For denying a statement that he made and which was widely reported in the media wherein the Sole Administrator of NDDC, Effiong Akwa, stated that “people should reduce the agitation on board and work with the current management of the NDDC,” Niger Delta United Congress has reiterated its position that Akwa is working against the Niger Delta legitimate demand for the inauguration of NDDC substantive board, in accordance with the law setting up the Commission.
In a statement by Ebizomor Brisibe, President, and Edem Archibong, Secretary of NDUC, the group wondered why it took Effiong Akwa “two long weeks to make an embarrassing volte-face and eat his own words which are in print and online and can therefore be easily verified to know who is lying between him (Akwa) and our group.”
According to the group, “rather than apologise to the people of the Niger Delta region, whose foremost agency, NDDC, he is occupying in violation of the NDDC Act, Effiong Akwa, Sole Administrator of NDDC, in an unrestrained verbiage of egregious subterfuge was unhinged in his farcical denial and flip-flop on his ill-advised but widely villified statement that people should reduce the agitation on board and work with the current management of the NDDC.”
NDUC stated that “in the syndicated media report, a vexatious flip-flop, in Punch of June 17, 2022, “NDDC debunks newspaper report, says commission not opposed to new board,” the embattled Akwa, made an embarrassing volte-face of flatly denying statements that he made since two weeks ago.”
Brisibe and Archibong noted that in the Punch report above, the NDDC issued a statement where it stated that “We wish to state categorically that Dr. Akwa, who was not present at the occasion, but was represented by his Special Adviser on Youths and Sports, Engr. Udengs Eradiri, did not make that statement at the online interaction.” The group pointed out that the “contentious anti-Niger Delta statement that Effiong Akwa made but which he is denying and strenuously striving to extricate himself from” is the statement that “People should reduce the agitation on board and work with the current management of the NDDC.”
Citing several newspapers, NDUC stated that as can be verified from these newspaper reports – ”Trust Buhari on Niger Delta Devt, NDDC Boss Urges Stakeholders,” ThisDay, June 6, 2022; “NDDC: Forensic audit reveals can of worms, we’re treating it — Akwa,” Vanguard, June 6, 2022; ”Buhari will hand over reformed NDDC to Niger Delta,” The Nation, Jun 6, 2022; and “Trust Buhari on NDDC, Niger Delta, Akwa urges stakeholders,” Blueprint, June 6, 2022, “Akwa categorically made the above statement.” According to the above newspaper reports, “The NDDC boss spoke during a webinar organised by his Special Adviser on Youths and Sports, Engr. Udengs Eradiri, and attended by hundreds of youths across the world.”
The group also drew attention that “further nail was pierced on Akwa’s untenable denial in a story published by Vanguard newspaper on Saturday, June 18, 2022, entitled “Row Over NDDC Board: N’Delta stakeholders rebuff Akwa’s plea on agitation,” in which, according to the paper, “Lawyers, activists, puncture claim forensic audit will affect board inauguration.” At the said webinar, the newspaper report quoted Akwa as stating that ”The board will come when all the parameters have been put together so that going forward, the new NDDC can start on good footing. People should reduce the agitation on board and work with the current management of the NDDC”.
Niger Delta United Congress observed that “Akwa is miffed that we called him out when we stated that in an unrestrained show of disregard for the office of the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, he (Akwa) had the effrontery to state that the Act establishing the commission was undergoing required reviews, we can no longer rely on the existing Act,” and that “people should reduce the agitation on board and work with the current management of the NDDC.”
The group further noted that in his “puerile denial, Akwa also contradicted President Buhari” when he (Akwa) stated that ”the public should, therefore, disregard such spurious lies being masterminded, fabricated and orchestrated by persons who are positioning themselves and their associates for appointment into the Board of the NDDC.”
NDUC however pointed out that “President Buhari, in exercise of his powers and in accordance with the law establishing NDDC forwarded the list of nominees for the NDDC Board to the Senate for confirmation on October 18, 2019. The Senate dutifully screened and confirmed the nominees of President Buhari as Board and Management of NDDC on November 5, 2019.”
