The House of Representatives, yesterday, declared support for President Muhammadu Buhari’s decision to begin the process of implementing the United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP) Report on the clean-up of Ogoniland in Rivers State.
The House noted that the report, which detailed the “environmental degradation” of Ogoniland, was released four years ago.
However, it added that by setting up a board to commence the process of implementing the report, Buhari had given the first signs of the seriousness of the Federal Government to address the problem.
An amendment to a motion on Ogoniland by Mr. James Faleke, read, “Mr. President should be commended for setting up a board to implement the report.
“This report has been there for four years, and for Mr. President to have started the process for the implementation yesterday (Wednesday) is commendable. “
The amendment was unanimously endorsed by lawmakers.
But, it was a member from Rivers State, Mr. Kingsley Chinda, and 59 others, who moved the original motion on the plight of the people of Ogoniland.
Chinda told the House that while the country’s oil resources were tapped from Ogoniland, the communities in the area were left with no means of livelihood.
Chinda also stated that other parts of the Niger Delta where oil exploration activities took place, did not fare better.
He called on the federal government to declare the region an “environmental disaster zone” to speed up the process of providing infrastructure for the people living in those communities.
“The situation in Ogoniland is so pathetic.
“Everywhere you turn, there is environmental degradation and the people are left to suffer. It is so bad,” Chinda added.
The President had on Wednesday taken several steps to fast track the implementation of the report, including the setting up of a trust fund to be managed by a board of trustees.
Stakeholders were also expected to contribute N2billion within the next 30 days to the fund.
Other stakeholders have commended the approval and directive by President Buhari to fast-track the long delayed implementation of the UNEP Report recommendations on the environmental restoration of Ogoniland.
The All Progressives Congress (APC) and the Movement for the Survival of the Ogoni People (MOSOP) commended Buhari for fulfilling his electioneering promises to the Ogoni people.
The party, in a statement on Wednesday, said the move by the Federal Government was a confirmation of the party’s earlier position that Buhari means well for the Niger Delta as a whole and Ogoniland in particular.
According to the statement, ’’It further gives credence to the saying that a good friend is by far better than a bad brother.
Also, the President of MOSOP, Logborsi Pyagbara and the President of Ogoni Central Indigenous Authority, Dr. Goodluck Diigbo, on behalf of the Ogonis, commended the Federal Government for the move to fast tract the implementation of the UNEP report and clean up the area.
Pyagbara, in a statement, said the move by the Federal Government was commendable and goes to show that the Ogonis are being remembered in the present administration while Diigbo appreciated the move but wants genuine Joint Stakeholders’ Review of the recommendations.
Diigbo while welcoming Buhari’s intention to fast-track the implementation of UNEP Report on Ogoniland, said his actions ignores the report’s technical demands.
According to him, “Even though the report remains disputed, many EIA measures investigated, and clarified in the report, are missing.”
He noted that Buhari received recommendations from “non-experts” – the Executive Director of UNEP, the UNEP Special Representative for Ogoniland, permanent secretaries of the Federal Ministries of Environment and Petroleum Resources, and others, regretting that: “The recommendations are secret, and reliance on non-experts was not only misguided, but, unacceptable.
“Buhari may have a good intention, but, his expressed intentions might deepen old wounds. For instance, Buhari avoided specific mention of recommendations by UNEP, including: Ogoniland Environmental Restoration Authority, Environmental Restoration Fund for Ogoniland, a Centre of Excellence for Environmental Restoration, among others, and even, $1billion, considered grossly inadequate for take-off, is now missing.
“Next, we the Ogoni people are not aware of any Special UNEP Representative for Ogoniland. We don’t have one. Buhari’s intentions have created considerable confusion and resentment. Either, Buhari is conflicted, “tricked” by “parties” that corrupted the UNEP Report, or, just politics as usual. For three years, they’ve stood against genuine joint stakeholders’ technical review – a prerequisite for due process, stipulated by UNEP, World Bank, IMF, US and others,” he said.
The UNEP Report, says “the Nigerian government agencies concerned lack qualified technical experts and resources,” he stressed, adding, “So, I started to doubt if the Executive Director of UNEP could truly be part of what Buhari intends.”
Also speaking, a frontline Ogoni activist, Mr Celestine Akpobari, who also lauded the development, described it as a step forward, adding that former President Jonathan failed to take practical and appreciable step on the report all the while he was President.
He urged the Federal Government to allow civil society to be represented in the process of implementing the report.
He said that the development on the part of the Federal Government also took cognizance of livelihood and sustainability of Ogoni area, an issue the UNEP report according to him did not look at.
