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Niger Delta

US,Set To Partner N’ Delta On Dev

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The American government has expressed concern and interest on what the future holds for the Niger Delta region of Nigeria and the impacts 2015 will create, especially on security issues
The Consul General of United States Consulate in Lagos, Mr Jeffrey Hawkins stated this when he paid a courtesy visit to Bayelsa State Governor, Hon Seriake Dickson in Government House, Yenagoa.
Hawkins said, that in view of the economic importance of the region, his home country wants first hand information in areas such as security and governance of the people.
He expressed optimism that with different blueprints of development on the ground, Bayelsa would surmount its development hurdles that could also take care of present security challenges.
In his response, Hon. Dickson regretted that there  were a lot of stereotype and negative reportage of issues concerning the country, particularly the Niger Delta region that were not in conformity with realities on ground.
He therefore requested the United States government to reconsider its stance on the travel advisory, noting that his administration was sparing no effort in creating a congenial business climate for investors in Bayelsa State.
Hon. Dickson explained that one of such efforts was the establishment of the Bayelsa Development and Investment Corporation (BDIC) with its African regional office in Johannesburg, South Africa.
“Bayelsa is safe and ready for business. At the business level, we have established the BDIC which African regional office I went to open last week in Johannesburg. We intend to do similar things in other critical economies of the world because we want to be on ground to be able to tell our own story. The truth is that we cannot move our economy or attract investment to create wealth and develop skills that will turn around the economy and break the vicious cycle of poverty, illiteracy, unemployment and un-employability.”
However, the United Kingdom and United State have indicated interest to assist Nigeria curb the menace of crude oil theft which President Goodluck Jonathan has described as “blood oil’’.
The Minister of Petroleum Resources, Mrs Diezani Alison-Madueke, made the announcement at a lecture entitled “The Future of African Energy in a Changing World’’, delivered on Sunday at St. Anthony’s College in Oxford University, England.
“I must say that both the British and U.S. Governments have been in discussions with us and are keen to join hands with us to fight this menace.
“The global community is on track and already geared up and we are working to put in place a strategic platform that will involve us all and enable us track and fingerprint stolen crude,’’ Alison-Madueke said.
She said that crude oil theft and vandalism were being executed on a professional scale beyond petty stealing.
“It is, therefore, clear that this crude is being taken to refineries outside the shores of West Africa.’’
According to her, proceeds from stolen crude, are being passed through fiscal institutions beyond the African continent and the monies are laundered by fiscal entities.
“It has therefore, become necessary to tackle the issue globally as it is carried out by powerful cabals and experts.’’
The minister said that governments in the Niger Delta were collaborating with service chiefs to sensitise the affected communities on the dangers of illegal refineries on the environment.
She said that illegal refineries, popularly known as “firewood distilleries,’’ had severe impact on the environment and human beings, especially because of the risk of disabilities in new born babies.
Other issues addressed by Alison-Madueke include the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) and global politics of oil where she stressed the need to give emerging economies more support.
“It is better to invest in these economies, import their gas and oil rather than give out charity and donations to them.
“Basically if Africa itself is not stable and if it’s teeming youth population are not gainfully employed, then they obviously pose an inherent threat to global security and stability in the world,’’ she said.
Mrs Cherie Blair, wife of UK’s former Prime Minister Tony Blair in an interview with newsmen commended Alison-Madueke for her detailed lecture on the oil sector in Nigeria.
Blair said the PIB as explained by the minister, when passed into law, would be beneficial to companies with investments in the sector and crucial to Nigerians.
The lecture attracted experts from the oil and gas sector, including a former Ghanaian President, Mr John Kufour.

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Niger Delta

School Retracts Statement, Apologises Over Alleged Abuse Of Female Student

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A private secondary school in Uyo, Akwa Ibom State, has retracted its statement over the alleged abuse of a female student by an official of the school.
The school, King Solomon Secondary School, has also apologised to the girl’s parents over the incident.
The school’s initial position was that the 16-year-old girl who is in SS3 was indecently dressed to school and had muttered “offensive words” when confronted by the school official.
It had also said a report of the incident posted on Facebook by Celestine Mel, a relative of the girl, was exaggerated.
Mr Mel’s Facebook post has photos of the student with bruises all over her body allegedly inflicted by the official, identified as Ndifreke.
“The charge was that her school uniform was too short, and goes against the Bible, which forms the moral pillar of the school.
“She wanted to strip the child down. The child tried to run away. Ndifreke (the official) descended on her, using every weapon within her reach: cane, stick, planks. From the head to her back, shoulder, thighs, legs, etc,” Mr Mel wrote.
Continuing, he wrote: “There were bumps, blood and bruises. She looked like a lucky survivor, out from bombed-out rubble in a war zone. The head bulged out. The eyes blood-shot. Her skin peeled here and there, lacerated and bleeding. She left the school by foot and in pain, and walked home by foot, several kilometers away.

