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Ijaw Group Rejects Water Resources Bill

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An Ijaw professional group has joined the legion of Nigerians condemning the National Water Resources Bill currently before the House of Representatives, and urging the lawmakers to jettison the bill in the interest of national unity and cohesion.
In a communiqué issued at the end of a one-day virtual conference of the group on the bill, the Ijaw Nation Professional Group (INPG), resolved to use available contacts to stop the bill from progressing beyond its present stage at the lower chamber of the National Assembly, despite pressures from the Presidency to pass it into law.
The communiqué was signed by Arc Denzil Amagbe Kentebe (INDG), Comrade Joseph Eva (IMG), Mr. Elaye Otrofanowei (IPA), Mrs. Ebiere Fumudor (ELA), Barrister Efiye Bribena (IEF), Mrs. Rosemary Oduone (IWC), Barrister Iniruo Will (EMBASARA Foundation), and Dennis Banigo (Convener INDG).
The communiqué reads, “The Ijaw Nation Development Group (INDG) on 20th September, 2020, in collaboration with the other Ijaw organisations, including, Ijaw Professionals Association (IPA), the Ijaw Elders Forum (IEF), the Ijaw Nation forum (INF), the Ezon Ladies Association (ELA), Ijaw Monitoring Group (IMG), Embasara Foundation as well as individuals and representatives of Izon Organisations globally, arose from its Virtual Conference that critically examined the National Water Resources Bill 2020, currently at the National Assembly.
“The Conference observed and noted the following: The re-emergence and pursuance of a National Water Resources Bill, which had, hitherto, been rested by the 8th National Assembly, due to widespread national opposition to its assent, but brought through the backdoor into the 9th National Assembly, leaves us but to wonder, why in the face of more pressing and critical national issues, including the debilitating Covid-19 Pandemic, widespread economic dislocation, rising energy costs, rampant and pervasive insecurity the presidency will still bring about, the ‘resurrection’ of this unprecedented Bill, and it’s urgent pursuance.
“The bill is, therefore, suspicious in context and content and quite evident that the process of emergence of this bill, lacked transparency and consultation with various stakeholders across the country. Thus, the due process of democratic law making is once again denied group participation or societal engagements, within a highly skewed history of resources governance in the country.
“That the Bill is a product of yet, another undisclosed and ill-timed agenda and an assault to the identity and existence of Ijaw people. As it is an attempt to further whittle down the powers of various federating ethnic groups in the country. Thus, the bill which attempts to repeal four other Water Resources Laws and consolidate them into a single legislation, such as River Basin Development Act Cap R9 LFN 2004 and Hydrological Services Agency Act, Cap N110A of 2004, as well as the National Water Resources Institute Act, Cap N83LFN, 2004, is inimical to the survival and aquatic livelihoods of the Ijaw people. As it has taken their right of ownership without their consent, and gives it to a federal commission, to now delegate licensing powers for commercial exploitation to states, for water resources owned by and found in Ijaw-nation.
“That the bill therefore, is an obvious impunity and outright disregard for basic principle of federalism, ownership and fundamental Human rights. More so, it is vexatious that the recent unguided comments by Hon. Sada Soli (chairman of the House Committee on Water Resources), to mention a few, tend to lend credence and give confirmation to the notion of a subterranean agenda.
“The conference further noted that, the bill is another backdoor ownership of resources, to further deny the rights of indigenous communities across the Niger Delta. We the Ijaw people will lose our lands and water rights to the presidency, if this bill is passed in its present form, and without regard to the ownership question.
