By Shina Badmus
The All Progressives Congress (APC) 2019 Delta South senatorial candidate, Dr. Emmanuel Eweta Uduaghan has said he wants to represent Delta South at the Senate in 2019 because of his desire to pursue quality legislation that will lead to the development of the district and the Niger Delta region.
Releasing his manifesto in Warri, Delta State on Friday, Uduaghan, who is the immediate-past governor of Delta State said he hinged his manifesto on four pillars which he called the JEW+P (Jobs, Empowerment, Wealth plus Peace).
In his words: “I salute you, my good people of Delta South Senatorial District. I seek your mandate and support to represent you at the Senate.
“Over the years, I was actively part of and at a time, head of a team that managed the development of Delta State. In those years the Delta State government through its various organs embarked on projects and programs in the areas of peace, human capital and infrastructure development that will lead to job creation and poverty alleviation. In doing this, we faced a lot of constraints. These constraints were mainly in the areas of non-existent extant laws to control the various processes that were put in place to fast-track the development.
“Efforts to bring peace and security to the area were mainly through engagements at various levels and the use of force. Both methods have led to a temporary peaceful environment. However, to attain a level of job creation and alleviation of poverty in the region that will lead to permanent peace, prosperity and a sense of well-being, there must be laws enacted to fast-track the processes of industrialization, wealth creation and a peaceful environment. These are the laws I seek your mandate to bring up at the Senate.
My mission therefore at the Senate will be focused on four pillars which I call the JEW+P (Jobs, Empowerment, Wealth plus Peace).
Poverty alleviation through the creation of Job Opportunities for the people of Delta South at all levels.
Creation of Industrial Empowerment for the people of Delta South through the promotion and encouragement of indigenous participation, as well as, the use of homegrown technology in the oil industry.
Championing the creation of Enduring Wealth for the people of Delta South through the promotion of Community part-ownership of major and minor oil companies.
Promotion of Enduring Peace in Delta South through the involvement of local and community people in security and peacekeeping.
Do you know why the Jews prosper and flourish anywhere they are? They patronize their own. We can build a new Delta South Senatorial district by creating an environment that employs our talents and utilizes our God-given resources to flourish as a people. As a former Secretary to the Delta State Government and a former two-term Executive Governor of the state, and also as I be Delta pikin, I know and understand your pains and your needs. You need room to express your God-given talents. As governor, there were a lot of things I wanted to do to open up opportunities and bring economic development to you that I could not do because I was constrained by the laws of our country. This was what fired my desire to represent you at the Senate. We come from a senatorial district that is massively endowed, and all we need to do is to use our imagination, and with the cooperation of our brothers and sisters from other parts of Nigeria, we will drive a New Vision for the people of Delta South Senatorial District. A New Vision that fully explores and exploits our strengths and endowments.
CREATION OF JOB OPPORTUNITIES
The unemployment level in Delta South Senatorial District is embarrassing, given that the region is the economic hub of Delta State hosting up to 72% of high impact industries, especially in the oil and gas sector. As a result of policy and security challenges which were beyond the state government, many of these industries were either shutdown or were operating way below capacity; therefore, many of the oil service companies in particular that used to give employment to a lot of our people, especially the youth were either shutdown or forced to relocate. For example, the major oil companies for so many years did not prospect for new oil fields and this caused a major disaster in the employment, economic and social life of the people of Delta South Senatorial District.
I believe that focused legislative interventions in the Senate can can deal with these challenges and launch Delta South Senatorial District into a phase of development and expansion that will meet the demands of our people. Delta South Senatorial District can be galvanized and developed into the industrial base of the state by taking advantage of the oil and gas and the maritime sectors to create jobs for men, women and youths.
We are also endowed with arable lands that we can use to drive active investments and participation in agriculture and agro-processing. However, over the years, our lands, air and sea have been highly polluted by the activities of the oil industry, especially old pipes, sabotage and oil theft. The review of our extant laws to make them more effective and formulation of new laws in the areas of the environment to prevent further pollution of our air, lands and sea and also to clean up the already polluted environment will be needed to enable every relevant authority do the needful. This will encourage investments in agriculture and agro-processing.
ILLEGAL REFINERIES AND INDUSTRIAL EMPOWERMENT
I know that pragmatic legislation in the Senate can secure legality for the use of indigenous technology for small-scale oil refineries. Scattered all over the Delta South Senatorial District, as it is in many parts of the Niger Delta, are illegal refineries that make use of local technology that is damaging the environment, including soil, water and air pollution which has resulted in the soot crisis in our communities and cities. The legislation of laws in this area will guarantee best-practices and create jobs for men, women and youths in the region, directly and indirectly, in the value chain of crude procurement, refining, petrochemicals, product marketing, logistics, hospitality and other ancillary services.
About 6,000 illegal refineries were reportedly destroyed by the Joint Military Task Force (JTF) in 2015. Some of these “refineries” were actually rickety science projects that are over-glorified by calling them “oil refineries”. However, among the thousands of illegal refineries, there must be some that are well set-up. Should a country that cannot put its four “legal” refineries in full working order afford to destroy its own indigenous refineries? Illegal refineries should be done away with, but those youths and women should be engaged in better set-up refineries. The illegal refineries that are being destroyed offer a lot of employment for the youths and women, which in turn, relieve the government of the burden of providing jobs for them.I believe that there has to be a rethink towards the concept of “illegal refineries”. The so-called “illegal refineries” are a testimony of the ingenuity of Nigerian youths and women in their ability to creatively innovate, driven by the daily challenges of their existence. The ingenuity that has been exhibited by the operators of the so-called “illegal refineries” should constitute the foundation of technological breakthrough.
As the Senator representing Delta South Senatorial District, I will push for the promotion and encouragement of indigenous technology in the oil industry and also legislative backing to recognize and reform non-conventional refineries.
