The Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) in Nigeria has trained no fewer than 300 local hunters in other economic activities to sway them from hunting critically endangered Cross River gorillas, which are said to be less than 100 now. It has also intensified awareness campaigns in local communities at the three sites where these gorillas live. These sites are the Mbe Mountains, Afi Mountain Wildlife Sanctuary, and the Okwangwo Division of Cross River National Park which are all in Boki LGA.
Director of the Cross River Landscape of the WCS Nigeria Programme, Dr. Inaoyom Imong said the purpose of the campaign was to enlighten the locals on why they should rather protect the gorillas instead of killing them for food.
Imong said they were also working with many communities in the forest areas of the sprawling Cross River National Park and other sites where the gorillas and other games are under protection.
Speaking with newsmen in his office, he said since the start of the exercise there were indications that the population of gorillas was increasing or at least stabilided. “Since we embarked on the awareness campaign in 2002 to discourage people from killing gorillas, chimpanzees, and other threatened species, we have so far trained and empowered over 300 local hunters in various economic skills.
“The communities of Afi and Mbe mountains areas of Boki Local Government Area, as well as the Okwangwo division of Cross River National Park have benefitted from training and support for beekeeping, snail farming and goat rearing including support for construction and stocking of snail and goat pens and beehives. “We are also working with local women in communities around the three Cross River gorilla sites to cultivate Bush Mango (Ogbonno) and have helped those formed cooperatives to enable them sell the product profitably,” he said.
Imong said all these efforts have helped reduce pressure on Cross River forests, which still host many endangered species of animals. He noted that to discourage deforestation that exposes the animals to danger, WCS procured improved cocoa seedlings for trained farmers to replant old farms as a way to increase productivity and reduce the need to clear more forest each year.
N’Delta Stakeholder Wants Rejigging Of Amnesty Deal
A former President of Ijaw Youths Council (IYC) Worldwide, Dr Onyifie Jonjon, has called for the rejigging of the amnesty deal signed between the Federal Government and repentant militants of the Niger Delta.
The administration of deceased President Umaru Yar’Adua signed the amnesty deal with the repentant militants in 2009, and it came into effect on August 6 of that year.
Speaking with The Tide’s source in Yenagoa, Dr Jonjon said the current execution of the deal was skewed against Niger Delta brokers of the deal.
Noting that the execution rewarded violence-prone people instead, Jonjon stressed that those who brokered the amnesty deal had been side-lined and left in the cold.
He added that it was regrettable and discouraging that society seemed to neglect intellectual prowess and discouraged youths from scholarly endeavours and hard work.
“Where are people like Mr T.K. Ogoriba, Dr Chris Ekiyor and Dr Felix Tuodolo who contributed so much in making the amnesty programme a reality?’’ he queried.
He lamented that after getting involved in an accident and undergoing several surgeries, he got nothing as reward since the amnesty programme began.
Jonjon is also the Special Adviser to Bayelsa State Governor on Ijaw nation’s Affairs.
He said the pipeline surveillance contract signed between the Federal Government and some repentant militants ought to have reversed the unjust reward system and engage law-abiding, peace advocates.
“Historically, attention has been on the merchants of violence while those who are law-abiding, who mediated in the peace building process are not factored in.
“I was drafted in during the agitation by militants as President of Ijaw Youths Council alongside notable Ijaw leaders.
“When the amnesty was proclaimed there was no role for those who brainstormed to midwife the idea,’’ Jonjon lamented.
He stressed that Ijaw leaders who mediated and brokered peace ought to be involved in monitoring and evaluation as well as in providing intellectual support to the entire struggle.
He observed that amongst the beneficiaries in the pipeline surveillance contract, it was only Chief Government Ekpemupolo, aka Tompolo, that was consulting and enlisting participation of Niger Delta stakeholders.
He charged other beneficiaries to emulate Tompolo and carry other stakeholders along and discourage infighting amongst Niger Delta people.
Jonjon called for concerted efforts by beneficiaries of the surveillance contract and other stakeholders to involve more people so as to spread the benefits.
Stakeholders Brainstorm On MSMEs Policy In Edo
Stakeholders in the Micro, Small and Medium Scale Enterprises (MSMEs) sub sector, have met to chart a path for implementation of the national MSMEs policy in Edo State.
