Sometime in the late 1990s when the initial construction phases of the liquefied natural gas (LNG) plant on Bonny Island were still ongoing, the Nigeria LNG Limited (NLNG) arranged for a delegation of some prominent Bonny indigenes to visit a similar LNG project jointly financed by Petronas (Malaysia’s national oil company), Shell and Mitsubishi in 1978 and which was already operational on the Malaysian Island of Bintulu.
My uncle and the then Secretary of Jumbo Major House of Bonny, Warisenibo Henderson Jumbo, was on that delegation. I remember publishing a full-page interview which I had with him regarding the trip back then. He was, indeed, the first person on that trip to publicly hint at the size and potentials of what was coming to Grand Bonny Kingdom.
The smooth, safe and peaceful relocation of the entire Finima community had already been concluded then, thanks to the negotiating skills of Chief Israel Idamiebi-Brown during the series of negotiations in London and elsewhere. For displaying stunning adroitness, he was often lifted shoulder high by his jubilant kinsmen on returning from some of those conferences. The legal luminary and former Rivers State Attorney-General and Commissioner of Justice may also have been on the Bintulu facility tour.
New Finima, as it was then called, was next to pure heaven. In fact, early visitors to the place may have turned green with envy on seeing the alluring design and pattern of new residences and the fact that some of the natives who had just been evacuated from mostly congested, leaking huts and dilapidated block houses were now proud owners of out-spaced modern homes, paved roads and recreational grounds, among other social amenities.
In those days, transportation from Bonny main town to Finima and back was free as there was literally an ubiquity of brand new airconditioned Toyota Coaster buses running an almost 18-hour service daily. Indeed, I can recall making about three sightseeing trips on a particular day from Bonny to the new settlement while still seated in the same bus, free of charge. Some there were who made more of such trips daily, almost converting it to a regular pastime.
For me, that period was quite epochal as it marked the beginning of the trust and sincerity of purpose between NLNG and Grand Bonny Kingdom which, from all indications, have endured to this day.
At the peak of construction work on the NLNG base project, it is on record that TSKJ and its numerous subcontractors engaged about 18,000 workers. And their presence mounted enormous pressure on the then available social infrastructure in Bonny and its hinter communities. For instance, house rent took an astronomical rise with as many as 10 persons sharing a room where available. Those who could not afford it made do with the corridors and open football fields of the primary schools in town.
For those who do not know or who may have forgotten so soon, TSKJ was an acronym for the special purpose vehicle (SPV) that delivered the US$1.8 billion LNG facility on Bonny Island. While it existed, the name stood for Technip, Snamprogetti, Kellogg and JGC (Japan Gasoline Company). It was a joint effort between some of the best engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) firms in the world.
Prior to the arrival of NLNG, Bonny people had borne the brunt of Shell’s gas flare and oil export activities, particularly noise from the ceaseless landing and take-off of helicopters. The Island hosts Nigeria’s first and largest crude oil export terminal built and operated by Shell. Tank Farm, as the locals call it, accounts for 35% of the nation’s petroleum exports and was an important target for both federal and rebel forces during the Nigerian Civil War in the late 1960s.
It was, therefore, gladdening to notice that the arrival of NLNG practically upped the ante for Bonny. Schools and pupils in the Kingdom have continued to enjoy donations of desks and textbooks. The gas firm, working in alliance with Shell and ExxonMobil, has since floated a Joint Industries Committee (JIC) to oversee internal road construction and repairs, electricity generation and distribution, and water supply and reticulation, particularly on the mainland.
The LNG firm has also joined in the provision of cargo boats to enhance transportation between Port Harcourt and Bonny. Its multi-million naira micro-credit facility to cooperatives in the Kingdom and elsewhere has been quite commendable. What’s more, the company has since 2004 instituted the NLNG Grand Award Night during which it honours and publicly rewards outstanding accomplishments in Arts and Science from across the country.
Except for the new airport project on the ancient Island, by far the biggest intervention of any oil and gas firm in the life of the Ibanis is the ongoing construction of a N120.6 billion road project from Bodo to Bonny. Not only will it make for an easy connection to the rest of Nigeria, it also has the potential of bringing down the high cost of living on the Island. Already, it has created employment for previously jobless Bonny and other Rivers youths.
Originally planned as a joint project to be funded on equal basis by the federal government and NLNG, work on the 37.9 kilometre road would have been stalled had the latter not acted in good time. Whereas the gas company had since laid out its counterpart fund and with which construction work began, the government had not been forthcoming with its own obligation. It is highly commendable that NLNG has opted to fully finance the project and deduct the extra cost from its tax remittances to the government.
