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Ogoni Women Unhappy With HYPREP’s Performance

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Some women in Ogoni land have accused the management of Hydrocarbon Pollution Remediation Project (HYPREP) of complete failure, in the on-going Ogoni clean-up exercise.
In a one-day interactive session titled: ‘HYPREP’s Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) On The Ogoni Clean-Up’, organised by Ketbetkache Women Resource and Development Centre, last Monday, participants expressed dissatisfaction over the clean-up exercise.
They alleged that nothing significant has been implemented in regards to the Key Performance Indicators (KPIs), Emergency Measures and others.
The women regretted that the joy they had for having an Ogoni man to head the project has turned to nightmares as HYPREP Head, Marvin Dekil, and other Ogoni indigenes have remained calm watching the entire clean-up process yield no positive result.
Speaking to The Tide, Dr Patience Osarojiji recounted the ugly experiences she had with HYPREP, wondering why HYPREP professes that they practice an open and all – inclusive policy when in reality, the reverse is the case.
Osarojiji stressed that HYPREP has failed the people of Ogoni and as such, the women can no longer keep silent and allow the world believe in what is not on ground in Ogoniland, adding that the palliative measures expected to ameliorate the plight of the Ogoni people have been flawed.
She added that HYPREP ignored the recommendations in the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), Emergency Measures such as the provision of short term potable sources of drinking water, health registry to ensure those that consumed water from the contaminated sources are tested and properly treated, the posting of signs in areas where hydrocarbons were observed on water surface to warn the people not to swim, play, bath or fish in such areas.
Osarojiji stressed that others were the Key Performance Indicators (KPIs), the comprehensive debomission of oil facilities that fail, an asset integrity management plan, the setting up of an integrated contaminated soil management centre subdivided into four units namely: Incinerator, Themal Soil Washing and contaminated water units.
She maintained that what is on ground in terms of the Ogoni Clean-up is a total deviation from UNEP report recommendations. She called on the management of HYPREP to operate a true open policy by allowing people with good ideas and suggestions interface with them, instead of moving around the Ogoni area with heavily gadgeted military men.
Osarojiji stressed further that if HYPREP were sincere in the Ogoni clean-up exercise there would be no need for them to come to the area with heavy military men nor to even place military men all over their premises, adding that more money is rather being spent on security than the clean-up itself.
Also speaking, another woman activist, a councilor in Gokana Local Government Area, Hon Dorathy Korgbara, stated that it was disheartening to see HYPREP avoiding some major questions she asked during their last meeting with HYPREP, she promised to mobilise women in her area so as to ensure that HYPREP do the needful.
Korgbara regreted that it’s more than three years since the Federal Government flaged off the Ogoni Clean-up, yet nothing significant has been done, and quoted the Federal Government as saying: “ the implementation of the UNEP report recommendations on the Ogoni clean-up will be done holistically such that would ensure total accountability, transparency, true and sincere partnership, guarantee job creation for young people as well as agro-allied, proper representation of the people at the grass roots as well as putting in place industries needed for processing agricultural produce,” among others.
She emphasised that it is expected of HYPREP to build a modern industrial enterprise centre to drive the Clean-up process and employ hundreds of Ogoni people.
In his paper presentation, an environment expert, Dr Sam Kabari, stated that baselines study is key to success Indicator and KPIs, adding that it was regrettable that out of all the KPIs HYPREP only has baseline on environment which is a dangerous signal that would not lead to a successful actualization of the Ogoni Clean-up exercise.
Kabari, who works with the Centre for Environment, Human Rights and Development urged women from Ogoni areas to give their full support to HYPREP so as to ensure a huge success in the Ogoni clean-up exercise.
He urged women to understand that one of the mandates of HYPREP is livelihood restoration, charging the the women to know that they are the most impacted, hence should peacefully demand for their livelihood through advocacy and dialogue, among others.
Earlier, the executive director, Ketbetkache Women Development and Resource Centre, Madam Emem Okon, had noted that the event was strategic as it would create opportunity for women drawn from the local government areas in Ogoni land to engage and to deduced from HYPREP’s activities, the proper implementation of KPIs by HYPREP or not.
Emem also charged the Ogoni Women Development Initiative to draw up their programme of activities, noting that bringing them to the knowledge of the centre would give a faster response to some of their challenges saying: ‘we expect the women group to do more as people expect to hear from the women groups in the area’.
She emphasised that the women groups ensure that the KPIs were gender sensitive noting that as part of its contributions in ensuring a huge success in the Ogoni clean-up, CEHRD is ready to take inputs from the women groups at the end of the interactive session, to work with HYPREP so as to ensure a huge success in the Ogoni Clean-up exercise.

