Connect with us

Issues

UNEP Report, Ogoni Clean-Up And Chameleonic FG

Published

on

For most members of the current Ogoniland community, chronic oil pollution has been a fact of life… Treating the problem of environmental contamination within Ogoniland merely as a technical clean-up exercise would ultimately lead to failure… Achieve long-term sustainability for Ogoniland will require coordinated and collaborative action from all stakeholders,” the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) indicated in the recommendations of its report on the Environmental Assessment of Ogoniland, submitted to President Goodluck Jonathan on August 4, 2011, at the Aso Rock, Presidential Villa, Abuja.
In his well-crafted Forward to the report, United Nations Under-Secretary-General and Executive Director, United Nations Environment Programme, Achim Steiner, noted: “The history of oil exploration and production in Ogoniland is a long, complex and often painful one that to date has become seemingly intractable in terms of its resolution and future direction. It is also a history that has put people and politics and the oil industry at loggerheads rendering a landscape characterized by a lack of trust, paralysis and blame, set against a worsening situation for the communities concerned. The reality is that decades of negotiations, initiatives and protests have ultimately failed to deliver a solution that meets the expectations and responsibilities of all sides.”
Steiner’s fears resonate in the fact that since October, 1956, when 22,000 barrels of crude oil was discovered and produced in Ogoniland, relations between the people and the operating stakeholders – the Federal Government, represented by the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), and Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC) with its co-venturers (Total Exploration and Production Company and Eni’s Agip Oil Company) – have shown serious lack of confidence, trust and commitment to fulfill obligations arising therefrom, and operate in line with global best practices. That fear still exists today, especially in respect of Federal Government’s commitment to lead efforts in the clean-up and restoration of polluted Ogoniland, particularly as it relates to the honest funding of the project.
Flagging off the clean-up and restoration of polluted Ogoniland, Thursday, June 2, 2016, President Muhammadu Buhari, boasted the commitment of the All Progressives Congress-led Federal Government to religiously implement the UNEP Report, warning that “The current oil theft and illegal refining will not be tolerated. The regulators in the oil industry must live up to expectations.” Represented by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, the president cautioned the regulators to “ensure that oil companies carry out their operations in line with universal best practices.” In fact, the then minister of environment, who is now UN deputy secretary general, Amina Mohammed, captured the mood more succinctly when she said the government had taken stock of the work done in the past to start the implementation, which “requires transparency, accountability, genuine partnership and proper representation of the people at the grassroots in what we are doing in investing in their future.” But unfortunately, in spite of Steiner’s fears in the UNEP Report, and the minister’s remarks at the launch in Bodo, Gokana Local Government Area of Rivers State, it is on record that the same Federal Government that has till date, exhibited lack of “transparency, accountability” and readiness for “genuine partnership” in the implementation of the clean-up and restoration of polluted sites in Ogoniland. Indeed, the signs, body language and budgetary allocation by the Federal Government for the clean-up exercise justify this characterisation.
Before expounding on this, let me first recall the UNEP position on the funding of the Ogoni clean-up exercise. Of course, a closer examination shows that the UNEP report specifically recommended “that the Government of Nigeria establishes an Ogoniland Environmental Restoration Authority (OERA) to oversee implementation of this study’s recommendations. With a fixed initial lifespan of 10 years, the authority will have a separate budget which will accrue from an Ogoniland Environmental Restoration Fund (OERF). The overall cost of the clean-up should not be an obstacle to its implementation. Therefore, an Environmental Restoration Fund for Ogoniland should be set up with an initial capital injection of $1billion contributed by the oil industry and the government. To be managed by the authority, the fund should be used only for activities concerning the environmental restoration of Ogoniland, including capacity building, skills transfer and conflict resolution.” In fact, the report recommended that “The Fund should be established with financial inputs from the oil industry operators with prevailing interests in Ogoniland (currently SPDC and NNPC) and the Federal Government of Nigeria as a major shareholder in both these entities.” In Page 227 of the Report, UNEP recommended 11 line items on the clean-up and restoration template with “initial preliminary cost estimate of $1,012,448,640 over the first five years of the exercise”.
The template included Emergency Measures (80 per cent for providing alternative drinking water to communities with contaminated water supply) to cost $63.750million, while clean up of land contamination would cost $611,466,100. Clean up of Benzene and MTBE contamination and Nsisioken Ogale to cost $50million, clean up of sediments at $20million, and restoration of artisanal refining sites at $99,452, 700. It further captured mangrove restoration and rehabilitation to cost $25.5million, surveillance and monitoring at a cost of $21.468million, setting up of Ogoniland Restoration Authority (now Hydrocarbon Pollution Restoration Project – HYPREP) at a cost of $44million, establishment of Centre for Excellence in Environmental Restoration to cost $18.6million, and initiative on alternative employment to those in artisanal refining activities at a cost of $10million. If these line items are put together, the total figure recommended by UNEP is $964,236,800. In addition to that, UNEP made provision for third party verification and international expert support to implementation of the recommendations at five per cent of total cost, and specifically put the cost at $48,211,840. This is what sums the total $1,012,448,640 required to fund the project in the first five years. And given the operating agreement for the SPDC JV, operator of the oil fields in Ogoniland, the Federal Government (represented by NNPC) controls 55 per cent of the stake; Shell 30 per cent; Total E & P 10 per cent; and Agip 5 per cent. This simply means that the Federal Government must lead the funding of the project and should naturally cough out 55 per cent of the total cost of $1,012,448, 640 for the first five years of the Ogoni clean-up and restoration.