“This is a breakthrough. It is a major breakthrough for the Ogoni people. We want civil society to be given representative capacity. It has been a collective struggle of civil society and Ogoni people for the implementation of the report.”
Also speaking, An APC governorship candidate in the April 11 elections in Rivers, Dr Dakuku Peterside, has described President Muhammadu Buhari’s approval for the implementation of United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP) report on Ogoni land as courageous.
Peterside in a statement issued yesterday in Port Harcourt by his media aide, Mr Sylvester Asoya, said the long awaited action would address all environmental issues and other challenges in Ogoni land.
“Once again, the President has demonstrated that he is a man of honour.
“ During his campaign, he promised our people that his government would look into the UNEP Report.
“Less than three months into his administration, the President has already taken a giant step in this regard. He is indeed a man of his words,” the statement said.
The statement said the people of Niger Delta knew that President Buhari could be trusted because of his antecedents and track records.
We’ve Spent N9bn To Upgrade RSUTH, Wike Confirms
The Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike, says his administration has spent N9billion in upgrading structures and installation of new equipment at the Rivers State University Teaching Hospital (RSUTH).
He said the fact that 40 per cent of the 2021 budget of the state is dedicated to provision of quality healthcare delivery was a further demonstration of the priority placed on the sector.
Wike made the explanation at the foundation laying ceremony for the construction of a Renal Centre at RSUTH, last Friday.
The governor said he made promise to Rivers people that the best would be provided to them in all sectors of the society within his capability because of the mandate they gave to him.
“As we came on here, I just looked around and I see the changes in this teaching hospital. I can say that we have put not less than N9billion in this teaching hospital.
“If you look at the budget, the health sector alone, what it’s taking from the Rivers State Government is not less than 40 percent of the 2021 budget.”
Speaking further, Wike said the state government cannot afford to implement free medical service programme in the present economic circumstance.
While dismissing the request for a subvention for RSUTH, Wike, however, commended the chief medical director and his team for their commitment to turnaround the fortunes of RSUTH.
“I have never seen anywhere that health services can be totally free. They’re telling me that people who come here can’t pay. I have never declared that this state is going to take over the health fees of anybody.”
Also speaking, the former Minister of Transport, Dr. Abiye Sekibo, who performed the flag-off, noted that Wike’s achievements in the health sector in particular, surpass what former governors of the state had done.
Sekibo said that the governor has given equal attention to every section of the health sector by providing complete health infrastructure that was positioning the state as a medical tourism destination in Nigeria.
Earlier, the Rivers State Commissioner for Health, Prof Princewill Chike, lauded Governor Nyesom Wike for his interest in the health of Rivers people.
He noted that the renal centre, when completed, would become another landmark development project in the health sector that would handle and manage all kidney-related ailments.
In his remarks, the Chief Medical Director of the Rivers State University Teaching Hospital, Dr. Friday Aaron, commended Wike for approving the renal centre.
Aaron explained that chronic kidney disease was a major burden globally with estimated 14 million cases in Nigeria.
According to him, over 240,000 of these cases require renal replacement therapy in the form of dialysis and renal transplant.
The CMD said the building that would house the centre was expected to be completed in six months and consists of two floors.
The ground floor, according to him, would house the haemodialysis unit with eight haemodialysis machines.
He further explained that the first floor of the centre would house the surgical component where most of the sophisticated equipment for kidney transplant would be installed.
Aaron said Wike has released the funds required to build, equip the centre as well as for the training of personnel locally and internationally.
Power Generation Falls 23% To 3,172MW
Power supply in Nigeria has failed to improve on last week’s performance, as it fell by 22.9 per cent from peak generation of 4,115Megawatts on Saturday to 3,172.20MW as at 5pm, yesterday, latest data from the System Operator has shown.
According to the data, most power plants were operating far below capacity due to gas shortage with Olorunsogo Power Plant 335MW capacity; and Sapele Power Plant, 450MW capacity; completely out.
Egbin was generating at 746MW; Omoku 37.20; Omotosho (NIPP) at 105MW; while Afam was generating at 80MW.
The data showed that on the average power generation in the past seven days were 4,120.9MW on Sunday, June 6; 4,249.4 on Monday, June 7; 4,000.9MW on Tuesday, June 8; 3,720.7 on Wednesday, June 9; 3,517 on Thursday, June 10; 3,765MW on Friday, June 11; and 4,115MW on Saturday, June 12.
The International Oil Companies (IOCs), had last warned that despite Nigeria’s huge gas reserves a lot needs to be done to attract investment to the sector to develop gas reserves to boost power generation in the country.
