The Minister of State for Environment, Chief (Mrs) Sharon Ikpeazor, has appealed to youths and communities in Ogoniland in Rivers State to always support the Federal Government and the Hydrocarbon Pollution Remediation Project (HYPREP) to speed up and effectively and seamlessly implement the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) Report on Ogoniland, as it concerns the clean-up project and provision of livelihoods to the people. This is even as HYPREP has promised to train additional 5,000 youths in the area.
Ikpeazor, who made the appeal during a one-day stakeholder engagement programme at the council secretariat of Khana Local Government Area in Bori on Monday, said the support of both the youths and communities in the area was needed to make the project work as well as enable the government and HYPREP work faster in improving the wellbeing of the people in the shortest possible time.
She disclosed that advertisement placements would soon be made for the construction of the Centre of Excellence in Ogoniland as contained in the UNEP Report, assuring that due process would be followed in the advertisement of projects and engagement of contractors for the execution of all HYPREP projects.
Ikpeazor further hinted that an environmental surveillance team, made up of Ogoni youths would also be put in place to provide security at remediation sites in Ogonniland, adding that the Federal Government was committed to training of Ogoni youths.
According to her, the government would ensure that other contaminated sites in Ogoniland not captured in the UNEP Report are included in the clean-up project so that the project would be truly owned by the people.
The minister further noted that the employment of casual workers by HYPREP to drive the clean-up project would be open and transparent, clarifying that HYPREP is not an agency but a project office which has no legal framework.
On his part, the Acting Project Coordinator of HYPREP, Prof Philip Shekwolo said 5,000 Ogoni youths would be selected for the forthcoming livelihood training programme, assuring that the project office was determined to provide potable drinking water to contaminated Ogoni Comminties, as 12 additional lots were on the verge of joining six contractors already selected by the office to ensure that the ongoing water project gets to impacted communities.
Shekwolo further promised that the Centre of Excellence project would come on stream in 2022, and thanked Ogoni indigenous doctors for anchoring the project office’s outreach medical programme recently carried out in the four Ogoni local government areas of the state.
Also speaking, the President of the Supreme Council of Ogoni Traditional Rulers, King Godwin Giniwa stressed the need for the establishment of the University of Environment in Ogoniland, adding that education of the people of the area was key to development, and appealed that the clean-up project should be made faster.
Former Rivers State Commissioner for Environment, Prof Roseline Konya urged HYPREP to ensure that Ogoni people benefit from the clean-up project by carrying along the women and the youths of the area.
Former President of the Movement for the Survival of Ogoni People (MOSOP), Barrister Ledum Mitee harped on the need for HYPREP to provide to the Ogoni people things that are sustainable instead of giving them what he described as mere handouts.
The Senator representing Rivers South East Senatorial District in the National Assembly, Senator Barry Mpigi commended the present leadership of HYPREP, stressing that the ongoing clean-up project was a national project which must be treated as such in all ramifications, adding that there was need to drive the project in such a way that it goes beyond the Muhammedu Buhari administration.
On his part, the Chairman of Khana Local Government Area, Dr Barinee Thomas, who spoke on behalf of other local government chairmen in Ogoniland, tacitly passed a vote of confidence on the present HYPREP leadership, and commended it for its humane disposition and serenity of purpose.
He, however , charged HYPREP to engage in deliberate actions to improve the wellbeing of Ogoni people as well as involve young Ogoni contractors in the execution of projects, saying “ All we want is result.”
The event was well attended by Ogoni sons and daughters including the state Commissioner for Agriculture and member, HYPREP Board of Trustees, Dr Fred Kpakol; Commissioner for Energy and Natural Resources, Dr Peter Medee; President of KAGOTE, Hon Emma Deeyah; former Secretary to Rivers State Government, Chief Kenneth Kobani; former Vice Chancellor of Rivers State University, Prof Barineme Fakae; among others.
The Director General of the National Oil Spill Detection and Restoration Agency (NOSDRA), Mr Idris Musa; and the Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Environment, Mr. Hassan Musa were in the entourage of the Minister.
Ikpeazor visited the ongoing water project in Eleme and some remediated sites in the area.
By: Donatus Ebi
PFAs Invest N155.44bn Pension Funds In Real Estate
The Pension Funds Administrators (PFAs) have invested N155.44 billion out of the total funds under the Contributory Pension Scheme in real estate properties as of the end of September 2021, data from the National Pension Commission (PenCom) have revealed.
The PenCom data on monthly pension fund portfolio showed that the total funds under management stood at N13tn as of September.
Other investment portfolios where the funds were invested included FGN securities; domestic and foreign ordinary shares; and corporate debt securities, comprising corporate bonds, corporate infrastructure bonds, corprate green bonds and supranational bonds.
The funds were also invested in local money market securities, comprising bank placements, commercial papers and foreign money market securities.
The PFAs invested the rest in mutual funds, comprising open/close-end funds, private equity funds, infrastructure funds, cash and other assets.
