Governor Ifeanyi Okowa of Delta State has advocated for a review of surveillance contracts on oil facilities to involve host communities in order to check the high rate of oil theft in the country.
Okowa made the call when he received a Federal Government delegation on anti-il theft led by the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Chief Timipre Sylva, on Monday in Asaba.
He said reviewing oil surveillance contracts based on performance of the contractors and engagement of host communities would ensure effectiveness in securing the nation’s oil and gas assets.
According to get Governor, the challenge of oil-theft was huge, given the level it had assumed, but expressed happiness with steps taken by the authorities to curb the menace.
“I am glad that we are discussing this hydra-headed issue which impacts directly on our economy and the environment.
“It impacts on the health of the people and sustainability of the environment and I am glad that we are taking some steps because there are so many issues that led us to this.
“We went through situations where gaps where created between host communities and oil companies, and unfortunately criminality set in.
“It has gone so bad but we are doing our best as a state. I am also glad with this collaboration,’’ he said.
The Governor said it was pertinence of a review of surveillance contracts of the oil facilities to ensure community involvement.
Okowa said that it was often difficult to secure the facilities, especially when the persons given the contracts did not have adequate information on the environment or not have the buy-in of host communities.
“We know that the impact of the nefarious activities on the health of the people cannot be immediately ascertained and this collaboration is, therefore, very imperative.
“Any measure that will deliberately reduce the level of oil thefts is definitely worth supporting, and as a state government, we pledge our continued support.
“Why investment of the communities is needed is because there are some parts of the creeks that cannot be accessed by the surveillance contractor.
“The surveillance contracts should be tied to performance such that when there are oil thefts, you terminate the contract and it is always good that communities are involved because they know the environment better,” he said.
He, however, flayed the oil companies for not keeping faith with their Memorandum of Understanding (MOUs), thereby making the stakeholders to lose confidence in the system.
Okowa said that when oil companies failed to sign or implement MOUs, “it becomes very difficult for the state government to mediate when there are issues.
“The security agencies must heighten their operations and they need to be resourced to enable them to also increase their level of surveillance and for this to succeed, there must be sincerity on the part of all stakeholders”, he stated.
Earlier, Sylva said that the team was in Asaba to seek the support and buy-in of the state government on measures to be adopted to check oil-theft.
He said that oil theft had become a national emergency, especially as the nation had not been able to meet its OPEC production quota.
“As a country we cannot sustain this kind of theft perpetually.
“Our production has dropped drastically to very unsustainable levels; so, we have decided to take the bull by the horn by putting some structures in place.
“Those structures cannot function effectively without the collaboration of the state government,” he said.
Also speaking, the Chief of Defence Staff, Gen. Lucky Irabor, who is coordinating the security intervention against oil theft, disclosed that in the last five months security agencies had been dealing with issues of illegal refineries and oil bunkering across the Niger Delta.
He also advocated for the engagement of indigenes and host communities in the fight against the criminal activity.
On his part, Group Chief Executive Officer of NNPC Limited, MalamMeleKyari, said that Nigeria was currently losing about two billion dollars monthly to the activities of oil vandals, with its attendant effect on environmental degradation.
“As a country, we hardly meet our OPEC production quantum of 1.99 million barrels per day with our current production level of 1.4 million barrels per day which is currently being threatened by the activities of these economic saboteurs.
“This has done extensive damage to the environment and losing 1.9 billion dollars every month is colossal, considering the nature of the global economy at the moment,’’ he said.
Kyari reinstated that the team needed the support and buy-in of Delta Government “because stopping this oil theft requires the concerted efforts of the Federal, State Governments, oil companies and security agencies”.
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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