Speaking at the just concluded Nigeria International Petroleum Summit, the Chair, Shell Companies in Nigeria/MD SPDC, Osagie Okunbor, said with 203trillion Cubic Feet of gas reserves, what was needed in the country is to deliver projects that would produce the gas.
“The challenge is not just growing the reserves but in producing these reserves for the benefits of our country. Essentially growing the reserves and delivering on the production is a function of two or three elements.
“I like to see infrastructure that is required for the development of these resources at two levels. Soft infrastructure is often the one that is more important than and that is the one that is actually drives most of what you see at site.”
“Soft infrastructure refers to the enabling environment and nothing pleases me as much seeing both the Senate President and the speaker of the house give very firm commitments about trying to pass the PIB this month.
“That is probably the big one of the enabling environment to provide the kind of stability we also need all sorts of other issues we need to that we have discussed severally in terms of sanctity of contract, stable policies and collaboration and I think we are well on our way there”, he added.
Wike, Pride Of Nigeria’s Democracy, NUJ Affirms
The Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) has described Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike, as an exhibit of pride to democracy in Nigeria.
The NUJ also noted that Wike has redefined governance through demonstration of democracy in action with his service to Rivers people.
The National leadership, the 36 State Executives, and the FCT, including members of the NUJ across the country made the assertion in Port Harcourt during the inspection tour led by the Rivers State Commissioner for Information and Communications, Pastor Paulinus Nsirim of both completed and ongoing projects being undertaken by the governor in the state.
The National President of the NUJ, Chief Chris Isiguzo, said the 1999 Constitution bestows on the media the responsibility to hold governments accountable to the people.
Isiguzo posited that having placed the projects side-by-side with the expectations of the populace, it was obvious that the governor’s investment in critical infrastructure would remain lifelong empowerment tools for the people.
”We were at the Mother and Child Hospital. We took time to look at the facilities there. That can easily be said to be first of its kind in the country.
”At the much-talked about Real Madrid Football Academy, where they are going to train the young ones, we saw that they have good facilities. At the moment, they have also offered admission to 140 pupils.
”That’s also to catch-them-young, and I want to believe that by the time this kind of resources is continuously invested in sports development in Nigeria, it’s just a matter of time, it will gain its pride of place in sporting world.”
On her part, the National President of Nigeria Association of Women Journalists (NAWOJ), Mrs Ladi Bala said that the projects she had seen were entirely unique, unprecedented and very uncommon in the country.
According to Bala, the Emmanuel Chinwenwo Aguma Judges’ Quarters stand out as first of its kind in Nigeria, with its serene ambiance that would translate into enhancing the productivity of judges of Rivers origin.
”I believe that democracy is at work in Rivers State, and, for Rivers people, I want to congratulate them, and to say, this is the true reflection of what democracy should be across board.
”I want to call on other governors across the country to borrow a leaf from what the governor of Rivers State is doing. Wike is working, and we are very proud of what we have seen here”, she added.
In his reaction, the National Internal Auditor of NUJ, Muhammad Tukur, stated that Wike was a committed leader with the vision of uplifting the standard of life of his people.
Tukur, who expressed gratitude to Wike for his support to the NUJ National Conference in Port Harcourt, said that his show of love for journalists confirms his commitment to the welfare of the people.
On his part, Chairman of Oyo State Council of the NUJ, Comrade Ismail Ademola Babalola, asserted that the Mother and Child Hospital, and the Real Madrid Football Academy were part of projects Governor Wike was using to secure a productive future for the youths of the state because they meet global standard.
Also speaking, the Vice President of NUJ North Central Zone, Chief Wilson Bako, commended the quality of the various roads and flyover bridges constructed in the Port Harcourt metropolis to make the city tourists’ destination of choice.
In the same vein, the Vice Chairman of NUJ in Jigawa State, Comrade Larai Musa, said she has confirmed all that the news media had carried about Wike and his projects’ mantra, and asserted that it was leaders like him that were needed at the national level.
Also, Comrade Ikechukwu Ordu of Enugu State Council of the NUJ noted the need for other political leaders to emulate Wike in providing dividends of democracy to Rivers people and changing the fortunes of his state.
Also from the Enugu State Council of the NUJ, Comrade Ugochukwu Chukwudieke, said she was completely overwhelmed by what Wike has done in constructing the Okoro-Nu-Odo Flyover Bridge, Rumuogba Flyover Bridge, and Rebisi Flyover Bridge delivered within one year.
Chukwudieke also praised the quality of work on the Rumuola Flyover Bridge, Ogbun-nu-Abali Flyover Bridge, GRA Junction Flyover Bridge, and the Orochiri-Wurukwo flyover project at Waterlines Junction by Aba Road.
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