Exclusive: Buhari’s legacies causes tension in Niger Delta

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…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.

Excerpts:

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.

Dr. Emmanuel Uduaghan

“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.

Roland Oweilaemi Pereotubo-IYC President

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.”

CHRIS EKIYOR

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.

Dr. Chris Ekiyor, former President, Ijaw Youth Council, IYC

“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.

Joseph Evah

“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.

 

ANNKIO BRIGGS

Annkio Briggs is the spokesperson of Ijaw Republican Assembly (IRA) and Convener of the Niger Delta Self Determination Movement (NDSDM) she lives and writes from Port Harcourt.

Annkio Briggs

She is a well known rights activist, known for her fearlessness in speaking truth to power no matter who is holding the power on behalf of the people, Liberty, Equity and Justice.

The claims are unverifiable

I have heard these claims to achievements in the Niger Delta and the claims are unverifiable, therefore they are untrue at best and exist in the political imaginations of the people making these claims, quite simply they are lies.

Approval of increase in take off grant of Maritime University from N2bn to N5bn is not an achievement. I assume you are referring to the Okerenkoko Maritime University. Have the money been released to the Maritime University? The money referred to here is coming from the oil and gas of the Niger Delta region, the Forcados field comes to the mind. If the oil and gas producing communities, states and region are not deprived of the right to access their God given resources and if the Federal Government will live up to its name and practice federalism where the federating units the states in our case are responsible for creating their wealth the people of Delta State will not need a federal government to approve their own money to build their own Maritime University.

To make these claims is to rub salt in our wounds inflicted on us since 1960, and unfortunately encouraged by our own Niger Delta people and politicians in the delusions of One Nigeria. The only thing one about Nigeria is the oil and gas of Nigeria that the 1999 ‘fraudulent’ Constitution takes away from the people and region.

States should join the call for restructuring

Any self-respecting state of the 36 states in Nigeria should join the call for a Restructured Nigeria, that will allow all the 36 states to develop at their own pace using their own internally generated revenue and making decisions best for them. Instead Nigeria decades after the  civil war have continued to milk the Niger Delta region and people, creating unjust, oppressive and corrupt country where people will continue to agitate for liberty, equity and justice. Niger Delta people know what they want rights to own, co troll and manage their resources and pay agreed tax to Federal Government. We want to decide what is best for us. If we are right great for us. If we fail then that is our responsibility. Have the Nigeria Maritime University, Okerenkoko taken off and running?

I maintain that it is insensitive, an insult and a false sense of achievement to say that setting aside assuming it is true is an insult on a people whose brilliant leader, Ken Saro Wiwa along with other 8 great Ogoni sons were murdered against international outcry. A people whose farm lands and waters have been polluted for generations to come, and thousands of Ogoni nationals were killed. The UNEP report using Ogoni land as an entry point to pinpoint the reasons for the justified agitation of all the Niger Delta nations for equity is an overwhelming indictment against the Military under whose dictatorship the Ogoni people and all other peoples of the Niger Delta were abused, oppressed and neglected for nearly 60 years.

$170million is this figure anywhere close to the billions that is raked out of the Niger Delta region, or what have been wasted exploring for oil in the so called basins of the North. Or is it close to the billions of dollars this government is claiming it wants to spend in rebuilding and developing a section of Nigeria over run and controlled by the most aggressive terror group in the world – Boko Haram.

Nigeria Federal Government since it took away the rights of ownership from the rightful owners of the oil and gas of the Niger Delta people are 60percent joint partners of the oil.

Multinationals should be held accountable

Multinationals, therefore, ought to be held accountable along with the Federal Government that have failed in its responsibility to the Niger Delta people. Actually the Niger Delta people are right in their agitation to a restructured Nigeria, it’s the only path to justice, and without justice in the Niger Delta the desire to accept Nigeria as a country continues to be a delusion.

Establishment of nine modular refineries in the Niger Delta is an offer the Niger Delta Self Determination Movement see as another insult on the people by the Federal Government and its cabal but even more offensive is the insult by any business man or woman who sees modular refineries in the Niger Delta from a group of none Niger Delta people in government to hand down crumbs to a few Niger Deltans in our name.

The Niger Delta is made up of over 40 ethnic nationalities and thousands of communities own oil and gas in their land. So are these Niger Delta people who negotiated nine modular refineries for us?

