At a historic public hearing, yesterday, at The Hague, Netherlands, the country’s Ambassador to Nigeria, Mr Bert Ronhaar, defended the operations of oil multinational, Shell, in the Niger Delta, saying the Nigerian government should be held responsible for past crises in the oil rich region.
The envoy also said corruption was killing the country’s oil industry.
The investigative hearing on Shell’s operations in the Niger Delta was organised by the Economic Affairs Committee of the Dutch Lower Parliament (Tweede Kamer) following reports on abuses of best practices by Shell and its failure to clean-up spill sites in the Niger Delta.
Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC) in Nigeria is a subsidiary of the Royal Dutch Shell, with headquarters in The Hague.
Ronhaar said as a deliberate policy, Shell was becoming more open in its operations in Nigeria and that the greater blame for the situation in the Niger Delta should be dumped on the Nigerian government, which he said benefited more from the joint venture relationship with oil firms.
According to him, corruption had made doing business in Nigeria very difficult compared to other countries in Africa. “From my perspective, Shell is not responsible for the conflict in the Niger Delta. The Nigerian government should be held responsible. Ninety-five per cent of the profit from the joint venture between Shell and the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) goes to the government.
“SPDC exploits 75 per cent of the oil and gas in Niger Delta. So, it is understandable if it faces greater challenges in the region. But Shell is doing a lot in its host communities regardless of the criticisms against it.
“Nigeria is a very difficult country to work in compared to other countries in Africa. There is a lot of corruption in Nigeria,” Ronhaar said.
President of Shell Netherlands, Mr Peter de Wit, however, described Nigeria as a very important country in Africa whose economic potential cannot be underestimated. Contrary to reports, he maintained, Shell was not thinking about quitting the Niger Delta. “Nigeria will determine the future of Africa and Shell is determined to be a part of that future. We have many highly successful projects in Nigeria and it is a very important economy. Shell is not thinking about quitting Nigeria or the Niger Delta,” he said.
Also speaking, the Executive Vice President of Shell Sub-Sahara Africa, Mr I. Craig, said between 2008 and 2010, 88 of its personnel were kidnapped in the Niger Delta. Kidnapping, militancy and corruption, he noted, had frustrated the company, forcing it to scale down its operations even though it has not lowered its standard.
Responding to a question on when Shell would end gas flares in the Niger Delta, Craig dithered, saying the security situation was a big challenge.
“Despite our commitment, SPDC has not been able to reduce gas flares because of the security challenges. It all depends on how well the amnesty programme succeeds. All I can say is that ending gas flares would be as soon as possible,” he said. The oil giants, however, got serious bashing from majority of the parliamentarians and non-governmental organisations at the hearing for failing to observe best practices in the Niger Delta and accused it of double standards.
In his presentation, Nigerian-born President/Founder of Rotterdam-based Hope for Niger Delta Campaign (HNDC), Comrade Sunny Ofehe, described the public hearing as a decisive moment for the Niger Delta people and that a lot of stakeholders were waiting for the outcome.
Ofehe urged the parliament to be resolute in its investigation because from experience, Shell and other multinationals would try to scuttle the process. The Nigerian government was, however, not represented. It was gathered that the Nigerian embassy in The Netherlands queried why the hearing was held in the country and not in Nigeria.
IPPIS: FG, ASUU Meet, Today, As Fresh Strike Looms
Delegations from the Federal Government and Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) are expected to meet, today, in a bid to avert a fresh strike.
The chairmen of ASUU branches had expressed readiness to commence a fresh strike over the non-implementation of their agreement with FG on IPPIS.
One of them, Chairman, ASUU, Abubakar Tafawa Balewa University, Bauchi, Dr Ibrahim Inuwa, said the protracted strike, which was to press home the union members’ demands for the continued survival of the public university system in Nigeria, was suspended in December after the two parties signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on the various issues and providing timelines for the implementation of each of the eight items in the agreement.
Inuwa said over seven months after the MoU was signed only two out of the eight issues had been addressed.
He listed some of the outstanding issues to include payment of the earned academic allowance, funding for revitalisation of public universities, salary shortfall, proliferation of state universities and setting up of visitation panels.
Others are renegotiation, replacement of the Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System (IPPIS) with the University Transparency and Accountability Solution (UTAS) and withheld salaries and non-remittance of check-off dues.
