The stakeholder communities of Oil Mining License (OML) 25 in Akuku-Toru Local Government Area of Rivers State and Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC) have agreed on the procedures for the re-opening of the oil facility.
As such, the stakeholder communities and Shell will on Monday, July 1, 2019 sign a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to be facilitated by the Rivers State Government on their respective responsibilities in the final resolution of the two-year old conflict.
This was the outcome of the meeting, yesterday, between the stakeholder communities of OML 25, SPDC, service commanders and officials of the Rivers State Government on the directive of Governor Nyesom Wike.
To this end, the representative of the Rivers State Governor and Secretary to the Rivers State Government, Dr Tammy Danagogo, has directed the Solicitor-General of the State to draft a memorandum of understanding on the premise of the resolutions reached at the meeting.
He also said that the memorandum of understanding would be signed on Monday, July 1, 2019.
Danagogo outlined the four key resolutions reached during the crucial meeting on the re-opening of OML 25, to include that, “SPDC should pay the agreed funds into an account. The Permanent Secretary, Community Affairs has been mandated to ensure that the funds are transferred to the communities.
“SPDC should be able to pay the available sum latest by Monday. Shell would pay N260million and N75million by Monday.
“The communities should within seven days of signing the resolution, vacate the facility. Also within two weeks, Shell should pay the remaining part of N1.014billion”
The Secretary to the Rivers State Government added that the meeting resolved that SPDC would therefore obtain approval from NAPIMS to pay the money that accrued between 2009 and 2013.
He added that within two weeks of signing the resolution, Rivers State Government will set up a platform for Shell and stakeholder communities to renegotiate the Global Memorandum of Understanding (GMoU).
The General Manager, External Relations of Shell Petroleum Development Company, Mr Igo Weli said the first set of funds to the stakeholder communities will be paid on Monday.
He stressed that the outcome of the financial reconciliations will be paid within two weeks of signing the resolution.
Weli added that SPDC, in line with the resolution of the meeting, would seek the approval of NAPIMs for payment of funds for 2009 and 2013.
The Chairman of Akuku-Toru Local Government Area, Rowland Sekibo said that the meeting initiated by the Rivers State governor has recorded a milestone with agreement on the funds to be paid by SPDC.
Member of the Rivers State House of Assembly representing Akuku-Toru Constituency 1, Major Jack commended the Rivers State Government, SPDC and stakeholder communities for building synergy which will end in the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding on Monday.
Amanyanabo of Opu-Kula, King Hope Opusingi said that the people of the area were happy with the agreement reached at the meeting, especially the reconciliation of the funds to be paid by SPDC.
He said those occupying the flow station were being paid to do so, adding that technically, the flow station has been opened as the occupants of the facility were doing so illegally.
Also speaking, the Amanyanabo of Kula, King Kroma Eleki called for the development of Kula upon the reopening of OML 25, appealing that the developmental challenges of the community should be resolved.
It would be recalled that Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike on June 22, 2019, directed the Secretary to the Rivers State Government, Dr Tammy Danagogo, to convene a meeting of all key stakeholders in the presence of security service commanders, for the host communities to outline their grievances to Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC) and for the company to address such development concerns.
Earlier during the first meeting, the Rivers State Government reiterated that the Oil Mining License (OML) 25 must be re-opened for operations with the interest of host communities protected by the operating company, Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC).
The host communities of OML 25 also stated their developmental concerns, urging SPDC to address them for mutually beneficial relationship with the company to be entrenched.
In a meeting the state government convened between the host communities and SPDC, the representative of Rivers State Governor and Secretary to the State Government, Dr Tammy Danagogo, said that Governor Nyesom Wike remains committed to the protection of host communities’ interest.
He said: “The flow station of that facility must be opened. For that to happen, we think that the interest of the host communities must be protected, so that in future, we don’t have a repeat of what happened.
“That is why it is in the best interest of everybody concerned to state very genuine concerns of what Shell has to do”.
He said that the Rivers State Government was discharging its responsibility of ensuring the peaceful resolution of the issues.
