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‘Traditional Rulers, Stakeholders In Dev’

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Rivers State Deputy Governor, Engr. Tele Ikuru (right) with the Bayelsa State Governor, Chief Timipre Sylva (left) and his wife Alanyingi  at a function in Yenagoa, Bayelsa State, recently.

Rivers State Deputy Governor, Engr. Tele Ikuru (right) with the Bayelsa State Governor, Chief Timipre Sylva (left) and his wife Alanyingi at a function in Yenagoa, Bayelsa State, recently.

Traditional Rulers and institutions in the South South region have been described as integral stakeholders in the quest by the federal and state governments to implement sustainable development programmes for the peoples of the Niger Delta. This call was contained in a statement issued by the Ashcraft Centre for Democracy and Legislative Development, a civil society Non Governmental Organisation, to announce a planned retreat for traditional leaders of the South South scheduled to hold in Port Harcourt, Rivers State from 24th to 27th August, 2009. According to the statement, signed by the Secretary, Planning Committee, Dr Chiakor, Alfred Orkuma, the retreat is a signature event planned with the view to building the capacities of traditional royalties to enable them respond to operating challenges in a democratic dispensation especially in the areas of advocacy, mobilization, community development, conflict mediation and resolution. Dr. Chiakor said that, “The imperative of the retreat is predicated on the premise that as Nigeria seeks to build and strengthen its democracy, there is the compelling urgency to recognize the contributions and centrality of traditional institutions in the configuration of its democratic equation”. Speaking further the Ashcraft Scribe stated that, “The government, both at the Federal, state and local levels are conscious of the necessity of mainstreaming traditional institutions in its evolving democracy and at the same time consolidating mechanisms for grassroots development, advocacy and conflict mediation and resolution and has taken major steps in involving traditional institutions in the democratic governance project” adding that “This is manifested in the empowerment initiatives for the traditional institutions like procurement of automobiles and other welfare packages. It is therefore not enough that these welfarist initiatives are provided without definitive roles designed for the institutions. This informs the thrust of this retreat,” the statement said. Highlighting the importance of traditional rulers in nation building, the statement opined that, “traditional institutions can valuably orientate their different communities towards their respective values, cultures and histories, as basis on which politics can be construed.” Explaining the motivation for the retreat, the statement reported that the event will help to align and harmonize traditional governance institutions with the mechanisms of the modern state amongst other imperatives. “This retreat is imperative because it has a direct practical relevance in seeking to help shape the future of our collective identity, strengthen the ideals of our traditional institutions to our collective psyche and as well invest in it as a strategy for positive confidence building without forgetting our collective history and heritage” The idea behind all this, the statement continued, “is to keep the flame of our rich cultural heritage alive without losing the authority to interprete the meaning of concepts that are essential constituents of our unique traditions”. Speaking further, Dr. Chiakor also noted that, “This is principally borne out by a growing recognition that capable democratic states must be grounded on indigenous social values and contexts, while adapting to changing realities” According to him, the retreat also hopes to seize the opportunity to confront head on two grave problems: the considerable loss of confidence among citizens in the effectiveness and providence of our traditional institutions, and the profound insecurity of our people in a world that is changing more swiftly and fundamentally than ever before. The retreat, which is scheduled to take place at the Atlantic Hall, Hotel Presidential, Port Harcourt Metropolis from the 24th to 27th August, 2009, is being put together by the Ashcraft Centre for Democracy and Legislative Development, a non- partisan, non profit making CSO which operates a neutral forum for open discussion and informed dialogue and whose core objective is to build capacities for good governance, human resources engineering and policy stimulation.

