About 200 former militants, on Friday, took to the streets of Yenagoa, Bayelsa State, protesting over non-payment of allowance as agreed by the Federal Government in the amnesty deal with them.
The protest paralysed social and commercial activities in the city while it lasted.
A mobile policeman escaped being lynched after he was accused of firing gunshots into the air to scare the protesters.
It was gathered that the policeman would have been set ablaze, but for the timely intervention of soldiers attached to the Joint Military Task Force (JTF).
The protest, the third in the last one month, started around 6.00 a.m. The ‘repentant’ militants barricaded the only road leading to the city at Akenfa end of Yenagoa Local Government Area, thereby disrupting the traffic.
People were forced to stay indoors while social activities were suspended for the period the protest lasted.
The former militants, said to belong to various camps, accused governments at various levels of insensitivity.
According to them, since they were disarmed, the government had not kept its own side of the bargain, especially the payment of the N65,000 monthly allowance.
Some of the former militants, who spoke under condition of anonymity, claimed that the government was only taking care of their former leaders, forgetting about the followers.
“What they (the Federal Government) told us before we accepted the amnesty offer is not what we are experiencing now.
“They agreed to pay each of us N10 million disarmament allowance, but as I am talking to you now, we are yet to receive a dime,” said one of the militants.
With less than two weeks to the deadline of the disarmament programme, the aggrieved militants have threatened to go back to the creeks and launch a fresh offensive.
However, The Tide gathered that the delay in the payment of the allowance by the Federal Government Amnesty Implementation Committee was attributed to logistic problems.
The Tide learnt that the state chairman of the Peace and Conflict Resolution Committee, James Jephthah, has established a link with various commanders of former militant camps to ensure that there was no confrontation between the aggrieved former militants and security operatives.
“We had to intervene and link up with the militant leaders to prevail on the ‘boys’ to stay calm and allow the amnesty committee to resolve the existing bureaucratic difficulties.
“The agreement on the payment of allowances through the leaders still stand and it will not fail,” Jephthah said. As of the time of filing this report, security had been beefed up around the state capital while business and commercial activities had resumed.
Diri Renders Account For Derivation Funds, Hosts Ndiomu
Bayelsa State Governor, Senator Douye Diri, has said the 13percent oil derivation funds accruing to the state were being prudently spent, mostly on infrastructure development.
He stated this while receiving the Interim Administrator, Presidential Amnesty Programme (PAP), Maj. Gen. Barry Ndiomu (rtd.) in Government House, Yenagoa.
A press release by his Chief Press Secretary, Mr Daniel Alabrah, quoted the Governor as insisting that the administration had nothing to hide and that the state’s monthly allocations from the Federation Account had always been made public through its monthly transparency briefings.
He, however, explained that what the state received as 13percent derivation refund from the time of the previous administration was paid in instalments after it had been discounted.
Senator Diri also stated that the amount did not make much impact in terms of development, saying that the cost of construction in a difficult terrain like Bayelsa State was three or more times higher than elsewhere.
“For people who are talking about the 13percent derivation funds due the state, I want to state that for one reason or the other, we were under-paid. When we discovered that, we followed due process from the State Executive Council to the State House of Assembly.
“Approvals were given and the funds were discounted. I do not play politics with this kind of thing. Anybody who wants to see how we use our money, our monthly transparency briefing on our financial income and expenditure are available.
“One kilometer road we ild in Yenagoa is more than three or four-kilometer road built elsewhere”, he said.
On the Presidential Amnesty Programme, the state’s helmsman called on the Federal Government not to end it as it contributes significantly to the peace and security of the Niger Delta region.
“The best thing to give to the Niger Delta is to support the programme and keep it going as it has recorded some level of success in spite of the challenges”, Governor Diri added.
While congratulating Major-General Ndiomu on his appointment, Senator Diri urged him to write his name in gold as he had the capacity to ensure that Niger Delta youths benefited from the programme.
He tasked the new PAP boss on infrastructure development and award of scholarship to deserving youths as well as urging the Federal Government to relocate the headquarters of the programme to Bayelsa as the state had made land available for it.
In his remarks, the PAP Interim Administrator said the programme was intended to address the agitations of the people of the region.
He noted that the Federal Government had issued a directive to bring the programme to an end but that the directive had been suspended, stressing the need to re-calibrate the programme to make it more meaningful and impactful.
By; Ariwera Ibibo-Howells, Yenagoa
Okowa Rates WAEC High In Assessment Of Students
The Delta State Government (DTSG) has commended the West African Examination Council (WAEC) for the effective conduct of examination and proper assessment of students.
Governor Ifeanyi Okowa gave the commendations during a courtesy visit by members of the Nigeria National Committe (NNC) of the West African Examinations Council for its 60th Meeting in Asaba.
Okowa, represented by Secretary to the State Government (SSG), Mr Patrick Ukah, said the State Government understood the vital role WAEC played in the development of a child.
“The Governor is a lover of education. If you interact with the Commissioner for Education, you will see the giant strides the government has taken in education in Delta State.
“I am sure your coming to the state is not just to discuss the subject matter but you see the level of knowledge we have here, we do not lack in giving information as it concerns national bodies,” he said.
The Asagba of Asaba, Prof Chike Edoziem, said special attention should be paid to the quality of secondary schools as well as the educational standards.
“I had the opportunity to be worried about the quality of secondary education in Nigeria 20 years ago while i was a Professor in the United States.
“There was an issue about continual education of Nigerian students in the American universities based on their WAEC, that the quality of performance of students is low.
