The Rivers State Government
has said that it was partnering with all stakeholders, including the Federal Government and Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria (SPDC) to educate the people at the grassroots on the need to stay away from crude oil theft and illegal refining of hydrocarbon resources because of the dangers such act pose to their lives and the environment.
The Director, Pollution Control, Rivers State Ministry of Environment, Charles George, who disclosed this at Kpite, Tai Local Government Area of the state, last Wednesday, as part of a series of SPDC-sponsored grassroots campaign against crude oil theft and artisanal refining in the Niger Delta, in compliance with the recommendations of the United Nations Environment Programme report on Ogoniland, said that such acts had resulted in the death of many young Nigerians and rendered large part of the precious Niger Delta environment desolate and unproductive.
George, while addressing the more than 1,000 community youth, men and women, at Kpite Community Primary School, said that the Rivers State Government was working assiduously with the Federal Government to revive the Hydrocarbon Pollution Restoration Programme (HYPREP) with the appointment of a new purpose-driven leadership team to fast-track the clean-up of Ogoniland in line with the recommendations of the UNEP report.
He disclosed that once HYPREP management team is reconstituted in a few weeks’ time, physical clean-up of polluted sites in Ogoniland would begin, assuring that the moment the process commences, many jobless Ogonis would be engaged in meaningful and viable employment to enable them support their families and communities.
The director of pollution control warned against continued attempts to undermine the environment through crude oil theft, illegal refining of hydrocarbon resources, pipeline vandalism and destruction of related oil facilities, adding that apart from the criminal nature of the act and its negative impact on the economy, government cannot fold its arm and watch helplessly as the huge death toll and environmental destruction continue to decimate the region, and indeed, the nation.
Senior Environmental Officer, National Oil Spill Detection and Response Agency (NOSDRA), Augustine Bello, warned that crude oil theft and artisanal refining as well as pipeline vandalism are all criminal offences, which attract prison terms, on arrest and prosecution, and appealed to youth involved in the act to desist forthwith in their own interest.
Bello appealed to “the people to allow the crude oil to remain in the pipeline”, because according to him, “if the crude oil is allowed to remain in the pipeline, your farm and fish harvests would be bountiful, and your revenue generation capacity would increase by the day, and you would be able to feed your families, send your children to school, and meet your other needs.”
He noted that the people of the region may not be satisfied with the way oil and gas revenue is distributed amongst the component units of the federation, but stressed that stealing the crude from the pipeline is not an acceptable way of addressing the injustice.
Bello advised the people to work more closely with their political leaders to ensure a new era of legislation that heralds generally-accepted revenue-sharing formula that would provide sufficient funds to address the colossal development challenges facing the region.
In their separate speeches, Gbenemene Twa-Twa Tai, and Paramount Ruler of Kpite, HRH Samuel Nnee and Spokesperson for Twa-Twa Tai Communities, Chief Mission Piwa, restated the dangers associated with crude oil theft and illegal bunkering on the people and the environment, and said that the council of chiefs has been working round the clock to educated the people of Kpite on the need to avoid oil facilities and installations in their farming activities.
They expressed the hope that oil exploration would soon resume in Ogoniland to create avenues for employment of thousands of jobless youth in the communities, emphasizing that most of the youth involved in crude oil theft, illegal bunkering, and pipeline vandaslism were doing so out of the lack of any sustainable source of livelihood to feed their families and make ends meet.
Bayelsa Community Lampoons NDDC, Govt Over Incomplete, Abandoned Projects
Otuoke Community of Ogbia council area of Bayelsa State, has berated the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) for alleged abandonment of infrastructural projects awarded in the community.
Speaking with The Tide during an assessment tour of projects awarded and executed by the commission in the community, the CDC Chairman, Pastor Emmanuel Egede said the agency has left incomplete a number of internal roads and the construction of a bridge at the Ewokiri axis of the community awarded not less than a decade ago.
The Tide gathered that Otuoke, host community of the Federal university in Bayelsa State is located in the Ogbia central geographical area of Ogbia Kingdom and borders no fewer than eight other sister autonomous communities.
Egede hinted that the commission has also abandoned a water project earlier awarded to the community sometime between 2012 and 2014, respectively.
The CDC boss who reiterated the need for timely completion of these projects, called on the commission to take a cursory look into its records of contracts awarded to the community with a view to completing them.
He also bared his mind on sister projects awarded by government in the community, stating that following the fast rising cosmopolitan nomenclature of the community, resulting from the existence of the Federal University in the area, the state government should also put into consideration the takeover, functionality and maintenance of the urban water project executed by the Federal Government in the area for the provision of potable water for students and others living in the community and its adjoining areas.
“This community has done well for Nigeria, but we wonder why the NDDC would abandon projects in this community”, he said.
