Fourteen communities in Ahoada West and Ula-Ikata community in Ahoada East Local Government Areas of Rivers State have appealed to the state House of Assembly to compel the Nigerian Agip Oil Company (NAOC), and Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC) to carry out proper remediation of oil spill sites in the areas.
In their separate petitions read on the floor of the Assembly by Hon Sam Eligwe, representing Ahoada West during last Wednesday’s sitting, the 14 communities alleged that NAOC caused environmental destruction of the areas through equipment failure and refusal to undertake proper clean up of the polluted sites.
The petition, signed by representative of the communities, include Oshie, Akinima, Ukpeliede, Akaraolu, Ozochi, Oyokama, Egbeu, Ogoda, Emezi, Enito, Idu Ekpeye, Okogbe and Ubeta, stated that the oil company resorted to allegation of sabotage to evade payment of compensation to land and property owners.
The people noted the unabated crude oil pollution of economic trees, lands, sources of water, ponds and fishes, among others, and requested the visit of the House Committee on Environment to the crude oil polluted sites with the oil company in attendance.
The affected communities demanded for a public hearing on the issues raised in the petition, where they would provide explanatory pictures, video recordings and documents to substantiate claims that Agip did not comply with laid-down regulations.
They demanded for compensation to the tune of N15billion in addition to a comprehensive regime of environmental clean-up by Agip, and solicited the cooperation of the House to ensure that the company complies with acceptable enviromental practices.
In Ula-Ikata’s petition presented to the Assembly by Hon Ibiso Nwuche, representing Ahoada West Constituency II, the people said SPDC engaged in activities that threatened to exterminate the community from existence.
The petition, signed by the paramount ruler, Chief C.C Ogboka and General Secretary of the chiefs council, Mr Menwe Ubaji alleged that SPDC had refused to carry out adequate remediation of its oil spill sites or pay compensation to cushion the effects of the pollution on the people since 1996.
According to them, the spill impacted hectares of our farm land, several economic trees, desecration of ancestral shrines, over 150 fish ponds and fishing materials, leading to losses in fishing and farming, the main occupation of the people”.
The petition further hinted that SPDC, noticing the extent of damage to the ecological system, paid N1.3million as part payment for only fishing nets, and gave assurance to completely pay for the compensation but never did so till today.
The petitioners, therefore, appealed to the state lawmakers to prevail on SPDC to conduct proper remediation on all the hectares of land impacted by the spill, and pay damages of N2.6billion for loss of livestocks, crops as well as heath risk for the number of years.
Speaker of the House, Rt Hon Otelemaba Amachree after adopting the petitions, directed the House Standing Committee on Environment to investigate the veracity of the claims by the various communities against the oil firms, and report back to the House.
CAC Registers 245,000 SMEs Free Of Charge
The Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC) says it has registered more than 245,000 Small and Medium Enterp-rises free of charge.
The Registrar-General, Alhaji Garba Abubakar, said in Abuja on Wednesday that it did this with the approval of the Federal Government.
The Federal Government, he said, approved the free registration of 250,000 business names as part of its intervention to assuage the economic effect of Covid-19.
He said the Federal Government paid 50 per cent of the cost of registration to CAC and more than 245,000 business names were consequently registered.
Abubakar explained that the process was electronic and applicants also got their certificates electronically.
He added that the numbers were divided between the 36 states of the federation and the FCT noting that Lagos, Abia and Kano States had the largest numbers.
He said free registration of 6, 606 business names was approved for 33 states while Abia, Lagos and Kano States would have 7, 906, 9,084 and 8,406 respectively.
Abubakar noted that aggregators were appointed and paid to collect SMEs information and submit same to CAC.
He explained that the commission provided special access for the aggregators for effective service delivery since they were responsible for scanning and uploading of documents.
He added that CAC had to take over from one of the aggregators appointed for two states but failed to deliver.
Abubakar said also that the intervention of CAC and appointment of substitute aggregators to take over in the two states sped up the process, already nearing completion.
“We are hoping that by end of September the exercise will come to an end,’’ he said.
IPMAN Seeks Foreign Partnership For Robust Refinery Deal
The Chairman, Rivers State Chapter of Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria (IPMAN), Mr King Eppie, has said that he would be seeking the partnership of foreign bodies as part of his plans to strengthen the association.
