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Royalties: Kalabari King Gives Shell Ultimatum

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The chiefs and people of Kalabari kingdom in Rivers State, have vowed to resist plans by oil giant, Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC) to reduce royalties accruing to the area due to rising incidents of crude oil theft in the Niger Delta.

The kingdom, which comprises, Asari-Toru, Akuku-Toru and Degema local government areas, said any slash in their royalties  will amount to a breach of the agreement signed with the people.

Managing Director of SPDC, Mr Mutiu Sunmonu, had in a news briefing in Port Harcourt, on March 1, 2013, said the firm may be compelled to shut down its Nembe-Creek Trunkline (NCTL), following the upsurge in crude oil theft and illegal refining activities, particularly in Cawthorne Channel and Kakrama, in Kalabariland and Awoba in Ogba/Egbema/Ndoni Local Government Area.

Sunmonu, disclosed that 60,000 barrels of crude oil were being stolen everyday, out of the company’s 150,000 barrels daily oil supply to the trunk line, while bemoaning the huge loss of revenue to the government and the devastation such illicit activities were causing to the environment.

The company, in keeping to that threat, had five days later shut down the pipeline and declared force majeure on crude supply to Bonny Export Terminal.

SPDC’s spokesman, Mr Precious Okolobo, also said recently that the company may look in the way of slashing the funds to the communities within the NCTL, if nothing was done to stop the ugly trend.

But the Amayanabo of Kalabari kingdom, Professor Theophilus J.T. Princewill, last weekend faulted the move by Shell, reminding the firm of its promise to increase the mandate annually by 10 per cent, saying the planned reduction will be collectively resisted by the people.

The monarch, who was answering questions from newsmen shortly after a special service at the African Church, Buguma City in Asari-Toru Local Government Area of the State, to mark his 11th Anniversary on the throne as Amayanabo of Kalabari Kingdom, noted that the funds were part of extant agreement between Shell and the kingdom to assist the development of the area.

King Princewill explains: “Shell keeps mentioning that they were going to shut down their trunkline. For the last six years or so, they gave us some money which we used in providing projects.

Now that they are coming to the second phase of that agreement, on the Global Memorandum of Understanding (GMoU, instead of increasing the lot (they call it mandate) that is due to us (the Kalabari people), they want to reduce it by more than half, whereas in the last five years, there was a promise to have 10 per cent increase annually.

“Instead of finding it necessary to review it upwards now that they are going to enter into a new agreement, they want to slash it down by more than a half. Of course, the Kalabaris will not agree.

”Although they said because of crude oil theft, their production in the Kalabari area dropped, but we did not believe that, that has happened. But if we go by that, there are other areas where there is no production whatsoever, but they have increased their funds allocation to them.

”So, if they want to insist on reducing what mandate they gave us, we will say no, we will not accept it. You either increase it or you don’t operate in our area,” he posited.

He further said that the Kalabari Council of Chiefs had met severally with Shell where the latter was told that whatever is in the territory belongs to the people and that the firm was only allowed to go and exploit the crude.

”If what they are doing is to make us suffer for it, we ask them (Shell) to pack up their things (facilities) and go, because we will not beg them to come and do it. If they don’t do it, there are other companies that will come in to do it. For many years now in Ogoni area, Shell is not operating, yet Ogonis have not died.

“If we stop Shell from operating in our territory, we will not die and Nigeria will not collapse and that is our position. They say they are going to close down their operation, we say not only closing down, pack your things and go. That is what we have said to them (Shell),” he said.

Prof. Princewill, however, said that if youths in the area were found culpable over allegations of crude theft, the Kalabari Council of Chiefs would intervene, but noted that crude oil and the control of the resource was essentially the business of the government.

”I and the Kalabari chiefs do not have any control over crude oil production or exploitation. The only thing we can do if our children are doing it is to talk to them, but the full control of such issue is in the hands of government,” he added

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Nigeria, US Sign Pact To Reduce Illicit Trafficking Of Ancient Arts

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The Federal Government and the United States, yesterday, signed the Cultural Property Implementation Act (CPIA) Agreement.
According to the Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, the CPIA would reduce the pillage of Nigeria’s ancient arts which are mostly smuggled to Europe, the US and other places for the benefit of art collectors.
Mohammed said the signing of the MoU became necessary because, despite all efforts by the Ministry of Information and Culture and the National Commission for Museums and Monuments, with the assistance of law enforcement agencies, to prevent illicit export of the nation’s archaeological and ethnological materials, widespread looting and illicit excavation of these materials still continue.
He said this when he signed a Memorandum of Understanding on the CPIA with the US Ambassador to Nigeria, Mary Beth Leonard, in the presence of the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr Geoffrey Onyeama, in Abuja.
Special Assistant to the President on Media, Office of the Minister of Information and Culture, Segun Adeyemi, disclosed this in a statement titled, ‘Nigeria, US Sign Pact To Reduce Illicit Trafficking of Ancient Arts.’
Mohammed was quoted as saying, “This legislation was enacted by the United States to restrict the importation into the US of archaeological materials ranging in date from 1500 B.C. to A.D. 1770 as well as ethnological materials, including those associated with royal activity, religious activity, etc from nations that have entered into the kind of bilateral initiative that we are signing here with the United States today.”
The minister said on the basis of the agreement, Nigerian antiquities being imported into the US without the requisite export permit will be seized at the border of the US and returned to Nigeria without the arduous and costly task of going through the labyrinth of judicial and diplomatic processes.
“We are optimistic that this agreement will reduce the pillage of our irreplaceable archaeological and ethnological materials, as the market for these materials is being shut in the United States against illicit traffickers.
“The agreement will last for an initial period of five years. If it works well, as we anticipate it will, it shall be renewed for a longer term. We implore other friendly nations to take a cue from the United States of America and join us in finding means to prevent the illegal importation of our antiquities into their countries,” he said.
The minister, who thanked the US Government, in particular the US Embassy in Nigeria, for making the MoU possible, said the Nigerian Government looks forward to a diligent implementation of the landmark agreement, so it can become a game-changer in the nation’s efforts to prevent the looting of its priceless ancient works of art.
In her remarks, the US Ambassador to Nigeria, Beth Leonard, said the agreement was aimed at preserving, restoring and protecting Nigeria’s cultural heritage.
“In Nigeria, over the past decade, the US Mission has partnered with the Nigerian government and state institutions to preserve cultural landmarks and sites through projects worth over one million dollars and funded by the US Ambassador’s Fund for Cultural Preservation.
“Just last November, I signed a grant award to digitally survey the Busanyin Shrine located within the Osun Osogbo Sacred Grove. That $125,000 grant will help document a series of shrines within the Grove and provide training to local professionals in digital tools and cultural heritage management,” she said.
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Three Out Of 10 Nigerians Are Mentally Sick -Reps

