Lucy Eze, Vincent Clement, Vivian Udeh & Onyekachi Ucheonye
Only few people will believe that the oil rich Niger Delta region that was thrown into immeasurable state of terrorism, kidnapping, killing and insecurity will once again experience peace it was not a period anybody would wish to identify with it was an era people will sleep with one eye open. Development activities were stalled.
Construction works in parts of the region stopped as militants kidnapped construction workers for ransome.
The Niger Delta crisis also affected oil production in the country and this affected national economy.
The unrest cut Nigeria’s oil production by a million barrels a day, allowing Angola to overtake it as Africa’s top oil producer.
In a bid to stem the Niger Delta crisis, and its attendant economic consequence on the nation. The federal government on August 11, 2009 declared amnesty for all the militants. The 60 day amnesty expired on October 6, 2009 and since then, peace has returned to the oil rich region.
What is the economic implication the return of peace in the region? Here are the views of Nigerians on the subject matter.
Isaac Godwin, transport officer at UNAG servicising Nigeria company said: Nigeria has been in a 2008 state and its economic strength over the years could not be stable, especially with the return of democracy since 1999 till date.
The unrest in the Niger Delta has only cut Nigeria’s oil production by a million barrels a day, allowing Angola to overtake it as Africa’s top oil producers.
“Now that militants have accepted the offer of amnesty and have surrendered their arms, oil production will increase and this will impact on Nigeria’s income. But there maybe no economic strength both in the region and the nation at large.
Sounding optimistic, he said there would be a change because the process of the amnesty is an eye opener to the nation’s leaders. The intensity of the unrest in Niger Delta has over the years drawn the attention of international communities and I believe there will be no child’s play.
He, however ,advised the federal government not only to initiate post amnesty policies but try as much as possible to implement them to the letter to make Nigeria a proud place to live like Ghana, South Africa etc.
But he regretted that Nigerian Government anchors its economic strength on oil production which, according to him, will sometime cease to flow and other countries that have their mainstay, on agriculture will leave Nigeria behind because these might be no enough money to invest more on agriculture.
Mr Martins Okonkwo, CEO of Equipment Leasing Firm believes that the amnesty is a good omen for the nation especially the Niger Delta region as government will now concentrate on the economic development of the state and Nigeria.
Again, he said the companies and industries that close their shops in the wake of insecurity in the state will bounce back to life, and the move will give the citizens an opportunity to be employed.
The divisional police in-charge Abali Park Station, Sheman Gana says the return of peace in the oil-rich Niger Delta region will improve Nigeria’s external reserves as the nation will witness improved production of crude oil which will fetch huge revenue for the nation.
According to him, the peace will pave way for development in all sectors of the economy.
Miss Ogechukwu Obika, a student of University of Port Harcourt commended Yar’Adua administration in its efforts to bring back peace, but advised not to relent in meeting the government up with the youths demand so that “we will not return to the status quo”.
She predicted a situation in which the state of Nigerian economy will experience great feature with the return of peace in the oil and gas region of Niger Delta even as it will enable government to invest more on employment generation rather on security.
Mr Tunde Oyewole, Sports Consultants says “though it is not the end yet, the government must come out to fulfil its promises. Government must be prepared more than ever before to address the problem of the region. Then and only then can we begin to see the countries economy grow. We just hope and believe this amnesty programme works effectively once the boys are convinced and they come out, it will be a good start.
Mr Ben Okoronkwo, an Estate Surveyor noted that the amnesty would return confidence to investors and businesses that left the city as a result of insecurity.
According to him, most of the vacated properties would be re-occupied and this is a boom for rental and commercial properties while unveiling CARNIRIV 2009, Hon Marcus Nle-Ejii, the Rivers State Commissioner for Culture and Tourism said amnesty will open tourism window with import on security as tourist and investors would exploit the state.
Mr Oseni Olasumbo, businessman agrees that if the federal government is sincere with its promises and the Niger Delta region and indeed the nation are in for good times.
Though he noted that “our leaders have not shown enough commitment in moving the nation forward, expressed happiness on how the amnesty programme is unfolding so far.
A lecturer in the University of Science and Technology, Nkpolu, Port Harcourt, who pleaded anonymity says the amnesty has a negative effect on economy. There will be high inflation rate as the prices of goods and services will fluctuate, there will be corruption in the society as most of these boys will join the ‘419’ business, the lecturer declared, adding that government would embark on redundancy in most of the federal parastatals or agency so as to meet up with the settlement.
A businessman who would not give out his details disagreed with the lecturers. He said the amnesty would have positive effect on the economy as the output of crude oil has increased considerably from 1.1 million barrel per day to 2 million barrel. He said also that in the general sense of security in the Niger Delta, “oil companies” in the Niger Delta will boom back to work unlike before.
And NYSC member who gave his name as Michael said “with the militant accepting the amnesty, there will be crude oil will increase”. This, he added bring more development in the country as 80% derivation comes from oil. He also says that this will curb unemployment as most of the boys in the creek will be gainfully engaged in various skills that will keep them busy.
He also said that as peace returns to the Niger Delta region, foreign investor will return and invest and poverty will be alleviated.
A civil servant who simply identified himself as Patrick saw the amnesty as era of new peace that will usher in much money in circulation as most companies will come back to life.
Anayo Attah, a trader says” amnesty can’t have any effect if the federal government can not fulfil the promises made to the militants. They can still go back to the creek at anytime.