“We’ve a bridge awarded over a decade ago by the NDDC that has been abandoned in this community. It’s in a part of the community called Ewokiri.And there are also internal road projects abandoned here”, he added.
By: Ariwera Ibibo-Howells, Yenagoa
Bayelsa Wants FG’s Intervention On Nembe-Brass Road
Bayelsa State Governor, Senator Douye Diri, has said that the state needs the assistance of the Federal Government and relevant stakeholders to construct the Bayelsa East Senatorial road from Nembe to Brass given the huge cost involved.
Speaking during the weekly state executive council meeting in Government House, Yenagoa, Senator Diri said as part of efforts to make the road a reality, he has met senior Federal Government officials in Abuja, whom he said responded positively to the state’s requests.
A statement by his Chief Press Secretary, Mr. Daniel Alabrah, quoted the governor as saying that the importance of the Bayelsa East senatorial road cannot be over-emphasised given the socio-economic relevance of the area to people of the state and the country.
He said all hands needed to be on deck to make the project a reality.
Diri remarked that relying on the Presidential Executive Order 7, the Federal Government embarked on construction of certain road projects with private organisations in parts of the country and appealed that same gesture be extended to Bayelsa State.
He said written presentations have been made to the Federal Government and the Nigerian Agip Oil Company (NAOC) to ensure that the taxes that would have been paid by Agip and others to the state are used for construction of the Nembe-Brass road.
He assured that the state government was ready to play its part to ensure that the road was constructed and called on Bayelsa legislators at the federal level to support the move in the interest of the state and country.
“The Federal Government out of Presidential Executive Order 7 is constructing a road alongside some private companies in the case of the Nigerian Liquified Natural Gas project in Rivers State. The Federal Government is also doing same in the western axis in Lagos and other areas. So we are appealing to the Federal Government to extend same gesture to us”, he said.
“As a government, we are prepared to also bring in whatever is our deal into the project. So, on your behalf, I went to Abuja to meet with very senior officials of the Federal Government and I can report to you that they received us very well. If all our requests are granted, from next year, we can kickstart the Brass road project”, he added.
“I want to use the opportunity to call on all well-meaning Bayelsans from all walks of life to support this noble idea by this government, particularly those who are representing us at the federal level. Please speak on behalf of the people of your state”, Diri noted.
By: Ariwera Ibibo-Howells, Yenagoa
Rep Woos Stakeholders Over FMC Bill
A member of the House of Representatives, Rep. Ben Ibakpa (PDP-Delta), has appealed to stakeholders to support the bill for an Act to establish a Federal Medical Centre (FMC) in Oghara, Delta State.
Ibakpa made the plea at a public hearing organised by the House of Representatives Committee on Health Institutions yesterday to get the views of the general public and critical stakeholders.
Ibakpa, who is the sponsor of the bill, said that Delta State is a microcosm of Nigeria and it is difficult to develop as a result of the spread of its cities.
He said that the only opposing voice against the establishment of the FMC in Oghara is the policy which says a FMC already exists in Asaba, the state capital.
The Rep explained that Asaba is at the edge of the state (Delta North) which is five hours drive from Oghara, saying that many patients had died trying to reach the FMC in Asaba.
Ibakpa said that Oghara is in Delta Central and has boundaries with eight Local Government Areas, saying that the existing FMC in Asaba would not help the people of Oghara and its environs.
According to him, if the FMC is established, it will serve more than 20 local government areas in Delta and Edo.
“Oghara hosts a Federal Polytechnic, the Western Delta University, over 12 operational tank farms, School of Health Technology, Institute of Continuous Education, over 200 secondary schools and over 400 primary schools.
“It has the Mopol 51 base, Naval Logistic Command, so many government institutions in that local government.
“We are here to represent our people and in representing them, we should be able to bring the dividends of democracy, the universal health coverage, closer to our people.
“That is what has informed the need to ask that a FMC to be established in Oghara.
“The population explosion over the years warrants the special consideration and the plea that Oghara being the centre should be given this FMC,’’ he said.
Ibakpa said that the Teaching Hospital in the area which is basically for training and treating higher ailment, 80 per cent of its departments had been out-sourced, making it too expensive for the ordinary man.
In his remarks, the Minister of Health, Dr Osagie Ehanire, said that the ministry was in agreement with the sponsor with regard to access to healthcare for the growing population of the people.
Represented by the Principal Medical Officer, Dr Shetak Gilbert, Ehanire said that the Federal Ministry of Health was working with the World Health Organisation (WHO) to ensure universal health coverage.
“For us to achieve this, we need to bring healthcare services closer to the people for them to have access.
“The ministry, in the spirit of achieving universal health coverage will continue to work with this committee, the House of Representatives and the National Assembly in general to achieve this request,’’ he said.
The Chairman of the Committee, Rep. Pascal Obi (APC-Imo), said that there was an existing policy of the Federal Government that allowed only one FMC per state.
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