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Rivers Indigenes Protest Over Slavery In Ibeto

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Rivers State indigenes working in Ibeto Cement Company, Port Harcourt yesterday, staged a protest march to the state House of Assembly, Moscow Road, to register what they described as “labour slavery policy” in the company.

The visibly angry workers, stormed the Assembly complex with various placards bearing inscriptions such as “Slavery in Ibeto Cement Company, please Save Our Souls, Our medical allowance is N5” and “Addah Williams and Darrick, stop collaborating with Ibeto management to enslave us”.

Speaking during the protest march, the leader of the group, Mr. Ebenezer Chuayekienka said they were in the state House of Assembly to express their feelings over inhuman treatment meted out to workers at the Ibeto Cement Company.

Mr. Chuayekienka stated that workers of the company, especially the indigenes of the state, were sacked arbitrarily without compensation, adding that the workers of Ibeto company are the least paid workers among Cement companies in the country.

He told the lawmakers that most of their colleagues have lost their sight as a result of consistent in haling of chemicals used in the company, adding that the workers are being paid the sum of N5,000 as medical allowance.

The leader of the group alleged that the state secretary of the Nigerian Labour Congress, Comrade Addah Williams stopped the workers from unionising in the company, claims that such act compounded the problems of the workers at Ibeto Cement Company.

He appealed to the state legislators to prevail on the management of Ibeto Cement Company, Port Harcourt to pay compensations to the sacked workers, and also improve their welfare.

Responding, the Deputy Speaker of the Rivers State House of Assembly, Hon. Dumnamene Deekor, who represented the Speaker of the House, assured the protesting workers that the state House of Assembly would take up the matter with the company.

Hon. Deekor warned that the state legislature would not tolerate any form of slave labour in the state, adding that such policy is capable of truncating the existing industrial harmony in the state.

He commended the workers for the peaceful protest and urged them to officially put up their request in writing so that the House can give the matter the urgent attention it requires.

When contracted, the state secretary of the Nigeria Labour Congress, (NLC), Comrade Addah Williams said the allegations that he stopped the workers from unionizing at Ibeto Cement Company was untrue and should be disregarded.

He assured that the state NLC is determined to protect the rights of workers in the state.

Meanwhile, the Personnel Manager of Ibeto Cement Company, Port Harcourt, Mr. Kingseley Kalio, refused to comment on the allegations when contacted on phone.

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Wike Carpets Oshiomhole, Peterside At Book Launch …Urges EFCC To Fight Corruption Within The Law …As Rivers Set To Launch Security Trust Fund

