Representatives of oil producing communities and Stakeholders in Rivers State have called for equity, fairness and development of their communities by the Federal Government.
The stakeholders made their submissions public during an interactive forum with visiting Acting President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo who was on the last lap of his consultations with representatives and leaders of Niger Delta at Government House, Port Harcourt last Monday.
Representative of Pan- Niger Delta Forum (Pan-DEF), Alabo Tonye Graham Douglas called for a sustainable and comprehensive marshal plan for the region.
Graham-Douglas said time has come for a Special Niger Delta Energy corridor as it would boost industrial relations and drive development, adding, “if peace returns by the time this tenure ends, then, development could go a long way”.
The State Pan-DEF leader further called for the setting up of a Mandate Committee to work out modalities for implementation of a workable strategy to drive development in the region.
In his submissions, representative of the Rivers Elders Council, Onueze Okocha, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN) sought for synergy among federal, state and local governments, adding that “the people of Rivers State do not consider that they are at war with the federal government or other states of the federation”.
Okocha decried that in recent times the federal government has acted as if they have problem with the state which has affected the people negatively.
The former President of Nigeria Bar Association argued that the loyalty of the governor, Chief Nyesom Wike is not in doubt, but noted that begging issue of boundary adjustment and ceding of Soku Oil well to neighbouring Bayelsa State have affected the revenue profile of the State.
Against this backdrop, Okocha lamented that the people are not given equal opportunities in the polity, “to compete and determine what will be their collective interest”.
Speaking for Oceania Communities in the Kalabari area of the state, Chief Hope Opusingi submitted that the communities have over 160 oil wells and gas installations.
Opusingi lamented that over 50 years of oil exploration in their fishing communities has affected their livelihood, and destroyed their environment due to pollution.
The Opu Kula traditional ruler explained that the dwindling means of livelihood has compelled youths to engage in vandalization and illegal bunkering “as their physiological needs continue to drive the youths unless a truthful consultation is made”.
He advocated for the siting of federal agencies and assets such as polytechnics, universities to provide opportunities for the people of the area, and pleaded that security agencies operating in their area be compelled to respect traditional institutions and women.
Speaking for the people of Ogba/Egbema/Ndoni area, Justice Ben Ogbari said the area produces over 39 per cent of the country’s gas, but observed that despite these huge economic contributions, the people are still beset by environmental degradation and lack of infrastructure.
Ogbari noted that the entire wild life and water have been polluted and called on the federal government to do all in its powers to provide youth employment opportunities and roads to link the area to other parts of the country.
Notable activist and environmental rights advocate, Ann Kio-Briggs who spoke for the Women of Rivers State said they re seeking for equity and justice in the use of resources from their soil.
She denied the devastation of the environment by oil exploring companies which, according to her, has denied women their means of livelihood and sustaining their families.
Ann Kio-Briggs used the forum to call on the Federal |Government to stop withdrawing security details of the governor, saying that, “if the situation persists, we may have no other option but to protect our governor”.
An ex-agitator, Richard Akinaba urged the Federal Government to create skills and other opportunities that will reduce illegal bunkering and pipeline vandalization.
Akinaba is of the view that if illegal refining is legalized and modular refineries set up, it will help check violence and at the same time transform the economy.
Meanwhile, Chairman of the Rivers State Traditional Rulers Council and Amayanabo of Opobo, King Dandison Jaja has joined in calling for a joint Marshal Plan for Niger Delta.
He said, “As traditional rulers, we are worried what will happen in the next 20 years if a plan is not put in place”.
Part of the Marshal Plan, the Opobo monarch recommended should include the Commencement of Nigeria Liquified Natural Gas (NLNG) Train 7 in Bonny and kick off of Brass NLNG project.
The traditional ruler also recommended that the money used in funding subsidy for petroleum products should be channeled to other areas, and called for the stoppage of fuel importation.
Consequently, Governor Wike has called on the Federal government to resuscitate its horibund agencies and assets in the state.
Chief Wike who spoke during the interactive forum with the Acting President said the poor state of federal assets contributes to economic deprivation of the people.
Such assets include the moribund federal Port in Port Harcourt, the airport, Bonny-Bodo Road East West Road, as the advocated for the full implementation of Ogoni Environment Project.
PH Law School Campus’ll Be Best, Chiroma Confirms
Director General, Nigerian Law School, Prof Isa Hayatu Chiroma, has expressed optimism that the new Port Harcourt campus of the institution would be the best in the country.