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The House of Representatives has said that three out of every 10 Nigerians have one form of mental illness or another.
Quoting the World Health Organisation (WHO) statistics, the House added that over 20,000,000 Nigerians were currently suffering from various degrees of mental illness or disorder without psychiatric health care.
To this end, the House mandated its Committees on Health Institutions and Healthcare Services to liaise with the Federal Ministry of Health towards improving mental health facilities around the country and further carry out serious sensitization of Nigerians on this issue.
It also asked the Committee on Health Institution to explore the modalities of liaising with stakeholders in the health sector to promote, educate and sensitise Nigerians on mental health.
The resolution, however, followed a motion titled “Need to Address the Rising Cases of Mental Health in Nigeria” presented by Hon. Uchechuku Nnam-Obi from Rivers State and considered by the House at yesterday’s plenary.
Presenting his motion, Nnam-Obi noted that the World Health Organisation (WHO) considers mental health as a state of well-being in which the individual can cope with the stress of life, work productively and contribute to the community.
According to him, mental illness manifests in mood disorder, anxiety disorder, trauma-related disorder, personality disorder, old age-related disorder, substance abuse disorder or mental pattern that causes significant distress or impairment of personal functioning.
He said: “According to the World Health Organisation statistics, over twenty million Nigerians are currently suffering from various degrees of mental illness or disorder without psychiatric health care.
“Three out of 10 Nigerians have one form of mental illness or the other, presently there is no mental health legislation in Nigeria. However, the Nigerian mental health policy is the only framework that has access to mental healthcare, dealing with mental and neurological disorders in Nigeria, discouraging stigmatisation against persons with mental disorders and has institutionalised standards for Psychiatric practice.
“The increase in cases of depression is traceable to multifactorial inter and intrapersonal issues which leads to suicidal death in the country and this requires urgent attention.
“Nigeria has only 130 Psychiatrists with over 20million citizens suffering from mental disorders.
“With the few functional Mental Health Facilities and inadequate mental health practitioners in the country, mental health cases are left for traditional practitioners, hence the upsurge in mental health in Nigeria.
“The statistics are troubling and the continued lack of a legal framework on mental health in the country will simply cause the situation to degenerate”
Adopting the motion, the House gave six weeks to the committees within which to carry out the assignment and report back to it for further legislative action.

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Wike, PDP Govs Commiserate With Tambuwal Over Brother’s Death

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Representatives of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Governors’ Forum, yesterday, paid a condolence visit to the Sokoto State Governor, Hon. Aminu Tambuwal over the death of his elder brother, Alhaji Muhammed Bello.
Bello, who is also the Waziri of Tambuwal, passed on in Sokoto, last Tuesday night at the age 87.
He was the head of the Tambuwal family.
On the PDP governors’ delegation were, Governors Okezie Ikpeazu of Abia State; Nyesom Wike (Rivers); Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi (Enugu); Oluseyi Makinde (Oyo); and Ahmadu Fintiri of Adamawa State.
The Vice Chairman of the PDP Governors’ Forum, Dr Okezie Ikpeazu, who led the delegation, said they were in Sokoto to commiserate with Tambuwal and his entire family over the sudden death of his elder brother.
“We feel your pain, and we understand that a great vacuum has been created, not only within the caliphate, but across Nigeria and other places where Daddy had sphere of influence. We believe that God Almighty will grant you the fortitude to bear this great loss.
“We are, however, consoled by the fact that Daddy left legacies that will remain indelible; one of them is your very good self and your impact and contributions to our dear country.”
The governors urged the Tambuwal family, particularly the Sokoto State governor, to remain strong, steadfast and uphold those virtues which the late Waziri of Tambuwal, cherished so much.
In his response, Sokoto StateGovernor, Hon. Aminu Tambuwal, who is the PDP Governors’ Forum chairman, said the entire Tambuwal family was gladdened by the condolence visit.
According to him, his late elder brother, who lived his life in the service of community, held the family title, Waziri of Tambuwal for 37 years after the demise of their father.
“We are, indeed, very highly consoled not only by your presence, but your words of consolation. For you to have left behind whatever you are doing in your respective states to come all the way to Sokoto this afternoon, shows clearly how you sympathise with us and how close you are to us. I assure you that we appreciate this.”

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