The Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, in Abuja at the weekend, said it was regrettable that some people interpret the pace of acitivities in the ministry as slow and sluggish. But he stated that the ministry was conscious of the prescriptions of the guideline for the development of the region in every step it took.
Reacting to the comments of members of the House of Representatives Committee on Niger Delta Affairs, which last week accused the ministry of withholding implementation of projects in the region, Ekaette said he felt insulted by the law-makers remarks.
Ekaette said the ministry chose to engage the services of professional consultants to design, pland and cost the construction of projects in the region because that was according to the provisions of the Procurement Act.
He also said the ministry decided not to start implementing some projects which the National Assembly initiated in its 2009 budget because the fund which the National Assembly voted for those projects could not accommodate the 15 per cent down payment needed to foot implementation of any projects.
He went on; “I saw on papers all sorts of funny comments about the performance of Niger Delta Affairs Ministry, according to the comments, they said the ministry has not performed but I want to assure you that the ministry is methodical about carrying out its mandate. “We have not gone out of our way to do anything out of guidelines of the Procurement Act,” he said.
“When the ministry came into being late last year, and the ministers appointed late December, we started work in earnest and the first work we did was to tour the entire Niger Delta region to find out the wishes of the people and the way they would want to relate with us. Them we started planning and working towards that end. It is a pity that some of the projects initiated in our budget by the National Assembly do not have adequate fund to carry out those projects.
“At the session with the House of Representatives Committee on Niger Delta, we explained to them that some of the projects they initiated in our budget would be held forthwith because they have no deign, no drawing, no costing. But that not withstanding, we went out of our way to invite consultants to design them, do the costing and get them ready for us to implement but it turned out that the fund initiated for some of those projects could not even pay 15 per cent down payment for starting of projects.”
He added; “The law is that you don’t start a project you don’t have money to make 15 per cent down payment to start. We explained to the committee that, that was why we were unable to implement those projects. The insult I got from some members of the committee was unimaginable.
I have served Nigeria for more than 40 years in various capacities and I will continue to do so, but I had never received that type of insult … I feel that the people should know about it because it is already being reported. I know what is good for this country.
“I have served this country loyally, honestly and I will continue to do so. No amount of insult will compel me to something I know that is not in the best interest of this country. I stand by my word, I stand by the truth to serve Nigeria with all sincerity.”
Project N’Delta Group Chides Akpabio Over Delayed NDDC Board
Project Niger Delta, PND, a non-governmental organisation in Niger Delta, has rebuked the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Senator
Godswill Akpabio, over the delayed inauguration of the substantive board of Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC.
According to the group, the continued delayed in inaugurating the board of the NDDC is” deliberately orchestrated by the Minister for selfish political gains against the collective demands of the Niger Delta people.”
PND in a statement by its Executive Director and National Coordinator, Comrade Prince Timipre Ebebi, said the people of the region are not happy with the procrastination of the inauguration of the board six months after the minister’s promise.
While calling for the immediate inauguration of the NDDC board, Ebebi recalled that the minister had promised that the board will be
inaugurated by July 2021, regretting that the minister was taking the stakeholders and people of the region for granted.
He warned that if the board is not inaugurated soonest, the group will mobilise youths of the region against the Minister and Interim
Administrator and flayed the non-chalant attitude of youths groups in the region particularly the Ijaw Youth Council, IYC.
He called on the leadership of the Pan Niger Delta Forum, PANDEF, the Ijaw National Congress,INC, and other ethnic groups in the region to
rise and speak out against the perceived injustice meted out to the people of the region through the failure in inaugurating a substantive
board for the NDDC.
He said: “Since December 22, 2020, Mr.Effiong Akwa has been appointed by Mr President through the lobbying of Sen. Godswill Akpabio as
Interim Administrator of NDDC and the duo hail from Akwa-Ibom, since then the collective prosperity and federal government developmental
incentives to the region are being managed by one lion family led by Sen. Godswill Akpabio and our resources are being used for personal
gains despite our consistent appeal and peaceful resolution, the minister has paid deaf ears.
