to some one million people.

The independent scientific assessment, carried out by the UNEP over a 14-month period, showed greater and deeper pollution than previously thought after an agency team examined more than 200 locations, surveyed 122 kilometres of pipeline rights of way, analyzed 4,000 soil and water samples, reviewed more than 5,000 medical records and engaged over 23,000 people at local community meetings.
Source: The Guardian, 9
th August 2011.

 

FG, UNDP to roll out N/Delta development framework soon

KEHINDE AKINTOLA, ABUJA

Federal Government, in collaboration with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), Tuesday unveiled a plan to develop a framework for the Niger Delta region in line with the transformation agenda of the present administration.

Orubebe, who gave the hint in Abuja while receiving management of Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC) led by Ian Craig, executive vice president, sub-Saharan Africa, assured that the report would be made available to the multi-national oil companies and other stakeholders to make contributions on ways to move the region forward.

The minister, who stressed the need for all the multi-national oil companies operating in the Niger Delta region to imbibe the spirit of dialogue in resolving all issues with the host communities rather than resorting to judicial actions, pledged the ministry’s commitment to ensuring amicable and peaceful co-existence between the multi-national companies and the host communities in the region.

The minister reiterated that Mr. President’s transformation agenda in the Niger Delta can only succeed when there is peace in the region, noting that most of the issues in the Niger Delta have been resolved through dialogue.
Source: Business Day, 9
th
August 2011.

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Rehabilitating Niger Delta’ll Gulp N1b – UN

Rehabilitating the Niger Delta area, particularly Ogoniland, would be one of the world most tasking, wide-ranging and long term oil clean up exercise ever recorded across the globe, President Goodluck Jonathan was told yesterday.

This was the content of a report on the environmental assessment of Ogonilandpresented to President Goodluck Jonathan by the United Nations EnvironmentProgramme at the presidential villa yesterday.

The UN agency said that the exercise must be undertaken “if contaminated drinking water, land, creeks and important ecosystems such as mangroves are to be brought back to full productive health”.

Accordingly, the report said that full environmental restoration in the region last up to about 30 years if an initial $1 billion fund recommended was earmarked to kick-start the clean-up exercise.

Alarmed by the said report, President Jonathan said that environmental challenges in the area were severe because pollutants could migrate to other places not expected. He enjoined the UNEP that, in addition to helping the country to conduct this study, it should assist in tackling the problem.

Meanwhile, Amnesty International yesterday gave a nod to the United Nations report that the people of Niger Delta Region, particularly the Ogoni People in Rivers State, have long suffered from wide spread and severe oil contamination caused by the disastrous activities of Shell Oil company.

In a statement signed by its Global Issues Director, Audrey Gaughran and made available to LEADERSHIP, the report from the United Nations EnvironmentProgramme which is the first of its kind in Nigeria and based on two years of in-depth scientific research revealed that the human rights of the Niger Deltans have been infringed upon for decades.

According to him, the report proved beyond doubt that the activities of Shell, have had a terrible impact in Nigeria.

They further explained that the report which was conducted at the request of the Nigerian government and paid for by Shell, exposed the evidence of the devastating impact of oil pollution on people’s lives in the region.

The statement further said that the research which examined the damage to agriculture and fisheries that has destroyed livelihoods and food sources, brought to limelight the scale of contamination of drinking water which in turn exposed end ushers to serious health risks.

The statement reads in part, “we found water in the region to contain a known carcinogen at levels 900 times above World Health Organisation guidelines.”
The report also revealed Shell’s systemic failure to address oil spills going back many years. UNEP described how sites that Shell claimed were cleaned up were found by experts to be still polluted.
“Shell must put its hands up, and face the fact that it has to deal with the damage it has caused. Trying to hide behind the actions of others, when Shell is the most powerful actor on the scene, simply won’t wash,” said Audrey Gaughran.
“There is no solution to the oil pollution in Niger Delta as long as Shell continues to focus on protecting its corporate image at the expense of the truth, and at the expense of justice”.
The report’s findings also exposed the serious failure of the Nigerian government to regulate and control companies like Shell.

UNEP found that Nigeria’s regulators were weak and Nigeria’s oil spill investigation agency was often totally reliant on the oil companies to do its work.

The Nigerian government, the oil companies, and the home governments of these companies, such as the UK and Netherlands, have all benefited from oil extraction in the Niger Delta and should now support a social and environmental rehabilitation process, said Amnesty International.

“This report should also be a wake-up call to institutional investors. In the past they’ve allowed Shell’s Public Relations machine to pull the wool over their eyes, but they will now want to see the company cleaning up its act in the Niger Delta - that means putting real pressure on Shell to avoid spillages, compensate those already affected and disclose more accurate information on their impacts,” said Audrey.
Gaughran.

The UN report noted that there were other, relatively new, sources of pollution inOgoniland, such as illegal refining but it is clear that Shell’s poor practice stretching back decades was a major factor in the contamination of Ogoniland.
Source: Leadership, 5th August 2011.

 

N69b scam: Niger Delta monarchs back NDDC probe
Reject call for merger of NDDC with Niger Delta Ministry

From ADETUTU FOLASADE-KOYI, Abuja

Traditional rulers from oil-producing communities in the Niger Delta on Tuesday commended President Goodluck Jonathan’s decision to probe the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) following an alleged N69 billion scam rocking the intervention agency.

The President had last week raised a panel of inquiry headed by former Head of Service of the Federation, Mr. Steve Oronsanye, to investigate the alleged scam.

The traditional rulers group under the Association of Traditional Rulers of Oil Mineral Producing Communities of Nigeria (TROMPCON), also commended Jonathan for “taking a radical departure from the past” by not suspending the NDDC management before going ahead with the probe. 
The monarchs described such move as respect “for the gospel of rule of law and due process,” adding that such a decision would enable Nigerians have a true picture of the problems.

They also advised the President against an attempt by certain persons to merge the NDDC with the Ministry of Niger Delta, as according to them, the agency had been instrumental to the return of peace to the Niger Delta.

In a statement released in Abuja yesterday by the National Chairman of TROMPCON, Dr. Lawrence Adetemi, Omowale III, the Amapetu of Mahin Kingdom, the traditional rulers stated that the squabbles in the commission have portrayed the Niger Delta as a region without focus and put a big question mark on the developmental question and human capital development of the area.

The statement reads in part: “It is with joy and relief that TROMPCON received last Wednesday’s constitution of an administrative panel by the President to look into the crises in the commission as well as identify areas of rift with a view to proffering solutions that will enhance institutional potency as well as strengthen the values and virtues of the commission.“Above all, by taking a radical departure from the past in which those accused are suspended before enquiries, President Jonathan has by his action given a clear indication of his readiness to let the public have a better insight and perception of the problems bedeviling the NDDC. 

“This attests to a new and commendable presidential direction in the gospel of rule of law and due process. We strongly advise Mr President not to contemplate scrapping the NDDC or merging the NDDC with the Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs as such action will be very detrimental to the entire people of the Niger Delta region.”

The traditional rulers said that even though they are aware that some officials being probed could attempt to influence the probe, they are confident that the caliber of persons in the probe panel, headed by Mr. Oronsanye  will do their assignment without blemish.
Source: Sun, 3rd August 2011.

 

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