Former representative of the Rivers South-East Senatorial District at the National Assembly, Senator Magnus Ngei Abe, has said that Ogoni must benefit from the on-going clean-up exercise of oil impacted sites in the area.
Abe, who disclosed this in a statement he personally signed and posted on his Facebook account, and made available to The Tide, with the title; “Hyprep: Ogoni People Deserve Clearer Explanation”, by his spokeperson, Parry Saroh Benson said it would amount to wasted efforts if the exercise had no lasting impact on the lives of the Ogoni people.
The Senator, who was reacting to a television interview granted by the Coordinator of HYPREP, Dr. Marvin Dekil said: “A few days ago, I listened to the HYPREP Coordinator Dr. Marvin Dekil talking about the Ogoni clean-up and the benefits to the Ogoni community on a National Television. I was a bit worried and would like to request Dr. Dekil to give us some more information”.
“My greatest fear has always been that the one billion Dollars Ogoni Trust Fund will fall victim to the Nigerian factor. The money will be spent in the name of Ogoni with no lasting impact on the lives of the Ogoni people.
“That was why we came up with the idea of converting the Centre of Excellence to a university that will become a lasting legacy from the Trust Fund that will endure the passage of time.”
However, according to the former lawmaker, Dekil’s explanation during the program that each contract will provide a minimum of thirty-five local job opportunities raises more questions than answers.
“What is the nature of these thirty-five jobs Dr. Dekil talked about? Are they permanent placements? What level of employees are we talking about, and how long will they last, Abe questioned.
“While we must thank HYPREP for these opportunities, I think the most important question for the Ogoni people should be who are these contractors and what number of these contractors are local?
“If the contracts require skills that are not locally available what deliberate policy is HYPREP adopting to grow local participation and expand lasting opportunities for the Ogoni people and businesses in the land?
“To argue the way Dr. Dekil did that HYPREP has no obligation to develop Ogoni because the development of Ogoni is not part of its core mandate is to accept the unacceptable.
“It is unacceptable that HYPREP can superintend over the disbursement of one billion Dollars named OGONI TRUST FUND and it will not matter if the Ogoni people benefit from it, as long as there is remediation of impacted sites, because that is not the purpose of HYPREP. I reject that argument however sound the logic behind it”.
The former chairman, Senate Committee on FERMA at the 8th National Assembly stated that he is worried by the comments of Dr. Dekil’s position on the clean-up exercise because it means that the Ogoni people were prepared to accept the unacceptable.
The Ogoni, he said, because of its unique history in the Niger Delta is the first oil-producing and polluted community to benefit from this once in a lifetime opportunity, and there must be a lasting impact for the Ogoni people.
“If the HYPREP mandate does not provide for that then we must find creative ways to make it happen and we have the opportunity to do so now.
“President BuhariI has gone over and beyond the call of duty to make HYPREP real and ensure that it is funded, and our input and participation in the fund is respected. If we fail to serve our people the best we can with this opportunity, we will have no one to blame but ourselves.
“We must also remember that poverty and insecurity are the underlying foundation behind the continued pollution of Ogoni land. In trying to clean-up without addressing these critical issues, HYPREP will merely be wasting the clean-up funds because if illegal bunkering activities continue in the area during or after the clean-up we will be back to square one, (i.e. stuck in a polluted environment full of poverty and human suffering).
Abe called on Ogoni people to be aware that if they should end up in the same spot after spending a billion Dollars history will be most unkind to them.
“I had stated from the beginning that I will not get involved in HYPREP so I can see clearly what goes on. I think the Ogoni people deserve a clearer explanation than the one we are getting thus far”, he added.
By: Susan Serekara-Nwikhana
Reps Move To Confer Immunity On Senate President, Speaker …As Bill Scales Second Reading
The bill to confer immunity on the President of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives, has scaled second reading despite opposition.
The bill also seeks to confer immunity on presiding officers of the State House of Assembly to shield them from prosecution when they are occupying their offices
The bill sponsored by Segun Odebunmi was considered, yesterday and passed through second reading despite opposition from members.
The Presiding officer, Femi Gbajabimila initially expressed reservation on presiding over the debate to prevent conflict of interest.
He said the bill should be tweaked to state that the current presiding officers will not benefit from it.