Now, using the benchmark of the official exchange rate of N361.175 to a Dollar as at Saturday, January 6, 2018, the Federal Government is expected to pay to HYPREP $550million (approximately N198,646, 248, 399.700) over the first five years of the clean-up exercise, translating to $110million or approximately N39,729,249,679.940 each year. The SPDC ought to commit $300million (approximately N108,352,499,127.109) over a five year period, or pay HYPREP $60million (about N21,670,499,825.421) each year. Total E & P Limited is supposed to commit $100million (approximately N36,117,499,709.036) or $20million (about N7,223,499,941.807) each year for five years of the clean-up process. Agip must domicile $50million or approximately N18,058,749,854.518 to cover the first five years of the clean-up. In the alternative, it could annually pay to HYPREP $10million or approximately N3,611,749,970.903 each year for five years consecutively. This is what the UNEP Report recommends, and by committing to its implementation, all parties have agreed to fund HYPREP to deliver on its mandate. Besides, the UNEP Report also recommended a 10-year lifespan for HYPREP, renewable thereafter. It follows that another funding obligation of $1billion is required for the project to wrap-up the 10-year lifespan.
From a duty of care point of view, it is important to remind the Federal Government and Nigerians that UNEP did not give cost of the holistic clean-up and restoration of Ogoniland. No. In fact, in Page 226 of the report, UNEP stated that “A detailed costing of the various recommendations made in this report was not within the scope of the work and was therefore not attempted. However, it is clear that major investments will be needed to undertake the report’s recommendations. The preliminary estimates of the initial investments needed to rehabilitate and restore the environment are only provided so that there is sufficient funding to initiate follow-up actions.
“The final clean-up costs are likely to be different, indeed much higher, for the following reasons: Full environmental restoration of Ogoniland will be a project which will take around 25-30 years to complete, after the ongoing pollution has been brought to an end. The current cost estimates are operational costs of the new institutions over the first five years. The clean-up costs for contaminated soil will depend substantially on the remediation standards set. A more stringent standard will lead to higher clean-up costs. Another issue is that the cost of clean-up of groundwater is not included in this costing (except for Nsisioken Ogale). The clean-up objectives, standards and targets will first need to be decided before a volume estimate and associated costing can be attempted. No estimate is given for the clean-up of surface water. The response and clean-up costs for any new spills, or newly discovered spills, simply cannot be estimated. Cost of land for the Integrated Contaminated Soil Treatment Centre and mini treatment centres is equally not included. The costs of a set of asset integrity actions, which include better securing of the oil facilities and proper decommissioning of abandoned ones, are also not included. A major cost item will be the restoration of mangroves and forests within the creeks around Ogoniland. The current estimates are limited to a pilot area of impacted mangroves and forests around the Bodo West oil field facilities.” Without prejudice, operators of the oil and gas business in Ogoniland: Federal Government (NNPC), Shell, Total, and Agip should have known this by now. This is the crux of the matter, and a burden the government and its co-venturers must bear to prove that they are transparent, accountable and ready to promote genuine partnership with themselves and the communities for the sake of the environment and the future of the people.
Therefore, it is an understatement to conclude that the Federal Government has yet to show serious commitment to the Ogoni clean-up project, with regard to its financial commitments to the exercise. Of course, as noted earlier, the government, which has the highest share in the business necessarily should lead the funding portfolio with a commitment of the equivalent of 55 per cent of $1,012,448, 640, to HYPREP account for clean-up and restoration of Ogoniland. Anything short of that commitment only amounts to a lip service to the exercise, and an attempt to make the project fail from the start.
An examination of efforts towards funding the clean-up exercise shows that in 2017, the Federal Government allocated N148,387,837 for “Ogoniland Clean-up Programme Support”, out of a total recurrent and capital budget of N28, 588,353,295 for the Federal Ministry of Environment. In the 2018 Appropriation Bill presented to the joint session of the National Assembly on Tuesday, November 7, 2017, President Muhammadu Buhari gave a total recurrent and capital allocation of N27,369,935,624 for the Federal Ministry of Environment. Out of this amount, the president allocated an abysmal N20,228,621 for “Ogoniland Clean-up Support”. The president effortlessly tried to justify this meager allocation to the clean-up project when he said, “We are working hard on the Ogoniland clean-up project, and have engaged eight international and local firms proposing different technologies for the mandate. This would enable us select the best and most suitable technology for the remediation work, and have asked each firm to conduct demonstration clean-up exercises in four local government areas of Ogoniland. Although the International Oil Companies (IOCs) will fund the project, we have made provisions in 2018 budget for the costs of oversight and governance, to ensure effective implementation.”
Ironically, a close perusal of both the 2017 Appropriation Act and the 2018 Appropriation Bill explains the Federal Government’s lack of seriousness and commitment to fund the Ogoni clean-up project. It also shows the desperate attempt by the same government to shirk its responsibility from driving the funding of the clean-up exercise.
Take for instance the allocations to the Federal Ministry of Environment of N31,438,173 in 2018 and N31.5million in 2017 for materials and supplies, including stationeries, consumables, newspapers, magazines, among others; N24.870million in 2018 and N22,323,600 in 2017, respectively for cleaning and fumigation of offices; as well as N185million in 2017 and N99,350,953 in 2018, respectively for local and international travels and transport. Others include allocation of N250million apiece in 2017 and 2018 for attendance of statutory and international bilateral/multilateral meetings; renovation and rehabilitation of offices in the 36 states at a cost of N36,533,993 in 2017 and another N32,768,583 in 2018; and clean and green programme at N111,387,837 in 2017 and N42,249,053 in 2018. Projects audit got allocation of N114,061,500 in 2017 and N108million in 2018 while monitoring and evaluation of projects got N124,822,728 in 2017 and N94,799,950 in 2018; tree planting got N210,764,946 in 2017 and N369,428,609 in 2018, while revision of Environmental Impact Assessment Act got N13.5million in 2017 and N9.655million in 2018.
Other areas of concern include allocation of N41,430,649 for institutional agreement for development of Bamboo and RATTAN as well as establishment of Bamboo processing machine at N30million in 2017; and establishment of Bamboo processing machines in six geo-political zones at N6.2million and collaboration with international network for Bamboo and RATTAN for Bamboo and RATTAN production for export (phase 2 of 3) at N45million in 2018; up-scaling of EIA Registry at N65.5million in 2017 and digitization of EIA Registry at N67.130million in 2018; as well as development and production of Environmental Assessment procedures and revision of existing ones (guidelines, regulations and standards) at N75.975million in 2017 and the same project at N25.005million in 2018. These are laughable allocations in the Ministry of Environment spending portfolio that are of less importance to the Ogoniland project, given its complex history, significance and revenue contribution in shaping Nigeria’s development.