Speaking on real estate investment, the Group Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer, CFL Group, Mr Lai Omotola, highlighted the need to invest in real estate.
“Construction remains the fastest way of getting out of recession because of the large value chain to the economy towards creating jobs”, he said.
According to a report by Augusto & Co, a pan-African credit rating agency, the Nigerian pension industry’s net assets are expected to hit the N20tn mark by 2023.
It said in its 2021 insurance industry report that the growth in the pension industry’s managed assets had been largely driven by investment returns and additional contributions, to a lesser extent.
The report said the industry’s annual contributions over the last five years had averaged N699bn while withdrawals had averaged about N341bn, translating to a net annual contribution of N347bn and accounting for 26.6 per cent of the industry’s AuM growth over the period.
It said the remaining 73.4 per cent of average growth was attributable to investment returns earned on the portfolios.
FG Targets $40bn Investment In Digital Infrastructure By 2025
The Federal Government says it expects $40bn in private capital investments in digital infrastructure by 2025.
The government disclosed this in its ‘National Development Plan 2021-2025: Volume I.’
It said, “To achieve the goals outlined in the sector, the estimated public investment is N150bn from 2021-2025. Allocations will be made to priority projects in the sector as well as projects essential to the operations of the relevant ministries.
“In addition, the ICT sector is projected to facilitate the formation of up to $1bn in private equity and private capital investments in digital infrastructure of approximately $40bn”.
According to the government, to unleash Nigeria’s potential for industrialisation and sustainable economic growth, it will take measures to digitise the economy and make digitalisation a key driver of national economic development strategies.
It said it would grow the digital economy from 10.68 per cent to 12.54 per cent and improve e-governance by 100 per cent by 2025.
It added that to unleash the nation’s digital economic objective, it would need to improve legal framework of the sector through policy amendment and implementation; drive investment for infrastructural development through public funds and blended financing; prioritise skills development through the promotion of STEM and digital technology education; and drive local and foreign investments.
The government said, “There has been a gradual global transition to a fourth industrial revolution through the diffusion of digital technologies encapsulated in 5G, cybersecurity, artificial intelligence, machine learning, robotics, Internet of Things, computer vision, etc.
“These global trends have created an urgency for Nigeria to improve its digital and technological capacity in order to generate innovations that will enable Nigeria to harness the benefits of digitalisation for economic development and competitiveness.
“For economies to build resilience in a fast-paced, and ever-changing global environment, there is a need for a robust digital, ICT, and R&D ecosystem to drive innovation and continuous adaptability for sustainable economic growth.
“With its teeming, young, and tech-savvy population, and increased investor interest, Nigeria holds the potential to become a leading technological powerhouse and boost productivity across its economic sectors”.
Fuel Price Increase: NLC Threatens To Shut Down Nigeria
For the umpteenth time, the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) has warned the Federal Government against further increase in the pump price of fuel in the country and called on the Nigerian workers to prepare for total war against the fuel price hike.
The organised labour insisted that workers and masses would not accept any further increase in the pump price of fuel in the name of subsidy removal.
The NLC President, Comrade Ayuba Wabba, gave the warning in a New Year message to workers.
He also named Zamfara, Taraba, Benue, Kogi, Cross River, Abia and Imo states as seven states yet to implement the N30,000 minimum wage that took effect on April 18, 2019.
In the message titled “The Year 2022 Felicitations: Keeping Our Hopes And Aspirations Alive In The New Year”, NLC directed the affected states to commence indefinite strikes to force the respective state governments to implement the new wage.
NLC, in a 9-page statement, said the government was not relenting in its determination to push through further increases in the pump price of petrol in the name of “removal of petrol subsidy”.
It said, “We have told the government in very clear terms that Nigerians have suffered enough and will not endure more punishment by way of further petrol and electricity price increases.
“Our position in this regard is predicated on four major grounds. First is our concern on the deceit and duplicity associated with the politics of ‘petrol price increase’ by successive Nigerian governments. The truth is that the perennial increase by the government in the pump price of petrol is actually a transfer of government failure and inability to effectively govern to the poor masses of our country.
“We are talking of the failure of government to manage Nigeria’s four oil refineries and inability to build new ones more than thirty years after the last petrochemical refinery in Port Harcourt was commissioned; the failure to rein in smuggling; and the failure to determine empirically the quantity of petrol consumed in Nigeria.
“The shame takes a gory dimension with the fact that Nigeria is the only OPEC country that cannot refine her own crude oil.
“During the negotiations that trailed the last increase in petroleum prices, Organized Labour made a cardinal demand on government which is that it must take immediate steps to revamp and rehabilitate Nigeria’s refineries.
“A Technical Committee was set up to monitor progress in this regard. As we all know, the work of the Technical Committee, like our abandoned public refineries, has ground to a halt and further negotiations with the government adjourned sine die for nearly one year now.
“As a responsible social partner, we have at different times called on the government to show us what they are doing in response to our demands but silence is the response we get”.
By: Boye Salau
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