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Niger Delta

2023: Bayelsa Commissioner Hails Wike Over Fubara’s Emergence

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Bayelsa State Commissioner for Ijaw National Affairs, Elder Patrick Uche Owaji Erasmus, has commended the Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike, and leaders of political parties in the state on the emergence of former Accountant-General of the state, Sir Siminialayi Fubara, and other citizens of the state of Ijaw extraction as gubernatorial candidates in the 2023 general elections.
Erasmus made the commendation while fielding questions from newsmen in Yenagoa, the Bayelsa State capital, on the sidelines of his being part of the Bayelsa State Governor’s entourage to the Ijaws in diaspora conference recently held in New Jersey, United States of America.
He noted that the American trip afforded him the opportunity of having firsthand information on issues concerning Ijaws resident in the American continent, saying, Ijaws worldwide were happy on the emergence of Rivers-Ijaws as governorship candidates in the oil rich state.
The Andoni-born Bayelsa Commissioner, who also lauded the Bayelsa State Governor, Senator Douye Diri, for his consistency and proactive stance on matters affecting Ijaws irrespective of their states of origin, stated that with the emergence of Siminialayi Fubara as the PDP gubernatorial standard bearer and others, he was confident that an Ijaw man would once again become Governor of the multi-ethnic state.
The commissioner restated that while successive executive governors of Bayelsa State had never abdicated their responsibilities as Governor-Generals of the Ijaw nation, Ijaws in all parts of the world believed that the victories of their brothers and sisters as governorship candidates in the primary elections of the dominant political parties in Rivers State would translate to victory for the best amongst them in the 2023 general elections.
He also stressed that the Rivers-Ijaw gubernatorial standard bearers were all people of proven integrity, whom he believes would bring their experiences and expertise to bear in the governance of the State when elected in the forthcoming polls.
“I want to commend the Governor of Rivers State, Barr. Nyesom Wike, on the emergence of Sir SiminialayiFubara as the PDP governorship flag-bearer in the State. But I’d also like to commend other parties which have fielded Ijaw sons and daughters as their governorship candidates in the state.
“Ijaws have and are still contributing to the development of Rivers State in all ramifications. Ijaws occupy no fewer than nine LGAs in Rivers State and it’s our belief that with the emergence of our Sons and daughters, brothers and sisters as gubernatorial standard bearers in the forthcoming polls, our unity would once again be demonstrated in our quest to produce the Governor of the State.
“But I wouldn’t fail to thank my boss, the Miracle Governor of Bayelsaa State, for his proactive and consistent stance on issues relating to Ijaws nationally and even in the diaspora.
“The recent Ijaw Diaspora conference in the United States has afforded us the opportunity to continue to inform the world as well as has kept us abreast of issues affecting our people in all parts of the world, especially in the Americas”, Erasmus said.

