Stakeholders in the Niger Delta have insisted that the
Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Chief Godsday Orubebe’s unguarded outburst recently
on the performance of the Rivers State Government was totally diversionary,
misguided and flippant, and warned the Federal Government not to politicise the
reconstruction and dualisation of the East-West Road.
A cross section of stakeholders, who spoke to The Tide at
different fora in Port Harcourt, expressed strong exception to the diversionary
attack on the person of the Rivers State Governor, Chibuike Amaechi by the
minister, saying that he failed to win
the confidence of the people of the region, following his embarrassing and
abysmal performance thus far.
President, Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), Apostle
Zilly Aggrey, told The Tide in an interview that it would be wrong for the
Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Chief Godsday Orubebe to politicise the
reconstruction of the East-West Road, as according to him, the road was very
critical to the economic well-being of the people of the region.
Apostle Aggrey, who decried the intolerable carnage and
wanton loss of lives on the road, faulted the award of contract for the stretch
of the road from Warri in Delta State to Port Harcourt, Rivers State, to only
one contractor, and also described as unserious comments made by Orubebe that
the Federal Government was shopping for a loan of N50billion to complete the
According to Aggrey, the most effective measure to fix the
East-West Road is to “allocate portions of the road to different major and
competent contractors with definite specifications”, adding that, “only contractors
that deliver on schedule should be rewarded with another contract while those
who fail to deliver or default on agreed terms should be sanctioned”.
The cleric called on Orubebe to exercise caution and
restraint while making public statements, saying that his recent vituperation
In his reaction, Barrister Barinada Baragbara said that the
Niger Delta governments could complete the East-West Road project only if there
was clear understanding between them and the Federal Government.
“My opinion is that the various tiers of government have
jurisdiction. But where the road that is meant for the Federal Government is
being abandoned, and other tiers of government are worried because its failure
negatively impacts their development, then they owe their people the
responsibility to fashion out workable means of getting the road completed as
quickly as possible in partnership with the Federal Government”, he noted.
George Nwobilor, a politician, warned against further
politicising of the road, as its continuous neglect has led to series of
accidents and loss of lives of innocent people of the region, urging the South
South governors to wade into the stalemate, and take over the road project to
save the people from further hardship and deaths.
Also speaking, Barrister Humble cautioned that any attempt
by the state governors in the region to take over the road project would mean
stepping beyond their bounds, stressing that what the governors need to do is
to bring pressure to bear on the Federal Government to complete the road.
In his opinion, a human rights activist, Chukwu Nkendu
likened the East-West Road to the Second Niger Bridge, which the Federal
Government is asking the catchment states to contribute money for its
execution, emphasising that the Federal Government seems to be treating the
people of the South South and South East as though they were second class
citizens in Nigeria.
But for Sampson Sunday, a driver, the East-West Road is the
responsibility of the Federal Government to deliver, insisting that the
government must diligently execute the project to its logical conclusion to
save users of the road from unnecessary accidents and deaths.
Also contributing, Dayeh Bereyin, a development analyst,
said the Federal Government has the constitutional mandate to construct the
East-West Road, arguing that allowing the South South governors to take over
the completion of the road amounts to dereliction of duty on the part of the
He argued that the Niger Delta governors have their hands
full already with people-oriented
developmental projects, saying that diverting funds meant for the
development of their various states to complete the East-West Road would starve
them of scarce resources to drive development, reduce poverty and create jobs
in their states.
Chairman, Trade Union Congress, Rivers State, Comrade Chika
Onuegbu, called on the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs to seek more funds to
complete the road on schedule rather than employing diversionary and offensive
tactics to delay the road’s completion, advising him to concentrate on
pragmatic and proactive efforts to deliver an all-season road before the end of
the tenure of this administration.
“The Ministry of Niger Delta is still playing politics with
the road. The Federal Government must rise up to its responsibility, and fix
the road”, he said.
President, Niger Delta Coalition Against Violence, Lekia
Christian, argued that “the Ministry of Niger Delta has failed on its part to
deliver the East-West Road”, advising the ministry to concentrate on finding
ways of quickly fixing the road instead of engaging in unnecessary political
According to him, “if the governors of the South South
states have decided to take over and complete the road, so be it. The people are
disappointed and will welcome any intervention measure that could put the road
in better shape.
“The minister should resign for failing on his duties. He
has failed Niger Deltans. He has even failed the President, Dr Goodluck
Jonathan, who appointed him”, he added.
