The Rivers State Government has charged officials of the Compliance Team of the Ministry of Urban Development and Physical Planning to work within the ambit of the law with a view to realising set targets of boosting revenue and achieving standardised town planning.
The State Commissioner for Urban Development and Physical Planning, Dr Reason Onya, who gave the charge during a meeting with chairmen and secretaries of the team in his office in Port Harcourt, last Tuesday, said that by playing by the rules, they would have synergised with other stakeholders to move the ministry forward.
Onya pointed out that the meeting became imperative following the low revenue contribution of the ministry to the state government’s coffers and called for concerted efforts of all stakeholders, particularly the Compliance Team, in activating needed impetus to reinvigorate and re-energise the revenue prowess of the ministry.
The commissioner frowned at a situation where a few key actors in the field connived with unscrupulous members of the public and developers to defraud the state government of much-needed revenue through illegal transactions and solicited the support of members of the Compliance Team to enable the ministry achieve its mandate.
He warned those not willing and ready to assist the ministry achieve set goals to voluntarily withdraw their services, and cautioned that anyone caught defrauding the state government through any illegal transactions would be apprehended and handed over to the police for prosecution.
While responding to the Compliance Team’s complaints of obvious challenges and difficulties in the course of their duties, Onya assured the total support of the ministry, pledging the provision of adequate security to enable them perform their legitimate duties.
In his remarks, the Permanent Secretary in the ministry, Dirokweni Joseph Amiofori, who said that the activities of the Compliance Team had dented the image of the ministry, re-emphasised the urgent need for change of attitude before the full weight of the law caught up on the black legs amongst them.
Earlier, spokesperson of the Compliance Team representing the various zones within Port Harcourt and its environs, had expressed readiness of members of the team to work in synergy with the leadership of the ministry to realise the dreams and vision of the state government.
The representative, however, enumerated the litany of handicaps impeding the effective performance of the duties, listing boundary encroachment on Greater Port Harcourt lands, floods, the deluge of fake building plan permits, interference and hostilities by host communities, lack of official vehicles, lack of adequate security personnel to provide cover to the team, lack of proper identification instruments, and stipends for members of the team, among others.
Usokun, An Integral Part Of My Administration – DELGA Chairman
The Chairman of Degema Local Government Area, Hon. Michael John Williams, has assured the people of Usokun, in Degema Local Government Area, that their community is an integral part of his administration, and would be carried along in all programmes and activities of the Government.
The Council Boss gave the assurance, when he played host to the Usokun Council of Chiefs, who paid him a courtesy call at the Council’s Secretariat, recently.
He dismissed claims that the people were grossly marginalized in the Council, disclosing that several members of the community were given appointments as aides in his administration.
The Council Boss further recalled that he had recently disclosed to the community the administration’s plan to undertake the completion of their Corpers’ Lodge, and also embark on a new project for them in the coming months, as part of his administration’s pledge of executing projects in all communities of the LGA.
In employment into the Civil Service, the Council Boss noted that the administration was not employing at the moment, but that employment would be equitable to all communities, if the government was recruiting.
While assuring that no community in Degema LGA would be neglected by his administration, the Mayor of Kalabari urged them to remain peaceful, law-abiding and continue to contribute positively towards the development of the LGA.
Responding, the Onu Onya Ekein of Usokun, HRH King Charles Sunday, Ugu VII, commended the Council Chairman for his forthrightness and accessibility, noting that Hon. Williams’ administration was the first to invite the Usokun Council of Chiefs and engage them on developmental issues.
He prayed God to continue to protect the Council Chairman and imbue him with more wisdom to pilot the Council to enviable heights.
Earlier, Secretary of the Usokun Council of Chiefs, Chief Omubo Bob-Jeck, had in his address, bemoaned an alleged gross marginalization of the Usokun people in the affairs of the Council.
He particularly decried an alleged neglect of the Usokun people in employment by the Council, political appointments, and projects execution, praying the Council Boss to use his good office to address their plight.