Chiroma made the assertion when he paid a working visit to inspect ongoing civil construction work at the Nabo Bekinbo Graham-Douglas Campus of the Nigerian Law School in Port Harcourt, yesterday.
The director general was accompanied the Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike, to assess progress of work at both the Nabo Graham Douglas Campus, Rumueme and staff quarters at New Government Residential Area, Port Harcourt.
He expressed gratitude to the state government for the intervention to build and deliver the Port Harcourt campus in order to help address the challenge of inadequate lecture and accommodation space for the ever-increasing number of students seeking to acquire vocational legal training at the current campuses of the Nigerian Law School in the country.
“The last time we were here was when the ground-breaking ceremony took place, and today, there is massive construction going on, and there is progress. I want to thank the governor and the good people of Rivers State for this progress.”
Chiroma, who observed that the teeming rainy season in Rivers State has slowed down the pace of work, noted that the amazing aspect of the project is that the quality of materials used for the raft foundation at the Nabo Bekinbo Graham-Douglas campus is world class.
“The kind of materials used with what we have seen on ground, it is unimaginable, it is excellent. I can assure you that the problem we will be having is about our students, who will prefer to be posted to this place with what I have seen.
“That is the battle we are going to be faced with. But, I can assure you that all our Law School Campus are the same, but with the development going on here, it is going to be a problem for us to decide who comes to Port Harcourt. From what I have seen it is going to be the best.”
Facilities under construction at the Port Harcourt campus will comprise 14 structures, including 1,500-capacity classroom blocks, hostel blocks, students’ multipurpose hall, 16 units’ 3-bedroom flat staff quarters with swimming pool, gymnasium and lawn tennis court.
Other facilities are, library, moot court/law clinic building, sick bay, administrative block, cafeteria and sporting facilities for students.
Nigeria, Suffering From Leadership Failure, Wike Affirms
Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike, has said that it was regrettable that 61 years after Independence, Nigeria was still grappling with leadership challenge.
The governor pointed out that because of such leadership failure, Nigeria was now at a point in its history needing God more than ever.
Wike made the assertion at the Interdenominational Church Service organised in commemoration of the 61st Independence Anniversary of Nigeria at the St. Paul’s Anglican Church in Port Harcourt, yesterday.
The governor stated that there was hardly anything for Nigerians to celebrate as the country marks 61st Independence anniversary because its leadership continues to entrench hatred, mediocrity, promote ethnicity and religion.
“This is the time that Nigeria needs God more. The country is gone. Insecurity everywhere! Everyone needs to say God; we need you because man’s leadership has failed this country.”
The governor noted that, perhaps, the only thing Nigerians can boast of celebrating was the existence of the name, Nigeria.
“At 61 years, Nigeria is full of enmity, full of divisions, hatred, and ethnicity: A country that cannot put itself together.
“Everybody has responsibility; so, ask yourself questions, have I done my own part?”
Wike also observed the sorry state of Nigeria, and said at 61, it was far removed from being a country that can compete favourably with prosperous countries of the world, given its abundant resources.
The governor bemoaned what has become of the nation’s Legislature that continues to approve anything for the Presidency, and not minding the consequences.
He also decried how the nation’s Judiciary has succumbed to intimidation because its judges have abandoned their responsibilities out of fear, and wondered what fate Nigerians would have under such seeming tyrannical atmosphere.
“We cannot do the right things. Other countries are talking about how their elections will be transparent; we are talking about how we will rig the election in 2023.
“Simple thing, transmit election results electronically to show transparency, that really that the person you’re declaring won the election but we are afraid.”
“Where is the Legislature? A Legislature that cannot think, a Legislature, anything they bring is right, a Legislature that cannot say that Nigeria has nothing to regret from conducting free and fair election.
“A Legislature that you’ll close your eyes, anything they bring, about borrowing, you say borrow. A Legislature that cannot say that this money we are borrowing, where is it? Where are you applying it? You have no confidence to ask questions.
“The courts have been intimidated. The judges have abandoned their responsibilities out of fear. You’re seeing something that is wrong, but because you will be summoned in the night, you abandoned your responsibility.”
Wike also blamed the woes the country has suffered on all Nigerians who have refused to do the right things, but rather allowed the wrong things to be perpetrated in all facets of the society.