“We at PND hereby call on Sen Akpabio not to take us for granted and expedite actions to inaugurate the board for the benefit of all,
anything less than that, we shall mobilise Niger Delta youths against him and the Interim Administrator for sabotaging the collective
interest of the Niger Delta people.
“Project Niger Delta also query the nonchalant attitude of the Ijaw Youth Council, IYC, led by Comrade Timothy Igbifa, for its long
silence and also call on the leadership of the Ijaw National Congress, INC, led by Prof. Benjamin Okaba to continue to speak against the apparent leadership failure of Sen.Godswill Akpabio in relation to the handling of the NDDC matters.
“In the same vein we are also calling on Pa E. K Clark led Pan Niger Delta Forum, PANDEF, to speak out against the further delay in the inauguration of the NDDC board, because as it stands NDDC belongs to only Akwa-Ibom State, while Cross River, Rivers, Delta, Bayelsa, Edo, Ondo, Abia and Imo states are being denied their representation to fast track development in their states thereby defeating the purpose
for the establishment of the commission.”
VC Tasks Alumni On Varsity’s Dev
The Vice Chancellor of Rivers State University, Prof. Nlerum Okogbule, has urged alumni of the university to contribute to the growth and development of the university.
Okogbute, who gave the charge while commissioning bus stands built in the university campus by the 1998/99 Set of the school in Port Harcourt recently, said for any university to develop, the alumni must play significant roles.
While thanking the 1998/99 Set for the bold initiative, the Vice Chancellor called on other sets of the university to follow the good examples set by the alumni, as well as to always synergise to accomplish set goals.
In his remarks at the occasion, the Chairman of the 1998/99 Set of the university, Mr Christopher Hart assured that the two bus stands built by the set for the university would stand the test of time, contending that the gesture was the beginning of many more projects to be constructed by the group for the institution.
According to him, the bus stands can be dismantled and re-assembled at will and equally have the capacity to boost security.
Hart noted that members of the 1998/99 Set of the university are doing pretty well in their respective careers and endeavours, even as, according to him, the present Accountant-General of the State is a member of the set.
He commended the present administration of the university for the giant strides it has recorded so far, and urged it to re-double its efforts to truly re-position the institution.
By: Emeka Igbe
Scramble For Gold In Edo: Uneasy Calm As Illegal Northern Miners Troop In
The sleepy community known as Dagbala in Akoko-Edo Local Government Area of Edo State, has been in the news for the wrong reasons for over a year as activities of alleged illegal gold miners deepened and created security breach in the area, forcing the state government to ban all forms of mining there.
According to reports, the issue, which has emboldened illegal miners to flood the area, is the dispute over the ownership of the mining site at Oketegbe in the community by different families and those who are also positing that, irrespective of the ownership of the land, the entire community should be the beneficiary since the environmental impact the mining sites would bring would be borne by the entire community.
Report further revealed that apart from claims and counter-claims, there have been attacks targeting locals which have led to residents raising concerns in an area grappling with kidnapping and other crimes before government slammed the ban.
It is observed that even though the decision has brought relative peace to the community, it has also denied miners with licenses access to their sites to carry out legitimate businesses.
Meanwhile, some of the contending families are already in court while some stakeholders in Dagbala are trying to adopt alternative dispute resolution mechanisms where all parties are expected to make sacrifices for the good of all.
Recall that In February 2021, there was tension in the area over influx of persons mostly suspected to be of northern Nigeria extraction who were into mining of gold and most of them believed to be without licenses.
The small community was overrun by these ‘foreigners’ who were also accused of luring women into amorous relationships. Loads of sophisticated arms and dynamites were purportedly imported into the community at night by the miners without any community member knowing about it.
Some of the vehicles used to ferry these items into the community allegedly had government plate numbers which made their movements easy.
Some illegal miners were recently arrested at the site and they confessed that they were from different parts of the country, including Kogi, Taraba and the Federal Capital territory and that they had waiting buyers to take the raw gold from them for processing.
In the face of all these, there is the allegation of cover-up by security agencies and officials of the Federal Ministry of Mines and Steel Development.
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