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Dep Gov Wants MDAs To Boost Bayelsa IGR

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The Bayelsa State Government has charged various revenue generating ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs) to redouble their efforts in the drive to improve the internally generated revenue (IGR) of the state.
The Deputy Governor, Senator Lawrence Ewhrudjakpo, gave the charge while declaring open the ninth Bayelsa Tax Advisory and Review Committee (TARC) meeting in Yenagoa, recently.
He reminded members of the committee that it was high time they explored new and better ways of generating revenue in order to boost the revenue profile of the state.
He pointed out that the state was not where it supposed to be, in terms of income generation, noting that Bayelsa’s IGR would not rise until better methods were employed.
Ewhrudjakpo, who commended members of the committee for their support and contributions to the implementation of the present administration’s fiscal policies in 2021, implored them to be more passionate about their responsibility this year.
The Bayelsa number two citizen who also doubles as Chairman of the State Tax Advisory and Review Committee (TARC), urged the Committee to scale up efforts in their revenue drive to enable government pay workers’ salaries as and when due without depending on monthly federal allocations.
To achieve this, the deputy governor said, some tough and proper decisions would be taken not only to expand the state tax net but also identify and plug areas of revenue leakages in the system.
He however, assured the law abiding and tax-paying public of the present administration’s readiness to eradicate multiple taxation as part of its investment promotion strategy.
“I want to use this opportunity to thank members of TARC for their support and contributions that took us to where we were last year. But clearly, that is not where we ought to be.
“Although we are not where we used to be, we also are not where we supposed to be as a state in terms of IGR. This therefore means, some more determination as well as passion is required for us to get there.
“If what you know cannot change you, then you have to change what you know. And so, if what we are doing cannot give us the dividends we need, then we need to change what we are doing.
“Until we forage and also explore new avenues, our revenue profile will remain what it is and we can never change. And so, we should not be afraid of daring because without daring, we cannot win.
“We should be seen to be written on the positive side of history that, ‘yes, progress was made by the previous TARC but that better progress was made by this present TARC.
“We still have a lot to do to increase our IGR. We should be able to pay our workers’ salaries as a state with what we generate even though we may not be well resourced as some states in the country,” the Deputy Governor said.

By: Ariwera Ibibo-Howells, Yenagoa

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Judges, Judicial Staff, Others Extol Chief Judge’s Virtues

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Justices of the Bayelsa State Judiciary and others have commended the Bayelsa State Chief Justice Kate Abiri for her leadership qualities.
The Tide reports that the commendations came on the side line of the 64th birthday celebration of the Chief Judge which held at the Judges’ quarters in Yenagoa, the state capital.
Speaking as Chairman of the occasion, Justice Ken Aganaba in his opening remarks, described Justice Abiri as a woman of excellence known for her brilliance, sagacity and honesty, adding that the Bayelsa Chief bencher was a prudent manager of resources.
He pointed out that the Chief Judge was dependable and have cemented a good working relationship between the bar and the bench as well as with other arms of government in the state.
While thanking God for the enablement given Judicial officers to perform their duties, Justice Aganaba also prayed God to grant the celebrant good health to complete her tenure in the next one year before retirement.
In an exhortation tagged, ‘Benefit of the Lord’, Pastor Amatari Zuofa, advised the living to celebrate God, noting that Justice Abiri has enjoyed good health even at 64 due to her love and service to the Lord and humanity.
“The matters that mattered most are inside us as nobody has ever worked on his or her internal organs. God has been very faithful to everyone. We must fear and serve the Lord, let’s all adore and worship the Lord”, the clergy said.
The Tide reports that the Bayelsa State Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, Biriyai Dambo, proposed the toast for the Chief Judge’s birthday celebration, wishing her long life and prosperity in health, wealth, wisdom, knowledge and understanding.
Meanwhile in their separate goodwill messages, the duo of the President of the State Customary Court of Appeal, Justice Ayah, and the Chairman, Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Sayo, as well as the state Chairman, Judiciary Staff Union of Nigeria (JUSUN), Comrade Keme Dirikebamo and the Yenagoa Federal High Court Judge, Justice Isa Bashiru, described Justice Kate Abiri as a role model who have demonstrated love, care, commitment to duty, saying she has encouraged others to succeed.
They noted that the Chief Judge’s calm disposition has enabled her to forge a good working relationship with the Bar and the Bench and the entire staff of the state Judiciary.
Giving her vote of thanks, the celebrant, Justice Abiri, thanked guests for creating time out of their tight schedules to come celebrate her. She said that her 64th birthday celebration is a ‘dress rehearsal’ to 2023 when she will retire from active service.
Abiri described the work of judges as a sacred one, noting that the judiciary in the state is one of the fastest growing in the country; she thanked God for keeping her alive and expressed gratitude to judges, magistrates, lawyers and staff of the judiciary for their support and show of solidarity for her leadership.
She also lauded her husband, Mr Patrick Abiri, for his understanding as well as the wife of the first Chief Judge of the state, Mrs Ungbuku, retired Justice, Margaret Akpomienmien, Pastor Amatari Doutimi, the district minister of Greater Evangelism World Crusade and other ministers of God for their prayers and support, praying God to bless them beyond their imagination.
Dignitaries present at the occasion included, newly appointed justice, and wife of the Bayelsa State Governor, Patience Ama Diri, Justice Timi Cocodia, Justice I. Eradiri and Justice Eneni Opoko. Abraham.
Also present were, Hon. Justice T.Y Abas, Justice E.T Okara, and another newly sworn-in Justice of the state Judiciary, Christine Omo Enegesi, Hon.Justice Simon Amadou Bowa, and Dame Grace Fiepere, amongst others.

By: Ariwera Ibibo-Howells, Yenagoa

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