“That Ijaw life is intertwined with water, and water is the very essence of our livelihood and survival. Water is synonymous to the air that has been polluted by oil companies, in collaboration with the Nigerian state. Yet, with a new bill that is an obvious intent to usurp the rights due to an autonomous federating unit; which should by the Constitution, hold the power to regulate the affairs of its people and the property within its territory.
“The conference also noted that, the double standards of the Presidency, is witnessed in recognising the rights of indigenous communities in the North, to mine gold and other minerals. But deny same to Oil and Gas in the Niger Delta region. This discriminating and fraudulent legislative polices, only continue to serve a few local and global business interest groups as our experience proves with oil and gas resources.
“The conference noted that, despite the deprivation of the Niger Delta States of their ‘minerals and mineral oils’ within their territories, the Bill now plots to take the only ‘Resource’ left for ‘the states to administer, for the benefit of their people. In addition, Section 64 of the Bill arrogates exclusive powers to the Central Government, to decide what constitutes ‘interstate waters’. While in contradiction, acknowledges that management and control of water resources within the boundaries of a state, reside in that state government. This clearly did not reflect the fact that rivers unify Ijaw people, and that Nigeria has balkanised the Ijaw people into seven states, thus, weakening their political and cultural hegemony.
“That whilst we consider the science (Hydrological and Geological) as well as the Law aspects of this bill, we note that the bill as it is, will greatly impact/distort our socio-economic wellbeing and livelihood patterns. Thus, we wonder why the Federal Government is bordered about legislating the Use and Control of Water, rather than creating framework laws that allow Ijaw people to effectively organize, control, manage and use their resources for the commercial benefit and social good of all Nigerians.
“The conference as well, observed that the National Assembly members of Ijaw and Niger Delta descent are in a knowledgeable position to speak up, in resistance to the promotion of a Bill that is an inference and a perpetration of an altruistic and systematic invasion against Southern Nigeria by the Presidency. More so, the passage of the bill, will adversely affect the fundamental human rights of Ijaw people, and her generations of children yet unborn. Should our assembly members continue to be complacent in the face of brazen confrontation?
“That the Ijaw nation has suffered marginalisation and deprivation in various forms, despite being the ‘cash cow’ of the nation, via its oil reserves. In the face of all these, they have remained a calm and peaceful people. However, it must be noted that peace does not mean acquiescence; and there are limits to peace.
“That, as a further show of its hidden agenda, especially for land grab. The bill fails to address the manifest deficiency in strategy, for development of ground water. Which as it were, over 80% of Nigerians depend on for clean and less polluted water. It therefore wonders why the rush”.
The Ijaw professionals also resolved that, “Ijaw Nation rejects the passage of the Bill in its present form, without it been open to public hearing, wide consultation and the fundamental concerns of Ownership, Control, Management and use in favour of Federalism, Human and Peoples’ Environmental Rights.
“Ijaw Nation is open and willing to engage, consult and negotiate, to reach a Bill for an act that protects her strategic interests, for the greater good of all Nigerians without sacrificing the Fundamental Rights Issues of Federalism, Ownership, Control, Management and Right to Use Including Sustainable use and Environmental Management.
“We call on the Nigerian State and the Presidency to emulate the practice of true federalism, as exemplified in India, Australia, Germany, Canada and the USA where water regulation is left for the States to formulate, within a framework set by the Federal Agency.
“We resolve to work with other Niger Delta and Nigerian Nationalities, to ensure that we protect our Nationalities and restore our Federalism as Nigerians from Unitary intrusion and control, by Hegemony and vested business and political interest,” among others.