“At the initial stage, we didn’t want to get involved because we felt that the Shell licence was almost terminating. But at this stage, it is clear to everybody that the Federal Government has renewed the licence of Shell for another 20 years. What it means is that for the next 20 years, Shell must be there.
“As a law abiding government, what we will do is to see that Shell does not trample upon the rights of our people. So, now, Shell will listen to our people on what they ought to do”, he said.
He urged the communities to do what is right; assuring that the state government would, on that premise, prevail on Shell to release the Global Memorandum of Understanding (GMoU) funds.
In his remarks, General Manager, External Relations of Shell, Mr Igo Weli said that the SPDC was ready to dialogue with the communities and resolve the issues raised.
Weli said that the existing GMoU has expired, but assured that working with the communities, another GMoU would be worked out for the development of the communities.
“The third one is retaining of fund. The fund for each community is stipulated in the GMoU, and each community will have their community trust, and even though one community has a problem, we can give you your money to go ahead.
“So, once we do it properly, specify how much belongs to each community, have your own community trust, one community will not hold the other communities down. If you have a problem, we localise the problem and sort out the one we can operate. That’s what we have been doing”, Weli added.
He disclosed that there was N960million on ground outstanding from the previous GMoU, saying that the company was ready to invest the funds.
“There is no perfect solution. Once we get 80 per cent of the people to agree, then, let’s do it. We want to operate in a way that all stakeholders will feel recognised. There are rules. Once we agree on the rules, we will move forward. The GMoU will be modified to meet the new realities”, he said.
Also speaking, the Amanyanabo of Kula, King Kroma Eleki alleged that Shell had worked with a section of the kingdom and marginalised others, insisting that some community leaders also created the atmosphere for the marginalisation of the kingdom.
He said that when Shell started operations, it was agreed that 60 per cent of proceeds must go to Kula community and 30 per cent to Belema, but regretted that Shell failed to respect the agreement.
Eleki said though the Federal Government can open the OML 25, Shell should carry out its Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) diligently to the communities, and also called on the Federal Government to work towards protecting the interest of the host communities.
Amanyanabo of Belema, King Ibinabo Kalaoriye said Belema was the host community, but all the funds meant for the host community were diverted to Kula.
He said that OML 25 was illegally occupied by some persons who connived with another set of soldiers to take over the facility.
Kalaoriye said that going forward; no funds meant for the development of Belema community should be sent to Kula, explaining that despite the challenges, Shell had executed some important projects in the area as a result of the existence of the OML 25.
Also speaking, the Amanyanabo of Opu-Kula, King Hope Opusingi said Shell should come out clean and declare the funds due the communities on the basis of the GMoU.
He said that the meeting should agree on the amount of the funds that Shell should invest and the communities that are entitled to the investment.
The meeting had in attendance the Chairman of Akuku-Toru Local Government Area, Hon Rowland Sekibo, the member representing Akuku-Toru Constituency 1 at the Rivers State House of Assembly, Hon Major Jack and member representing Akuku-Toru Constituency 2 at the Rivers State House of Assembly, Hon Opuende Lolo, and the community development committees of the stakeholder communities of OML 25.
Rivers State Needs College of Education-Don
Following the upgrade of the former College of Education to a university, a university teacher has sued for the establishment of a new college of education to replace the old one.
The plea was made by a lecturer in the political Science Department of the Ignatius Ajuru University of Education, Dr. Iwarimie Uranta.
Uranta who made his views known in an interview with The Tide pointed out that College of Education if established will address the middle manpower in the educational system of the state.
For now, Uranta said “there is a vacuum,” National Certificate of Education (NCE) will help bridge the gap of middle manpower in the teaching profession.”
He continued”, it will boost the teaching of core courses, because NCE teachers are trained as teachers in those courses”.
The university don pointed out that currently there is a limited number of people who wants to do education. It reduce pressure on the universities and reduce social vices by the youths, Uranta stressed.
Besides, he said the current reforms in the educational system will benefit as many private schools will have manpower to recruit instead of engaging quacks in their schools.