“I advised that I believe that Nigerian students may not be intellectually inferior to any race in the world.
“I advised they should continue admitting Nigerians, if possible give them special attention.
“Few years later, the report was that they perform badly in the first year but subsequently they become very good,” he said.
Commissioner for Secondary Education in the State, Mrs Rose Ezewu, said the State Government had continued to prioritise the education system, adding that WAEC had proven to be reliable in the conduct of its examinations.
She pledged the Delta State government’s support for the council through the state’s Ministry of Basic and Secondary Education.
Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Basic and Secondary Education, Mr Augustine Oghoro, said WAEC was a foremost examination body saddled with the responsibility of providing quality and reliable educational assessment.
Oghoro said certificates issued by the council was equivalent to those issued internationally, adding that the council had formidable structures that ensured smooth conduct of its examination.
“The council is a major contributor to regional integration and revival of values and we commend the council for its proposed merit award for some Secondary schools in Delta State”.
Also speaking, Chairman of the National Committee Meeting of WAEC, Mrs Binta Abdulkadir, said they were in the state for the 60th Meeting of the Nigerian National Committee Meeting of the council .
Abdulkadir, also the Director of Secondary School Education in the Federal Ministry of Education, commended Delta State for its achievements in the education system, saying that the state had performed creditably.
“WAEC is an important assessment body that is committed to ensuring the realisation of its mandates.
“WAEC carries out its functions with utmost integrity and the council is exceptional in assessing Nigerian child.
On his part, the Director of Examination and Standard, Mr Sunday Egomagwuna, said the meeting would have multiplier effect on the conduct of examinations in the state.
He lauded stakeholders for the contributions to the growth of the sector.
Delta, AUDA-NEPAD Empower 3,380 Farmers Against COVID -19, Flood
The African Union Development Agency and the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (AUDA-NEPAD), in collaboration with Delta State Government, have trained and empowered about 3,380 farmers in the State.
Governor Ifeanyi Okowa, who flagged off the One-Day training programme, organised by AUDA-NEPAD and the Delta State Government on Wednesday in Asaba, said benefitting farmers would be trained in six commodities; fisheries, rice, cassava, poultry, piggery and vegetables.
The Tide’s source reports that the theme of the programme was, “Innovative Strengthening of Smallholder Farmers Capabilities Towards Productive Land Restoration Amid COVID-19 and Flood in Nigeria”.
Okowa, represented by the Secretary to the State Government (SSG), Chief Patrick Ukah, thanked the African Union, AUDA-NEPAD for selecting Delta State as one of the pilot states in Nigeria for the implementation of the programme.
He said the programme has been domesticated and domiciled in the state Ministry of Agriculture and Natural Resources as a 10-year plan to grow agriculture and boost food security in the state.
According to the Governor, this programme is one of the landmark initiatives of the African Union which came on the heels of economic devastation brought by COVID-19 pandemic.
“Its four major objectives are, eradicating poverty, promoting sustainable growth and development, integrating Africa and the World economy, including the accelerated development of women.
“Agriculture remains central to African countries in their pursuit of these objectives, but they lack the technical leverage of the industrialised world.
“This is why the broad aim of the programme is to strengthen smallholder farmers, accelerate productive land restoration, combat desertification and promote the use of innovative technology to reduce post-harvest loses and maximise food security in Nigeria and in Africa, he stated.
“Against this backdrop, the AUDA-NEPAD programme is domesticated for sustainability, it’s a 10-year plan food sufficiency in our continent.
“It will help to meet the domestic food need and actualise the zero hunger policy of Nigeria, the African Union and the SMART Agenda of Delta.”
Okowa added, “to achieve this in Delta, the AUDA-NEPAD, with the support of the state government, has screened and selected 3,380 smallholder farmers across the 25 Local Government Areas of the state comprising of men, women and persons living with disabilities.”
He, however, charged the participants to remain committed to the programme in order to grow the country’s economy through agriculture.
In her remarks, National Co-ordinator and Chief Executive Officer, AUDU-NEPAD, Princess Gloria Akobundu, represented by its State Director, Mrs Christie Eruotor, said the programme was to cushion the impact of COVID-19 and Flood on the farmers.
Akobundu, however, said the benefiting farmers would be adequately empowered at the end of the programme on innovative technologies on how to increase their farming activities.
Earlier, in his address, the State Commissioner for Agriculture and Natural Resources, Dr Geoffrey Enita, said that the programme was an intervention of African Union that entails a 10-year support for African governments.
According to him, it is COVID intervention by the African Union that entails a 10-year support for African governments to undertake a range of measures to protect their population from the immediate and long term social, economic and humanitarian impact of the pandemic.
He noted that the programme was spearheaded by the Nigerian Governors Forum, which appointed Gov. Okowa and his Akwa Ibom counterpart, Prof. Emmanuel Udom, to represent the South South region.
He said that at the end of the training of the selected 3,380 smallholder farmers, that the African Union Continental Office was expected to fund their empowerment.
While thanking the State Government for attracting the programme, Enita tasked the farmers, whom he described as the bedrock of food production, to remain committed to the training to upgrade their knowledge on best farming practice.
In their goodwill messages, former State Commissioner for Agriculture, Chief Julius Egbedi, and Chief Jerry Ossai, Former, State Chairman, All Farmers Association of Nigeria (AFAN), lauded the programme, saying the country has no business with hunger if every household could own a small farm.
According to them, the state government has shown commitment by paying its counterpart funds to attract most programmes to grow the state economy.
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