Eppie said this when he spoke in a chat with newsmen in his office in Eleme, Eleme Local Government Area, Rivers State, Wednesday.
He pointed out that such plans would also encourage business growth especially to some of his members whom he said are experiencing stormy business weather.
According to him, the challenging business condition was as a result of non functional refineries in the country, stressing the need to seek for partnership.
He said that since its core business area was petroleum products, that his leadership would do all within its reach to improve the system.
The Rivers IPMAN boss, expressed hope that the ailing refineries in the country would bounce back to life.
“ I will be happy to see the refineries working again. Most of our members are suffering and business is no longer what it used to be, that’s why I want the refineries to come back to operation”, he said.
About the issue of legal battle in the association, he said that his team has been vindicated by the Apex court by declaring him the authentic chairman of IPMAN in Rivers State.
He recalled that the association was in a legal battle for about eight years, but expressed joy over its victorious end.
To those who were on the other side of the divide, he said that he has extended an olive branch to them as part of his plans to run an all inclusive government.
“ The platform for those who went to court against us has been created for them to come back to the fold. IPMAN is one in the state and we are open to all, that is why we want everyone to come back”, he said.
The Tide learnt that the IPMAN chairman is barely one week in office after years of legal battle that greeted the association as a result of leadership tussle.
1,818 MSMEs Benefit From Covid-19 Recovery Package In Delta
No fewer than 1,818 Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) have benefited from Federal Government and the World Bank Covid-19 Action Recovery Economic Stimulus (NG-CARES) in Delta.
Governor Ifeanyi Okowa addressed the beneficiaries at the launch of funds disbursement in Asaba on Wednesday.
He commended the Federal Government and the World Bank for the partnership to provide succour for those affected by the pandemic in the country.
He said that now that the scheme had been domesticated in the state, the beneficiaries were in the first phase of the programme.
Okowa also lauded the Nigeria Governor’s Forum (NGF) for supporting the federal government to ensure that the programme was approved by the World Bank for implementation in Nigeria.
He also thanked the World Bank for the intervention and for working with state governments in the country towards cushioning the socio-economic effects of Covid-19 pandemic on the people, particularly the poor and vulnerable.
According to Okowa, today’s ceremony is a major step at putting MSMEs that are badly hurt by the pandemic on the path of recovery and growth.
He said this was “more so, with the disbursement of funds to the first set of 1,818 beneficiaries who have met the World Bank stipulated eligibility criteria within the initial six months.
“A total of 2,529 MSMEs are expected to receive grants to support post-covid-19 loans, operational costs and to enhance their IT capabilities.
“Indeed, we are glad to be part of the CARES programme of the Federal Government.
“The focus of intervention clearly aligns with the priority of the state government to give relief to those whose lives, businesses, jobs and means of livelihood have been distorted by the pandemic.
“The programme, which we have domesticated as the Delta CARES, is a two-year emergency recovery programme.
“It is aimed at supporting state governments’ budgeted programme of expenditures and interventions.
“It is to enable them to expand access to livelihood support, food security services, and grants for poor and vulnerable households and firms,” he said.
He said that the programme would also directly support 25,269 poor and vulnerable households with social transfers, basic services and livelihood grants.
The governor said it would as well support 13,976 farmers to boost food production and ensure smooth functioning of the food supply chain.
“The outlined figures are the targets stipulated by the World Bank, but do not preclude the State Government from scaling up if the need arises.
“It is my expectation that those charged with the implementation of Delta-CARES will be faithful in executing the mandate so that the desired results are achieved, bearing in mind that it is a Programme for Result (PforR),” Okowa said.
On his part, Dr Barry Pere-Gbe, Chairman, Steering Committee for Delta-CARES and State Commissioner for Economic Planning, commended Okowa for providing the funds for the programme.
Pere-Gbe was represented by the Commissioner for Youths Development, Mr Ifeanyi Egwunyenga.
He said that the main focus of the programme was to bring succour to residents whose means of livelihood had been disrupted by the impacts of Covid-19.
He said that the programme was hinged on three thematic area.
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