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Niger Delta

NGO, Govt, Others Brainstorm On Causes, Effects Of Oil Spill

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With the rising cases of oil spills and its attendant consequences to lives of the people of the Niger Delta region and its environment, an NGO, the Stakeholders Alliance for Corporate Accountability (SACA) has said it would in no distant time facilitate the sending of petitions by children of the region to the British, Dutch and other Embassies in Nigeria for their swift reactions.
The Executive Director of SACA,Mr Kingsley Ozegbe, disclosed this yesterday at a two-day programme, tagged: ‘Child Safeguarding Policy Development Forum’ organised by the NGO in partnership with the Bayelsa state Ministries of Education, Environment and Health as well as the Catholic Education Board and the National Association of Proprietors of Private Schools (NAPPS), in Yenagoa, the Bayelsa State capital.
Ozegbe noted that the adverse effect of spillages in the Niger Delta region cannot be overemphasized, reiterating that children are the most affected victims of oil spills.
He identified vandalism as major cause of oil spillages, just as he said equipment failure on the part of oil majors cannot be over ruled, describing poverty as another contributing factor to vandalism and oil-caused environmental hazards.
The Tide reports that the ‘Child Safeguarding Policy Development Forum’ would be rounded off today, just as the Bayelsa State Chairperson of NAPPS, Dr Christiana MacDonald, doubling as chairman of the SACA’s project management committee (PMC), represented by the secretary of NAPPS, Mr Ugosough Richard, thanked the NGO for the partnership, saying it would yield the expected results.
Also speaking, the State Commissioner for Environment, Gbaranbiri Iselema, represented by the Director, Climate Change of the Ministry, Mr Wakedei Ere, promised government continues partnering the NGO, assuring that government was desirous of achieving a hazard-free environment, especially from spills.
High points of the event were seminar topics, entitled ‘Understanding Child safeguarding’, delivered by Mr Okusaga Raphael, Child Safeguarding Officer, St Patrick’s Missionary Society, West Africa and the representatives of the Bayelsa State Ministry of Health, Dr Wilcox Izibeya, Mr Jeremiah Dangana, assistant Director Pollution, Ministry of Environment.
The duo identified child abuse and neglects as key factors which exposed children to environmental pollution caused by oil spills.
Izibeya, who also consults for the NGO, stated that medical investigations carried out by SACA during a recent study of some oil spill affected communities in the state revealed that the rate of ailments had been on the increase since the spill occurred, in comparison to their health status before the spillages.
“Studies on the health statuses of some communities affected by oil spills showed that diseases and rate of illness were on the rise since the occurrence of the spillages, compared to before the spillages”, SACA said.
“Diseases and other abnormalities associated with oil spill, apart from the discovered increase of about 38%, neonatal mortality rate are, chest infections, slurred speech, headaches, cough, watery stool, vomiting, breathlessness, miscarriages, premature labour and allergic reactions”,
“Congenital heart defect, hydrocephalus, Omphalocele, anencephaly, anaemia, cancer and chronic obstructive airways”, SACA added.

By: Ariwera Ibibo-Howells, Yenagoa

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Niger Delta

A’Ibom Widow Benefits From Gov’s Wife’s House Gift

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Wife of Governor of Akwa Ibom State, Mrs Martha Emmanuel, has given a two-bedroom furnished bungalow to a widow and mother of seven.
The house was built for the widow, Mrs Happiness Isaac, from Utu Ikot at Etim Ekpo Local Government Area of the State and her children whose former abode was in a bad state.
The Tide reports that Mrs Isaac and her children got the house gift, courtesy of Shelter of Hope Programme (FEYReP), a pet project of Mrs Emmanuel.
The governor’s wife said the gesture was part of activities marking the 6th anniversary of FEYReP
“It has been six years of a rewarding experience, touching lives positively across every facet of the state,’’ she said.
She added that with 58 houses so far delivered to indigent families, and many other life-saving opportunities for individuals, God’s grace had been sufficient all the six years.
Mrs Emmanuel noted that the housing scheme was initiated to provide comfortable abodes for the poorest of the poor in the state.
She stressed that the shelters were not limited to widows or widowers, but indigent families that had been independently verified by a team of FEYReP officials.
She thanked her husband, Gov. Udom Emmanuel, whom she described as the Pillar of FEYReP, for supporting her vision.
The governor’s wife also used the event to inform rural women of the on-going interest free loans by the FEYReP’s Multipurpose Cooperative Society, saying they should take advantage of the scheme to be economically independent.
She charged Mrs Isaac not to lose hope as God had not forgotten her.
Mrs Emmanuel further donated undisclosed amount of money and wrappers to 50 other women in the local government area.
In her remarks, Akwa Ibom PDP women leader, Mrs Joyce Lazarus, thanked the governor’s wife for her magnanimity and love for the needy across the 31 local government areas of the state.
She affirmed that Mrs Emmanuel’s lofty programmes through FEYReP had touched many lives in the state.
Also speaking, Sen. Akon Enyakenyi (PDP-Eket Senatorial District) also supported the event with cash.
In an emotion-laden response, Mrs Isaac recalled her ordeal in the past, especially after losing her husband many years ago.
She thanked Mrs Emmanuel for rescuing her from the shackles of death and poverty and prayed God Almighty to bless and reward her.

