…Buhari has done well, says Uduaghan
…Direct your question at ex-president Goodluck Jonathan – General Abbe
…Buhari’s bailout fund a good gesture – Joseph Evah
…We have not seen anything from the govt. – Oweilaemi
…The claims are unverifiable – Annkio Briggs
By Isaac Olamikan
Recently, President Muhammadu Buhari came up with a list of projects that it has initiated and also decisions he has taken to better the lots of the people of the Niger Delta region which among others included approval for increase in take off grant of the Nigeria Maritime University from N2billion to N5billion; approval of $170million for Ogoni clean up and also approval of the establishment of nine modular refineries across the Niger Delta region.
However, when GbaramatuVoice went to sample the opinions of some notable individuals in the region about these claims a horde of responses was received.
DR. EMMANUEL UDUAGHAN
In his response, the immediate past governor of Delta State, Dr. Emmanuel Eweta Uduaghan, who is also gunning to represent Delta South in the senate in 2019 on the platform of the All Progressives Congress, APC, he gave the thumbs up to the Buhari administration.
“Yes. He (Buhari) has even done much more. He has had serious engagement with various stakeholders in the Niger-Delta, granting audience to various communities and mandating the Vice President to go round the nine Niger Delta States engaging in peace processes.
“These moves stopped the ravaging effect of the Niger Delta Avengers, raising the oil production from 700,000b per day in the era of the Niger Delta Avengers, to the 2.1m barrels per day that we have today.
“He approved the dredging of the Escravos Bar and channels. Work is already on going. He approved $8.4m electricity project for the riverine communities.
“Commercial programme to stop gas flaring in the next few years is on. Also, work is on going in the rehabilitation of Warri Refinery and Petrochemical Company. As soon as that is done, the refinery will come in full stream
“Construction and rehabilitation of several roads in the Niger Delta by NDDC, an arm of the Federal Government. Other projects by NDDC are also ongoing,” he stressed.
ROLAND PEREOTUBO OWEILAEMI
President of the Ijaw Youth Council (IYC), Barrister Roland Pereotubo Oweilaemi thinks otherwise.
According to him: “IYC is totally in disagreement with President Buhari’s claims. His paper-functioning developmental initiatives in the Niger Delta region in our thinking does not translate into physical achievement of the government.
“We have not seen anything from the government to credit him of such unmerited glory. The Maritime University is still starved of funds. The so-called take off grant has not been fully released to the institution. IYC has even alerted the world of the pitiable condition of the school.
“We don’t know which money Mr. President is boasting about? On the Ogoni clean-up exercise, FG is paying lip service to the programme. The government has not made any monetary commitment for the exercise to commence.
“In our understanding, only Shell Petroleum Development Company, SPDC, has contributed its share of the money. Buhari should not celebrate such vainglory achievements in the Niger Delta.
“As for the modular refineries, we don’t know where they are sited in the region. There is no modular refinery anywhere in the Niger Delta. Such phantom claim is a penniless propaganda taken too far.
“The President should not celebrate his tall dream achievements in the Niger Delta. We have not seen anything on ground. IYC will not hesitate to commend the government if we see its commitment to the development of the region. For now, we do not have anything to celebrate Buhari’s achievements in our region. Niger Delta is still the worst hit in terms of the government’s attention.
“We are still being treated as the region that gave him 5% votes. We pray that the government’s cynics to the collective well being of the people as per our demands for equitable remedy should not draw us back to the dark moment of our bleak history. Our demands are still largely unattended, perhaps peace has returned to the region. It’s costly anyway to give lip service to our yearnings while the government is celebrating some phantom achievements of verisimilitude.”
In his own submission, former President of the IYC, Dr. Chris Ekiyor stated: “My simple response will be straight… approving funds is a normal government responsibility. The Ogoni clean up is yet to commence and I’m worried about the hullabaloo and frenzy of the flag off since two years.
“Nine modular refineries given to who and what was the real essence? Because to the best of my knowledge it was another elitist workshop to the exclusion of the communities.
“I rather demand for equity share holding of the joint venture by communities.”
