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PH Refinery Trains 80 Youths In Rivers

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The Port Harcourt Refining Company Limited (PHRC)-Eleme has graduated 80 participants of its youth empowerment and skills acquisition programme, charging them to be economically preoccupied with their acquired skills.
The Managing Director, PHRC, Mr Abba Buka gave the charge at the 3rd Graduation Ceremony of Youth Empowerment and Skills acquisition Programme (YESAP) in Eleme, Rivers, recently.
The beneficiaries were trained in welding and fabrication, information and communication technology, agriculture vocation, catering, hair dressing, fashion and design and interlock/block moulding.
Starter packs which ranged from sewing machines, power generating sets, hair dryers and washers, welding inverters, gas cookers, to cooking pots were presented to them according to the skills they acquired.
Buka, who presented the beneficiaries with Certificates of Completion and starter packs, urged them not to sell the packs but to use them judiciously to be empowered economically.
According to him, skills acquisition and youth empowerment are no doubt a proven route to economic prosperity for any community.
‘’It affords the youth an opportunity to explore inner creative talents in them, build confidence and explore channels for useful economic involvement.
He said that it was due to the advantages that the company, in commitment to its corporate social responsibility and sustenance of its community relations, invested in the YESAP for the youth of its host communities (Eleme and Okrika).
‘’It is my hope and belief that the youth empowerment and skills acquisition programme will divert the attention of the youth from crimes and criminality as they would be economically preoccupied.
‘’And therefore reduce cases of strife and apprehension in the communities and youth restiveness,’’ the MD said.
Buka charged the host communities to continue on the part of peace and negotiation using the Joint Community Relations Committee (JCRC) platform to resolve any differences that might arise.
He assured the communities that they would be carried along in the different phases of the company’s planned rehabilitation, adding that the company was committed to maintaining the cordial relationship with the communities.
Also speaking Executive Director Services, PHRC, Mr Babatunde Sofowora said that the graduation of the 3rd edition of YESAP was a testament to the commitment of the company and NNPC to foster mutual and symbiotic relationship with the host communities.
The company had earlier trained 155 youths in various areas of trade in its first and second editions and the recent edition has brought the number of beneficiaries to 235.
Mr Obari Moses, who spoke on behalf of the beneficiaries, thanked the company for its gesture stating, ‘’we are well-trained. Acquisition of talent cannot be quantified.
‘’We are aware of the challenges in business but with the knowledge we have been given, we shall surmount the challenges.’’
Another beneficiary, Grace Obari who acquired skills in fashion and design said that she had achieved something she never achieved in her life adding, “now I can sew by myself.
“I’m very happy about the scheme; may the Lord bless the PHRC abundantly for giving me skill to better my life and contribute my own quota to the economy.”

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Ken Saro-Wiwa And Oil Politics In Nigeria