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NDLEA Seizes 442 Meth In Smoked Fish At Lagos Airport …Another Suspect Excretes 77 Pellets Of Cocaine

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The operatives of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) have intercepted no fewer than 442 parcels of Crystal Methamphetamine concealed in heads of fishes packed in cartons for export to Dubai, the United Arab Emirates through the SAHCO shed of the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Ikeja, Lagos State.
The 11.90kg consignment was brought to the SAHCO export shed of the airport on Friday, August 5 by a 32-year-old freight agent, Adekunle Oluwapelumi Paul, from Yagba West Local Government Area of Kogi State.
This was disclosed via a statement issued and made available to The Tide source yesterday by the NDLEA Director, Media and Advocacy, Femi Babafemi.
Babafemi stated that the suspect was arrested upon the discovery that the seven cartons he presented for export contained parcels of the dangerous drug wrapped with foil paper and concealed in the heads of hundreds of smoked catfish.
The NDLEA spokesman added that another consignment containing 1.45kg cannabis concealed inside granulated melon and crayfish and packed among other food condiments going to Dubai, UAE was also intercepted by the operatives of the anti-drug agency on Saturday, August 6.
He noted that the NDLEA officers arrested the freight agent, Ajisefini Lateef, who presented the consignment for export at the SAHCO shed.
Babafemi said the 39-year-old agent hails from Abeokuta West Local Government Area of Ogun State.
He further stated that the anti-narcotic officers arrested a 50-year-old Mgbeobuna Victor Eberechukwu for ingesting 77 pellets of cocaine at the Akanu Ibiam International Airport, Enugu.
The NDLEA spokesperson said Eberechukwu was arrested on Saturday, August 6 following his arrival from Addis Ababa, Ethiopia onboard an Ethiopian airline flight.
According to Babafemi, the suspect who hails from Idemili South Local Government Area of Anambra State passed out the 77 wraps of the illicit drug in eight excretions spanning four days.
“The suspect, who hails from Idemili South LGA, Anambra State passed out the 77 wraps of the illicit drug in eight excretions spanning four days,” he said.
Babafemi added that in Kaduna, three suspects: Saifullahi Sani, Salisu Nafi’u and Abdulrazaq Mamman, were arrested in Zaria on Thursday, on 11 August with 1,112,350 tablets of Tramadol (225mg and 100mg) weighing 38.3kg.
He said in Kano, a female drug dealer, Saratu Abdullahi, 28, from Wurno council area of the state was nabbed at Hotoro with 541 blocks of cannabis weighing 245kg.
“In Lagos, NDLEA operatives recovered a total of 1,773.25kg cannabis sativa at Ebutte-Meta and Akala in Mushin areas of the state in separate raid operations between 9th and 10th August.
“At the Tin Can seaport in Lagos, 86 parcels of cannabis indica (Colorado) weighing 43kg were recovered from a 40ft container during a joint examination with Customs and other security agencies.
“The illegal consignment seized on Friday 12th Aug came from Toronto via Montreal, Canada and concealed in two drums inside a Mercedes Benz SUV in the container,” Babafemi stated.
The Chairman/Chief Executive of NDLEA, Brig.-Gen. Mohammed Buba Marwa (rtd), commended the anti-narcotic officers for the arrests and seizures.
Marwa also charged them and their compatriots across the country to always remain steps ahead of the drug cartels.

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NLNG Train 7: TUC Affiliates Mull Strike Over Imposition Of Union On Workers

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A setback appears to be unfolding in the on-going Nigerian Liquefied Natural Gas (NLNG) Train 7 gas plant construction in Bonny Local Government Area of Rivers State, following the threat by one of the affiliates of Trade Union Congress (TUC), National Association of Plant Operators (NAPO), to proceed on industrial action to press home their displeasure over the imposition of union on workers in the facility.
This is because members of NAPO, the major construction workers in NLNG Train 7 have threatened to organise and mobilise for a total industrial action that would jeopardise and shut down the project over the decision by the management of Deawoo Engineering and Construction Nigeria Limited, a key contracting firm handling the project, to force workers to join a particular union against their own preferred choice.
The National President of NAPO, Comrade Harold Bestowe, gave this indication while addressing journalists in Port Harcourt over the weekend.
Bestowe, an indigene of Bonny, averred that the action of Deawoo management was an aberration to Section 40 of 1999 Constitution, and Article 1, 2, 3, nos 83, 1948 of International Labour Organisation (ILO) Charter, which according to him, allow workers to freely belong to any industrial union of their choice without any form of interference by anybody.
The NAPO boss, therefore, urged the management of Deawoo E and C to respect the views and rights of their workers, and allow them to freely choose the labour unions of their choice, which they feel can represent them very well.
“What we are saying in this regard is that the management cannot determine to workers the union they should be belonging. By so doing, the management has violated Section 40 of 1999 Constitution as well as Article 1, 2, 3, nos 83 of ILO Charter, and that we will resist it”, he stated.
Harold opined that the workers have written to the management that they want to be unionised by NAPO through several letters, and appealed to the management of the lead constructing company in the project to respect the views and rights of the workers.
The Bonny-born unionist used the opportunity to call on various stakeholders in the ongoing NLNG Train 7 project to call to order the management of the giant construction company to respect the laws of the country in other to avoid industrial unrest in the oceanic city.