According to the group, “it is therefore the height of impunity, disrespect, and affront on President Muhammadu Buhari who personally promised to inaugurate the substantive Board of NDDC” when Akwa states that “persons are positioning themselves and their associates for appointment into the Board of the NDDC.”
Brisibe and Archibong recalled that President Buhari, on June 24, 2021, while receiving the leadership of Ijaw National Congress (INC) at the State House in Abuja, promised that the NDDC Board would be inaugurated as soon as the forensic audit report is submitted, which report has been submitted to President Buhari since nine months ago on September 2, 2021.
At that occasion, President Buhari said that ‘‘Based on the mismanagement that had previously bedeviled the NDDC, a forensic audit was set up and the result is expected by the end of July, 2021. I want to assure you that as soon as the forensic audit report is submitted and accepted, the NDDC Board will be inaugurated.”
The group regretted however that The President has not yet fulfilled his promise nine months after submission of the audit report and the Ijaw National Congress (INC), “an authentic stakeholder in Niger Delta, which he received in audience when he made the above promise to Nigerians has been compelled to describe the delay in the inauguration of the NDDC Board as a clear betrayal of trust and display of state insensitivity on the Ijaw nation and Niger Delta region.”
NDUC restated that “this position of INC and other authentic Niger Delta stakeholders represent the collective position of Niger Deltans, not the subterfuge from a puppet and beneficiary of the current illegality in NDDC who unabashedly sings the deleterious tunes of his paymasters to suppress Niger Deltans and deprive them of a properly governed and representative NDDC with necessary checks and balances in accordance with the NDDC Act.”
Brisibe and Archibong pointed out that “NDDC is regulated by its establishment Act which clearly stipulates how the agency should be governed. The ongoing contraption of administering the Commission by a Sole Administrator is a violation of the NDDC Act. What the NDDC Act provides is that the Board and Management (Managing Director and two Executive Directors) of the NDDC at any point in time should follow the provisions of the law which states that the Board and management is to be appointed by the President, subject to confirmation by the Senate. In effect, the current Sole Administrator (Effiong Akwa), who is not recognized by the law setting up NDDC, the NDDC Act, therefore lacks the authority, and even moral standing to begin to pontificate on the “required reviews” of a subsisting law which he currently violates by administering the NDDC as a Sole Administrator.”
NDUC said that rather “what has subsisted in NDDC for the past two years is that there is an illegal sole administrator who is both Managing Director, Executive Director of Finance, and Executive Director Projects, in clear breach of NDDC Act which ensures separation of these duties to ensure checks and balances.”
According to the group, “the continued administration of the NDDC by an Interim Sole administrator (Effiong Akwa) is illegal because the NDDC Act has no provision for this illegality as the NDDC Act only provides that the Board and Management (Managing Director and two Executive Directors) of the NDDC at any point in time should follow the provisions of the law which states that the Board and management is to be appointed by the President, subject to confirmation by the Senate. In effect, nobody is supposed to begin to administer the NDDC and utilise the huge funds accruing to it on a monthly basis without passing through this legal requirement as stipulated in the NDDC Act.”
Brisibe and Archibong stated that the “continued illegality of the Sole administrator contraption administering NDDC in breach of the law, NDDC Act, is a national embarrassment that should be of grave concern to President Buhari, who should also not condone the arbitrary use of his name and office to justify the ongoing illegality in NDDC, most especially for his legacy when he leaves office in May 2023.”
According to the group, for a President who stated in October 2019 when he received in audience the governors of the nine constituent states of the NDDC that ”I try to follow the Act setting up these institutions,” the Niger Delta region, the country and indeed the world expects him to “end the illegality of further administering NDDC with a Sole Administrator which is in breach of NDDC Act – the law setting-up the Commission.”
“President Buhari should also be concerned about the disdain of the Niger Delta people over the manner the NDDC has been handled, most especially administering the Commission with illegal interim management/sole administrator contraptions for five years in his seven years in office, and therefore needs to end the ongoing illegality in NDDC if he is to be remembered for good in the Niger Delta,” the group noted.