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The American Negro leader, Frederick Douglas, once asked, “who will stand for the downtrodden, open his mouth for the dumb and remember those in bonds as if bound with them”.
At a period when men worshipped at the altar of Nigeria’s self styled dictator and maximum ruler, when men so shackled by the ferocious cruelty of a wild and ruthless military junta, kept numb over the atrocious deeds that permeated the political waves of the country, when the chimney of injustice and institutional compromise reeked to its most repulsive and insipid taste, a bold, courageous and fearless Ogoni activist, Ken Saro- Wiwa braved the odds, putting his life on the line to question the excesses of the Abacha junta.
It was a critical period in Nigeria’s chequered political history which analysts described as a “decisive moment”.
Angered by the sad realities of the loss of the natural environment of the Niger Delta to a convoluted oil economy, where oil bearing communities existed as mere pawns in the game of power, he dusted up his hitherto docile Ogoni people to confront the deep-seated inequities and outright contraventions of the principles of justice in the Nigerian State.
He duly alerted his people that their foes; the Military Junta and Shell were formidable, but he pinned his conviction on the fact that it was better to fight the glaring environmental injustice that besieged them, than to remain silente and phase out of existence as a result of reckless oil exploratory activities by Shell which was ongoing in the area for decades. The moment was therefore ripe to confront the vilest political contraption in the history of Nigeria led by a pugnacious General, fully at home with the culture of might to subdue every real or imaginary enemy of the junta. The stage was set for the battle, and Ken Saro-Wiwa was not deterred to carry out his identified course of action.
Through the platform of the Movement for the Survival of Ogoni People, (MOSOP), he instituted a global campaign against the activities of the Royal Dutch in Ogoni. Through his oratory, activist posture and unique literary voice, he reaped cans of worms open against Shell, exposing the many social defects and corporate irresponsibilities of the company to a mass global and local audience.
As the controller of the highest stake among the IOCs in the Joint Venture agreement with the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation, (NNPC) Shell and the Military junta were badly heated by Saro Wiwa’s campaign. Abacha was challenged to his chagrin, and he let loose his ill temper against the defenceless Ogoni people, framed up their leaders under junket of charges and summarily executed Ken Saro Wiwa and other Ogoni compatriots after a Kangaroo trial.
Shell also took cover under the Military junta to perfect it perfidy in Ogoni; the climax of which was the decimation of the elitist class in Ogoni, the wanton wastages of innocent lives, and the eventual pullout of the company from Ogoni. It is on record that during the Kangaroo trial of Ken Saro Wiwa a military Tribunal, Shell was duly represented even when they were supposedly not a party in the trial. What evidence could then be required for their complicity in the Ogoni crisis?. When Shell’s role in the prosecution of the Ogoni leaders became apparent, the company claimed it was the state’s role to ensure fairness under the law, and not a corporation’s. Such hypocrisy has continued to resonate among some unrepentant apologists of shell and other foes of Ogoni till date. But history has judged Ogoni fairly, as Shell’s record of environmental abuse and human rights abuse has continued to swell. Reports show that a Shell security fraud scandal in 2004, led to the forced resignation of the group chairman, Sir Philip Watts, who was escorted from the Shell centre by security staff.
Thus not its self righteousness or impregnable posture has saved the company from a diminishing corporate reputation globally. The denigrating poverty and unabated pollution in Ogoni and other Niger Delta communities are also glaring evidence against Shell. Reports reveal that between 1976 and 1991, over two million barrels of oil polluted Ogoni in 2,976 separate oil spills, and pipelines operated by Shell still traverse the land, creeks and water ways in Ogoni after oil production has ceased.
Although Ogonis paid dearly for their foremost role in environmental awareness in the Niger Delta, the fact remains that Saro Wiwa’s campaign has changed the face of oil politics in Nigeria. Shell and other nonchalant IOCs and corporate firms that prospect for oil in the Niger Delta have continued to incur the odium of its host communities. There is also pressure on the federal government to ensure strict compliance of international laws and politics in the oil industry.
As a Chief Proponent of true federalism, Ken Saro- Wiwa approached the leadership echelon of the country to rule by democratic ideals, rather than a surplus appropriating centralised command system immersed in an oil economy that survived vampire like on the fortune of the Niger Delta. Predictably, some leaders of Niger Delta cashed in on the Ogoni struggle and made themselves amiable tools in the hands of Shell and the military junta. Saro-Wiwa predicted this. He knew that the consequences of a failed oil-led development were conflicts, and divide and rule by the beneficiaries of the fraudulent system.
He therefore admonished the Niger Delta leaders to key into the vision and pointed out that, “Genocide was not selective”.
The implication being that such compromisers would equally become targets of destruction after aiding the external aggressors to destroy their kith and kin. History was to judge him correctly. Saro Wiwa also kicked against what he referred to as “indigenous colonialism”, a system where the minority ethnic groups in Nigeria are expected to render perpetual obedience to the majority ethnic groups, which history and colonal annexation has made a determinate superior.
He had a strong conviction in Thomas Jefferson’s Postulation during his inaugural address that, “All, too, will bear in mind this sacred principle, that though the will of the majority in all cases should prevail; that which will to be rightful must be reasonable; that the minority possess their equal rights, which equal law must protect, and to violate would be oppression”.
Saro-Wiwa was therefore deeply concerned about the moral issue that confronted Nigeria as a sovereign nation; the issue of constitutional democracy that would guarantee the rights of every citizen, irrespective of ethnic affiliation. Like the sage, Obagemi Awolowo, his idea of federalism was that all ethnic groups in Nigeria, should be given fair treatment, irrespective of size or numerical strength. Exactly 24 years after the death of Ken Saro Wiwa, the forces of oppression against Ogoni and the Niger Delta is yet to abate. The environment remains contaminated and polluted. There is more oil, more money and yet more poverty in the Niger Delta, there is more security troops and yet more insecurity in the Niger Delta.
National security as it affects the Niger Delta, at best relates to unfettered oil production. The hope of oil resumption in Ogoni is also very elusive, as Ogonis have insisted that the issues of environmental injustices raised by Saro Wiwa must be addressed before any oil resumption deal. Addressing a mammoth crowd of supporters at a memorial lecture organised to mark the 24th anniversary of Ogoni matyres day, MOSOP President, Legborsi Pyagbara, said the organisation would remain committed to the tenets of the Ogoni struggle. He called on Ogonis and the Niger Delta to remain steadfast in the pursuit of environmental justice in the region.
Speaking with The Tide in an interview, the president of a foremost pan Ogoni youth body, the Ogoni youth federation, Comrade Legborsi Yaanabana called on the federal government to expedite action on the implementation of the United Nations Environment Programme, (UNEP) report on the cleanup of Ogoni.
The Ogoni youth leader also urged the federal government to exonerate Saro Wiwa from the questionable circumstances that greeted his trial and death, by offering him post humus pardon. He said Ogoni youths will resist any forced resumption of oil exploration in Ogoni without properly negotiated settlements.
Also speaking in an exclusive interview with The Tide, foremost environmentalist, Engr Olu Andah Wai-Ogosu called for a more sustainable environmental policy to address the lingering challenges in the Niger Delta.
The environmental consultant and university don, also solicited local and international concern over the plight of the Ogoni people, to address the issues raised by Saro-Wiwa. In death, Saro Wiwa did not only set the pace for a new environmental consciousness in Nigeria, he also raised a new consciousness in minority rights activism in Nigeria. He won the Rights Livelihood Award for exemplary courage in striving nonviolently for civil economic and environmental rights, and he is one of the few Africans celebrated in the international mainstream of martyrdom.