According to the UNEP Report, oil and gas exploration and production activities spanned over 1,000 square kilometers across Eleme, Tai, Gokana and Khana, with 12 oilfields, 116 drilled wells, 89 completed wells, and five flowstations, with installed capacity for 185,000 barrels of oil per day for more than 40 years. Assume that we monetise the value of this volume of crude oil using the current oil price of $67 per barrel – a staggering revenue earning by the operators, led by the Federal Government – would suffice. In fact, 185,000 barrels would amount to $12.395million per day; $371.850million in 30 days; $4,462,200.000 in 12 months; and $178.488billion in 40 years. Therefore, spending roughly $6billion from $178.488billion over the next 30 years, no doubt, is enough sacrifice to make by the government and oil industry players which partook in the business before 1993 when Ogonis stopped oil exploration and production in the area.
Put in perspective, it is callously uncharitable and gravely disappointing that the Federal Government, which blindly pocketed the huge revenue earnings from its 55 per cent stake in the joint venture operation for over 40 years, would turn around in 2017, to shirk its core responsibility of leading the way in the funding of efforts to restore the environment crassly degraded and polluted by oil exploration and production activities it consciously, wittingly and aggressively led. No right thinking person, without intent to exploit and undermine, would preside over a government that suggests and allows Shell, which took 30 per cent, Total which went away with 10 per cent, and Agip, which smiled home with just five per cent, to bankroll the monumental cost of the Ogoni clean-up. It is doubly saddening that President Muhammadu Buhari would make such allusion in his 2018 Appropriation Bill presentation to the National Assembly. It is already shameful enough that Shell literarily funded the UNEP scientific survey, without compromising the damning report arising therefrom, as attested to by Steiner.
The Federal Government’s posture, to say the least, amounts to an abdication of key social responsibility to remedy the mess it led in creating in Ogoniland for over 40 years. It is a clear violation of the global best practice in the extractive industry that the polluter necessarily pays for any measures to prevent and control the environmental pollution and health risks its activities had wrought. In fact, the ‘polluter pays’ principle, which is the commonly accepted practice that those who produce pollution should bear the costs of managing it to prevent damage to human health or the environment, is well known and applies globally. Ignoring this principle smacks of brazen insensitivity and lack of commitment to redress the humongous plight of the Ogoni people in particular and the entire Niger Delta in general. It shows Federal Government’s reluctance to accept responsibility for the devastation of Ogoniland, and willingness to commit commensurate funds with its 55 per cent stake in the lucrative business to clean-up and remediate Ogoni environment it robustly benefited from for decades.
Unlike the Federal Government’s chameleonic double standard in funding projects in other parts of the country, especially the North-East, where it has secured $1billion from Excess Crude Account to fight insurgency and execute other initiatives, the Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria, appears to have displayed more commitment to remedy the mess, and taken responsibility to right the wrongs of the past. This is because in line with the UNEP Report, it has undertaken a number of initiatives specifically assigned to it by the recommendations in the last six years in Ogoniland. Those initiatives would be attempted in a later piece.
Suffice to note that in addition to addressing those specific tasks, Shell, last year domiciled $10million (approximately N3,611,749,970.903) in HYPREP account as its funding obligation for the commencement of the clean-up exercise. SPDC General Manager, External Relations, Mr. Igo Weli, who disclosed this to journalists in Port Harcourt on Saturday, August 5, 2017, explained that the funds that would be used for the clean-up will come from the Joint Venture and budgeting process with the Federal Government through the NNPC making available 55 per cent, while Shell provides 30 per cent of its share in the funding arrangement.
According to Weli, Total Exploration and Production is expected to contribute 10 per cent of the funding for the clean-up of Ogoniland, while Eni’s Agip would provide five per cent. “SPDC JV commits to support HYPREP ….in the clean-up process. SPDC JV has made available the $10million take-off fund for HYPREP as part of its contribution towards funding its share of the Ogoni Restoration Fund. SPDC JV remains fully committed to continue supporting and contributing its share to the Ogoniland Restoration Fund (ORF) within the appropriate framework and governance structures. We encourage all relevant stakeholders to also remain committed to contributing their quota to the Ogoni Restoration Fund,” the Shell general manager clarified. To show further clarity to Shell desire to keep its part of the bargain, Weli was quoted on August 7, 2017, as saying that $200million was ready for deployment to HYPREP for the clean-up of Ogoniland.
That position appears to be what the Senator representing Rivers South-East Senatorial District, Magnus Abe, was alluding to when he said that the Federal Government has voted $190 million towards the implementation of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) on Ogoniland. Abe had disclosed that fact in Port Harcourt on Saturday, April 22, 2017. According to him, “We (Senate) are still pressing to increase the budgetary provision to $200 million to enable the project to begin. The amount was part of this year’s contributions by Shell.”
Thus, if Shell had last year set aside $200million in addition to the $10million it already paid to HYPREP out of its $300million, where then is the Federal Government’s $550million share of the total cost of the project in the first five years? From the paltry budgetary allocation of N148,387,837 in 2017 and the wickedly projection of N20,228,621million in 2018, the Federal Government appears to be simply playing politics with the clean-up project. This is why the Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike’s expressed fears that the body language of the Buhari-led Federal Government is to use the sustained propaganda around the Ogoni clean-up exercise to gain cheap political mileage ahead of the 2019 general elections, buys to the truth. It also justifies Wike’s argument that if $1billion could be approved from Excess Crude Account (ECA) by the Nigerian Governors’ Forum (NGF) for the Federal Government to fight insurgency in the North-East, there was nothing wrong with the approval of same amount from ECA to tackle environmental challenges in the Niger Delta identified in the UNEP Report, for which $1billion had been recommended to be spent over the first five years of its implementation.
