Sunday, 2 April 2017

Osibanjo Explodes It Is Time For Me To Fight For My People... Buhari Has Been Working Against Them

BATTLE IN ASO ROCK!!! Osibanjo Explodes It Is Time For Me To Fight For My People... Buhari Has Been Working Against Them

The recent visit of Vice President Yemi Osinbajo to Edo  State, where he met with stakeholders in the oil producing communities in the state, has doused tension in the communities.
The stakeholders meeting is one of the major national events to be hosted by Governor Godwin Obaseki. Stakeholders from the three oil producing local government  areas of the state, Ikpoba Okhai, Ovia North East and Orhionmwon, were on hand to lament the plight of their people despite the oil in their domain. Youth organisations and  civil society groups were equally not left out, as the Director of the African Network for Environment and Economic Justice (ANEEJ),

Rev.David Ugolor, and the Chairman of Environmental Rights Action/Friends of the Earth International, Nimo Bassey, said the people of the Niger Delta  are still suffering pollution and neglect from the activities of oil companies operating in the region. Besides Obaseki and his deputy, Philip Shaibu, other dignitaries at the occasion include King Alfred Diette-Spiff representing the Pan Niger Delta Area Petroleum Producing Forum (PANDEF), the Minister of State Petroleum, Dr Ibe Kachukwu, and Minister of State Health, Dr Osagie Ehanire, Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Pastor Usani Uguru Usani.

Shaibu, in his welcome address, expressed appreciation to the Buhari administration for initiating the move to find lasting solution to the Niger Delta problems, saying: “This meeting will proffer  solution to the challenges being faced in the Niger Delta. We believe that this meeting will strengthen the existing partnership on the development of our region. This will afford the stakeholders and leaders of the oil producing communities the opportunity to table their challenges for possible government intervention. There is no doubt that engagement and dialogue of this nature will help to douse restiveness in the region in order to get our economy back on  track. I am confident that the Federal Government will consider the various submissions by stakeholders in the various oil communities so that we will fashion out a workable solution to the challenges facing us”.

The Esogban of Benin Kingdom, Chief Davie Edebiri, who spoke on behalf of the people of Ovia North East, lamented the plight of his people, the only bridge in their domain that connects the entire oil producing communities in the state has remained undone irrespective of the fact that “on paper in Abuja the bridge has been completed”. His words, “ We are not among those who are involved in militancy. Even if we are militants, our youths are patriotic citizens of this country. The oil companies exploring oil in our area have not shown sufficient zeal to better the lot of the people. They have not shown sufficient love to consider the citizens of this area in their employment. We have three oil firms in Ovia North East. We want to appeal to the President to use his good office to prevail on these companies to adhere strictly to the agreements they reached with the Federal Government. I also want to call your attention to one vital issue. The bridge that connect the oil producing communities in our area has not been done. We have gone to Abuja to find out why that bridge is still like that, and we were told that in the books that  the project has been completed but it is not true. We want you to use you good office to make sure that this bridge is completed without  delay”.

Johnson Acheghele spoke for Ikpoba Okhai people while Osaiten Osadolor spoke for Orhionmwon people. The duo harped on the issue of neglect and marginalization. Acheghele said: “We have 11 oil producing communities. Ologbo has 49 oil wells and giant flow stations. We also have a giant gas plant. For over 40 years, there has been oil exploration in our area but there has been no case of vandalization or kidnapping of oil workers. This is due to the way elders of the communities are organizing the youths despite the fact that there is no presence of government in the communities. What we have is total neglect, under development, slavery, marginalization. We don’t have link roads to these communities. If you want to enter these communities, you have to get to Delta State first because we have no roads. In these communities, especially Kolokolo,  there are no health facilities. When our people take ill, they have to go by boat to Delta State before they can get treatment. The worst is that they is no school, we are breeding illiterates.   In terms of appointment, our people are not considered, it was only recently that the immediate past governor, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, visited our community and saw we were living in abject poverty and gave us a Commissioner”. 

Speaking also, Diette-Spiff urged the Federal Governemnent to ensure the “establishment of the Gelegele Seaport and export processing, the construction of Calabar-Lagos rail, the reconstruction of Benin-Warri federal high way, the construction of Uromi-Agbor road; and the completion of the Benin-Ekpoma-Auchi- Kogi road. “The PANDEF representative went on. “But it  will surprise you to note that there is no substantial presence of government in these areas. We believe that with your visit today things will change. Permit us to list some of the Federal Government abandoned projects in Edo. One, completion of the skill Acquisition Center at Iguolaba, completion of the by-pass by the Federal Ministry of Works, completion of the Oben road, completion of the Gelelege road. PANDEF expresses gratitude to the Federal Government on the policy statement made during your visits, when you ordered oil companies to relocate their offices to the Niger Delta. This is a major policy issue that will facilitate socio-economic  state of the communities where the oil companies operate. The NNPC headquarters should also be relocated to the Niger Delta because they have no business in Abuja. The Federal Government should open the Nigerian Maritime University Okerenkoko. The decision to legalize small scale refineries will boost local content which will boost the economy of the communities.
“Our prayer is that urgent steps are taken for the implementation of these policies that will oil companies operate peacefully in our domain. IOCs should be made to comply with your directives, the government should instruct the NNPC and its subsidiaries to work together with the host communities instead of the militarization of the oil communities”.
However, there was pandemonium in the hall while the programme was on going as youths from Ijaw communities stormed the venue to insist that the acting president visit their communities rather than held a stakeholders meeting which, according to them, will not yield the desired result. For over ten minutes the occasion was disrupted and it took the intervention of the state deputy governor, Shaibu, and security agents to bring the situation to nomalcy. The host governor, Obaseki, announced that Osinbajo will soon tour Niger Delta  communities. He then rolled out his plans for oil communities which according to him had suffered neglect in the past. Obaseki said, “ Like other oil producing communities in Nigeria, we have had our own fair share of neglect and deprivation. And that is what you heard from our people today. We are aware that the Federal Government has made several attempts in the past to try to develop our region, these communities, but as we have seen due to several factors, ranging from corruption, ineptitude, we have not been able to achieve our desired goals. The youths have a very strong feeling of deprivation and marginalization and that is what you just saw this afternoon. The growing incidents of crime and violence has become a major threat to our socio-economic development. It is like we are now caught in a web. We must release ourselves now from that web. Edo State welcomes this bold step being taken by our President and I can assure you, as you have heard from various stakeholders, that we are prepared to work with the Federal Government.