 

Taneh Beemene

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Ogonis Want NNPC Mega Filling Station In Bori

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Stakeholders in the Ogoni axis  of Rivers State have urged the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) to establish at least one of its mega filling stations in Bori, headquarters of Khana Local Government Area to give the people access to the facility.
Some of the motorists and residents of Bori, who spoke with our correspondent, said the absence of NNPC filling station in Bori has made them vulnerable to exploitation by private filling station owners who inflate their prices at will.
A commercial motorist,  Mr Paul Ndeemua,  told The Tide that motorists plying the Bori route were excited when they heard plans by the NNPC  to build a mega filling station in Bori, but they were surprised that there was no trace of the project in Bori long after the plan was made public through the media.
He said:  “ We, commercial motorists, operating within the Bori axis were happy when we learnt sometime ago that the government was going to build a mega filling station in Bori like other parts in the state where they are located, but its unfortunate that almost three years after the plan was announced, nothing has happened.
“I want to use this opportunity to call on the NNPC and the DPR to fulfill their promise by building the filling station in Bori; the project will go a long way to help commercial motorists in the area especially in terms of assess to products.”
Another commercial motorist, Mr Akanimo Udosen, decried the absence of the NNPC  mega filling station in Bori despite its location in other places.
Udosen, who is a resident of Bori said: “We that live and do our businesses in Bori are denied of most facilities enjoyed in other parts of the state, despite being a local government headquarters, Bori does not have mega filling station for the people to buy petroleum products at normal price; the few private filling station owners exploit us by increasing the prices of products anytime they like.
There is no electricity in Bori and there are only two banks operating in the area, we want the government to come to the aid of the people
A private car owner, Mr Clement Ibura who also spoke with The Tide appealed to the Government to build a mega filling station in Bori to alleviate the suffering of the people of the area especially during the December period, adding that the few private filling stations in the area cannot serve the consumption needs of the teeming population.
“I want to urge the Federal Government to extend the facilities of NNPC filling station to Bori to avail the residents of the area assess to products,” he said

 

Taneh Beemene

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Oil Pollution: ‘IOCs Not Practising Remediation In N’ Delta’

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“We travel together as passengers on a little spaceship, dependent on its vulnerable reserves of air and soil, all committed for our safety to its security and peace, preserved from annihilation only by care, the work and the life we give our fragile craft”.