Speaking at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, shortly after a meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari, on Friday, December 29, 2017, Wike said “However, we are talking about fighting insurgency, and no right thinking individual will say that he will not support the government to fight insurgency. But on the other hand, I believe that we have been talking about the environmental issues in the Niger Delta, particularly in Ogoni land. I believe that we can also take the same $1billion from the excess crude account to fund the problem in Ogoni land and other Niger Delta areas. That is my position.”
Wike’s position is shared by many stakeholders in the Niger Delta, who loath Federal Government’s apathy towards funding critical development projects and livelihood-sustaining initiatives in the region. Ogoni Youth Federation (OYF) is one of such groups. President-General of OYF, Mr Legborsi Yamaabana, in a statement, late last December, at the annual national congress of the body in Bera Community, Gokana Local Government Area, Rivers State, expressed the feeling of the youth. He said: “We have been in devastation for over 30 years, and the Federal Government has been very slow in the implementation of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) report for over six years now, as nothing has been done to assuage the situation of the people. A huge amount of money has been approved for the insurgency that started a few years ago. We are saying that part of the money should be diverted to the clean-up of Ogoni so that the work can start.”
In a communique at the end of the congress, read by the Legal Adviser of OYF, Pyagbara Gabriel, OYF decried the lackadaisical attitude of Federal Government, international oil companies and the Hydrocarbon Pollution Restoration Project (HYPREP), in the implementation of the recommendations on Ogoni clean-up, and insisted that any oil company willing to resume oil exploration in Ogoniland must enter into an agreement with the youth of the area. That is the same stance shared by the Movement for the Survival of Ogoni People (MOSOP). While querying the approval of a whopping $1billion for the Federal Government to fight insurgency in the North-East, MOSOP said that the urgency painted by the UNEP Report makes it expedient that another $1billion should be withdrawn from the ECA to fund the Ogoni clean-up in line the extant recommendations. Speaking in Port Harcourt in reaction to the NGF’s approval, MOSOP President, Legborsi Pyagbara, noted that the Ogoniland clean-up deserves more serious consideration given the scientifically proven environmental and health implications identified in the UNEP Report.
But given what President Buhari has said thus far and the budgetary allocation verifiable from the Federal Ministry of Environment’s spending basket, it is difficult to understand where the Chairman of the Board of Trustees (BoT) of HYPREP, Mr Wale Edun is coming from when he said that the Federal Government was “funding the environmental remediation in Ogoniland”. Speaking on Wednesday, September 6, 2017, on a programme on Arise Television, Edun said already, the government has properly funded both HYPREP’s Governing Council and Board of Trustees (BoT) – the two key elements of the governance structure required for the clean-up of the Ogoniland and other impacted sites. He said HYPREP’s BoT was working with the relevant stakeholders to develop a world-class framework to measure the agency’s achievements.
According to him, “We have escrow account; we have investment advisers; fund managers are in place; we have technical advisers so that when we are given a list of what else has been done, we can check it properly. In fact, from the perspectives of the Board of Trustees, we have funded the governing council, we have funded the budget office, and they are yet to apply those funds fully and come back for more. But in the meantime, one thing I like to point out is that the idea is not just that the government or the joint venture oil companies should fund this clean-up, we expect it to last for years, and we expect it to cost huge amount. So, we are putting in place a structure that allows other people, other philanthropists, other institutions – national and international – to also put money in that fund. So, it is not a project-based organisation that we are handling; it is a fund that can take money at any time and is committed to applying it properly; to applying it prudentially to the job of cleaning up Ogoniland.”
On whether the $1billion is meant only for clean-up of oil pollution or could be deployed in other initiatives such as providing health services, Edun said the fund would also be used to intervene in the health sector and in the provision of drinking water for the people of Ogoniland, whose environment was devastated by oil pollution. “It is holistic; it is comprehensive. So, it is for the clean-up of the land by remediation; clean-up of the water, provision of drinking water, restoration of the health of the people of Ogoniland, health intervention; restoration of the means of livelihood of the people as well. So, for the young people, we have training programmes; there are empowerment programmes as well as standards of restoring agriculture and restoring the fishing industry in Ogoniland. So, it is a comprehensive attempt to really restore the lives of the people,” Edun added.
However, this explanation by Edun does not add value to the argument that more than 18 months after, HYPREP is yet to record any measurable milestone on the ground to assuage the desperation and anxiety, and ultimately restore the confidence and trust of the people of Ogoniland, and indeed, the Niger Delta, and that the Federal Government is damn serious with the holistic implementation of the UNEP Report. It also buys into the school of thought which brandishes decades of Federal Government’s record of lack of commitment to previous engagements, and implementation of agreements designed to address the Niger Delta Question. The people need Edun to do more, empirically, to convince stakeholders in the region that Buhari was not sure of his position when he said that the oil companies would fund the project, instead of the Federal Government leading the funding in line with its 55 per cent stake in the business. Edun needs to carefully read and understand Page 226 of the UNEP Report before he speaks again on the readiness of his team to deliver on the tasks ahead. He needs to fathom the letters contained in Page 227 of the UNEP Report. He needs to thoroughly digest the entire 262-page report before he speaks again!
Time has come for National Assembly members from the Niger Delta to rise up, denounce the lukewarm strategy and collectively lobby other members with the aim of raising the 2018 allocation to a reasonable amount commensurate with the Federal Government’s 55 per cent stake in the oil business. It is also natural to remind members of the National Assembly from other parts of the country to, for once, be fair and just in their debates over the paltry allocation, and ensure honest review that should up the ante for the clean-up exercise. Justice demands that Buhari should boldly shove away the shame of this dismal allocation by proposing a supplementary appropriation to fund its huge responsibilities in the Ogoni clean-up process, bearing in mind that 55 per cent of the $2billion clean-up cost over the first 10 years must be borne by a sincere Federal Government. This is the paradox of the Ogoni clean-up project!

