Ahead of his second term, President Buhari asked to tackle abject poverty in the Niger Delta even as FG approves oil export terminal for Kula

FG called to revisit the APC’s white paper on restructuring Belema oil gets oil export terminal, to employ 10,000 people Call for the reacti

Once Upon Acting President Osinbajo’s visit to Port Harcourt
Exclusive Pictures of the Rivers State Secretariat Complex in Total Dilapidation and Squalor
  • FG called to revisit the APC’s white paper on restructuring
  • Belema oil gets oil export terminal, to employ 10,000 people
  • Call for the reactivation of seaports in the region
  • NDDC, Niger Delta Ministry asked to be gender sensitive

As President Muhammadu Buhari’s inauguration for a second term draws closer, the people of the Niger Delta are asking the President to address the crumbling social infrastructure, high unemployment, social deprivation and abject poverty in the region.

A sociology lecturer at the University at Port Harcourt, Dr. Sofiri Peterside advised President Buhari to address the devastation caused by oil pollution in the Niger Delta. He also advised the president to implement the All Progressives Congress, APC White Paper on Restructuring.

Dr. Sofiri Peterside

The advice by Dr. Sofiri Peterside coincided with the Federal Government’s approval for the establishment of a crude oil export terminal in Kula, Akuku-Toru Local Government Area of Rivers State to be managed by an indigenous oil company, Belema Producing Ltd.

Director, Department of Petroleum Resources, Dr. Mordecai Ladan

The approval was contained in a letter signed by the Director of the Department of Petroleum Resources, DPR, Mr. Mordecai Ladan which enables Belema Oil to establish a storage and offloading station that would operate as a crude oil terminal to be known as “Belema Oil Terminal, Kula”.

Dr. Sofiri Peterside in his advice to the Federal Government asked it to address the ravaging poverty in the Niger Delta Region, saying that revenue derivation is very key to the development of the region.

He said that “the APC-led federal government needs to revisit the committee it set up on restructuring whose report the government suddenly does not want to consider. At the moment there is a very serious gap between the intentions of government policies and what actually happens in terms of practice, which needs to be taken very seriously.

“There is the question of environmental degradation which government needs to ensure that all its policies are geared towards protection of the environment. The cleanup of Ogoni land has not taken off properly although there are preliminary activities which do not amount to the cleanup of the place. We have done four years now just to set machinery of the cleanup in motion”.

Also, a Professor of Economics at the University of Port Harcourt, Prof. Oke Onuchukwu on his part advised the Federal Government to fast tract the process of granting licenses for the building of Modular Refineries in order to boost the economy of the Niger Delta Region.  He asked the Federal Government to be sincere in implementing its policies of developing the Niger Delta Region. He also said that revamping the various seaports in Rivers, Delta and Cross River States would create job opportunities for young people.

President Muhammadu Buhari

Prof. Onuchukwu said that “we have various sectors of the economy; we have agriculture, we have manufacture, ICT and the oil industry. Oil would continue to be the main stay of our economy for a long time, which means that in the oil industry we must add value by putting our refineries in order and encourage modular refineries.

“The boys in the creeks use firewood to heat crude oil to a particular temperature that separates PMS from Diesel but cause a lot of environmental hazard and we can improve on what they are doing instead of destroying them as illegal refineries. We can look at the science behind what they are doing and see how it can be modernized.

“When you have modular refineries, they would increase production, which means that the products will be readily available for the populace”.

Still on the expectation of Niger Delta people from President Buhari in his second term, some stakeholders in the Niger Delta region advised President Buhari to wage war on kidnapping and gang killings ravaging the Niger Delta and other parts of the country, saying that the troubling rise of insecurity in the country needs the introduction of state policing.

They advocated state and community policing, saying that policing must be decentralized because it is impossible to run a federation like Nigeria with diverse components with centralized policing. They say that policing must be home grown and a centralized system cannot produce good results.

On its part, a gender group known as the South-South Women Political Empowerment Office has urged the Federal Government to include women in key decision making organs of the intervention agencies in the Niger Delta.

The group alleged that the NDDC and the Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs are not women sensitive, as there are no specific policies to support women from the region.

“We have NDDC, Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs, these are federal agencies that work within the region but we have seen that their interventions are not very gender sensitive. They are not strategically trying to manage issues affecting women alongside their men counterparts. There is hardly any strategic or deliberate effort to ensure that women are represented in their affairs.

“If women are not represented in governance, it means that they won’t be able to get the kind of resources and services that they need from the government. We have not heard anything about the affirmative action. As they are going to inaugurate a new cabinet, more women should be considered”.

Speaking from the perspective of a youth, a former Student Union Government President of the University of Port Harcourt, Mr. Tonye Saturday decried the neglect of young people by the federal government. He therefore called on the government to go beyond rhetoric and create jobs to reduce the unemployment rate in the Niger Delta Region.

Tonye Saturday said that “every day they talk about Apapa gridlock, it has become a national challenge but we have seaports in the Niger Delta spread across the length and breadth of the region that are dormant. These are areas that can create jobs and meaningfully engage our people. If these seaports are put to work, these can to a large extent engage our people. We have the Warri seaport, that of Calabar; the seaport at Onne and in Port Harcourt. All these seaports are lying fallow, they are not productive. These ports have what it takes to engage our people but they are not being utilized”.

It would be recalled however, that the authorities of the Nigeria Ports Authority declared recently that the Onne and Port Harcourt ports are now viable and safe for business. The Port Manager, Abubakar Umar made the declaration in his office when he was talking to news reporters. He said that a lot of ships now berth at both ports in Rivers State. He dismissed reports that the eastern ports are not working due to insecurity.

The Port Manager said that when he assumed office in 2016, his team embarked on sensitization drives to importers in the region, encouraging them to route their goods through the Port Harcourt ports.

Meanwhile, the Board and Management of Belema Oil Producing Ltd have expressed appreciation to President Muhammadu Buhari for the approval of an oil terminal at Kula, Rivers State. The Manager, External Relations of the company, Mr. Samuel Abel Jumbo in a message of appreciation said that the approval is a clear demonstration of President Buhari’s commitment to ensuring that indigenous operators are afforded the right to control the oil industry within the Niger Delta Region and strengthen the operation and advance national wealth creation.

Mr. Jumbo in a press release said that “the Board and Management of Belema Oil Producing Ltd. most heartily express our immense and profound gratitude and appreciation to His Excellency, President Muhammadu Buhari, GCFR for approving the establishment of Belema Oil Terminal, Kula and as conveyed in a letter by the Department of Petroleum Resources.

Mr. Jackrich Tein, Founder/President of Belema Oil Producing Limited

“This is indeed a clear demonstration of Mr. President’s administration’s commitment in ensuring that indigenous operators are afforded the right of operating environment within the industry to strengthen their operational call and to further advance national wealth creation at all strata of our national stride”.

The Manager, External Relations of Belema Oil, also said that with the approval, Belema Oil is now poised to create another 10,000 jobs and other opportunities for the teeming unemployed youths in the Niger Delta Region and in Nigeria.

“By this approval which automatically enables Belema Oil to have its crude export terminal in Kula, we are poised to create over 10,000 jobs and other opportunities for the unemployed youths in the region and Nigeria. It is our pledge that this opportunity would be used for further wealth creation within our host communities and operating business corridors by providing an avenue for massive employment and job creation that would lead to enormous poverty reduction in Nigeria, thereby fostering unity and peace in the Niger Delta Region and indeed other parts of the our country”#