 

Susan Serekara-Nwikhana

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Women Rights Group Preaches Accountability, Transparency

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Kebetkache Women Development and Resort Centre, a women rights organisation, has taken a bold step to promote accountability and transparency in order to address issues of corruption as they affect women accessing social services.
The Executive Director, Madam Emem Okon in an interactive workshop session with the International Corrupt Practices Commission (ICPC), the Police and other anti-corruption agencies, organised by the body, on the topic: “Gender And Accountability: Promoting Ethics And Integrity,” recently, in Port Harcourt, called on Nigerian citizens to promote ethical standards, accountability, transparency, and integrity so as to engender peace and progress in the country and society at large.
She said that in order to put an end to the high level of corruption in Nigeria, every citizen needs to conduct themselves in an acceptable manner worthy of emulation and commendation, while calling on anti-corruption agencies as well as the media to intensify efforts as much as possible at building consciousness in that direction.
In her response to if it is only women that suffer corruption and social vices in the society, she said: “Of course we know that it is not only women that require social services: such as quality education, functional health facilities, access to clean drinking water.”
She expressed optimism that if every individual in the society begins to address the issue of corruption internally, there would be hope that in the soonest, it would be a thing of the past.
She charged that everyone need to know what is expected of them, noting that some people are made to feel that they are stupid, weak and don’t know what they are doing when trying to promote transparency and accountability, which ought not to be.
“So people need to be encouraged that it is good to have integrity, it is good to be ethical in your profession. I want to charge participants to take the message home that there is hope as there are institutions that are still upholding integrity,” she said.
She called on both leaders and citizens to have a change of attitude, mindset, behavior in whatever they find themselves doing, adding that their actions should be able to build good governance and better society and not to mar it.
“I am not only calling on leaders, but on every citizen, because people takes bribe, because somebody gives bribe, so am calling on everybody to change attitude, mindset, behavior, so that we can have good governance. If we don’t have good governance, we cannot have those services that make life meaningful.
In his paper presentation titled: ‘Entrenching Principles Of Ethics And Integrity In The Workplace,’ the Guest lecturer, a member of the Independent Corrupt Practices Commission, (ICPC) facilitator, Mr Aveyina Peter defined ethics as those moral principles that control or influence a person’s behavior, or the rule or standards governing the conduct of a person or members of a profession.
Peter also defined integrity as simply “doing the right when no one is watching or the quality of being honest and having strong moral principles,” adding that without integrity individuals are untrustworthy.
Peter stated that ethical frame-works are those constitutional laws set out to checkmate activities of individuals, private, as well as public office holders and where the need arises, prosecute any airing member of the society that abuses his/her office.
He explained that public office is a position of stewardship for which an account must be rendered as it is a public trust as well as a national service for which an oath or pledge is made as a sign of responsibility and obligation to the people being served.
Talking about common forms of ethical risks, he advised that people guide judiciously against such risks, adding that ICPC has continued to surmount all those risks to maintain her integrity.
Peter itemised common forms of ethical risks as non-compliance with rules and regulations, conflict of interests, leakage of confidential information, unorthodox recruitment, compromised procurement, favouritism in training and promotion and abuse of office.
He stressed that if people adhere to rules and regulations and boldly doing the right things always, the society would be a better place for all.
The ICPC facilitator emphasised that ethics promote and preserve the well-being of members of the society as well as guide public servants in carrying out their official duties in order to achieve a united, peaceful and progressive nation, whose social order operates on the ideals of freedom, equality and justice.
He said: “It is the duty of every organisation in the public service to align its corporate behavior with the national ethics and goals.
He maintained that integrity in workplace fosters a positive workplace culture, stressing that organisations known for integrity perform better and as well gain more patronage from members of the society.
Also speaking, a Board member, Kebetkache Women Development Resort Centre, Chief Constance Meju commended ICPC for a well packaged lecture on corruption, describing it as a very welcome development, especially as everybody is crying that corruption is on the increase .
Meju stated that everyone needs to really understand what needs to be done and who needs to do what, noting that one of the things that need be done is first of all, everyone must have to check themselves as individuals in order to know how they are contributing to corruption and have a retrace upon realisation.
She condemned the act of over demanding which she said encourages people to take what does not belong to them.
She stressed that peace and progress cannot be achieved in a nation where there is injustice, noting that in order to achieve peace and progress, everyone must imbibe very high level of ethical standards in their day to day activities.
Meju charged public and private office holders to maintain high ethical standards in the discharge of their duties, while also calling on the anti-corruption agencies to ensure there is no sacred cow, but ensure that corruption check is on all.
Noting that Nigerian leaders are servants, she charged them to serve the interest of the nation first and not their own personal interest.
Meju added that they should also remember that they are in position of power because people put them there and as such they are accountable to the people, adding that they make themselves ready to answer questions, operate an open door policy and be transparent to the people.
She appealed to Nigerian leaders to lead the way that the people should go, noting that leadership is ‘do as I do not do as I say’.
According to her, “Nigerian leaders must ensure that all the sectors function optimally by releasing the needed money that should go to all the sectors as well as ensuring that the people use money judiciously for the purpose it is meant. Everybody should do what is expected of them. If you are in the power sector give us light, if you are in the education sector upgrade our schools, so that we don’t need to send our children out to study abroad. Let everybody go to school here and have quality education.”
Meju maintained that education is very vital and as such it is important to check and monitor what is happening in the educational sector, adding that there is so much corruption as teachers are not teaching the students, thereby making them come out half-baked and as a result can’t defend their certificates which in turn makes the future blink.
She said: “In future we may not just be talking about corruption, we need to make our children employable, we need to make them people that can compete favourably with people from other parts of the world.”