Bintulu had barely operated for 20 years at the time the Bonny delegation arrived. The visiting Ibanis were obviously encouraged by what was on the ground over there. Question is: after more than 20 years of operation with almost 10 times additional investment, can the NLNG facility in Bonny provide the same inspiration to other upcoming LNG projects elsewhere around the world? Methinks the answer is an emphatic yes.
By: Ibelema Jumbo
Citizen And Government Reciprocity
Simply speaking, reciprocity refers to rewarding kind actions and punishing unkind actions. It is the practice of exchanging values with others for mutual benefits.
There is Government-citizen reciprocity. Mutual exchange of privileges between the people or the governed and the government is predicated on the principle of social contract. First the people vote for a government to assume the mantle of leadership while the government is expected to reciprocate this gesture of mandate by fulfilling their electioneering promises.
In a second perspective social psychologists see reciprocity as a “Social norm of responding to a positive action with another positive action, rewarding kind action”.
How can the citizens and residents of Rivers State demonstrate reciprocity with the Government of the State over the dividends of democracy delivered to them in the last six years?
Surely Rivers State Government through its New Rivers Vision blue print has delivered the needed development and general good.
It is interesting to recall that when Rivers State Government began its Urban Renewal Programme and building of road infrastructure, it called on Rivers people to make the necessary sacrifice to enable government complete the projects on record time.
The projects indeed are expected to add great values to the people and the city of Port Harcourt in terms of aesthetics and improved urban logistics.
Only those with village mentality can wish away the beauty, glamour and convenience which the modern fly over in Port Harcourt has provided.
It is also important to observe that Rivers State Government took the right steps when it contracted the services of the Civil Engineering giants Julius Berger. The German firm has reputation of delivering solid and functional projects in Nigeria.
It was on the bases of this reputation that Rivers State Government pleaded with host communities of the ongoing construction of fly overs to observe restraint in their expectations and demands.
Government has also encouraged Julius Berger to exercise full corporate Social responsibility to the benefits of host communities.
These communities were expected to organize their unemployed youth population to engage in lower grade labour and supplies peacefully.
The recent grandstanding by some members of these host communities in the State capital is therefore worrisome.
These restive youths were expected to reciprocate the gesture of State Government in hosting and protecting these infrastructures in their communities.
The government had appealed to them through their community leaders to observe the necessary restraint and allow the company to complete the projects to avoid the uncompleted project syndrome in the state.
The government/citizen reciprocity was expected to play out here in the positive sense. The positive gesture by the people should be by owning and protecting these projects from any form of sabotage.
Sabotage on public infrastructure has become serious threat in the state and some, as in the case of the Julius Berger Community boys brouhaha could be politically motivated. It will be unfair for any group of persons or community to instigate any form of crisis to abort the plans and programmes of Government to the people, for any negative reason. When the right hand washes the left hand, the left hand in return washes the right hand. Road infrastructure is a venture that adds social and economic values to the beneficiaries. It opens and expands the space of a given community, saving it from suffocating grid lock which affects social and economic activities of communities in close proximity.
According to Carrol Ouigley “The basis of social relationship is reciprocity: if you cooperate with others, other will cooperate with you”.
Government of Rivers State has shown good will to all the people of the state. Governor Nyesom Wike has demonstrated enough concern for the welfare and wellbeing of the state. He has brought development to every part of the State, irrespective of their political and ethnic inclinations.
The Trans Kalabari High way project conundrum had lingered too long. One would have thought that the rescue plan of Government in prosecuting it would bring Joy to the people of the area and elicit support of all segments of that society.
Unfortunately, those who do not want any good for themselves and government have begun criminal activities, aimed at crippling the project.
There was an era in this state when government projects were grounded because of criminal activities by few citizens.
The recent kidnapping of staff of the firm working on that project is a sad commentary which brings back sad memories of the past. Insecurity is anathema to development. The Trans Kalabari High way project is expected to open up the area which is in the heart of Creeks, and Rivers. Community leaders should rise up to the occasion and call their people to order. A difficult terrain such as this makes the penetration of development very difficult.
The one city status of Rivers State will continue to subsist if communities are not opened up for social infrastructure and economic investment.
The security operatives in Rivers State should protect development projects from the activities of men of the underworld. It is on record that Rivers State Government has been supporting and providing for all security Operatives in the State. It is therefore incumbent on the Police and the Armed Forces to reciprocate by showing capacity in protecting lives and property in the State. The Federal Government must reciprocate the gesture of Rivers State Government and motivate functional security architecture in the State.