A statement by the Deputy Director, Press and Public Relations at the Ministry of Labour and Employment, Mr. Charles Akpan, said the Minister of Labour, Senator Chris Ngige, will be hosting the leadership of the ASUU to a meeting at the ministry’s Conference Room, Federal Secretariat in Abuja.
“The Minister for Labour and Employment, Dr. Chris Ngige, will be hosting a meeting with ASUU. The meeting is scheduled for Monday, August 2, 2021 at Minister’s Conference Room,” the letter read.
The National President, ASUU, Prof Emmanuel Osodeke, had said that the union was invited by the Ministry of Labour to discuss issues surrounding the Memorandum of Action, which was signed with the Federal Government in December, 2020.
However, Osodeke, explained the last time the union met with the government was around March/April.
He said, “The Ministry of Education, which is our ministry, has not called us to any meeting since we signed the Memorandum of Action. But the Ministry of Labour, which is just an intervention ministry, around March/April called us to a meeting in which we discussed and they promised to implement all those things.”
30 Of 65 Private Jets In Nigeria Owe Duties, Customs Insists
The Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) says 30 out of 65 private airplanes verified owe duties to the Federal Government of Nigeria.
The Public Relations Officer, Joseph Attah, made the disclosure to newsmen, yesterday.
He said some of the airplanes came into the country by Temporary Importation Agreement which allows them in without payment because it was secured by bond.
The spokesman noted that many later fail to turn up to pay on the expiration of the agreement.
The customs explained that the verification was not meant to embarrass anyone but to collect payments due to the government.
The service has given another two-week extension which commenced from Monday, July 26, to Friday, August 6.
Attah said with the increasing economic challenge, every revenue is important.
“With this, you can now tie proper ownership to every aircraft or private jet that flies in and out of the country.
“The owners of private jets are highly placed Nigerians who should be respected and approached in a manner that provides convenience. That is what these extensions stand for,” he added.
FBI Indictment: PSC, IGP Suspend Kyari, Name Inquiry Panel
The Police Service Commission (PSC) has suspended embattled Deputy Commissioner of Police and Head, Intelligence Response Team (IRT) of the Nigeria Police Force, Abba Kyari, from the exercise of the powers and functions of his office.
Kyari’s suspension was contained in a press statement by the commission’s Head, Press and Public Relations, Ikechukwu Ani, made available to newsmen, yesterday.
The commission said Abba Kyari’s suspension took effect from Saturday, July 31, 2021, and would subsist pending the outcome of the investigation in respect of his indictment by the Federal Bureau of Investigation of the United States.
The commission has also directed the Inspector General of Police to furnish it with information on further development on the matter for necessary further action.
The commission’s decision which was conveyed in a letter with reference, PSC/POL/D/153/vol/V/138 to the Inspector General of Police today, Sunday, August 1st, 2021, was signed by Hon. Justice Clara Bata Ogunbiyi, a retired Justice of the Supreme Court and Honourable Commissioner 1 in the commission for the commission’s Chairman, Alhaji Musiliu Smith, a retired Inspector General of Police who is currently on leave.
Earlier, the Inspector-General of Police, Usman Baba, had recommended the immediate suspension of DCP Abba Kyari from the service of the Nigeria Police Force, pending the report of the four-man investigative panel constituted to probe him.
A statement by the spokesperson of the Force, CP Frank MBA, last Saturday, the IGP, in his letter to the Police Service Commission (PSC), dated July 31, 2021, noted that the recommendation is in line with the internal disciplinary processes of the force.
According to the IGP, the suspension would also create an enabling environment for the NPF Special Investigation Panel, to carry out its investigations into the allegations against Kyari without interference.
He explained that the suspension is without prejudice to the constitutional presumption of innocence in favour of the officer, the statement said.
The four-man Special Investigation Panel (SIP), is headed by the Deputy Inspector General of Police in-charge of the Force Criminal Investigations Department (FCID), DIG Joseph Egbunike.
“The SIP is to undertake a detailed review of all the allegations against DCP Abba Kyari by the US Government as contained in relevant documents that have been availed the NPF by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).
“The SIP is also to obtain detailed representation of DCP Abba Kyari to all the allegations levelled against him, conduct further investigations as it deems fit, and submit recommendations to guide further actions by the Force leadership on the matter,” Mba said.
Meanwhile, the IGP has reaffirmed the commitment of the force to the rule of law, and assured the public of the sanctity of the probe as well as the absolute respect for the rights and privileges of the officer throughout the period of the investigations.
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