 

Nelson Chukwudi

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
Continue Reading

Issues

Re: Wike, A Governor Possessed By Spirit Of Flyovers

Published

on

Our attention was drawn to an article titled: “Wike, a Governor Possessed By Spirit of Flyovers” published by Yemi Adebowale. It was in his ‘RingTrue’ column of the ThisDay Newspaper of August 6th, 2022.
The writer exhibited distasteful notoriety with his recluse to illogical offerings in public space of what he least knew about. The development audacity of Governor Nyesom Wike has remained all inclusive. The writer hardly grasped that extent. His piece depicted him as a sad minded and bitter man. Evidences of one soaked in skewed social media snippets abounded in his piece.
Publishers of such snippets, always, were backward looking critics. They feared to seek out the fact that would help them cease from misinformation. Yemi Adebowale, unfortunately so, had showed himself to be among such political opportunists and hack writers who politicise and trivialise issues of development with puerile logic.
As their stock-in-trade, they criticise blindly every genuine intention of Governor Wike. It is therefore, imperative for us to overcome the temptation of being silent over such snide and provocative innuendos in that obviously sponsored pervasive rant.
Stating it as it is, from inception of his administration on May 29th, 2015, up until now, Governor Wike has been dogged with issues of development . He started off with such urgency and accomplished so much within first few months in office. The drive was predicated on repairing the rot in all sectors that he inherited. The giant development strides were to rebuild the broken walls of social trust and vitalise the economy of the State. So, the well thought out development plan and its system implementation remained in focus and encompasses all sectors.
Perhaps, Yemi is oblivious of the fact that all across the globe, service-oriented governments are reinventing many cosmopolitan cities like Port Harcourt to become people friendly and sustainable.
Perennial traffic congestions in major cities like Lagos, Cairo, Port Harcourt have been identified as major bottleneck to economic growth and development.
And as part of his integrated urban renewal programme, Governor Wike decided to embark on the construction of flyovers to solve traffic snarls in major intersections within Port Harcourt and Obio-Akpor councils.
Until the Wike’s infrastructure revolution, residents of Port Harcourt and its environ will attest to the fact that driving or better still, commuting along the busy Port Harcourt-Aba Road Expressway, was harrowing due to traffic congestion. A ten minutes drive today, could take up to two hours thirty minutes. That was the reality of those who live and do business in the State capital before the Wike’s administration began to proffer solution to this problem.
The seven out of twelve flyovers already inaugurated have helped to streamline the traffic in Port Harcourt and its environs. A lot of irretrievable time, which is unit of life spent in congestion is avoided through these flyovers.
We are confident that these flyovers will tremendously help the business community to grow its business.
These flyovers have contributed significantly to the aesthetics of the Rivers State capital. Anyone driving through the flyovers any time of the day of course will relish a panoramic view of the Garden city.
Only narrow-minded people and those who must remain blind to any meaningful, genuine and concrete development take to mischief. They refused to see the connecting strings of each development towards the overall development of the state and its people.
But, why is the construction 12 flyovers by Governor Wike a pain to Yemi Adebowale? Without any contradiction, he is particularly averse to appreciating the benefits of the flyovers. They remained remarkable achievement. The record set would not be beaten for a long time. In contemporary times, no State government could dare.
Yemi Adebowale also had enthused that these flyovers are the only projects that are being executed. He lied. His assertions are robed with pale claims. It only proves that he had not been to Rivers State before or, maybe lately. If he had, he would be enthusiastic to do an independent search for facts. Such efforts would have espoused him to evidences of other shades of development ongoing. This is because, some levels of development are intangible. But he could still berth at shores of tangible others different from flyovers.
Governor Wike’s administration has turned and transformed not less than 20 major single lane roads into dual carriage. They include Igwuruta – Chokocho road, Saapkenwa – Bori road, Tam David West Boulevard, Rumuokwurishi – Eneka – Igwuruta road, Rumuepirikom – Rumuolumeni road, Rebisi – Trans-Amadi – Oginigba road, Justice Iche Ndu road, Eagle Island – Illoabuchi road, Elelenwo – Akpajo road, Birabi road, Emeyal road, Tombia road, Forces Avenue, Olumeni road, Abacha road, and Harley street, Tombia Extension, Eastern bypass, Ogbum-nu-Abali/Eastern bypass road,and the Ezimgbu road. They have street lights, pedestrian walkways and covered drains.
Already, a lot of roads connecting and interconnecting several communities across the State are ongoing. They include Phase one of the Ahoada – Omoku dual carriage way, the phase two Saakpenwa-Bori – Kono dual carriage way, the dualisation of Egbema- Omoku road, the Woji – Aleto – Alesa road and the Wakama – Ogu – Bolo road, are underway.
It is worthy to noted that Opobo axis of the Ogoni- Opobo-Andoni road has achieved, Andoni community is next and would soon be completed so that coastal communities of Ngo, Ikuru and other towns along that way can be accessed by road after decades of failed promises by the previous governments. It is in similar vein that the construction of phase one of the Trans-Kalabari road has commenced.
