NDDC To Assist Nine States With N1bn To Aid Fight Against Coronavirus

Buhari Appoints Nelson Braimbraifa As Acting NDDC MD

 

The Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) has pledged to support nine states in the Niger Delta region with N1billion.

This comes amid the rising cases of the COVID-19 outbreak in the country, shortly after President Muhammadu Buhari declared COVID-19 a dangerous infectious disease.

According to NDDC’s acting Managing Director, Professor Kemebradikumo Pondei, the agency was making available N775 million to support the nine states under its mandate.

He added that another N270 million will be released to fast-track the establishment of isolation centres in the 27 senatorial districts across the region.

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“We are exploring avenues to see if we could intervene in providing ventilators and facilitate the procurement of oxygen.

“We are also looking at the drugs that have been used so far in other climes for treatment. The NDDC is going a step above what others are doing,” a statement from NDDC’s spokesman, Charles Obi Odili, quoted the MD as saying.

The commission also announced a total shutdown of its services as part of its response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

It, however, reminded its workers to adhere strictly to the World Health Organisation (WHO) standard on preventive measures.

In doing this, NDDC asked the staff to maintain personal hygiene by washing hands with soap and water and sanitizing hands, maintain social distance and stay away from public places when necessary.

Problems Surfacing At The National Conference Had Been Foretold- Legal Practitioner

AkiriA legal practitioner and Chairman of the National Newspapers Editorial Board, Mr Chris Akiri said some Nigerians are not surprised by goings-on at the National Conference, noting that “even before the conference began, it had been foretold”.

Speaking as a guest on Channels Television’s Award-winning breakfast programme, Sunrise Daily, Mr Akiri said “what is going on was foretold before they started. The meeting was going to be characterised by dissensions and fruitless arguments because of the disparate nature of the delegates and where they come from” adding that “some of us are not surprised that the thing is going this way”.

He noted that the smooth sailing hitherto enjoyed by the delegates was sacked by the realisation that all the things discussed and voted for by delegates at the conference will favour some parts of the country.

“From time to time, their constituents continue to advise them either for or against some of the decisions already reached. So they now say so this is going to favour that part more than us, are you subscribing to this?” adding that “I will not be surprised if this argument goes beyond this”.

He also faulted the adoption of 70 per cent as the consensus benchmark for decisions taken by delegates at the conference noting that “all over the world, and in our country (Nigeria) in particular, if you want to change, adopt, alter, review anything, as far as the constitution is concerned, it is two thirds (2/3) not three quarters (3/4).

“So for you to look for ¾ consensus, you are saying that so many decisions will not be adopted” he said.

Mr Akiri also said some delegates from the same region with a high number can scuttle the chances of any recommendation if it doesn’t favour their region.

He however praised all the recommendations that have been adopted by the delegates but was quick to add that “it was by voice votes, without regard to whether it is 70 or 75 per cent consensus”, wondering why they “now want to bring the issue of 70 per cent consensus, which is different from what they have been doing” adding that “that is the problem; they are now at the final stage and they want to bring in percentage vote”.

He called on Nigerians to be reasonable on the percentage of the resource control of states due to different ecological systems of the regions the state are situated “to avoid problems in the country”.

He cited the provision of the 1999 Constitution which stipulates that at least 13 per cent be given to the south south states before the National Assembly settles down to review the percentage that will be due the region arguing that “you cannot say the National Assembly has not settled down 15 years after| return to democracy in 1999.

Despite the establishment of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) and the Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs to alleviate poverty and take proper care of the needs of Niger Deltans, Mr Akiri described their activities as “a mere flea bite on the charnel of problems in the Niger Delta”.

He accused the Ministry of Niger Delta of doing nothing because the ministry is not manned by indigenes of the region, describing the NDDC as a “catastrophe”, insisting that “it does nothing” to change the fortunes of the indigenes.

Mr Akiri made these statements while reacting to goings-on in the National Conference and the recommendations of leaders of the six geo-political zones.

The leaders of the six geo-political zones at the National Conference that deliberated on resource control and power devolution had recommended that the 13 percent resource control be increased to 18 percent, while another five percent be reserved for the development of solid minerals in Nigeria.

They also recommended that five percent be reserved for the rehabilitation of the northeast, northwest and north central zones of the country.

Complete On-Going Projects Before Starting New Ones, Jonathan Tells NDDC

President Goodluck Jonathan has advised the new board of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) to complete on-going projects in the area before embarking on new projects.

Jonathan, who was speaking at the inauguration of the new board of directors of the commission in the Presidential Villa, decried situations where government agencies’ failure to perform   has created blames to be heaped on the presidency.

“A body like NDDC should not just go into a voyage of contracts procurement but ongoing projects must be completed for people to benefit before new ones are awarded,” adding that “there are just too many ongoing projects and we believe that you don’t even have enough manpower to manage the ongoing projects.”

He said he will no longer tolerate a situation where the presidency takes the blame for the failure of organs of government and called on the NDDC board to shun corruption tendencies and work for the development of the region.

“Everything done by government body, the blame, if wrongly done is on the head of the president. If you do badly, it is Jonathan that is probably using NDDC funds for election campaigns, that is what people will say.