NDUC regretted that “whereas the North East Development Commission (NEDC) has been allowed to function with its duly constituted Board in place in line with its NEDC Act thereby ensuring proper corporate governance, accountability, checks and balances and fair representation of its constituent states, the NDDC on the other hand has been run arbitrarily in the last three years by Interim committees/sole administrator in breach of the NDDC Act.”
The group stated that presently, across the length and breadth of the Niger Delta region there are “unending calls, demands and peaceful agitations of youths, men and women, political and traditional leaders and civil society organisations that the inauguration of the board of NDDC will ensure compliance with the NDDC Act, promote and sustain peace, equity and fairness, transparency and accountability, good governance and rapid development and transformation of the Niger Delta Region.”
Brisibe and Archibong observed that “as a Commission established in 2000 by an Act of Parliament, the ongoing national embarrassment at NDDC should be of grave concern to the President, about his legacy when he leaves office in 2023 and thereby should persuade him to put an end to the illegality of further administering NDDC with a Sole Administrator that is not known to the law setting-up the Commission.”
Niger Delta United Congress affirmed that “while we condemn in its entirety the unwarranted and unauthorized use of President Buhari’s name and office to try and justify the ongoing illegality in NDDC, we align with the demands of authentic Niger Delta stakeholders and urge President Buhari to end the illegal sole administratorship at the NDDC; inaugurate the NDDC Governing Board in line with the NDDC Act to represent the nine constituent states, and thereby ensure proper corporate governance, checks and balances, accountability, transparency, and probity in managing the Commission.”
Bayelsa Revives Nembe-Brass Road Project
There was celebration in Nembe and Brass Local Government Areas of Bayelsa State as the long-awaited road project linking both riverine councils was flagged off by the Minister of Works and Housing, Mr. Babatunde Fashola, at Nembe.
The project, which is one of the three senatorial roads in the State, had been on the drawing board of successive administrations in the country from the colonial era in the 1940s.
The Governor Douye Diri administration, which made it one of its campaign promises to the people of the area, revived the project with the first phase of 21km and 10 bridges awarded to Setraco Nigeria Limited for N54.1billion.
The Tide gathered that the road when completed will open up the Brass Island, which has key national economic assets such as the Agip oil export terminal, the ongoing Brass Liquefied Natural Gas, and the Brass Fertiliser and Petrochemical projects.
Fashola, who was represented by the Director of Highways (South South), Mr. Godwin Eke, commended Governor Diri for commencing the project.
He said his ministry will leverage on the government’s current tax credit scheme with the Nigeria National Petroleum Company (NNPC) to the advantage of the project, emphasising that road development was another way of delivering prosperity to the people and congratulated the State Government on the strides achieved.
In his address, Governor Diri said the road had suffered several setbacks but that his administration was determined to bring to an end the sufferings of the people of Nembe and Brass in the hands of sea pirates and kidnappers.
The Governor lamented that steps initiated by his government to benefit from the Federal Government tax relief scheme through the Nigerian Agip Oil Company and the Federal Ministry of Petroleum resources were frustrated by some forces at the centre.
He noted that as a government committed to serving the people, it commenced the bidding process for suitable contractors and congratulated Setraco for winning the bid, assuring the Nembe and Brass people of his government’s commitment to the project, regardless of the dwindling economic situation in the country.
“Let me appreciate the Federal Ministry of Works and Housing and the Minister, who did not only reply when we wrote, but also showed keen interest in this project,” he said.
“We wanted to replicate what was being done in Bonny Island in Rivers State with the tax relief scheme of the present government at the centre. We thought that part of Agip’s tax remitted to the Federal Government can also be ploughed into construction of the Nembe-Brass road.
“Unfortunately, the reply we got from Agip was not encouraging. We, however, resolved that with or without Agip or any other person, this road must commence this year.
“We have all heard the history of this road dating back to the pre-independence era. I have also been told that even our former President, our own son, awarded the project for this same road for clearing.