Governor Wike has also provided over 1200 classrooms and nearly 14,000 desks to over 200 primary and junior secondary schools. His administration has also reconstructed, furnished and equipped several secondary schools with modern classrooms, laboratories, libraries, sports facilities, staff quarters and paved interconnecting road networks.
The facts abound that at the tertiary level, the governor has elevated the structural quality of State’s tertiary institutions with new faculty, administrative and other buildings, strengthened the governance systems and enhanced staff welfare with the new salary structure.
Apart from the College of Medical Sciences, the Wike’s administration has also implemented a multi-campus structure for the Rivers State University with the establishment of new campuses at Emohua, Ahoada and Etche Local Government Areas, thereby increasing the carrying capacity of the University and providing more access to quality tertiary education for Rivers people and other Nigerians. The restoration of the multi-campus status of the Rivers State University opened a vista of engagement of more personnel.
In the health sector, the Wike’s administration has built some new primary healthcare centres for under-served communities, renovated some existing primary health centres and general hospitals, commissioned the 132-bed Mother and Child specialist hospital, established the Rivers State University Teaching Hospital, built the Senior Doctors’ Quarters and rebuilt and upgraded the Government House Specialist Clinic, while a Junior Doctors Quarters is also under construction
The Wike’s administration re-equipped and upgraded the Braithwaite Memorial Specialist Hospital. Today, it serves as the Teaching Hospital of the College of Medical Sciences. Manpower was engaged to ease provision of healthcare in expanded RSUTH.
The scholarship scheme established for Rivers indigenes studying at PAMO University of Medical Sciences subsists. Currently, over six hundred students are benefiting. This had ultimately provided medical education to Rivers children and other Nigerians. Notably, there were separate approval for an automatic employment of all Rivers State indigenes who bagged Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) during the 2018 Convocation Ceremony of the Rivers State University.
We wondered why these are not human capital development to Yemi Adebowale. Maybe, he would need to be reminded that in 2021, employment of teaching and non- teaching staff was concluded at the Rivers State University. There is an ongoing recruitment of teaching and non-teaching staff at the Ignatius Ajuru University of Education.
Yemi Adebowale least understood the implementation of the water reforms programmes, driven convincingly to specific and targeted communities. On the 15th April, 2016, the State Urban Water Sector reform programme was launched. The programme encapsulated the Port Harcourt Water Supply Scheme and the Sanitation Project.
Precisely on August 31st, 2020, the Rivers State government signed contracts for the rehabilitation and upgrading of water supply for Port Harcourt and Obio/Akpor Local Government Areas. 496 kilometers of pipeline which will produce 330,000 cubic metres of potable water per day are currently being upgraded. This project will equally create over 1,200 direct jobs and 5,000 indirect jobs for Rivers people.
Soon, water will flow in public taps. Besides the Port Harcourt and Obio/Akpor local government areas urban water scheme, the Wike’s administration rehabilitated moribund water projects in 18 of the 23 Local Government Areas of the state. These water projects are targeted at improving access to potable water in the respective communities.
The significance of these deliberate, yet strategic interventions in a critical sector of the State inclusive of the Flyovers underscores the determination of leader who changed the narrative of leadership that is committed to good governance.
Yemi Adebowale in his penchant for peddling falsehood, claimed governor Wike has not been paying pensions, even when ThisDay published this report in May, 2022, ‘Wike Orders Immediate Payment of Gratuities, Pensions to Rivers Retirees.’
Yemi Adebowale’s suggestion that Governor Wike ought to have completed the abandoned monorail projects clearly depicts as someone possessed by spirit of ignorance.
Is Yemi Adebowale aware that in the twilight of the immediate past administration in Rivers State, the technical consultant on the monorail had planned to unveil the contentious project specifically to mislead the people of Rivers State that the project that was abandoned after 2.6 km of the over 19 km phase one, after gulping over N33.9bn was still on course.
It is on record that the Managing Director of ARCUS GIBBS Nig Ltd, technical partners to the Rivers State government on the Monorail Project, Wiero Viguezang, in 2015 declared that the project was no longer tenable, considering the shortfall of the state’s revenue and the inability of its original technical and equity partners, TSI Nig Ltd, to fulfil its obligations to contribute 80 per cent of its equity holdings.
In April, 2015, ARCUS GIBBSS, had in a letter made a six-point recommendation to the Rivers State government on how to unbundle the monorail project by approaching the manufacturers of the mechanical components and rail tracks in Germany and exploit the possibility of reselling components at a lower price to the manufacturers.
It will interest him to know that no Rivers government will venture to complete the white elephant project.