By: Bon Woke
NAWOJ: Blazing A Trail
Nigerians were told (thanks to The Tide newspaper of 17/9/2021 – page 4) that the cry of a mother of quadruplets for help was answered by the Rivers State Chapter of the Nigeria Association of Women Journalists (NAWOJ). We live in an environment where cries of agony by those in distress often die in the wind, while a few people live in obscene opulence, unmindful of the plight of the masses. Therefore, NAWOJ deserves to be praised for coming to ameliorate the plight of a mother of quadruplets.
NAWOJ was not alone in that rescue operation, because we were told that a non-governmental organisation, Susan Brown Foundation, also participated in giving help to the distraught mother. Although the woman had already lost one of the quadruplets, it was still an ordeal having to cater for the three new babies remaining. Worse still, prior to the delivery of the quadruplets, the woman was homeless, her old batcher residence having been demolished shortly before she gave birth to the quadruplets. Besides, she had three children before.
Nature and destiny can be quite humorous in the manner of dispensing of gifts and penalties to humans. Quadruplets would mean a woman having four babies in one single pregnancy, even when she did not ask for such blessing. On the other hand, there are several women and married couples longing for babies for several years, without having any. There are also distraught mothers who sell or throw away the babies they do not want.
Definitely the association of women journalists must play some vital roles towards the ennoblement, rather than abuse, of the status of women generally. Apart from being endowed with a more highly developed intuitive perceptive ability, women are known to give impetus, encouragement and support to the menfolk. Even when such upbuilding support comes by way of nagging and tantrums, still, women do educate, guide and inspire men towards greater endeavours.
Women are more likely to win greater sympathy and understanding of an obtuse audience, in situations which demand setting noble standards. For women in journalism, in particular, they are in a better position to take on the task of women, such as the one who had quadruplets, whose batcher residence was demolished and who had no tangible source of income. Obviously, Mrs Patience Essien Isaac is not alone in the categories of Nigerians whose conditions are pathetic. There are many more who cannot cry out to NAWOJ.
Let this appeal be made to NAWOJ to launch a project or programme of looking into and bringing to the limelight the plight of Nigerian women like Mrs Isaac. Not waiting until they cry out for help but carry out detailed investigative or research journalism to dig out the relevant facts and conditions. Like the Susan Brown Foundation, NAWOJ can also institute a Foundation that would focus on the peculiar plight of destitute women, single mothers, abused and abandoned women. Then appeal can be made to Nigerians of goodwill to support such NAWOJ Foundation.
It would not be enough to bring to the limelight the plight and abuses that women face in Nigeria, but such project would also take on the task of family planning. Family planning should not be a responsibility for women alone, because men too should go for vasectomy, especially after having three children. There is quite a lot that women journalists can do as an association, besides focus on political and other mundane issues.
For example, the enigma of quadruplets can be researched into in order to enlighten the public on what lies behind such phenomena. According to some beliefs, there is a growing and several valid evidence that a large number of souls in the beyond are longing to be born as human babies, for the purpose of gratifying several goals. The majority of such souls longing to be born are usually those burdened with heavy guilts which they seek to atone for on Earth. It is in rare cases that noble souls would long to be born on Earth at this time, largely because the globe is passing through hard and troubled times.
There are also increasing cases of abuses of sex and the dignity of womanhood at the present time, of which women themselves are not helping matters. Just as nice dresses do not make nice women, so also does bodily appearance not make a genuine woman. A woman can become unwomanly through many forms of abuses and negligences which may look harmless on the surface. It is wrong for a woman to engage in masculine activities and lifestyle, but many women do so under the guise of gender equality.
The kind or quality of souls attracted to couples is determined by the quality of the woman who provides the bridge for incarnating souls. Without elements of refinement a woman would hardly attract and retain a noble soul as a baby.
NAWOJ Foundation can embark on the task of women education with the collaboration of other interested bodies. As home makers, women should learn what it takes to build a stable and happy home. What men detest most in women include a domineering and belligerent attitude, especially when coupled with nagging tantrums. Many women have these flaws in great abundance. A care-free attitude in homekeeping also shows in the manner of dressing, causing men’s attention to divert to somewhere else.
The home is an ideal environment for everybody, of which a woman plays a vital role. The body needs recreation, rest, nourishment and harmony. For those women who would behave and talk like regimental sergeant-major, they soon grow wrinkles on their faces which cosmetics would hardly remove. While congratulating NAWOJ for giving help to a mother of quadruplets, there are more tasks it can veer into in order to make the society more sensitive to the plight of the less privileged.
Dr Amirize is a retired lecturer from the Rivers State University, Port Harcourt.
50th Edition Of Catalogue: A Reflection
This is our 50th Edition on this weekly column christened catalogue on The Tide News paper.