In a similar vein, Head of Educational Psychology/ Guidance and Counselling in the Ignatius Ajuru University of Education, Dr. Sunday Ordu has commended the State Government
for the policy to sanitise privately schools in the state.
“A lot of private schools don not have professional teachers so the policy is in the right direction.
It will improve manpower faculties to enhance educational growth. The environment must be conducive” he added.
RSG Implements TSA To Block Revenue Leakages, Soon …Tasks State Internal Revenue Service To Grow Monthly IGR To N10bn …Seeks Informal Sector’s Support Through Payment Of Prescribed Taxes
The Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike has announced that the state government would soon commence the operation of Treasury Single Account (TSA) to boost its revenue base.
Wike also charged the Rivers Internal Revenue Service (RIRS) to grow the state’s monthly Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) to N10billion.
He spoke during the flag off of Informal Sector Tax Drive with vehicles donated by Access Bank Limited at the Government House, Port Harcourt, yesterday.
The governor said: “We will initiate the Treasury Single Account to block revenue leakages. I assure that very soon, the Treasury Single Account will become operational.
“The Treasury Single Account will be implemented to checkmate what is presently going on. It is not good to have several accounts which lead to unnecessary leakages.
“Our revenue base fluctuates. The board has been directed to expedite action for the state to hit N10billion Internally Generated Revenue every month.”
Wike explained that the Treasury Single Account will be diligently implemented in the interest of Rivers State, and restated that his allegiance was to Rivers people who voted him, because he was not sponsored by any group.
He urged the informal sector to support the Rivers State Government by paying their taxes as prescribed by the Rivers Internal Revenue Service (RIRS).
“The drive for informal sector tax is key. I believe it will boost our revenue base, and we need it”, he said, and thanked Access Bank Limited for supporting the revenue drive of the state with the donation of 10 buses.
In his remarks, the Chairman of Rivers State Internal Revenue Service (RIRS), Mr Adoage Norte said that the flag off of the informal sector tax drive would ensure that informal sector entrepreneurs pay their taxes.
He said that at present, the informal sector has not been paying taxes, explaining that the flag off would unlock the tax potentials of the informal sector.
Norte lauded Access Bank Plc for supporting the informal tax drive of the Rivers State Internal Revenue Service with the donation of 10 buses, pointing out that the buses would be used across the state.
He added that the service was also in dire need of branded kiosks for point of sales transactions, and suggested the operation of Treasury Single Account to optimize revenue generation in the state.
Representative of the Managing Director of Access Bank Plc, Mr David Tinad, thanked the Rivers State Government for the opportunity to partner on revenue generation.
He assured the Rivers State Government that Access Bank Plc would continue to support efforts by the state government to improve its revenue base.
Fake Policemen Disrupted Polls In Bayelsa, Kogi, IGP Admits …Says We’re Aware People Planned To Wear Police Uniforms …As Senate Moves To Okay E-Voting For Future Polls
The Inspector-General of Police, Mr Mohammed Adamu, has said that ‘policemen’ alleged to have disrupted Saturday’s governorship polls in parts of Bayelsa and Kogi States were “fake” and not the personnel officially deployed for election duties.
Adamu stated that all security personnel, who worked during the polls had “special identification tags”, adding that anyone without the tags was on illegal duty.
He spoke with State House correspondents after President Muhammadu Buhari and security chiefs held a meeting at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, yesterday.
However, he said an investigation was ongoing, while 11 arrests had been made.
Similarly, the Inspector General of Police, IGP, Mohammed Adamu, yesterday, said that the police were aware of the plan by politicians to sew police uniforms for their supporters during the Kogi and Bayelsa States governorship elections.
The IGP also said that ‘policemen’ alleged to have disrupted the November 16 governorship polls in parts of the two states were “fake” and not the personnel officially deployed for election duties.
Briefing State House correspondents after a security meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari at the State House, Abuja, Adamu stated that all security personnel, who worked during the elections were given “special identification tags”, adding that anyone without the tags was on illegal duty.
The IGP, who said that the security situation in the country was stable, however, said investigation was ongoing to unravel the identities of those that caused violence during the elections, adding that 11 arrests had been made.