 

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
Continue Reading

Issues

Strategic Positioning Of The Teaching Profession And Nation-Building

Published

on

The making of a nation is in the making of man. Where people are not developed; nations are not defined and are left underdeveloped.
Whereas, all men are created equal, not all human beings live in the same economy or the same level of development. There are superior economies and inferior economies. Whereas every human being has the right to live on the Earth, nations go through historical circles of rising and falling. Whereas God guarantees nations territorial integrity of having a defined place and space, every nation strives to reach the best, achieve the best and live in the best possible circumstances, by developing its human and natural resources within its territorial boundary.
It is stated that nations are products of a national call of shared history, shared culture, shared vision and shared identity. It is a deep-seated call in the hearts and souls of a people that creates a nation, backed with a strong determination to face the consequences, compelling a people to fight to determine their own identity.
Corroborating on this, Mahatma Gandhi stated that a nation’s culture resides in the hearts and souls of its people. Thus, according to the 19th Century Indian Philosopher, Swami Vivekananda, ‘Every nation has a message to deliver, a mission to fulfill and a destiny to reach’.
Reaching the destiny of a nation is a function of connecting with God whose presence and best is available for all to access to develop, nurture, and harness the human resources available in that territory guided by the established laws of the land.
It is imperative to state that the segment of the society upon which this solemn responsibility rests is the teaching profession.
Educationists have the eternal responsibility of building the capacities of the spirit of inquiry, creativity, entrepreneurship and moral leadership among the adult and younger generations.
Thus, Dr Myles Munroe stated clearly that the first and most important component in nation-building is the enthronement of national cohesion, by the establishment of godly Law, and the pursuit of divine principles as entrenched on earth before the creation of man. The earth is Lord’s and the fullness therein.
Thus, teachers build the future of a nation by building the youths, for the future.
In other words, the teaching component of nation building is empowered to bring out the full dignity of the human being as given and as created by God.
This philosophy is further enhanced by the National Policy on Education which is based on the general aspirations of Nigerians as contained in Section1, paragraph 3 of the policy. Going by the provisions of this policy; Nigeria is determined to build: A free and democratic society; a just and egalitarian society; a united, strong and self-reliant nation; a great and dynamic economy; a land full of bright opportunities for all citizens.
The National Policy on Education, Sections 5 & 9 further provides for the acquisition, development and inculcation of proper value-orientation for the survival of the individual and society; the development of the intellectual capacities of individuals to understand and appreciate their local and external environment ; the acquisition of both physical and intellectual skills which will enable individuals to be self-reliant and useful members of the society; the acquisition of an objective view of the local and external environments. promoting and encouraging scholarship and community service; forging and cementing national unity; promoting national and international understanding and interaction; and contributing to national development through high-level relevant manpower training.
What this means is that teaching is the process of bringing out the human potential and channelling the same to establish and enhance the human dignity in each generation.
In other words, teaching is not just a job; it is a way of life. It is not just a service and profession, it is a pillar of human society. It is a very noble profession that shapes the character, calibre and future of an individual. This is the reason, most scholars ascribe to the teaching profession as the profession that contributes more to the future of society than any other single profession.
The British Philosopher, Helen Caddies stressed that teachers are the most responsible and most important members of any society because their professional efforts affect the fate of the earth in all ways. Therefore, as Calvin Coolidge, the 19th Century Philosopher puts it, ‘the teaching profession requires adequate preparation and training, patience, devotion and a deep sense of responsibility. Those that mould the human mind influence, not for a time but eternity.
Teachers labour together with God in the making of the leaders, who in turn make the nation. Thus, teachers are expected to be wise master builders, who should receive their reward according to their labour.
It is on this background, that one examines the critical steps that have been taken in recent times to strategically position the teaching profession for the greater good of Nigeria.
Interestingly, after several years of agitations by professional teachers and other stakeholders for the establishment of a regulatory agency, the Teachers Registration Council of Nigeria, which is an agency of the Federal Ministry of Education, was established by Decree (31 of 1993, now TRCN Act CAP T3 of 2004).
TRCN is empowered by law to control and regulate teacher education, teacher training, and teacher practice at all levels in public and private sectors of the Nigeria Educational System, guided by international best practices. It is on record, that since its inception, TRCN has registered over 2.2 million qualified teachers as of last year and has identified from available statistics over 4 million persons in the teaching profession in Nigeria.
No doubt, this singular stroke of the pen has strategically positioned the teaching profession in the making of the nation. In other words, it is now mandatory and indeed required besides the mandatory certification of all teachers to acquire regular additional skills, particularly in teaching assisted learning to keep them in tune with world standards. This explains the introduction of the Professional Qualifying Examination and the Professional Standards for the teaching professionals in Nigeria.
It is therefore expected that with the establishment of TRCN, and as Prof. Agiboye the Registrar and Chief Executive of TRCN put it, ‘the hydra-headed crisis of quality and quantity of teachers which demands a strong Policy response would have been adequately addressed and the rebuilding of the once cherished and mother of all Professions opened up to attract and retain the best brains.
The point is that TRCN Policy innovative will in the long run galvanize and deepen the practice of teacher recruitment and teacher Professional enhancement in Nigeria if managed effectively.
Another strategic policy innovation that has the potential of promoting nation-building, in the long run, is the introduction of the Nigeria Learning Passport. With the launch of Nigeria’s first indigenous online school, every part of the Country now has direct access to over 52,000 online instructional videos of all topics in all subjects. What this means is that access to quality instruction is made open and permanent.
Teachers, Parents and students can educate themselves, taught by qualified teachers in case one is not opportuned to have one around. In a country with a complex religious and cultural diversity with deepened geographical, socio-political and economic limitations, one right and strategic step is to qualitatively open Nigeria’s learning space to all and sundry guided by TRCN certified specialist teachers, if the country is truly committed to nation-building.
An educated citizen is easy to govern, and indeed the key to sustainable development. Educated citizenship is a bedrock for sustainable infrastructural, socio-political and economic development guided by moral, sound and robust laws.
Indeed, with the strategic introduction of the Nigeria Learning Passport, the prevailing learning poverty gap in Nigeria will be a thing of the past in the nearest future. No matter how long, what is most important is that Nigeria has taken one right step going forward with a multiplying positive effect.
Truly, with the Nigeria Learning Passport on board, the teaching profession is elevated and digital literacy capacity enhanced tremendously in the years to come.
Another milestone with great impact recorded in recent times to strategically position the teaching profession is the establishment of the Harmonised Retirement Age of teachers Act in the country.
The Harmonised Retirement Age of Teachers in Nigeria Act 2022, clearly states that teachers in Nigeria shall now compulsorily retire only on the attainment of 65years of age or after 40years of pensionable service.
Specifically, the Act among other provisions provides that the Public Service Rule or any Legislation ration that requires a person to retire from the public at 60years or after 35years of service shall not apply to teachers in Nigeria.
Clearly, the Harmonised Retirement Age Teachers Act is a strong motivating strategy to support the Nigerian teacher executing the burden of nation building by passionately taking the lead in educating the future along the paths of the Nigerians’ dream-to live in a land of prosperity where peace and justice reign.
According to the Gates Foundation, the key to quality education is a good teacher in every classroom. And as a one-time American Secretary of Education said, ‘the Centre of a classroom is not a test, a textbook, or the posters on the wall. It is not a state or district policy, and it is most certainly not a Federal Law. If the heart of the classroom is found in the unique relationships between students, pupils/ students and teachers, then, the unique teacher deserves, the collective support of all.
The Harmonised Retirement Age for Teachers in Nigeria Act 2022, is certainly a strategic way to motivate the teachers in pre-primary, primary and secondary schools in Nigeria with multiplying productivity effect. The impact of this well-intended Act will raise the bar on primary and secondary school education through the additional five years of mentorship and guidance.
Indeed, as the Nigeria Union of Teachers noted, it is expected that this Law translates to more efficient service delivery, and higher commitment and productivity, which force, leaders to achieve sustainable development on the wheels of character and deepened learning.
For instance, according to the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development Studies, over 90 per cent of teachers in primary, upper primary and vocational schools in Finland like their job. Only 2 per cent of teachers in secondary education regret having become a teacher.
Obviously, this study represents a higher, remarkable teacher- satisfaction rate and motivation. This is what is expected in Nigeria.
It is therefore expected that these newly introduced strategic support systems, policies and programmes, in the teaching profession will make for an enormous turnaround in Nigeria’s educational system soonest.
It should be noted that nation-building is largely dependent on robust enforcement of Law and efficient implementation of policies and programmes. Robust enforcement of Law and effective implementation may sometimes be inconveniencing and uncomfortable. A nation that is not built on proper and robust enforcement of Law and policies is a nation that is not going anywhere.
As strategic as these laudable Laws and policies are, if they are not strategically and robustly enforced, and effectively implemented, productivity would be far-fetched and nation-building would be greatly inhibited.