“This road has suffered several setbacks. No wonder you find all the traditional leadership of Nembe present here today. That tells you the importance the people of Nembe Kingdom attach to this road. For us as a government, ours is to serve our people. These are the legacy projects that will speak for us and our children”, Governor Diri said.
The Bayelsa helmsman called on the youths and other stakeholders to take the project as their own and protect it, emphasizing the economic advantage of the road to the local economy as well as its attendant benefits to the nation at large.
Earlier, the Commissioner for Works and Infrastructure, Mr. Moses Teibowei, said the road will attract large investment to the Brass Island, which had the potential of an economic free trade zone and transform the area to an economic and tourism hub of the State.
Teibowei noted that the project was divided into three phases with the first phase commencing from Nembe to Saint Nicolas River, while the second phase will be a 600metre bridge crossing the river, and the third phase will be from the bridge to Twon-Brass.
Also, the Deputy Managing Director of Setraco Nigeria Limited, Mr. Ziad Muonanse, thanked the Governor for the confidence reposed in his company for construction of major roads in the styate, assuring that the company would deliver on the project to the highest of standards and within the stipulated time.
In a goodwill message, the Amanyanabo of Nembe, King Edmund Daukoru, expressed gratitude to Governor Diri for bringing to fruition a dream that had long been on their minds.
Also speaking, the Amanyanabo of Opu-Nembe, King Josiah Biobelemoye, described Diri as a true reflection of a miracle to the people of Nembe Kingdom through the groundbreaking of the project.
Meanwhile, the Amanyanabo of Twon-Brass and first Military Administrator of Old Rivers State, King Alfred Diete-Spiff, also commended Governor Diri for working towards ending the pain of the people.
In the same vein, his Okpoama Kingdom counterpart, King Ebitimi Banigo, noted hat after more than 50 years, their dream finally came true through the passion shown by Diri, promising that the gesture would be reciprocated by the people of the area.
The Tide gathered that the project is estimated to be completed in 24 to 36 months.
By: Ariwera Ibibo-Howells, Yenagoa
Army Constructs Health Centre In Edo Community
The Nigerian Army last Friday in Unogbo Community, Esan Central Local Government Area of Edo State, inaugurated and handed over the remodeled Unogbo Primary Health Care Centre to the community.
The Tide’s source reports that the remodeled facility is one of the quick impact projects approved for various communities across the country by the Chief of Army Staff (COAS), Lt.-Gen. Farouk Yahaya.
Yahaya, in his remarks shortly after inaugurating the facility, said the projects were executed in less privileged communities to provide succour in areas of needs.
He also said they were geared towards promoting civil/military cooperation and enhancing support for the Nigerian Army operations.
Represented by Maj.-Gen. Markus Kangye, Chief of Civil/Military Affairs, the COAS noted that the Nigerian Army under his leadership was fully aware of the high level of cooperation the Nigerian Army enjoyed from the civil populace in Edo, particularly.
He said the army had over the years, taken deliberate steps to honour and ensure it gave back to the society, the cooperation it had received by upholding its corporate social responsibilities.
“This is being done in line with my vision of having a professional Nigerian Army ready to accomplish assigned missions within a joint environment.
“In pursuance of this, I have ensured that senior officers from various communities in the country are connected to the larger populace, to enhance our civil/military relationship.
“This is one of the non kinetic aspect of our military operations,” he said.
The COAS further said in this respect, the need to ensure a good and cordial relationship with the civil populace and host communities where military operations were conducted, could not be over emphasised.
“This cordial relationship necessitated the conception of the construction and equipping of the health centre we are inaugurating today.
“This is very much in line with the civil military cooperation of the Nigerian Army which is tailored towards bridging the community gap with the Nigerian Army and the civil populace.”
Yahaya noted that the army had enjoyed and would continue to enjoy the cooperation of residents of the State in surmounting the challenges of insecurity.
“The Nigerian Army, with the support of other security agencies, will leave no stone unturned in ensuring general security of the country.” the COAS said.