On the alleged police extortion of motorists in South East by police officers at checkpoints, he advised that people should always copy the names of such police officers and report them to the police hierarchy in the area.
Meanwhile, the Senate has begun a fresh electoral reform which has mandated the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to adopt the much-awaited electronic voting method for future polls.
The lawmakers also compelled INEC to operate an electronic database into which all results in an election should be transmitted.
A bill to amend the Electoral Act 2010 through which the reform would be achieved has already been published in an official gazette and debate on its general principles may begin on the floor of the Senate during the week.
A copy of the bill, made available to newsmen, also stipulates that data of accredited voters must be transmitted to the central data base upon the conclusion of the accreditation of voters which would be done through the use of the card reader.
“At the end of accreditation of voters, the presiding officer shall transmit the voter accreditation data by secure mobile electronic communication to the central database of the commission kept at the national headquarters of the commission.
“Any presiding officer who contravenes this provision shall be liable, on conviction, to a minimum of imprisonment of at least five years without an option of fine,” the bill also stipulates.
It prevents INEC from shutting down the central data base until all petitions arising from the elections are determined by a tribunal or court.
“In respect of data of accreditation of voters, including polling unit results, for an election, the commission shall not shut down its central database kept at its national headquarters until all election petitions and appeals pertaining to that election are heard and determined by a tribunal or court.”
On the specific provisions for the adoption of the central database, the bill, which is being sponsored by the Deputy President of the Senate, Ovie Omo-Agege and Abubakar Kyari (APC, Borno State), seeks amendment of Section 65 of the Electoral Act 2010 by introducing a “National Electronic Register of Election Results.”
It states: “The commission shall compile, maintain and update on a continuous basis, a register of election results to be known as the National Electronic Register of Election Results which shall be a database of election results from each polling unit, including collated results of each election conducted by the commission.
“National Electronic Register of Election Results shall be kept by the commission at its national headquarters and any person or political party may obtain from the commission, on payment of reasonable fees as may be determined by the commission, a certified true copy of any election result kept in the National Electronic Register of Election Results for the federation, a state, local government, area council, ward or polling unit, as the case may be and the certified true copy may be in printed or electronic format.”
On electronic voting, the Electoral Reform Bill seeks amendment of Section 52 (2) of the 2010 Electoral Act and introduced a new provision stating that “the commission may adopt electronic voting or any other method of voting in any election it conducts as it may deem fit.”
It was learned that many lawmakers are not comfortable with the additional clause which permits INEC to use any other method it deems fit and may delete that option during the consideration of the bill.
The current law completely prohibits the use of electronic voting as it states: “The use of the electronic voting machine, for the time being, is prohibited.”
The reform bill has also slashed the nomination fees charged by political parties.
Presidential aspirants are to pay not more than N10million while governorship aspirants are to pay N5million.
Specifically, the bill states: “For the purpose of nomination of candidates for election, the total fees, charges, dues and any payment howsoever named imposed by a political party on an aspirant shall not exceed: N150,000 for a ward councillorship aspirant in the FCT; N250,000 for an area council chairmanship aspirant in the FCT; N500,000 for a House of Assembly aspirant; N1,000,000 for a House of Representatives aspirant; N2,000,000 for a senatorial aspirant; N5,000,000 for a governorship aspirant; and N10,000,000 for a presidential aspirant.”
The Bukola Saraki-led National Assembly had attempted the electoral reform but failed to get the presidential approval at the end.
The bill sought to strengthen internal democracy, reduce the cost of politics, widen political participation and the conduct of free fair and credible elections through technological innovations and an electronic database.
However, there were concerns raised over the enforceability of some of its provisions.
President Muhammadu Buhari, in refusing to sign that bill, had said: “I am declining assent to the bill principally because I am concerned that passing a new electoral bill this far into the electoral process for the 2019 general election, which commenced under the 2015 Electoral Act, could create some uncertainty about the applicable legislation to govern the process.
“Any real or apparent change to the rules this close to the election may provide an opportunity for disruption and confusion in respect of which law governs the electoral process.”
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