By: Emmanuel Kaldick-Jamabo

Dr. Kaidich-Jamabo is an educadtion leadershp expert and public affairs analyst.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
Continue Reading

Issues

Nigeria’s Conduct Of National Population, Housing Census: How Feasible?

Published

on

The Oxford Advanced Dictionary has defined census as the process of officially counting of something, especially a country’s population and recording of various facts. When a series of census has been undertaken properly it becomes easier, using the rate of growth, to estimate the population between the periods of counts. The data that emanate from the census help countries in a fair distribution of national wealth and for planning; in formulation of policies towards population growth as well as in delineation of constituencies.
Researchers make constant use of the information made available through census, just as the data is helpful in revenue allocation to the various tiers of government.The Nigeria Population Commission (NPC) has identified a nationwide census as crucial for national development.  No doubt, since 2006 when the nation held her last census exercise, a lot has happened in terms of human population growth.
According to the Director-General of NPC, Nasir Isa-Kwarra, census generates data used by the government and the private sector for policy making, planning and development.  He added that demographic data is important for national development due to its influence on sectoral planning and direction of government priorities.
However, while the result of the census conducted in 2006 put the population of the country at 140.43 million comprising 71.3 million male and 69.0 million females, analysts are contending the propriety of conducting a new census in 2023 or otherwise.  They questioned the timing of the exercise and said that it may put a strain on the economy and political activities.
Despite the fact that the planned census is coming 16 years after the last headcount, it has constituted a major concern and challenge for the Federal Government, considering the economic and security challenges that have bedevilled the country in recent times.  Presently, Nigeria could be termed as an environment fraught with resource-demanding challenges ranging from educational instability, fuel scarcity and insecurity, among others.
Based on the above considerations,  some concerned Nigerians hold the view that the pilot census which is targeted in June 2022, after political parties must have held their primary elections, would create an avenue for the manipulation of population size for political gains. Others posit that it would create competition within states to inflate their population so as to get more government resources. The long list of problems plaguing the timing of the 2023 census and fear of an inaccurate census which might result in inappropriate planning and distribution of resources, have led many to call for its suspension.
The financial expenditure cost of the Enumeration Area Demarcation (EAD) in  772  local government areas of the federation, as well as the first and second census pretest in selected enumerations was pegged at N10 billion naira (about $US26million) , from the cost of the main census budgeted for the sum of 178.09 billion naira. “Conducting a census when Nigeria is deep in debt with visible challenges is a destructive oversight bearing consequences that would draw the country closer to extinction,’’ a financial expert, Mr Joe Gawo said.
According to Joe, in every economy there are needs and wants, as a nation, it is meaningless placing our wants over needs.  Highlighting the state of the nation at the moment, he said “ we can’t conduct a credible and meaningful census without adequate security, university brains are on strike, and the community is experiencing financial difficulties. He noted that though census could be  necessary, it is  not a daunting need at the moment. Thus, we can temporarily substitute the census data with information acquired through the national identification number.
“It is no secret that our national resources are scarce, therefore any mismanagement will eventually spell doom for the country,” Gawo cautioned.
Mr. Joseph Omeje, an economist and university lecturer, shared a similar view with Gawo. He said, “putting economic, political, religious and security factors into consideration, it will be very difficult for the country to conduct and obtain generally acceptable census results. The inflationary rate as at last week is about 16.8 percent which is an indicator that our economy is in a very precarious situation and as such, no reasonable government will be talking of  census while there is fire on the mountain”.
Meanwhile,  a public affairs analyst, Mr Gboyega Onadiran,  has said that population is the greatest asset in the development process. According to him, leaving our people uncounted for 17 years is not a good testimony to our commitment to planned and sustainable development of our country.
Nigeria has an estimated population of about 206 million, making it the seventh most populous country in the world. According to the United Nations, the country’s population is projected to increase to 263 million in 2030 and 401 million in 2050 when it will become the third most populous country in the world.
The report published in 2017 by the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs, which provides a comprehensive review of global demographic trends and prospects for the future, projected shifts in country population rankings. The new projections include some notable findings at the country level. China with 1.4 billion inhabitants and India 1.3 billion inhabitants remain the two most populous countries, comprising 19 and 18 per cent of the total global population. In roughly seven years, or around 2024, the population of India is expected to surpass that of China.
“Among the ten largest countries worldwide, Nigeria is growing the most rapidly. Consequently, the population of Nigeria, currently the world’s 7th largest, is projected to surpass that of the United States and become the third largest country in the world shortly before 2050,’’ the report said. Unfortunately, many seem not to pay attention to the implications of this, particularly on Nigeria’s economy. More attention is obviously paid to politics and electioneering activities ahead of the general elections coming up in February 2023.
No doubt, elections are critical to Nigeria’s democracy but  what is the assurance that the proposed  2022 census will not complicate the 2023 general elections?.
Apart from the perceived huge burden on the national economy and escalating insecurity, another reason being flaunted against the conduct of the 2022 population and housing census is its proximity to the 2023 general election. While some hold that census is politically relevant because of its use for delineation of constituencies and revenue allocation, others posit that the position of election which is about struggle for power does not make the two strange bedfellows. ‘This linkage does not necessarily make census and election strange bedfellows.
“It is indeed an exaggeration to place census on the same level of sensitivity with elections or to assume that census will complicate elections.
“This line of reasoning betrays a limited understanding of the complex factors that drive the level of sensitivity of census and election, which are different and definitely not mutually reinforcing as to make their conduct within a shared time frame a no-go area.
In examining the potential impact of census on the electoral process and outcome,  concerns on the need to divorce census from election have largely been raised in relation to security as a university lecturer and a political scientist,  Yusuf Dyep, believes that a joint or close implementation of the two activities might further compromise the fragile peace in the country,’’ Meanwhile, the National Population Commission (NPC) has resolved to conduct the 2023 population and housing census in accordance with the law. The Executive Chairman of NPC, Alhaji Nasir Kwarra stressed the need for a legal framework in place to enable the conduct of a digital census.
The Chairman said that the commission had spent considerable time preparing for a reliable and accurate census over the years. “The commission has successfully demarcated 772 local governments out of the 774 local governments. The commission is also proposing a preliminary census by June 2022,” he said.
Chairman, Senate Committee on National Population and Identity Management Senator Yau Sahabi, said that the National Assembly was determined to support NPC to conduct a successful digital census.
The House of Representatives was not left out. Chairman, House Committee on Legislative Compliance,   Mr Dennis Idahosah, said that the Muhammadu Buhari-led administration was committed to credible and reliable census. While commending NPC for embracing emerging technology, Idahosah said that it was critical in carrying out the exercise as was done in Ghana and South Africa. He explained that a digital census would not only guarantee speed, but drive an accurate census with lesser errors.
The Chairman, Legal Committee, NPC, Mr Audu Buratai, said  the commission would continue to take necessary steps in line with the law to ensure a successful digital census. Buratai maintained that any action taken outside the dictates of the law will amount to exercise in futility. He solicited the collaboration of the members of the legal community to drive a law-compliant digital census by 2023.
In addition to this, the Minister of Works and Housing, Mr Babatunde Fashola,  explained that the Federal Government will undertake enumeration of empty houses nationwide as part of measures to address housing deficit. According to him, the ministry has called on the NPC to help it in undertaking the task, while conducting the national population census. “Last week or two weeks ago, I called on the National Population Commission that as they are about to embark on a census in the country, they should assist us in collecting data about Nigeria’s housing needs.
“What kind of houses that they find in households whether it is owned or rented. If it is rented, do they want to buy or do they want to rent, let us build a body of data under the census exercise. Because we will be enumerating houses so that we can have a more precise need of Nigerians. I have copied that letter to collaborative ministries including planning and budget. So, I hope that they will help us in the next census exercise,’’ Fashola said.
Fashola said he was also engaging some consultants in his ministry to do sampling data on empty houses. He said this would be done to address concerns about the access to housing “we also see a lot of empty houses unoccupied, how many they are and why they are empty.” Speaking on workers benefiting from the National Housing Scheme, Fashola said an agreement had been reached with labour to allocate 10 per cent of the houses to workers.
“We have an agreement with the unions that 10 percent of the national housing project will be for them, but in order for them to do so, they still have to go to the housing portal. “Because we have created a portal on the web, people who are interested in acquiring the national housing programme in the 34 states, go to the ministry’s website. “You have the national housing portal there, download the form, you have to fill a form, show your ID card, show that you are a taxpayer and process the form online.
“We have eliminated the process where people are selling form with human interference.’’The minister said they have a lot of issues surrounding the housing sector hence the portal had helped in reducing such issues and unnecessary accusations by members of the public pertaining to sale of forms. He said that the ministry was also collaborating with the Head of Service under the FISH programme where workers contribute to the national housing fund for home renovation projects under the federal mortgage bank policy. According to him, this is also a way to ensure that workers get access to the national housing programme thereby reducing further the housing deficit.

By: Calista Ezeaku

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
Continue Reading

Trending