 

Susan Serekara-Nwikhana

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Group Spoils 600 Ikwerre Widows In Rivers

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Over 600 widows recently received the goodwill from the Ikwerre Community Association of California, United States of America as part of the group’s mandate.
Tagged, ‘Ikwerre Widows Project’, the association reached out to the widows in Rivers State as a way of putting smiles on the faces of the widows and other less privileged women from the Ikwerre ethnic nationality.
To this end, members of the association recently visited widows in Rumuewhor and Eli-Brada Communities all in Emohua Local Government Area of Rivers State with food items.
Presenting the food items to one of the happiest widows in Rumuewhor, the association’s representative in Rivers State and Coordinator of the group, Dr Christiana Chukumati, said that the association remains sensitive to the plights of the less privileged in the society, especially the poor widows.
In an interview with The Tide at Eli-Brada Community, Dr (Mrs) Christiana Chukumati said the yearly visit to Ikwerre widows in their various communities was designed to demonstrate the determination of the association to give back to the society, adding that the gesture had been part of ways the Ikwerres in California positively give back to the society.
your father or mother, you have killed your past life. If you kill yourself, you have killed your present life but if you kill children you have killed your future, so if they are not properly guided on time, they will go astray”.
Maintaining that education is key to developing the society, she remarked that if these children are engaged in meaningful ventures, the society would be free of crime, kidnapping and criminality, for an idle mind, she said, is the devil’s workshop.
She therefore, advised parents and elders to collectively put their efforts together to train up children in the way of God so as to attract peace and harmony among the people of the community. She reiterated that it is only when good training is given to children, that youth restiveness, crime and criminal activities are curbed in the society at large.
While she appealed to Ikwerres in California not to relent in their God-given-vision, she called on well-meaning individuals in the state and country at large to emulate the gesture and replicate same to other widows, as well as build up Rivers State instead of helping to run it down
Also speaking, another California representative in Rivers State, Pastor Constance Walker, who commended the efforts of Ikwerre brothers and sisters in California at keeping the initiative afloat since its inception, charged the beneficiaries to undertake meaningful ventures in order to maintain their dignity and be able to cater for their children.
Citing Proverbs 22:6, the cleric enjoined widows to seek God’ wisdom in the training of their children so that when they are old, they will never depart from it.” She thanked the leaders of the two communities for the warm receptions accorded them.
Walker stressed on the need for women to be calm in times of trouble and pray for continuous peace in their communities in order to engender development, nothing that Ogbakor Ikwerre in California would do all they can to continuously support widows if peace continues to exist in Ikwerre communities.
One of the widows, Mrs Mary Okpara, in tears, commended the initiative, saying it is a good thing for the rich to remember the poor, especially at celebration season, but regrets that they have hardly received anything from anyone except from Ogbakor Ikwerre California.
She said: “This is the first time we are witnessing this kind of gesture, where widows who have been forgotten are remembered for good and given hope. God must bless this our people in California.”
Beneficiaries could not hold back their joy as they thanked and prayed for their people in California and their representatives in the state.
Also speaking to The Tide, one of the beneficiaries and leader of the widows, Mrs Wikpe Josephine, thanked the Ogbakor Ikwerre in California for putting smiles on their faces and prayed that God continues to preserve and keep them alive to do more for them.
In her reactions, the coordinator of the widows, Mrs Helen Njigwum, said she was so glad that she could comfortably say that the days of begging during Christmas was over and extends her good will message to those in California, praying that celebration departs not from their households.
Another beneficiary, Mrs Happiness Ebulu recounted how she had been through rough times to the point that family meals was difficult to achive.
The Tide observed that in the two communities visited, the beneficiaries could not contain their joy as they broke into singing, jumping and dancing around the California representatives to express their gratitude.
In their separate reactions, the Nyeweli Rumuowhor, His Royal Highness (HRH), Oha Ikechi Igbukwu, expressed joy over the kind gestures shown by brothers and sisters in California.
Igbukwu added that the gesture was a welcome development, remarking that the visit availed the widows another opportunity of togetherness as well as put smiles on their faces.
He noted that he was excited when he received their letter on the planned visit to Rumuwhor, adding that the food items given to the widows was a big relief for Rumuowhor leadership.
Also in his response, the Acting Paramount Ruler of Eli-Brada, Ohar Abel Obilor, thanked the group for remembering widows in Eli-Brada, wishing that they do more. He prayed that God enlarge their coast to continue to reach out to the poor in the society.