The one-day event, which held in Benin, was tagged: “Stalkhokders Dialogue on MSMEs Development and the Implementation of the National Policy on MSMEs” in Edo.
.Speaking at the event, Mr Onesi Lawani, the Deputy Director Policy, Small and Medium Enterprises Development Agency of Nigeria (SMEDAN), said the meeting was to create awareness and ownership of the national MSME policy in Edo State.
Lawani said the implementation of the national policy was to facilitate as well as sustain a vibrant MSMsE sub sector that would be the major driver of the nation’s economic growth.
Also speaking, Markus Wauschkuhn, Head of Programme, Pro-poor Growth and Promotion of Employment in Nigeria (SEDIN), said addressing issues facing MSMEs in Nigeria was the surest way to bridge the unemployment gap in the country.
Wauschkuhn said the essence of the dialogue was, therefore, to strengthen coordination of activities done by the Federal and States MDAs as well as donor organisations, geared toward the development of MSMEs in the country.
Represented by Akinropo Omoware, Head of Policy, SEDIN, Wauschkuhn said “we believe that the forum will provide opportunity for stakeholders in the MSMEs eco-system in the state to interact on the key challenges, foster common understanding and proffer some solutions”.
Also speaking, the Dtaye Governor, Godwin Obaseki, said one could not underscore the fact that MSMEs were the engine of any economy, as they remained the largest employers of labour.
“We have struck strategic collaboration with local amd international partners to ensure the promotion of the private sector in the state.”
The Governor was represented by Hon Afishetu Braimoh, the Commissioner for Business, Trade and Cooperative in Edo State.
Earlier, the Director-General of the Benin Chamber of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture, Mr John Imalingmhe, commended SEDIN’s support to MSMEs in the State.
The Tide’s source reports that the event was organised by SMEDAN in collaboration with the Edo State Ministry of Business, Trade and Cooperatives and the Edo State Skills Development Agency.
The dialogue was supported by SEDIN, a programme under the German Agency for International Cooperation.
Bayelsa At 26: Diri Fulfilling Promises To Labour -NLC
The Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC), Bayelsa State Chapter, has lauded the state Governor, Senator Douye Diri, for his Labour friendly policies.
Speaking to Newsmen on the sidelines of the celebrations of the 26th and 62nd anniversaries of the creation of Bayelsa State and Nigeria’s independence, the state NLC Chairman, Comrade John Ndiomu, said there was more to celebrate in the State by workers, noting that the State Governor upon assumption of office has had a cordial working relationship with the organised Labour in the State.
Ndiomu, who also commended the Governor for his prompt response to the yearnings of labour in the State hinted that as part of Governor Diri’s labour friendly policies, the State Government has since commenced the construction of a new civil servants estate
in the state, noting that the Governor has also been strategically clearing the backlog of gratuity and arrears owed workers and retirees in the State.
“Though gratuity owed pensioners in the State was a backlog, Governor Diri before assumption of office promised labour that he was going to pay gratuities and since he assumed office he has constantly kept to that promise. Retirees and civil servants are being paid their pensions, gratuity and salaries promptly.
“As we speak, the Governor has concluded the processes of constructing a civil servant estate for workers in the state so that they can own houses of their own.
It’s not easy for civil servants to build houses of their own when they retire from service and so the Governor as part of his labour friendly policies and programmes has started the construction of an estate for workers in the state”, he said.
The State NLC Chairman urged Bayelsans and workers in the state to be more patriotic, saying the state was fortunate to have had a Governor who understands the plights of workers.
He described workers as those who work to produce the wealth of the State, stressing that Governor Diri having this in mind has been working assiduously to solve all likely impedements to workers and government cordial relationships.
He also commended Bayelsans and Nigerians for the massive celebrations of the state’s 26th creation and 62nd Nigerian independence anniversaries.
“Bayelsans should be more patriotic, as a state at 26 we can’t say we’ve attained the heights expected of us, but God’s willing, we’ll get there some day.
“There’s more to celebrate by the Bayelsa workers, because we’ve a labour friendly leader in the person of Governor Douye Diri”, the NLC Chairman added.
By: Ariwera Ibibo-Howells, Yenagoa
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