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The Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike and All Progressives Congress, APC, National Chairman, Adams Oshiomhole, yesterday traded blames on the concept of leadership by example.
The two leaders had divergent views at the official presentation of “The Big Interviews,” a book authored by the immediate past Managing Director of the Sun Publishing Limited, Mr Eric Osagie.
In his usual manner, Oshiomhole who was called to make a few remarks before the unveiling of the compendium, drew applause from the crowd with his delivery, as he called on media practitioners to be more courageous particularly when taking on men in power.
Citing an instance when a foreign journalist once took on an unnamed Nigerian President a few years ago on the scourge of population control, Oshiomhole said the ex-President was wrong to have spoken on the subject matter when Nigerians were yet to be told the number of his children and wives.
“How could he speak on population control when Nigerians didn’t even know the number of his wives, both registered and unregistered? Nigerians didn’t know the number of his children and I think leaders should learn to practice what they preach,” Oshiomhole stated.
Although his Peoples Democratic Party, PDP counterpart, Prince Uche Secondus managed to fire a few salvos in response, it was Governor Wike who brought the capacity-filled Atiku Abubakar Auditorium, Shehu Musa Yar’Adua Centre, Abuja, venue of the book launch, down with laughter and excitement. “Let me begin from where the APC national chairman stopped,” he began. voice.
“Where are some of you who did Occupy Nigeria? Do you still write and speak the way you used to do? Who are those now sponsoring all manner of bills against free speech?” he asked as Oshiomhole and his predecessor, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun reeled in laughter.
Continuing, Governor Wike chided the APC national chairman for what he called a deliberate ploy to mislead Nigerians into thinking that he still wears the khaki of old when he was a labour leader, saying “the kind of safari he wears now are different.”
Governor Wike also took the Director-General of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency, NIMASA, Dakuku Peterside to the cleaners who in his earlier remark, called on journalists to portray Nigeria in a good light in their reportage.
According to the NIMASA boss, investors could easily look away from Nigeria if reports by journalists continue to paint the country in a bad light.
Responding, however, Wike said: “Without the states, there can be no Nigeria. You want people to speak well of the country but you are running down your own state. Practice what you preach.”
The event had in attendance journalism finest hands including the publisher of the Vanguard Newspaper, Mr Sam Amuka, business mogul, Isa Funtua among others.
Meanwhile, Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Ezenwo Wike, has called on the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to fight corruption within the ambit of the law, saying that any action outside the tenets of the law is corruption.
Speaking on Monday during the “Walk against Corruption”, organised by the EFCC to mark this year’s International Anti-corruption Day in Port Harcourt, the Governor said “EFCC should fight corruption within the ambit of the law. We will support EFCC to fight corruption within the ambit of the law.
“Anything outside the law, Rivers State Government will not be part of it. Fighting corruption outside the law is corruption”.
While appealing to the EFCC to ensure that they establish processes to fight corruption within the rule of law, Wike emphasized that “anything that is against the rule of law is no longer a fight against corruption”, saying that the Rivers State Government will support legal efforts by the EFCC to end corruption in the system.
He used the opportunity to announce that the State Government has resolved to donate another premises to the EFCC to expand their operations in the state, noting that “corruption has eaten deep into the national system, distorting the development process in the country; hence all stakeholders should support the EFCC to fight corruption.
”EFCC alone cannot fight corruption. It requires all Nigerians to join hands to fight corruption. If you are in my Government and you don’t want to fight corruption, you cannot be in my Government.
”Without law, EFCC cannot be in existence. It is the law that created EFCC. So you must work within the law. Nigerians should know that corruption has eaten deep into the society. Corruption has set us back. We must all come out to join EFCC to fight corruption”, he said.
Speaking, the Zonal Head of EFCC, Port Harcourt, Mr. Abdulrasheed Wahab said that EFCC is marking the International Anti-corruption Day with sister agencies and para-military agencies to sensitize the public on the fight against corruption.
Noting that this year’s theme is “zero tolerance for corruption in the maritime and transport sectors”, the EFCC boss said the history of EFCC in Port Harcourt is that of EFCC investigating the oil sector, illegal oil bunkering, crude oil theft, economic sabotage and other related crimes in the maritime sector.
Wahab urged vessel owners, badge owners, boats and vehicle owners to be law abiding and obtain all relevant licenses from relevant authorities, while also charging them to know their captains and drivers in order to stem the tide of illegality.
According to him, the EFCC has over the years worked for the recovery of more than N700billion and over $200 million (USD) and 407 mansions to the Federal Government.
He, therefore, urged all groups to join the fight against corruption in the interest of the development of the country.
Leaders of Civil Societies in the maritime sector and para-military agencies who spoke after the walk declared their support in the fight against corruption.
The walk against corruption started at the EFCC Zonal Office at Old GRA and terminated at the Rumuwoji Market, with Governor Wike and the leaders trekking back to Government House from the Rumuwoji Market.
In another development, Governor Nyesom Wike has declared that the state will launch a State Security Trust Fund as part of its move to strengthen security in the state to attract more investments.
Towards this end, the Governor said all major companies operating in the state must contribute to the state security fund because they benefit from the resources and infrastructure of Rivers State.
Speaking during a courtesy visit by the President of Nigerian Association of Chambers of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture (NACCIMA), Hajiya Iya Aliyu on Monday at the Government House, Port Harcourt, the Governor said the launching will be part of a security summit.
“By January, 2020, we will hold a security summit and also launch a security trust fund. All the major companies operating in the state are under obligation to contribute.
“We are committed to improving security in order to attract more investments in the state. We are developing the right infrastructure for economic development”, he said.
Governor Wike said that the Rivers State Government will write to Dangote Plc to contribute, as it does in other states, noting that the company uses the state’s infrastructure for her businesses.
“Dangote has not contributed anything to this state. I will write to him to support the security trust fund.
“I cannot do roads and your trailers will take over our roads. If you go to G.U Ake Road, you will see Dangote Trailers all over the state.
“Zenith Bank, Access Bank and other major companies must contribute to Rivers State Security Trust Fund as they contribute to Lagos State. This is sufficient notice. As they contribute there, they must contribute here. If they don’t support Rivers State, we will not agree”, the Governor said.
While noting that Rivers State is the best place that anyone can invest, he said the State will continue to improve security and infrastructure, adding that no society can develop without the contributions of the private sector.
“We need the private sector to drive the economy. Look at what is happening in the USA, over two hundred thousand jobs in one month through the private sector”, he said.
He explained that it was in order to encourage the private sector that the State Government harmonised taxes in the State, noting that the State Government is currently working with the private sector to resolve the few challenges associated with taxes in the state.

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Clear Debts With 2019 Budget, Reps Tell NDDC

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The House of Representatives has directed the Niger Delta Development Commission to clear its liabilities through the implementation of its 2019 budget.
The House of Representatives Committee on NDDC issued the directive in Abuja yesterday when the interim management of the commission, led by the acting Managing Director, Mrs Joy Nunieh, appeared before the lawmakers to defend the budget proposed for 2019.
The committee, at the last sitting, had vowed not to consider the 2020 budget proposed by NDDC until the 2019 budget was presented and considered.
Chairman of the committee, Mr Olubunmi Tunji-Ojo, accused the commission of failing to implement its 2019 budget due to widespread infractions and sharp practices by the former management.
Tunji-Ojo stated that as part of the measures towards ensuring implementation of NDDC’s 2019 budget, the commission must present the list of all contractors it owed. He also stated that payment of claims would only be made after thorough verification and approval by the committee.
The lawmaker also stated that the NDDC must recover the over N1 trillion owed it by various entities to offset the commission’s liabilities.
Tunji-Ojo noted that when the recommendations by the committee are approved by the House, all ongoing projects in the NNDC’s 2019 budget would be rolled over to 2020, which he said would be considered after the approval.
The committee’s chairman lamented that the commission was 14 months behind schedule in implementing 2019 budget, describing it as a huge drawback.
In her presentation, Nunieh said a total sum of N346,513,046,220 was proposed by the NDDC as budget for 2019 based on the assumption of an improved revenue inflow.
She said as of December 2018, the aggregate revenue inflow was N291.47billion.