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Niger Delta

Bayelsa To Partner Media On Tourism Promotion

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The Commissioner for Culture and Tourism in Bayelsa State, Mr Iti Orugbani, has pledged to partner with the media in the promotion of tourism.
The Commissioner stated this last Thursday when members of the Bayelsa Independent Publishers Association (BIPA) paid him a courtesy call in his office at the state Secretariat in Yenagoa, the state capital.
According to Orugbani, the media, especially the local publishers, have been at the vanguard of promoting culture and tourism in the state, using their different newspaper outfits.
He pledged the ministry’s continuous partnership with the newspaper publishers in the state, adding that he would support members of BIPA in any way possible to ensure they meet up modern day publishing technology.
The Commissioner, who was flanked by the Permanent Secretary, Directors and other management staff of the ministry expressed gladness for having members of a highly reputable profession in his office.
Earlier in his address, the chairman of the Bayelsa Independent Publishers Association, Mr Francis Dufugha, thanked the commissioner and his management team for giving the group a warm reception.
Mr Dufugha, who is the Publisher/Editor-in-Chief of the Niger Delta Herald Newspaper, recalled that BIPA was formed in the year 2000 to create an enabling ground for members to ply their trade.
He noted that BIPA had been in developmental partnership with the Bayelsa state government with members using their various newspapers to propagate government’s policies and programmes.
Noting the importance of the tourism subsector, the BIPA chairman said if properly harnessed, it would boost the revenue profile of the state, promising that the publishers would use their different outfits to highlight the tourism potential and cultural heritage of the state to the rest of the world.
The chairman also used the medium to inform the Commissioner of BIPA’s 20th anniversary celebration which will come up later in the year.
Also speaking, Publisher of the Environment Watch Newspaper, Mr. Braeyi Ekiye averred that there were many untapped tourism development potentials in the state such as the proposed Age Deep Seaport, the Okpoama Beach, Oloibiri Museum among others, noting that if harnessed, Bayelsa would become Nigeria’s foremost international tourists destination and home of hospitality.

By: Kevin Nengia

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Niger Delta

Edo Communities Protest Leasing Of Forest Reserve

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Twenty-three communities of Orhionmwon, Edo State, have appealed to the Edo State Governor, Mr. Godwin Obaseki, not to implement the planned leasing of Urhonigbe Forest Reserve to a private investor, Saro Oil Palm.
They also asked the governor to lease somewhere else to the investor since the forest reserve is their only source of livelihood through subsistence farming.
The communities made their submissions to the state government during a peaceful protest in Benin City, noting that their forefathers donated the Urhonigbe forest reserve when other communities refused to make any land available for forest reserve.
Addressing journalists at the Nigerian Union of Journalists (NUJ), Edo State Council, Monday, the spokesman of the protesting communities, Mr. G. O. Osadolor, said: “The Urhonigbe forest reserved is our only means of livelihood, where we do farming to sustain our family and children. Our children who are graduates but have no job are engaged in farming in the forest reserve.
“Many youths from Orhionmwon Local Government Area, who are not interested in criminal activities, engaged in farming in the forest reserve as there is no employment after graduating from school.”
Osadolor lamented that while the widows and widowers were farming in the Urhonigbe forest reserve for survival, Fulani herdsmen kill and pursue indigenes from one side of the land to the other; the people from Delta State also encroached into the forest reserve, adding that the only area left for the communities is the present forest reserve which government is planning to give to an oil palm investor.
He said that one part of the Urghonigbe forest had been handed over to Presco Oil Palm Plc while the little one left for them to farm is being taken from them by the state government to be given to another investor.
“We are begging Governor Godwin Obaseki to relocate Saro or any other oil palm investor to another local government that has virgin land. Orhionmwon do not have such land. The governor should not keep us in hunger and starvation.
Osadolor also drew government’s attention to the deplorable state of roads in Orhionmwon, the lack of electricity at the council headquarters in Abudu, the moving of the NYSC Orientation camp from Abudu to Okada, and the recent attempt to move the School of Forestry Management, Sokponba village in Orhionmwon to Fugar, Etsako Central Local Government Area of the state.

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