GENERAL GODWIN ABBE (RTD)
In a telephone conversation, the former Minister of Internal Affairs during the Umar Yar’Adua era, General Godwin Abbe (rtd) said: “I don’t want to be drawn into any debate on what President Muhammadu Buhari has done in any part of the country. Is Muhammadu Buhari not the president of Nigeria? Is the Niger Delta not part of Nigeria? So if he does anything in the Niger Delta region or any part of the country for that matter is it anything special? Please direct this question to ex-President Goodluck Jonathan. He is in a better position to give an answer. Bye bye.”
COMRADE JOSEPH EVAH
“To be sincere, Buhari grant for the Maritime University is a significant thing because there are a lot of forces who went to the Villa; some are even ethnic based. They want him to cancel that new university. They said it openly. They did not only do that, they struggled seriously that the Maritime University to be forgotten. So, for him to kick-off that Maritime University, the Vice President came to the area. I think that is a plus for Buhari. I don’t know why he did not fall into the trap of those people who do not want that university. But for him to approve that the establishment of the university should be a reality; that alone is a plus. I give Buhari pass mark.
“It is the same forces that don’t want the university to be funded. And I believe that the president will also see reason that all these pressure not to fund the university is also wrong. And he will even do the right thing. And we have to continue to insist that he increase the funding. That is our collective responsibility and we have been saying it anytime some of us appear on television or radio. The University is just still like elephant project and it is unacceptable. If you say you are doing something, don’t pretend over it. So the pressure just has to continue. It is just like Lagos Ibadan Express road. Right from Obasanjo time, this road project was there. Any government that comes, the Yorubas still continue to insist. If you go and sleep and say they have given us university there, no! Yorubas don’t do that. If you like give paradise to Yoruba people, they will say they are not satisfied. Up till now, Buhari government is dealing with the road. Even this very first four years, it is their son, Fashola that is the Minister of Works, they are still talking about the road. All other groups are still talking of the road. They will say they don’t like the style of the road, that they like the road to be like the American style. All these pressure is supposed to continue. Everybody should continue to demand that the university standard is unacceptable. So, we learn from their own strategy by putting pressure group.
On Ogoni cleanup
“The Ogoni cleanup is not an achievement. Every day we are asking journalists to go there. Where is the clean up? They should show us stage one to which stage? Ogoni cleanup is just pronouncement. We are not only demanding for Ogoni clean up. The project anniversary of Ken Saro Wiwa killing, the carnival type of thing we did in Lagos to celebrate Ken Saro Wiwa, we say Ogoni and other parts of Nigeria; not only Ogoni cleanup. But they have not started 1% or 0.5%. The name Ogoni just reflects the conditions of all of us, every part of the Niger Delta, the environmental injustice here. Even the Ogoni they call the name, international matter, they have not started because Shell, Chevron and Agip are frustrating the clean up. The Federal Government of Nigeria is afraid of Shell and Chevron, blackmailing them not to do the right thing. So we will continue to protest. They should not even mention it at all as even achievement because something you say with your mouth and there’s no action, is meaningless. Ogoni situation is even worse than Maritime University. The Ogoni cleanup is just ceremonial thing. I expect them to even apologise.
On Modular Refinery
It is like the Ogoni cleanup. They are all stories. There are no offices or physical presence of modular workers and that this is where they are sited. It is only Kachikwu that has been ringing bell and dancing round in circles all these years, we confronted him two or three times. Is it because of politics you are also singing this one? Some that have no tone, no bass; everyday you are talking of modular refinery, are you not ashamed of yourself? Where are the sites for the modular refineries? He is from Delta State. For the modular refinery story and the song, our brother Kachikwu has been singing that song, with his experience working with Mobil for over 20 to 30 years, he is singing that song. We have seen any site. We have seen any worker. They are only talking about feasibility study we have not even seen with our eyes. So they need to apologise. Some of these things are simple. The government should apologise and say sorry. And if they say they are sorry they should tell us when they will start it. So January 2019, not only flag-off, we are going to practically mobile to site all these refineries. People will not take you serious. But there is one significant thing you did not mention. I will say I give that kudos to the Buhari government. When this government came in, we all know the cry for salaries of workers. So the bail-out grant that the government gave out saved a lot of states like Bayelsa, Delta. I think that Paris Club or whatever bail-out that Buhari gave out to pay their workers, like Osun state where people were selling their children or using their children to exchange for food. It was too much. That period they came out with this bail out, I think that really saved a lot of families.