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Oil Theft: NEITI Calls For Review Of Legislation

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The Nigerian Extractive Industry Transparent Initiative, NEITI, yesterday, called for a review of legislation and use of sophisticated technology in the oil and gas sector to reduce vandalism of pipelines, crude oil theft and illegal refining of crude.
This was part of the recommendations presented by the Executive Secretary, NEITI, Wazir Adio, in a document called, ‘The Inaugural NEITI Policy Dialogue with the theme, ‘Stemming Oil Theft in Nigeria’.
According to Adio crude oil theft happens in three ways. First, through vandalism and sabotage- when that happens crude oil is pilled and lost. Once that happens you have to short in production, and on the account of that it leads to secondly, Differed Production and this is different from loss when you are thinking of the first instance. The third part is outright theft.
He further disclosed that between 2014 and 2016, NNPC lone spent N363 billion for repairs and maintenance and that was on the average per year and that is about $400 million, and that also impacts the environment including livelihoods.
He also said an estimated range 150,000 bpd to 400, 000 being daily production is lost every day, which according to him between January and June of 2019, 22 million barrels of oil were lost and that in monetary value is $1.35 billion and that is five per cent of the 2019 budget, which put together is higher than the total allocation for health, education, defense, and Agric.
He added that the issue has been lingering for some time and goes beyond 2019 and that the total losses for 10 years (2009-2018) are $41.94 billion, and this is just the least and there is the possibility of much than this.
He said: “The current legislation to punish culprits is outdated, which if convicted the fine ranges between N100 to N5000, even the ones with jail terms have option of fine, but there is one that carries death penalty on refined products and not on crude. Stakeholders should do more on legislations, security, surveillance, community engagements, and diplomatic outreach.
“Yes a lot has been done but the problem still remains and that means look at the approach taken so far and see whether this is enough.
“The scale of infrastructure is amazing makes it difficult for police. An active market for stolen crude oil and we have to think about how to tackle it. We have to look at the legislation. The cost of those who perpetrate the act is low and they are bent on carrying out the crime.
“We must leverage on technology and deploy it including fingerprinting, molecular markers, revamp security architecture, specialized force, and communities need to be served, and allow incentives to communities by equity, and also involve the global community and make them understand it is not a Nigerian problem, which we need to have a global coalition.
Meanwhile, the Governor of Edo State, Godwin Obaseki, who was Guest of Honour at the occasion, urged the federal government to consider leasing of pipelines and also transparent surveillance contracts.
“The federal government should reconsider leasing these lines for a short while because we understand what is going on from the current owners and working with them, put in place security arrangements and infrastructural development plan for these lines because these lines are quite old and need to be replaced. Haven take over these lines we should now have proper transparent surveillance contracts”, Obaseki said.
However, he said the issue of crude oil theft is not a problem that can be eliminated in a hurry but must be tackled, hence the task is a collective responsibility.
He also urged governors in the Niger Delta region to properly utilize the 13 per cent derivation from the federal government to develop their states and give the people a sense of belonging.
The Minister of State, Petroleum, Timipre Sylva, represented by his Special Adviser, Felix Nabena, said in a goodwill message, said that “It is in the light of the above we welcome and identify with NEITI policy dialogue on combating crude oil theft in Nigeria.
The recent NEITI study and report on crude oil theft between 2009 and 2018 reveal a whooping sum of $41.9 billion worth of crude may have been stolen in the past 10 years.
“This calls for serious concern. Consequently, we must continue to review current efforts, law, solutions and some of them contained in the NIETI report. I, therefore, charge all stakeholders to reflect over this challenge persistently before us, the NEITI report and its recommendations.
Also in a goodwill message, the Group Managing Director, Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, Mele Kolo Kyari, represented by the Chief Operating Officer, Upstream, Roland Ewubare, disclosed that the Corporation has bear the brunt of crude oil theft, recording between 2001 and 2019 half-year a total of 45, 347 pipeline breaks on its downstream pipeline network.
“Sadly, today crude oil theft has become a major threat and that threat actually affects our economy in terms of our ability to meet our revenue projections and scale.
“NNPC as a player on the downstream side has felt the direct brunt of many attacks on our facilities and assets. Between 2001 and 2019 half year we recorded a total of 45, 347 pipeline breaks on our downstream pipeline network. It comes with an average of seven incidents on a daily basis.
“There is also environmental degradation caused by theft and pipeline vandalism and the environmental impact witnessed in communities is directly linked with this”, Ewubare said.

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