He however, did not step aside as support for the bill came across party lines.
“If it’s on presiding officers, I cannot preside on this bill, there is a conflict of interest. If the bill is on subsequent presiding officers, you should put a futuristic commencement date,” he said.
Leading the debate on the bill, Odebunmi said that, “in spite of the uninterrupted concentration required for carrying out effective legislative duty, this institution has suffered serious distractions in the past.
“Either genuine or not, such distractions have had serious negative impact on quality of legislation, as well as discouraging presiding officers of the legislative institution’s at national and state levels from taking the bull by the horn or take certain critical decisions when necessary for fear of unknown.”
Sergious Ogun, in his contribution rejected the bill and called for the removal of the immunity clause preventing prosecution of the Executive.
Ogun said: “Where we are today in our democracy, many are asking that we remove the immunity of the president and governors. I don’t think we need such as a parliament. I think we need to lift the immunity of the president. If we have a judiciary that is working, there is no reason why we cannot have president or governor going to jail.”
The Minority leader of the House, Ndudi Elumelu also opposed the bill that there are more pressing issues, such as insecurity which the House ought to pay more attention to.
Lawmakers Query NIMASA Over Claims On Management Accounts
The House of Representatives Committee on Public Accounts has directed a status inquiry on Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) over the agency’s claim of not having management accounts between 2012 and 2017.
Chairman of the committee, Rep. Wole Oke gave the directive during an investigative hearing into the presentation of audit reports of ministries, departments and agencies, yesterday.
The committee is investigating the deliberate and reckless refusal by non-treasury and partially funded agencies to render their audited accounts from 2014 to 2018 to Auditor-General of the Federation.
“You have management accounts and you have audited accounts. Are you saying you do not have management accounts for 2012 till 2017?
“DFA, get the two right. The management account is a document of NIMASA itself and that is the document and other primary accounts that you avail your auditors to vet and form their opinion.
“It will be very embarrassing for an agency such as NIMASA not to have management accounts from 2012. Then what are you doing there?’’, he asked.
The management of NIMASA was led by the Minister of State for Transportation, Sen. Gbemisola Saraki.
Oke also queried the agency’s non-remittance of its audited reports between 2015 and 2018 to the Office of the Auditor-General.
He added that the non-compliance by the agency to remit its audited reports stifled the federal government efforts in nation building.
He also expressed disappointment in the failure of the Director-General, NIMASA, Mr Dakuku Peterside, to appear before the committee.
“I will refer you to the provisions of our constitution; the constitution unambiguously placed this arm of government before other arms under Section 4.
“I got that letter and I replied him that he cannot put that engagement before the parliament because NIMASA has, on several occasions, disrespected this parliament.
“It is on that note that the committee resolved that the minister of state should cause appearance since, if he does not respect people, perhaps he will respect the minister.
Kidnapping, Banditry: Nasarawa Assembly Passes Witness Protection Bill
The Nasarawa State House of Assembly, yesterday passed the Witness Protection Bill to give witnesses the boldness, confidence and protection to testify in court.
Alhaji Ibrahim Abdullahi, the speaker of the House, announced the passage of the bill at plenary after Alhaji Tanko Tunga (APC-Awe North), the Majority Leader, moved a motion for the passage.
Abdullahi said that the bill, if assented to by the governor, would go a long way in curtailing the rate of crime in the state and the country at large.
He added that the bill would also give witnesses the opportunity to present evidence, expose and report to the police and other security agencies without fear of molestation.
Abdullahi further explained that the bill would enhance criminal justice in the state and the country at large.
The speaker, thereafter, mandated the Clerk of the House to produce a clean copy of the bill for Gov. Abdullahi Sule’s assent.
Earlier, Tunga while moving the motion for the passage of the bill, urged his colleagues to support the bill to allow it scale through third reading.
The motion was unanimously adopted by members when it was put to a voice vote by the speaker.
Meanwhile, the sponsor of the bill, Alhaji Mohammed Alkali (APC-Lafia North) told newsmen that he was delighted with the passage of the bill.
Alkali said: “I am happy that the bill saw the light of the day.
“I want to urge the Ministry of Justice to sensitise the public on the importance of the bill as nobody will be afraid while testifying in court,” he said.
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