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Niger Delta

Oil Theft: Okowa Wants Surveillance Contract Review On Facilities

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Governor Ifeanyi Okowa of Delta State has advocated for a review of surveillance contracts on oil facilities to involve host communities in order to check the high rate of oil theft in the country.
Okowa made the call when he received a Federal Government delegation on anti-il theft led by the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Chief Timipre Sylva, on Monday in Asaba.
He said reviewing oil surveillance contracts based on performance of the contractors and engagement of host communities would ensure effectiveness in securing the nation’s oil and gas assets.
According to get Governor, the challenge of oil-theft was huge, given the level it had assumed, but expressed happiness with steps taken by the authorities to curb the menace.
“I am glad that we are discussing this hydra-headed issue which impacts directly on our economy and the environment.
“It impacts on the health of the people and sustainability of the environment and I am glad that we are taking some steps because there are so many issues that led us to this.
“We went through situations where gaps where created between host communities and oil companies, and unfortunately criminality set in.
“It has gone so bad but we are doing our best as a state. I am also glad with this collaboration,’’ he said.
The Governor said it was pertinence of a review of surveillance contracts of the oil facilities to ensure community involvement.
Okowa said that it was often difficult to secure the facilities, especially when the persons given the contracts did not have adequate information on the environment or not have the buy-in of host communities.
“We know that the impact of the nefarious activities on the health of the people cannot be immediately ascertained and this collaboration is, therefore, very imperative.
“Any measure that will deliberately reduce the level of oil thefts is definitely worth supporting, and as a state government, we pledge our continued support.
“Why investment of the communities is needed is because there are some parts of the creeks that cannot be accessed by the surveillance contractor.
“The surveillance contracts should be tied to performance such that when there are oil thefts, you terminate the contract and it is always good that communities are involved because they know the environment better,” he said.
He, however, flayed the oil companies for not keeping faith with their Memorandum of Understanding (MOUs), thereby making the stakeholders to lose confidence in the system.
Okowa said that when oil companies failed to sign or implement MOUs, “it becomes very difficult for the state government to mediate when there are issues.
“The security agencies must heighten their operations and they need to be resourced to enable them to also increase their level of surveillance and for this to succeed, there must be sincerity on the part of all stakeholders”, he stated.
Earlier, Sylva said that the team was in Asaba to seek the support and buy-in of the state government on measures to be adopted to check oil-theft.
He said that oil theft had become a national emergency, especially as the nation had not been able to meet its OPEC production quota.
“As a country we cannot sustain this kind of theft perpetually.
“Our production has dropped drastically to very unsustainable levels; so, we have decided to take the bull by the horn by putting some structures in place.
“Those structures cannot function effectively without the collaboration of the state government,” he said.
Also speaking, the Chief of Defence Staff, Gen. Lucky Irabor, who is coordinating the security intervention against oil theft, disclosed that in the last five months security agencies had been dealing with issues of illegal refineries and oil bunkering across the Niger Delta.
He also advocated for the engagement of indigenes and host communities in the fight against the criminal activity.
On his part, Group Chief Executive Officer of NNPC Limited, MalamMeleKyari, said that Nigeria was currently losing about two billion dollars monthly to the activities of oil vandals, with its attendant effect on environmental degradation.
“As a country, we hardly meet our OPEC production quantum of 1.99 million barrels per day with our current production level of 1.4 million barrels per day which is currently being threatened by the activities of these economic saboteurs.
“This has done extensive damage to the environment and losing 1.9 billion dollars every month is colossal, considering the nature of the global economy at the moment,’’ he said.
Kyari reinstated that the team needed the support and buy-in of Delta Government “because stopping this oil theft requires the concerted efforts of the Federal, State Governments, oil companies and security agencies”.

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Niger Delta

Delta Transports 312 Christian Pilgrims To Jordan

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About 312 Christian pilgrims from Delta State were on Monday transported to the Holy land, Jordan, in Israel through the Port Harcourt International Airport.
The Executive Secretary, Nigerian Christian Pilgrim Commission (NCPC), Rev. Yakubu Pam, at the departure briefing in Asaba, warned the intending pilgrims against absconding.
The NCPC boss, represented by the Director of Mobilisation, Mr Chris Udegbunam, lauded Governor Ifeanyi Okowa for his consistency in the sponsorship of Christians in the state on pilgrimage.
Pam congratulated the intending pilgrims for their level of preparedness both spiritually and physically to embark on the journey of faith.
According to him, “it is the policy of the commission to achieve zero absconding of pilgrims in the Holy land.”
He, therefore enjoined not to abscond, adding, “he commission frowns seriously at it and would do everything humanly possible to discourage it.”
Okowa, represented by the Commissioner, Bureau for Special Duties, Johnbull Edema, urged the pilgrims to be good ambassadors of the state and not bring disrepute to the state government.
He said that as pilgrims they need to conduct themselves in a manner befitting and worthy of Christians.
Okowa said that the exercise would offer opportunity for the pilgrims to visit historical biblical sites they read in the Bible and to draw them closer to God.
He urged them to pray and seek the face of God for the peace, unity and development of the state and county particularly as the nation gradually approaches the 2023 General Elections.
In his remarks, the Chairman, Delta State Christian Pilgrims Welfare Board, Most Rev. Cyril Odutemu, admonished the intending pilgrims to conduct themselves decently while in the Holy land.
He warned them against unruly behavior in the Holy land and advised them not to do anything that would undermine the security of the host country.
Also, the Executive Secretary of the Board, Apostle Samuel Okoh, charged the intending pilgrims to be good ambassadors of the state and Nigeria.

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