He noted how ascendancy to leadership was no longer by merit but by ethnic affinity and religious consideration, even when such persons do not have the capacity required to function in such offices.
Speaking further, Wike berated the church leadership over the inordinate dressing of a young man that he saw in the church, and attributed such sight to lack of enforcement of discipline in the church.
In his sermon, Bishop of the Diocese of Niger Delta North, Rt. Rev. Wisdom Ihunwo, noted that only foolish people despise God and attribute their successes in life to personal efforts and ingenuity.
Ihunwo said such foolish people abound in Nigeria because they have hearts of corruption, treat humanity with disdain and delight in doing abominable things and divert public funds for personal use.
According to Ihunwo, it was baffling that despite having leadership over the country, there was unabated spree of killings, a seemingly thriving kidnapping business with some officers of the military killed without drastic measures taken to return Nigeria to the path of sanity.
While charging the church to rise to speak courageously against wickedness in the land, Ihunwo declared the judgement of God upon the sponsors of such killings and kidnapping that have put Nigeria in a pitiable state that its people cannot celebrate independence of the country at 61 years.
Special prayers were said at the service for God’s favour and grace upon Nigeria and its leaders, Rivers State Executive Council, Judiciary and the Legislature, for the governor and his family, as well as the church and its leaders.
Dreams To Achieve Peace, Dev In N’Delta Achieved, FG Boasts
The Interim Administrator, Presidential Amnesty Programme (PAP), Col. Milland Dixon Dikio, has said that the Federal Government has achieved its dream of moving the Niger Delta from incessant protest to peace and development.
Dikio said this, last weekend, when an ex-militant, High Chief Biobopere Ajube, was conferred with a chieftaincy title in Arogbo Ijaw Ibe, Beleukoriwei (Pathfinder) by the Paramount Ruler of the kingdom, Pere Zaccheaus Doubara Ebgunu, in his palace in Arogbo, Ondo State.
According to him, the present administration has succeeded in curtailing the restiveness in the region through engagements with the ex-militants.
He assured them that government would not renege in its promises to ensure that the region and its people are developed.
Dikio called on ex-agitators to emulate the disposition of Ajube in peace and entrepreneurship.
He lauded Ajube for leading the charge for a peaceful and prosperous Niger Delta, noting that he was the face of what can happen in the region.
According to him, “with the likes of Ajube, who had undertaken the task of having 400 ex-agitators trained in his Bradama facility under the PAP’s Train, Employ and Mentor (TEM) model, the dream of moving the Niger Delta from incessant protest to peace and development is achievable.
“We’re here to tell this community and indeed the world what Ajube means to us. He is very special and we’re excited that he bought into our vision in PAP which is tailored to change the narrative in the region.
“He took the lead of our Train, Employ and Mentor initiative and has pledged to have 400 of our people trained in his facility.
“He is the face of what can happen in the region and there is no doubt that with people like him, the Niger Delta can truly be the place to live and do business”
Ondo State Governor, Rotimi Akeredolu, who was represented by his Deputy, Hon Lucky Aiyedatiwa, described Ajube as a proud son of Ondo, who had made a tremendous impact in the lives of his people.
He said the honour was a testament of all he had been doing for his people, and urged him not to relent but extend similar gestures to other parts of the state.
“We’re gathered here to celebrate a man who through self-development and engagement is where he is today. We’re proud of him as a true son of Ondo State. All he thinks about is development, peace and empowerment which is a good thing”.
Also speaking, former Managing Director of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), Timi Alaibe said Ajube, during the height of militancy in the Niger Delta, was grossly misunderstood by the Federal Government but as head of the Amnesty Programme, he stood firmly by his side, to explain that he meant well.
He said, “This honour is well deserved. The story and struggle of the emancipation and dealing with the issues in the Niger Delta will not be complete without the mention of High Chief Bibopere Ajube. The story is deep for some of us.
“So, I’m proud that we’re gathered here to celebrate peace, excellence, leadership, strive for sustainable development, honest, and sincere man that loves his God. I know him when he had nothing. He is a man that has the interest of his people in his heart”.
The Traditional Ruler of Arogbo Ijaw Ibe, Pere Zaccheaus Doubara Ebgunu, said it was not a mistake that Ajube was honoured with the highest title, noting that the kingdom has been blessed by him and decided to display that by conferring the prestigious title on him.
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