Sanwo-Olu Assures On Reduction Of Food Prices
Lagos State Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu has assured residents of the state that the various interventions by his administration in the agriculture sector would soon put an end to the astronomic rise in food prices in the market.
The governor gave the assurance on Friday at the flag-off of distribution of agricultural productive assets and inputs under the 2021 Agricultural Value Chains Enterprise Activation Programme, with over 3000 agripreneurs empowered.
Sanwo-Olu said that breaking the shackle of dependency on foreign countries and states for food supplies was in line with his administration’s THEMES agenda for job and wealth creation as well as food sufficiency.
He stated that the empowerment scheme was a demonstration to the development, expansion and growth of agriculture in Lagos by providing tools, deploying innovation and creativity that would make it easier for all farmers to grow high quality crops, thereby raising their inputs to feed Lagosians and Nigerians.
The governor said that his administration was putting in place various interventions which included wholesale agriculture hub, urging farmers, youths and beneficiaries to work hard to nurture their businesses to maturity by building a sustainable wealth.
“We have emerged wiser and more determined to succeed in creating and nurturing a viable agribusiness sector in Lagos State. We may be Nigeria’s smallest state by land mass, lacking the large tracts of land available to others, but we will not allow that to stand in the way of our vision.
“We will maximise the little we have, while also deploying the innovative and entrepreneurial spirit we are known for, to create new opportunities to feed ourselves and feed Nigeria, and create economic growth and prosperity through agriculture”, he said.
The state Commissioner for Agriculture, Abisola Olusanya, said that 70 per cent of the beneficiaries of the programme were youths and women chosen from the Lagos Agripreneurship programme (LAP), Agric YES programme, and value chain associations.
By: Nkpemenyie Mcdominic, Lagos
Monorail Project, A Waste Of Rivers Resources – GDI
The Monorail Project that was abandoned by the Chibuike Amaechi-led administration in Rivers State has been described as a complete waste of state resources.
President-General of the Grassroots Development Initiative (GDI), worldwide, Bright Amehule, in an interaction with journalists at the weekend, alleged that the former state governor used the monorail project to squander Rivers money.
He said that the monorail was not desirable as at when it was embarked upon, adding that the money sunk into the project would have been used for more people oriented projects.
According to the GDI boss, the state has not reached the stage where the monorail is necessary.
“We have not reached the stage of development where we will need monorail. Where is the power to run it ? We have not grown to the stage to run it, as we have observed in other developed countries.
“We need power to run the monorail, but even the power project former governor Peter Odilli executed was sold by Amaechi. He squandered the money he sold the power project built by Odili without giving account of it.
“There is just little to show for the huge amount of money spent on the monorail and the Greater Port Harcourt City Development Authority”, he said.
On account of his stewardship as the coordinator of taskforce on Street Trading and Illegal Parking, Amehule said that he performed his duties well, but pointed out that no individual can satisfy everybody, irrespective of how the person tries.
He said that the state government engaged over 600 youths as task force men, adding that the state government is doing its best to ensure youths employment in the state.
According to him, the state government has taken steps to provide employment through numerous projects such as the Cassava Plant at Oyigbo, the recent partnership with South Korea, numerous construction works being handled by Julius Berger, and the expansion of the Rivers State University, among others.
By: Corlins Walter
SON Procures Warehouse For Goods’ Testing
In a bid to stop the practice of arresting containers released at the seaports on the highways by its officials, the Standards Organisation of Nigeria (SON) has procured a warehouse around the port where suspicious goods will be taken to for testing.
The Director General, SON, Mallam Farouk Salim who disclosed this at a one day capacity building workshop for journalists organized by SON in Lagos, recently, said that rather than blocking suspicious goods at the port and delay other legitimate businesses coming through, they would just take those containers to their warehouse and conduct their test.
Salim explained that after testing, if the goods were found to be okay, they would release them but if the goods were found not to be okay, they (SON officials) would show those individuals how to fix the products if the products were fixable, adding that where they were not fixable; the SON would destroy them in line with their mandate.
Salim explained that the idea was to encourage ease of doing business at the seaport, saying the organisation does not want bottlenecks and bureaucracy that would stop people from achieving their legitimate goals.
He assured that the SON management would continue to rejig the system to make it more efficient.
According to him: “We have done so many changes over the years. For example, we have our own warehouse right by the port where goods that are suspicious, instead of blocking them in the port and delay other legitimate businesses coming through, we just take those containers to our warehouse which are nearby and because we have a very high professional and efficient lab in this country, we do our test, if the goods are okay, we release them. If the goods are not okay, we show those individuals how to fix those products if they are fixable, if they are not fixable; we destroy them which is our legitimate mandate by the government and by the National Assembly”.
He emphasised that it was the SON’s responsibility to make sure that every goods that enter the country are up to standard.
He said: “We make sure there are consequences to any product and that any person producing substandard products will have to pay one way or the other. We will have to make sure that there are consequences for individuals buying fake products and injuring our people. We are to make sure manufacturers of goods; building materials are up to standards because collapsing buildings are not discriminatory.
“We, as an organisation, are committed to improving our responsibility. If we expect standards from people, we have to three times inspect how we handle ourselves. So, over the years, we have collaborated with market associations, we have collaborated with importers’ associations even though our responsibility is primarily to help our local producers but Nigeria has importers and they are legitimate businessmen and they are importing things that are needed in Nigeria. So, our responsibility is to make sure that whatever comes to this country is standard, is good, is not going to harm our people and our local industry”.
By: Nkpemenyie Mcdominic, Lagos
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