Catalogue was created to look at trending issues of National importance, subject them to critical rationality and seek solutions. In Biblical Numerology, the number 50 is a symbol of freedom, release and a period of atonement and forgiveness of debts, release of those in slavery. We have had Fifty weeks of consistent and regular critical profiling of trends. For catalogue, 50th Edition means the beginning of a new cycle of critical realism and pursuit of new strategies in analyzing socio-economic realities of our time.
It is our belief that everything taken from the Nigerian people in form of denial by the powers that be will be redeemed.
These include the rule of law, security of life and property, peace, true federalism, free elections, fiscal federalism, freedom from hunger and denial of common prosperity.
Catalogue in the last 50 Editions has pursued the vision and mission of articulating advocacies for a better Nigeria. We have looked at the failure of institutions in Nigeria and have critically associated it with a social malaise called the Nigeria Factor.
We observed that “the excuse for failure called the Nigeria Factor is anathema to development. The positive philosophy in Nigeria is called the Nigerian Spirit.”
The above quote in that edition sums up the Nigerian dilemma, where the Nigerian spirit to strive, thrive and succeed is shrouded by a negative spirit of excuse for failure.
Anything that works elsewhere can’t work here because of the albatross that assaults the national psyche; “The Nigeria factor” which includes corruption, laziness, incompetence, ethno religious factors, lack of innovativeness etc.
Another edition of catalogue in the period under review dealt with the poor Reward System in Nigeria.
Catalogue had observed that Nigerians Eat the Bread of sorrow daily in all their efforts to survive.
Bread of sorrow is the angst and disappointment we experience in any of our struggle as a people or individuals when we gain nothing in the process.
In the book of Psalm 127 verse 2, David wrote: “it is vain to rise up early, to sit up late to eat the Bread of Sorrow. He said the Lord blesses His people even when they are asleep. Bread of Sorrow is the anxiety and vain pursuit to profit from the good things of life in the absence of divine direction.
The experience of Nigerians is that of misadventure and futility in all sectors of the economy.
We observed that many Nigerians Eat the Bread of Sorrow in their every day pursuits in a dislocated and unsustainable economy where the take home of workers cannot take them home and the efforts of the labourer end in meager earnings.
Unfortunately, we concluded in a quote “The reward system is one in which bad governance has led every employee in the labour sector to the table served with the Bread of Sorrow.”
The situation is like the proverbial “working like an Elephant and eating like an Ant.
Catalogue has also looked into the predicament of young people in Nigeria. We wrote: “The younger generations of Nigerians in particular are hooked unto drugs and substance abuse. Expert say, young people between the ages of 19 and 22 years have been initiated into the unholy communion.”
The Tide News investigation revealed that no fewer than 14.3 Million Nigerians between the ages of 16 and 64 are involved in one substance abuse or the other, including psychotropic substances like cocaine.
Unemployment and other socio-economic factors are responsible for this development.
There is therefore the need for sustainable social rehabilitation programmes in the country.
States should Follow the example of Rivers State in this sector.
Recall that Rivers State Government reconstructed and fully equipped the Iriebe Rehabilitation center.
A major pre-occupation of Catalogue has been the call for devolution of powers in most of the previous editions. The devolution of power to the Federating States has been resisted by very strong forces in the polity.
We are excited that in this 50th Edition of our column, which is a coincidence in our pursuit of a new cycle, that Governor Wike has set a new agenda for Fiscal Federalism.
The recent moves to domicile the collection of Value Added Tax (VAT) in Rivers State is a bold step in this revolution to ensure that states benefit fully from their God-given resources.
It is however sad that some people who have been clamouring for Resource control have now exposed their deceitful fangs to bite off the new vision. We now know the true heroes of our state. Happily, Lagos State has joined the fray.
It is therefore a non-partisan struggle.Why should some states be exploited for the benefits of others?
Why should some states display the trait of the proverbial chichidodo, a bird that enjoys eating maggots with relish but hates excrements as captured by Ayi Kwei Amah’s “The Beautyful Ones Are Not Born”? Kano State and other states display this hypocrisy, as they have placed ban on the sale and production of alcohol in their states but enjoy VAT from the products from other states. Every state should enjoy the revenue from the value they have given to their resources.
The courts may stop VAT for now but the revolution to change the narrative has begun.
Catalogue is mourning the death of the amiable, forthright, hardworking Acting Editor (Daily) of The Tide group, Lady Juliet Njiowhor. According to Albert Pike. “What we have done for ourselves alone dies with us; what we have done for others and the world remains and is immortal”. Madam Julie as we addressed her supported the hoisting of the column Catalogue on The Tide News paper, strategic page 9, every Wednesday. Without her cooperation Catalogue wouldn’t have been created. May her humble soul rest in peace. Amen
By: Bon Woke
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