By: Akujobi Amadi

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We Can’t Feed Everybody, Nwanosike Tells Empowerment Projects’ Beneficiaries

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The Chairman of Ikwerre Local Government Area in Rivers State, Engr Samuel Nwanosike, has urged the people of the area to use what the council has given them to provide food, pay their children’s school fees, change their clothes, and live happily as all their needs cannot be provided for by the government.
Nwanosike made this appeal when he defiled heavy down pour to continue his Back-to-Farm, Back-to-School, and Business Support Empowerment Programme of 80 people at Ward 2, Isiokpo.
According to him, “Today, we are in Ward 2, Isiokpo, in continuation of our Back-to-Farm Programme, Business Support Empowerment, and Back-to-School Programme.
“What we have come to say here today is that this is the farming season, we are peasant farmers, the council has made provision for you to go and support your farming system.
“We can’t feed everybody in Ikwerre Local Government, but if you use what the council has given to you to do the actual farming, few weeks from now, the result will show. We will have enough food in our market, we will have opportunity to pay our children’s school fees, we will have opportunity to change our clothes and live happily”.
Nwanosike pleaded with those who were not empowered to wait for another turn, saying that Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike, was the leader of South-South people and believed in a South-South presidential pursuit.
He said, “Government cannot do everything for everybody at the same time. There are those who did not get yesterday, but got today. There are those who did not get yesterday, and today but will get tomorrow. What is important is that you should remain consistent with your party, and know that Chief Nyesom Wike is the leader of the South-South people.
“He is not a betrayer. He agreed with the other governors of the South-South states to say power should go to the South, and he has remained consistent in that pursuit.
“And what we are saying clearly is: if you take Chief Nyesom Wike for granted, Rivers people will take you for granted at the polling units”.
While speaking, the Supervisor for Education, Ikwerre LGA, Hon. Victor Wagor, assured Nwanosike that the people of Ward 2 were 100perrcent loyal to him for always carrying them along.
In their separate speeches, the Councillor representing Ward 2 and Leader of Ikwerre Legislative Assembly, Hon Nwobuisi Chikwe-Tasie; Ward 2 Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Mr Darosha Kinika; Personal Assistant to the Chairman of Ikwerre LGA, Mrs Ethel Kinika; amongst others, thanked Nwanosike for building a 1,000-capacity hall, appointment of over 18 Ward 2 people into his government, and yearly empowerment of the people, while assuring that Ward 2 would always vote for PDP.
On their parts, the member representing Ikwerre/Emuoha Federal Constituency at the National Assembly, Barrister Boniface Emerengwa; and the PDP candidate for Ikwerre Constituency at the Rivers State House of Assembly, Hon. Prince Lemchi Nyeche; commended Nwanosike for always making the people feel the impact of his administration through his human capital development programmes.
Highlight of the event was the defection of an All Progressive Congress (APC) social media influencer in Ward 2, Mr Kelvin Amadi Chinwe, who dumped his party for the PDP.
Speaking at the event, Chinwe begged the leadership of PDP, especially Nwanosike, to forgive and accept him into PDP because he has found light in PDP.
Chinwe was received by the Acting Chairman of PDP in Ikwerre LGA, Hon. Charles Wobodo, and was handed over to the Ward 2 PDP chairman for proper documentation.

By: Nelson Chukwudi

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