“The project inaugurated today is one of several civil/military cooperation related projects and quick impact projects executed in various parts of the country,” the COAS further said.
In her remarks, the Edo State Commissioner for Health, Prof. Obehi Akoria, said the project was a dream come true for the community in particular and the State in general.
Akoria said Edo currently had 504 PHCs, adding that it was the responsibility of the Ministry of Health to improve these centres.
She said this was to ensure that they could serve the people and purpose for which they were built.
“That is why we are happy today to be part of the inauguration and handing over ceremony of this PHC.
“Ours is now to activate this centre and make it an example of the dream of the Edo Government.
“Ours now is to be sure that we have a pharmacy technician, who will be supervised by the pharmacist.
“We will also ensure there is a doctor as well as other staff to ensure that residents of Unogbo Community get quality medical care in the community.
Meanwhile, the Coordinator, Nigerian Army Special Projects, Maj.-Gen. Phillip Eromosele, a son of the community who inspired the execution of the project, said he was motivated to make positive change in his community.
According to him, “I didn’t want people in the community now to pass through what we passed through while growing up here, so I was motivated to make a positive change”.
USAID, NGO Train 2,000 Youths, Women On Cassava Value Chain
Revemi Trade Limited, a Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO), through a grant from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) has trained about 2,000 youths and women on cassava value chain in Delta State.
Revemi’s Chief Executive Officer, Mr Oreva Amata, disclosed this at a capacity building workshop, tagged, “Eki Farmers Support Programme”, organised by the company for peasant farmers in Delta South Senatorial District in Ozoro.
Amata noted that the programme was sponsored by USAID in partnership with Delta State Government and Townstalk.
According to him, Revemi, an Integrated Agrotech and Agro Commodities Trading Company, has as target to train 10,000 based pyramid farmers and equip them with requisite information on how to plant, harvest, process and market their products to make money.
“We started the training in February this year, in Delta North. In June, we also trained those in Delta Central, and today, we are training farmers from Delta South Senatorial District in Ozoro.
“So far, we have trained over 2,000 low pyramid farmers but we are targeting 10,000 farmers in the State,” he said.
On the choice of cassava, Amata said that cassava remains a crop in which Nigeria has a comparative advantage in addition to the many by-product that cassava offers to the market.
Noting that it has capacity to grow Nigeria’s Gross Domestic Products, he said: “Our mission is to bridge the critical gap in food security in Africa.
“As a first class graduate of economics, every time I heard that farmers are poor in Africa. This is contradictory because foreign nationals are making billions of money from agriculture.
“Revemi as winner of the COVID-19 Food Security challenge in 2021, we won a grant from the USAID to carry out this training to liberate our poor farmers from hunger, increase their income by linking them up to the market.”
“Agriculture is the backbone of development in any nation, it creates jobs for youths and women and also ensure security because the youths will be gainfully employed,” Amata said.
He said his company would link all the trained farmers to sources of finance, provide them with information on climate change, weather conditions and availability of land across the State and from government sources.
On his part, the Assistant Director, State Ministry of Agriculture and Natural Resource, Mr Anslem Emikpe, advised the farmers to form clusters to enable them engage Government, access funds and land.
Also, Dr Friday Okei, a Resource Person, said training on cassava value chain exposes the farmers to varieties of byproducts of cassava, such as starch, flour, garri, chips, raw material for production of alcohols and drugs and others.
In an interview, Managing Director, Uzere Cassava Processing Factory, Mr Samuel Askia, urged the farmers and governments to take positive initiative on what the NGO is doing, adding that the training gives hope for a brighter future for farmers in Nigeria.
“It is time for us to see agriculture as a commercial venture, so that we can benefit from the support the government at the centre is giving,” he said.
The beneficiaries, Mr Lawrence Ugwologho and Mrs Martha Odus lauded the programme and thanked the organisers for impacting them with the right knowledge on best practices on cassava value chain.
They said the training had reawakened their minds on how to plant, harvest, process and market their cassava to make money for the family.
They, however, called for additional support in finance and land to expand cassava cultivation in the State.
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