Shell Donates Subsea Training Facilities To UNIPORT
The Nigeria deep-water arm of global energy giant, Shell, has donated multimillion naira laboratory equipment and software packages to the Offshore Technology Institute of the University of Port Harcourt as part of the company’s Nigerian content human capital development programme delivered in collaboration with the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC).
Speaking at a ceremony to hand over the facilities to the university, last Thursday, Managing Director, Shell Nigeria Exploration and Production Company Limited (SNEPCo), Mrs. Elohor Aiboni, said, “The donations are aimed at strengthening advanced practical teaching and research in subsea engineering to give the students the required skills and competences for entry level jobs in the oil and gas industry”.
The facilities, valued at over $700,000, are in alignment with the Human Capacity Development Guideline of the Nigerian Content Development and Monitoring Board (NCDMB).
Aiboni, represented by SNEPCo’s Social Investment Manager, Dr. Gloria Udoh, expressed optimism that with the level of investment by NNPC and SNEPCo in deep-water training via the establishment centres of excellence and donation of cutting-edge information and communication technology centres, among others, Nigerian oil and gas industry would surpass its local content aspiration earlier than projected.
“This investment anchored on the maintenance of subsea infrastructure on Nigeria’s pioneer deep offshore field, Bonga, is expected to develop and upskill the cognitive and technical abilities of students who pass through the Offshore Technology Institute for the ultimate benefit of our industry and of our country,” Aiboni added.
With the new laboratory and software packages, according to Aiboni, the Offshore Technology Institute is positioned to deliver effective training in engineering design; construction and installation of offshore and subsea structures; computer simulations; civil and construction tests; 3D printing/engravement capability; Measurement/Metering Technology and Robotics; Alternative Energy Technologies; and Data Acquisition Learning System.
In his remarks, Vice Chancellor, University of Port Harcourt, Prof. Onwunari Georgewill, commended NNPC and SNEPCo with its co-venture partners for their goodwill to the university and particularly to OTI, and canvassed more areas of collaboration between the university and its industry partners.
Georgewell said, “This project’s completion is timely because it latches on to the university’s leadership philosophy, which focuses on advancing education through an integrated learning environment to produce industry-ready university graduates and workforce.
“The current administration of the university places a lot of emphasis on university and industry collaboration and partnership. This donation will therefore enhance the achievement of the postgraduate degree-awarding Offshore Technological Institute in the practical context.”
Also speaking, Executive Secretary of NCDMB, Mr. Simbi Wabote, described the human capital initiatives of SNEPCo as commendable.
Wabote added, “I commend your remarkable and consistent collaboration and partnership with the NCDMB towards the development of in-country capacities and capabilities.”
Represented by NCDMB General Manager, Corporate Service and Logistics, Mr Halilu Abdulmalik, Wabote said, “Your Nigerian content initiatives are consistent with the objectives and aspirations of NCDMB’s 10-year strategic roadmap, and we hope that necessary adjustments will be made to the curriculum to ensure optimal utilization by students in the university community.”
Obasanjo, Osinbajo, Wike, Others Bag CAN Awards
Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, former President Olusegun Obasanjo, Senator Rochas Okorocha, Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike, Emeritus Catholic Archbishop of Abuja, Cardinal John Onaiyekan, and Mummy Esther Ajayi, were among prominent Nigerians who received awards at the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) Sapphire awards in Abuja, last weekend.
Others, including Pastor Enoch Adeboye, Cardinal Olubunmi Okogie, and Chief Arthur Eze, also received awards at the event; while the kidnapped Dapchi school, Leah Sharibu, won in the Young Christian Achiever award category.
Former Head of State, Yakubu Gowon, and Goodluck Jonathan, Deputy Senate President, Ovie Omo-Agege, Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Boss Mustafa, and some Christian governors, serving and past National Assembly members bagged awards.
The awards were part of activities for CAN’s 45th Anniversary Sapphire Celebration Dinner and Award Night.
Earlier in his welcome address, CAN National President, Rev. Samson Ayokunle, had said that the gathering was to celebrate 45 years of the church in Nigeria.
He said that Governance Category awards were for Christians in politics who had shown excellent and remarkable services.
“These include past presidents, serving governors and senators in our assessment that deserve such award.
“An award ceremony is applause of vision, personal discipline and determination; it is an event like this that makes people feel that their works are valued.
“The award is a catalyst that is expected to reinforce the awardees to serve humanity more and more,’’ he said.
The CAN president said it was heart breaking that majority of those in Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) camps were Christians who were displaced by religious fanatics, bandits and gunmen in their territories.
He solicited the awardees’ financial support in fulfilling some of CAN’s obligations to fellow Christians and bringing to fruition the association’s projects.