When Adlai
Stevenson made the above remarks shortly before his death, he was drawing attention to the need for global environmental protection.
Unfortunately, environmental pollution has today remained one of the most contentious issues of global concern.
Contrary to Stevenson’s postulation, the story of the Niger Delta region in Nigeria seems to be one of the most ominous globally in terms of environmental pollution and gas flaring. In spite of its huge natural deposit of oil reserves, the Niger Delta is predominantly associated with a diminishing and blighted environment, with its teeming natives and inhabitants, displaced of sustainable livelihood.
The ugly trend has continued to draw the attention of stakeholders and pundits, with a view to addressing the development challenges in the oil rich region.
Engr Olu Anda Wai-Ogosu is one of such concerned patriots and key stakeholders who have lent his views on how to address the issues of oil pollution and environmental devastation in the Niger Delta.
The environmentalist and lecturer in the Institute of Geo Sciences, at the Rivers State University, spoke with The Tide in an exclusive interview in Port Harcourt at the weekend, and indentified some tactical flaws in Nigeria oil politics as being responsible for infrastructural deficit in the Niger Delta region.
He picked holes in the Joint Venture Operation, between the Federal Government and the International Oil Companies (IOCs)and said that the effrontery demonstrated by IOCs in slighting oil bearing and host communities, had the tacit connivance of the Federal Government.
He noted that the IOCs, were not operating in the country on their own volition, but at the instance of the Federal Government who was supposed to protect the interest of the host communities. “The actions of the IOCs are supposed to be subjected to international scrutiny of best practices, but they operate on double standards, and hide under the cover of the Federal Government. The joint venture is an international agreement, and in Nigeria, the Federal Government controls 60 percent while the IOCs control 40 percent.
“The stake of the oil bearing or host communities is subsumed under the agreement, but the Federal Government mostly fails to comply in due terms and depends on bail out by the IOCs. The Federal government, therefore, lacks the moral justifications to whip the IOCs to line in the process of institutional default,” he said.
Commenting on the controversial Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB), the environmentalist, said the bill had suffered some defects as a result of vested interests and the intrigues of oil politics which is skewed to the detriment of the oil bearing communities. “The PIB, which was expected to address the burning issues in Nigeria oil sector has also met a brick wall. There are emphasies on financial benefits to the Federal Government and the IOCs, while the stakes of the host communities are not given due consideration. These communities have suffered the brunts of environmental pollution and they want assurance of sustainable livelihood. We are not sincere about the way we handle the environment,” he said. Wai-Ogosu who is the immediate past president of the Nigeria Environmental Society, also barred his mind on remediation activities by IOCs at polluted sites in the Niger Delta.
He pointed out that the IOCs were not practicing remediation in the Niger Delta, but adopted temporary palliatives to contain the spread of pollution.
“What the IOCs do is not remediation, they only try to cut the spread of the spills by scooping the top soil from where the spill has covered and deceive the larger public that they have remediated.
“Remediation is when you apply reasonable scientific and biological methods to ensure the depth of the spread of the hydrocarbon material is adequately removed from the soil,” he explained .
Explaining the effects of oil spillage on the natural environment, he said the effects depended on the size of the spill, the terrain and the natural resources. He explained further that oil spills extended to 200 kilometres away from where it took place, and in severe cases, its devastation can last for over 50 years, as was the case of Ebubu in Eleme Local Government Area of Rivers State.
The university don also attributed lack of active participation of the Niger Delta region in the oil and gas sector to the “self discriminatory politics” played by the Niger Delta leaders which robbed them of their pride of place and justifiable entitlements in Niger oil politics.
“The oil and gas industry in Nigeria started in the Niger Delta in the late 50s when oil was struck on commercial quantity at Oloibiri in present day Bayelsa State and later in Ogoni, but the region was not able to play key role in the sector because the leaders were not futuristic in their thinking.
“Self discrimination and the minority mentality affected their political alignment. The region was factionalised and operated in splinters; this is responsible for the total disconnect between capacity development and exploitation of resources in the region,” he said.
He noted that in the early 50s, the Ogoni area had become very vibrant in oil wealth but Ogonis were not involved in the acquisition of land for the Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC).
He decried the fact that, “No purposeful attempt have been made in Ogoni and the entire Niger Delta to improve on capacity in both upstream and downstream sector of the oil and gas economy”.
The academic who teaches for free at the Rivers State University as his contribution to the development of the state, regretted that the few Niger Delta indigenes that owned oil blocks had it on political affiliation. He called for the liberalisation of oil blocks allocation to favour the oil bearing and host communities. “The minority mentality is still hunting the Niger Delta, we still do not realise that we need to position ourselves to take legitimate advantage of the oil resources at our domain; we have allowed the dominance of the Federal Government to over shadow us.
“We should be patriotic and stop fighting ourselves, our political leaders should know the limit between patriotic will and political will. Our representatives in the state and the National Assembly (NASS) should rise above self will and exert a high sense of service and social responsibility,” he stated.
Like Theodore Roosevelt, who was one of the earliest conservationist, Wai-Ogosu recognises the right to develop and use our natural resources, but detests the wastages and indiscriminate burning of the natural reserve which according to him, is the very foundation of life.

 

Taneh Beemene

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