Nine modular refineries when one man alone has license to build the largest refinery in Lagos outside the Niger Delta, and he is not from the Niger Delta, what are his special attributes that qualifies him for a refinery license that will give him undisturbed access to oil and gas in the Niger Delta and he will create jobs outside of the Niger Delta?

Who are the Niger Delta sons and daughters who think nine modular refineries are achievement of Federal Government in the past three years while the gas of the Niger Delta people is in line to be piped to Kaduna, Katsina, Morocco, Niger, Chad and Algeria all the way to Europe while our people continue to endure the destructive effects of gas flaring, oil and gas pollution.

Who are the Niger Delta Senators, House of Representatives members and governors, traditional rulers, youths and women who think that railways between Katsina and Republic of Niger, funding of ECOWAS, is more important as long as there is one Maritime University in Delta State. That it is okay for trillions to be spent on transportation university in Daura while the same Federal Government is asking us to be grateful for our own N5 billion that they have approved while in the past four years this same Federal Government have been taking our trillions and zillions to squander on their states, regions, friends and family members.

If only Niger Delta people and politicians will wake from their slumber of delusion and fear and put forward a sound argument for liberty, equity and justice and be ready to defend their arguments not only will things change they will change in the direction of what is right.

Buhari has achieved nothing in the Niger Delta

Therefore, to answer your last question, do l agree with the claims that President Buhari made about his achievements in my beloved Niger Delta in his three and half years? My answer is totally and absolutely NO. As a matter what fact he has no achievements in the Niger Delta.

He promised in America at his first or second outing that the Niger Delta people should not expect anything from him as we did not vote for him in 2015, before he made that statement l did not expect anything from him hence l am amongst the 5percent he refers to. He has acted well on his promise to use our resources against us. I am not surprised as he did same against the Niger Delta region when he was head of PTF (Petroleum Trust Fund).

One thing we do want from him in the Niger Delta is to allow the will of the people to stand in the 2019 elections. The majority of the Niger Delta people, the electorate will not vote for him or allow his supporters in our states to emerge as governors, senators in the 2019 elections.

IJAW YOUTHS

Ijaw youth leaders from the nine states of the Niger Delta region have challenged President Muhammadu Buhari to probe some ministers from the region over alleged non-execution of federal projects awarded by his administration.

According to the youth, the projects listed by President Muhammad Buhari as part of his administration’s achievements, while commendable, are nowhere to be found.

The leaders, under the auspices of the Ijaw Unity and Peace Committee (IUPC), lamented that some of the projects listed as Buhari’s achievements in Bayelsa State, for instance, are not in the state.

They threatened to carry out massive protests against the “diversion of projects”. The leaders particularly said projects awarded to Bayelsa under the F ederal Ministries of Agriculture and Niger Delta Affairs were not being implemented.

In a statement made available to newsmen in Yenagoa, the Bayelsa State capital, Apostle Bodmas Kemepadei, the convener of the group, lamented the underdevelopment in the region, stating that there were persons within the presidency working against the present administration.

Kemepadei, who is also the leader of Egbesu Brotherhood, said contrary to claims that there were rural road projects in Bayelsa as part of Buhari’s achievements in the Niger Delta, nothing of such could be found anywhere in the state.

He also said claims by the Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs that the Federal Government constructed a cassava processing plant in Bayelsa were false and misleading.

“I seriously think President Muhammadu Buhari is not aware of what is going on in Bayelsa State because what the Presidency listed as part of its achievements in the Niger Delta is just a figment of someone’s imagination,” he said.

“It is only in the media that we read of projects awarded to Bayelsa by his administration, but in reality this is not true. Those representing Buhari in the state are deceiving him; they are not reporting the true situation of things. We have nothing to show as benefits from the present administration. The agricultural loans, fertilisers, rural road projects, empowerment schemes, awarded by Buhari to Bayelsa, are not being effected. There are no named Bayelsans that are beneficiaries of such programmes.

“This is not only painful, but wicked. How can Buhari be awarding contracts for projects, releasing funds, yet nothing is happening?

“It is on this note that we are bent on staging this protest. We want the Presidency to be aware and discipline whosoever that may be involved in the diversion of Bayelsa projects. The date for the protest will be made public very soon. No individual has the monopoly to cart away public properties.”