EFFECTIVE DISPOSAL OF SEIZED CRUDE:
It is no secret that there is a high level of illegal bunkering activities in the Delta South Senatorial District like it is in other parts of the Niger Delta. There has been a lot of government security measures to arrest the situation.
These measures have led to the seizure of stolen crude in various vessels, especially the wooden Cotonou boats. The current practice is for security operatives to burn these boats with the confiscated crude or dispose of seized crude oil on the high seas and the creeks. This is assumed to be the best way to discourage crude oil theft in the Niger Delta. Sadly, the destruction of seized crude has not only failed to solve the problem but has contributed immensely to the degradation of the environment. Destruction of seized crude by burning or disposal at sea pollutes the land, air and water. Furthermore, it is a colossal waste of the nation’s natural resource.
I believe that the nation needs to evolve an effective way to disposing of seized crude without destroying it. This will achieve a three-pronged benefit for:
(1) the oil industry,
(2) the Niger Delta environment, and
(3) the nation’s revenue.Seized crude would be more beneficial to all if it is effectively channeled back into the oil industry.
For instance, it can form part of the stock made available to registered non-conventional refineries or even sent to the nation’s conventional refineries for processing into petroleum products. This will help the country generate revenue from seized crude, service the oil industry and reduce environmental pollution.
I also believe that effectively disposing of seized crude without destroying it will:
reduce pollution of the air, land and water in the Delta South Senatorial District;
enhance the availability of crude oil to registered non-conventional refineries operating in the Delta South Senatorial District;
and generate revenue for the country as a whole.
As The Senator Representing Delta South Senatorial District, I will push for legislative backing to evolve effective ways of disposing seized crude that will be beneficial to the community, the environment and the nation.
I am certain that articulate legislative intervention in the Senate can accommodate the youths of Delta South Senatorial District within the security architecture of the region.
Community-based policing which entails professional security operatives working hand-in-hand with indigenes of the area to solve problems of crime and disorder is a recognized strategy of keeping peace and order worldwide.
Professional security operatives are usually deployed from
the central commands at the national level to Delta South Senatorial District. Most times, this entails posting of people who know very little or nothing about the terrain, to manage the security of the area. The result, in many instances, is poor security in the creeks.
The terrain of the Niger Delta has always proven to be a great challenge to conventional security forces. This has made their operations quite difficult and sometimes frustrating. As a governor, I started the Delta Waterways Security Committee made up of many of our youths who understood the terrain and could guide the security forces through the creeks when the need arose. These youths who were part of the communities were able to gather intelligence which helped the security agencies preempt planned security breaches arising from community hostilities and sometimes criminalities.
I propose that the local youths and community people should be involved in securing the pipelines and the keeping of peace and order.
Involvement of the people of Delta South Senatorial District in security will:
provide employment and economic empowerment for the people;
enhance the operations of the Federal security agencies in Delta South Senatorial District as the professional security operatives would be helped to effectively gather intelligence and also to navigate the area by locals who are familiar with the people and the terrain;
reduce the level of crime and criminality in Delta South Senatorial District of Nigeria; and
promote a conducive atmosphere for doing business in Delta South Senatorial District.
As the Senator representing Delta South Senatorial District, I will push for legislative backing for the inclusion of the youths of Delta South Senatorial District in the security architecture of the area.
CREATION OF ENDURING WEALTH AND INFRASTRUCTURE DEVELOPMENT
5% Community Ownership of Companies In their Domain:
The management of Nigeria’s oil industry will remain at the centre of the Niger Delta crises in the country, until the government evolves a realistic and permanent solution. This practical solution will be best premised on addressing the very heart of the matter. One of the reasons Nigeria’s Niger Delta crisis has persisted is related to disharmony between the oil companies and host communities. On the one hand, the host communities tend to make the operational environments of the firms in the oil industry hostile because of perceived or obvious unfriendly disposition of the oil companies to their host communities. While on the other hand, many of the oil companies are unhappy with their host communities on the ground that the host communities do not show understanding of the realities plaguing the oil companies. The above scenario is an indication that the problem in the Niger Delta, which significantly affects the Delta South Senatorial District, is an issue of mutual distrust and suspicion. By extension, therefore, if this mutual distrust and suspicion are addressed, there is hope for lasting peace and development in the oil industry and the host communities.I firmly believe that one way to achieve lasting peace and development in the Niger Delta is by community participation and ownership in Nigeria’s oil industry. When communities in the Niger Delta (including those in the Delta South Senatorial District) are allowed to be actively involved in the ownership and management of oil firms domiciled in their areas, they would have firsthand experience of the prospects and challenges in the oil industry and become more realistic in their expectations from them. This will STABILIZE the Niger Delta.
I believe that community participation and ownership in the oil industry will:
(1) enhance the security of infrastructure of the industry in the Delta South Senatorial District as the communities would not be hostile to their own economic interest;
(2) create jobs for the people;
(3) benefit the participating communities and their environs by opening up opportunities for the establishment of service firms at second and third tier levels; and
(4) enhance effective management of the oil industry in the Delta South Senatorial District in particular and the Niger Delta, in general.
As the Senator representing Delta South Senatorial District, I will push for legislative backing to recognize community participation and ownership in the oil industry.
Other Areas: In addition to the above, as Senator representing Delta South Senatorial District of Nigeria, I will push for:
LEGISLATION ON CONSTITUTIONAL ROLE FOR TRADITIONAL RULERS
A collective agenda in the Senate to review extant laws bordering on Peace, Security and Prosperity of the Delta South Senatorial District and
provide good and effective representation through a strategy of synergy and feedback with the people of Delta South Senatorial District. To achieve this, we shall hold town hall meetings every six months.