By: Theresa Fredrick & Charity Amiso
Community Lauds Buhari For Signing PIA Into Law
The members of the Oha in Council, an apex body of Ubima community in Rivers, have commended President Muhammadu Buhari for signing the Petroleum Industry Act (PIA) into law.
Chairman of Ogbakor Ubima, in Ikwere Local Government Area in Rivers, Mr Emma Amad, made the commendation recently in a briefing with journalists in Port Harcourt.
Amadi, also a member of the Board, Host Community Development Trust (HCDT), inaugurated by an indigenous oil company in Rivers, said the implementation of the law would enhance peace and development for stakeholders.
The Tide’s source reports that All Grace Energy Limited (AGEL), operating in the Oil Mining Lease (OML17), on January 20, inaugurated a seven-member board of the HCDT.
They were expected to work with the company on implementation of the PIA law.
Amadi said the inauguration of the board of trustees by AGEL would also enhance the development of the host community.
He said with the law, the community would be conscious of the security aspect of the community where the company operates because they were now stakeholders, unlike what obtained in the past.
“I commend All Grace Energy Limited for their efforts on the process of implementing the PIA law on remittance of three per cent yearly Operational Expenditure (OPEX) as stipulated by the Act to host communities.
“Before now, what we have is Memorandum of understanding (MOU), which is an agreement between the company and the host community which any of the party can go to court if the agreement is bridged.
“Now, it has become a law which the parties must obey.
“I can tell you that the passing of PIA Act which oil companies are to implement is a welcome development.
“This is because if the company bridges the law, we can confidently go to court and enforce that law; so, we thank President Muhammadu Buhari,” he said.
Similarly, Mr Dandyson Onigah, the Chairman of the Board of HCDT, said it was a dawn of a new era where there would not be bickerings between oil companies and their host community.
According to him, with the stipulations of the PIA, the community can make plans toward sustainable development, knowing that there are funds for that purpose.
Onigah said that the board would work with the company to ensure peace for the company to operate freely to achieve its mandate.
The Executive Director, Corporate Affairs and Development, AGEL, Prof. Adeola Adenikinju, reassured of the company’s commitment to the development of its host community in compliance with the PIA.
Adenikinju noted that the inauguration of the seven-member board would provide a unique opportunity to begin a new era in the development of the community.
According to him, since the signing of the PIA in 2021, the company has ensured commitment to advancing understanding of the act, with regard to establishment of the HCDT.
Adenikinju said that compliance with the PIA would deepen the existing mutual relationship and trust-building between the company and the host community.
According to him,the PIA contains relevant provisions which form the basis of strong governance and management structure for the host communities’ development trust.
Group Pledges Support To New NDDC Mgt
A group in the Niger Delta, Patriotic Forum of Niger Delta (PAFOND), has pledged its support to the new management of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC).
This was contained in a press release made available to news men in Port Harcourt.
According to the group,”we are committed to ensure our people work towards a common focus of peace, unity, and progress of the region, and, by extension, with the vision of the Act that establishes the NDDC as an intervention body”, it said.
The group, however, expressed concern over the behaviours of one of the aids to the Managing Director, who failed to carry out the instructions of his principal during its visit to the Commission on the 5th of January 2023.
The release, jointly siged by the groups National Chairman, Owoh Udoh, National Secretary, Pastor Richard Monday, and Chairman, Elders Forum, Chief Francis Briggs, said the behaviour of the aid (name with held ) left many people stranded.
According to the group, the said aid only attended to the ijaw group and left others stranded.
“Of course, a lot of people were totally stranded, but we took our fate because we believe as a group that there’s is always another day.
“We want to strongly advise, sir, that in subsequent events, a more responsible individual should be given such duty so as to reduce tension or suspicion from other ethnic groups who may feel marginalized on the schemes of things”, the group said.
The group, however, commended the MD for his stance on issues bothering on the region so far, pledging support for any effort by the Commission to reposition the region.
By; John Bibor
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