“I want you to look into the reports of various commissions that have been out in place in the Niger Delta over the years. I also appreciate sir, if you can consider to pay another visit when your schedule is less busy so we can go to these various communities. “As part of the efforts of my administration to curb militancy in oil producing communities, I have mandated EDSOPADEC to embark on the following: We must now spend resources from this year’s budget to develop the master plan for each of the 38 oil producing communities in Edo State. We will now prioritize the projects in these communities with the master plan. We will now align the budgets that we spend as Edo state government, NDDC, Ministry of Niger Delta, Federal Government and oil companies so we can make more impacts in these communities. Mr President, we will not allow any agency to operate in any of these communities without strict adherence to our master plan. We will set up a review mechanism with the communities and their representatives constantly review and evaluate the progress being made in this master plan. We are preparing almost five thousand hectares of land for cropping this raining season. We are also going to partner with various security agencies so that the socio-economic activities can strive. Oil producing communities in the state have continued to embrace dialogue and that is what has sustained the peace we are enjoying”.
Addressing the gathering, Osinbajo debunked the claim by the Ijaw youths that he was not able to visit their communities due to security reasons. “Our plan is to ensure that we visit all of the oil producing communities and we had stationed at the airport helicopters in order to take us there, there is no issue of insecurity at all. Any body who says so it is not true, what has happened is that the Abuja  airport will be closed tomorrow, we will not have enough time to visit all the communities but we have agreed that I will pay a visit so we can visit these communities,”he stated.
The Vice President went on: “In November 2016, the PANDEF visited President Muhammadu Buhari and submitted a 16 point road map for the development of oil producing communities in Nigeria. The President decided that we must undertake visit to these communities and hear from the people and seek a better solution to the problems.   That is why I am here. The majority of the oil producing communities have suffered, the story of devastation is everywhere. I can tell you precisely how much has been voted in several communities and there is no sign of development in those areas. I can tell you how many of these projects are supposed to have been completed but when you look at the books they said they have been completed. They have not even been done, many have not even been started at all. This is the story not just in the oil producing communities but here in Edo and everywhere.

“This is a story of many years of corruption that has deprived our people, especially people from the oil producing communities, of their means of livelihood. That is one of the issues that we intend to address. We want to impose a new way of doing things, a new era for oil producing communities in Nigeria. This is an important engagement, it is not an engagement that we are taking lightly. The reason we have spent the few days going from community to community, state to state is because this is a serious engagement. We are committed to any one of the things that we say we want to do. It does not make sense for leadership to look at the plight of the people, especially in the oil producing areas, and look back. This is the source of the wealth of the nation and you can’t ignore the people; even if you ignore the people for a while, a time will come when you can no longer ignore them. So, there is no question at all that we are committed to say we will do what we promised to do. And that is a pledge coming directly from the President himself”.
Continuing he said, “The Federal Government has entered into a partnership with oil communities, state, local governments and civil society organizations for the rapid development of these communities. It is our belief that we must treat these oil producing communities as special development areas focusing in particular on how to ensure that the people see the benefits of the wealth of the land. And when I say the people, I mean the people because the elites everywhere, and not just in the oil producing communities, have very frequently deprived the people of the opportunity to enjoy the fruit of the land. That is the Nigerian story. The elites in Nigeria, and this is an issue we must deal with, have not allowed the actual people to enjoy the fruit of the land and we must deal with it. We cannot continue as if we don’t know the issues, it is not just an oil producing community issue, it is  across the country.
“If you look at the number of contracts and the volume of money that has been spent on paper, it is enough to develop other countries but the money is usually corruptly taken away. It is our duty to ensure that we speak up against these things and ensure that our people feel the benefits of the wealth that this country has. The new vision will define the future. We must make our oil producing communities’ hubs of petrochemical industries so as to create jobs for our youths. I note that  in our forty years there has been no vandalization of pipelines in these oil communities.   I will be working with the NDDC and the Niger Delta Minister to ensure that we get all abandoned projects on track and that we hold defaulting contractors to account. And I have ordered that all contractors who have abandoned their projects back to site. We are going to ensure that any contractor who has taken money and abandoned the project is prosecuted. All contractors must be held accountable. Nobody will be allowed to abandon  a project and take away the money”.