Obasanjo, who was represented by the Secretary to Government of the Federation (SGF), Mr Boss Mustapha, was the special guest of honour at the awards.
Obasanjo said that the award was significant in that it would encourage other citizens to serve humanity, adding “I will continue to do the best I can to uphold the principles of justice, love, equity, mutual respect, industry and the fear of God which epitomise the church of Christ until there’s no breath left in me.”
While showing appreciation to CAN on behalf of all the award recipients, VP Osinbajo said Nigerians needed to be more tolerant of other people’s views.
The vice president dedicated the award to those who, daily in different locations, distant and near, propagated the message of the love and reconciliation of the gospel of Jesus Christ, sometimes in difficult and life-threatening situations.
He said that the awardees were not necessarily the most deserving of Christians to be given any recognition but by the special grace of God which placed them in the high capacity they served.
He said, “As we have seen in the past few years, there’s a growing ethnic and religious chauvinism, and almost intemperate, vehement and violent dismissal of the views of people of other persuasions and faith without adequate consideration.
“At the same time, there is also the rise of cultural and identity politics. The answer to hate and intolerance and conflicts is the gospel of Jesus Christ. We must believe enough in it, to live it out as our article of faith.
“The gospel commands consideration of the views of others, treating them we would wish to be treated. Our words must be of grace, seasoned with salt.
“We must remain constant and relentless advocates of freedom of worship, respect for human rights, fairness, justice, rule of law because they are fundamental to peace and security. We cannot talk of peace and security without fairness and justice, and compliance with the rule of law.
“We are in the advantageous position that our contribution will be more easily noticed.
“So, this award is dedicated to the men who, daily in different locations, distant and near propagate this message of the love and reconciliation of the gospel of Jesus Christ in sometimes even difficult and life-threatening situations.
“And to many who have suffered deprivations, the families of those who have lost their lives by reason of their belief.
“And we are deeply grateful to the Almighty God for the opportunity and enablement to serve in the positions to which we have been referred.
“I bring, also, the very warm felicitations of the President Muhammadu Buhari and the Federal Government of Nigeria on the 45th anniversary of the birth of this foremost association of Nigerian Christians.
“CAN was formed to, among other objectives, nurture the unity of the church in Nigeria and to work with the leaders of other faith and persuasions to build bridges and forge understanding, peace and unity among the various people and faith in our nation.
“CAN has not only been continually faithful to its founding vision, it has become a veritable force for peace, for unity and for social justice.
“Pursuant to the gospel, CAN has consistently spoken up on behalf of the least of those in our society,’’ he said.
He said that the current and past leaderships of CAN had acted in full realiasation and recognition of their roles as pivotal stakeholders alongside the government and private sector in nation building.
Earlier, Senator Rochas Okorocha, who noted the dire financial condition of the umbrella Christian organisation in the country, advised clerics to tone down their criticism of those in authority.
He said, “I just want to caution some Christian pastors concerning the way we use our pulpit and the kind of fire of insults and abuses that comes from there. When you abuse those who will give you money where will you get the money.
“The Bible says to pray for those in authority. You need to draw your leaders close. When you draw us closer and tell us what your problems are, it will energise us to help. Money will flow more than you need.”
Also, Imam Abubakar Abdullahi, who sheltered no fewer than 200 Christians in Barkin Ladi, Plateau, during an attack, was presented with the Special Recognition award.
The late Obadiah Mailafia, former CBN Deputy Governor, was given a post-humous award of Spokesperson for Oppressed alongside Matthew Kukah, Bishop of Catholic Diocese of Sokoto and Human Rights Lawyer, Femi Falana.
Awards were also given to best candidates in the 2020 Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination and Senior School Certificate Examination.
Highlight of the event was the cutting of the anniversary cake.
Bandits Free 10 More Kaduna Baptist Students, Keep 11
The Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), yesterday, confirmed that 10 more students of Bethel Baptist School in Kaduna State have been released.
The Vice President of CAN (19 Northern States and Abuja) and its Chairman in Kaduna State, Rev. Joseph John Hayab, said this in a short WhatsApp message to newsmen.
He said, “Ten more students of Baptist High School were released this afternoon. We have 11 now with bandits.
“We are thanking all Nigerians for their prayers and support.
“We are trusting God that the rest will be released very soon. All have been reunited with their parents.”
Earlier, 10 students of Bethel Baptist School in Kaduna were released on Saturday, September 18, after spending 74 days captivity of terrorists, with 22 others still being held.
Hayab had said, “10 students were released this (Saturday) evening and have reunited with their parents. We are now hoping for the remaining 21 who are still with the bandits.”
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