 

Susan Serekara-Nwikhana

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Promoting Beauty In Traditional Attires

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It is often said that women are more conspicous when it comes to fashion. This is so because they take out time to match colours to suit any occasion. Call it child dedication, wedding ceremonies, thanksgiving of every calibre, women are careful enough to select fabrics and colours that leave admirers wondering what heavenly creation is manifested on earth.
Due to the special attention they attach to fashion at every given moment, women have carved a niche for themselves as better handlers of fashion than their male counterparts. Today, you can hardly identify the true cultural background of some ladies by their attires.
The liberalisation culture of the fashion industry may have aided in the cross breeding attitude recently embibed in the fashion theatre, thereby enabling access to all into originally customised and traditionally based styles.
Leveraging on the current trend in the fashion world, Chioma Ubor (alias ADA OC), who recently tied the traditional nuptial knot with her heartthrob, Pastor Promise Nsiegbe, both of Ikwerre background, decided to do it the Kalabari way.
In her deep dark complexioned skin, every onlooker would have adjuged Chioma Ubor to have either hailed from Kalabari or Abua. Her emergence in a Kalabari attire on her traditional wedding helped to confuse her audience the more into believing that the Omerelu-born Ikwerre daughter was actually a Kalabari.
Although the choice of her traditional wedding attire added colour to the event, for Chioma, it was not just about the dressing, but an opportunity to showcase the rich cultural heritage of Rivers State. Ofcourse, as a fashion designer, being a practitioner in the industry with over a decade experience, it was not a difficult decision to make.
To some people, it is fashion on the parade, if not, why should a typical Ikwerre woman be donned in riverine attire on her traditional wedding day? But for others, it is an advent of urban life to the rural area, or a mere display of her talent as a designer.
However, such pattern of dressing, according to her, was to encourage unity in diversity.
She further explained that fashion is another modern peace weapon with the centrifugal force to bind people together.
She explained that the dynamism associated with fashion is another reason why no particular people or group could claim total ownership of any fashion and its design.
She believed that those who bother to claim ownership of any fashion may have in one way or the other copied it from another tribe centuries ago.
Come to think of that, several tribes in the country have a way of respecting or showing love to any one donned in their respective traditional attires, should such be sighted at any place other than their place of origin.
She explained that for those in business, being cladded in other’s traditional attires has a special way of attracting customers in a systematic way. The fashion designer cum stylist, reasoned that such “intentional mistake”, has the power to bring customers.
In her definition of fashion, Chioma said: “It is any dress style that could give the individual the needed fitness or match, irrespective of the season.”
For her, fashion must not necessarily mean that which is en vogue and worn by sundry members of the public, but that which can give or put the wearers in a relaxed frame of mind each time they are donned on it.
Imagining the exorbitant price of materials and its designs in recent time, Chioma charges ladies, especially brides in the making to consider their financial strength before deciding on a particular style of traditional or white wedding attire to make.
The Ada Omerelu (now Ada Rumuwoji), refused to support the idea of postponing occasions like traditional weddings or child dedication ceremonies on grounds of inability to afford a choice or ‘reigning’ material to match the occasion.
She said such has a way of discouraging men, who, she said are impatient. For her, the best approach to adopt, is to embrace the situation and take bold step by appearing in the very available material or fashion.
Chioma, the designer of her own traditional wedding attire, calls on young ladies to make themselves available and indulge in those trades that have the capacity to address some immediate/ daily need of the family.
She pointed out that her family could not spend much in sewing, since there is a ready hand in the family. Citing children’s school wears, Christmas and other festivities, she said that the only thing that will drain the family funds is the purchase of the materials.
She maintained that funds are the basic tool needed for family growth and so, must be jealously saved or frugally spent. The stylist further called on ladies to embrace the fashion industry, due to its juicy nature.
In our own clime, adorning oneself in traditional attire is gradually becoming an issue of cross pollination. People dress in traditional attires regardless of cultural background.
Those days, it was rare to see a northerner donned in any attire apart from his or her known traditional attire. But today, it is a common sight to see a southerner fully cladded with northern traditional attire and vice versa, as if to say, “I won’t be left behind”.

 

King Onunwor

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