“I will really look at your activities clinically, and I will not accept any aberration from the conventional and acceptable way of managing resources of the people,” he said.

The new chairman of the board, Sen. Bassey Ewa Henshaw, and his team promised to create a new positive image for the commission “by adopting a fresh approach and forging a new direction and focus. We hope to create a new more positive image for the commission,” adding that “the NDDC can become the veritable vehicle for it is intended to be for the upliftment of the people of the Niger Delta, a vehicle by which their situation can be transformed from one of deprivation to one of prosperity and hope.”

The former senator added that the new board will “focus on major infrastructural developments that will open up and integrate the sub-region.”

Other members of the board include Mr. Dan-Abia (Managing Director), Itotenaan Ogiri (ED, Finance and Administration), Tuoyo Omatsulu (ED Projects) from Akwa Ibom and Rivers States, respectively.

Others are Ball Oyarede (Bayelsa), Ephraim Etete (Rivers), Etim Inyang Jnr. (Akwa Ibom), Adah Andeshi (Cross River), Tom Amioku (Delta), Samuel Nwogu (Abia), Uchegbu Chidiebere Kyrian (Imo).

Others are Suleiman Sa’d (North-Central), Abdumalik Mahmud (North-East), Enikuomehin Olorungbonju (Ondo) and Mark Ward (Oil Producers Trade Section, OPTS).

 

 

House Of Reps Clears NDDC Boss Of Fraud Allegations

The House of Representatives has cleared the management of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) of wrongdoing, following the investigations into allegations of fraud.

Members of the House Committee on NDDC met with the management of the commission led by the Managing Director, Dr. Christy Atako in Port Harcourt, Rivers State to share their findings.

The meeting was also to provide the commission’s Acting Managing Director the opportunity to tell her own side of the story about the petition written by the commission’s contractors.

During her presentation, Dr Atako shared with the committee, the challenges that the NDDC under her leadership had to deal with, and the pro-active efforts she had made since the three months of her appointment to revive all abandoned projects for the benefit of the people.

The House of Reps committee after a brief discussion then proceeded to clear the NDDC and its Managing Director of the allegations.

The Deputy Chairman, House Committee on NDDC, Mohammed Garba, said: “The source of the petition is rather baseless and the allegations made were baseless, I regard this as an attempt to blackmail the Acting MD who is doing a very good job.”

The Chairman of the Committee, Nichola Mutu, said: “As a committee, we are very okay with her, we appreciate her, she is doing a wonderful job. We have come to realize that one of the challenges that the commission is facing is monitoring projects and she is doing that very well.”

 

Senate Approves NDDC N315.8b 2013 Budget

The Senate has approved the sum N315.8 billion as the 2013 budget of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC).

The law makers approved N14.9 billion for personnel expenditure and N9.04 billion for overhead cost while the total estimated capital expenditure is put at N2.4 billion and N289.5 billion is for project development expenditure.

The budget estimate is to take effect from April 1st to March 31st, 2014.

However, the Deputy Senate President, who presided over the session warned against late submission of budget by government agencies.

NDDC Trains Staff To Comply With FOI Act

The managing director of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), Christian Oboh, has assured stakeholders and the general public of the agency’s readiness to comply with the Freedom of Information act.

This according to him, will enable anyone have the opportunity to seek and get information on the true state of affairs in the commission.

He said this while speaking at a one-day sensitisation and enlightenment training, on the FOI Act, for the management staff of the institution.

He explained that the training was part of efforts to create effective channels for the exchange of information with its key stake holders.

“The FOI act has ushered in a new dawn in the quest for transparency and accountability,” he said.

Mr Oboh stressed that the policy thrust of the NDDC was in tandem with objectives of the FOI Act and indeed all government’s policies that promote democracy.

According to the NDDC boss, everyone in the region have a right to know what goes on in the commission, especially as it concerns monitoring of projects.

He also noted that with the opportunity provided by the FOI Act, it would no longer be acceptable for people to be peddling unverified information about the activities of the commission.

He said that the commission found it necessary to train its management staff to get them fully abreast of the provisions of the FOI Act, so as to facilitate a seamless exchange of information between the NDDC and the public.

Also speaking at the event, the legal officer of the Africa programme, Open Society Justice Initiative, Maxwell Kadiri, x-rayed the duties and obligations of public institutions and their officials under the act.

He noted that challenges to the effective implementation of the act in public institutions could be traced to the culture of secrecy in the public service.

A lecturer at the Nasarawa State University, Profesor Ebele Amali, while presenting her paper said that information disclosure adds social, economic and political value to any nation.

She advised the agency to use benefits of the FOI Act to reduce the animosity that had built up in those who were not properly informed about the activities of the commission.

NBA Debars Four, Suspends One Over ‘Infamous Misconduct’

The Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) has debarred four legal practitioners for misconduct contrary to the rules of legal practice.

The association also suspended one of its members from practice for a period of five years for a similar offence.

The Legal Practitioners Disciplinary Committee (LPDC) found the lawyers culpable of offences ranging from fraudulent land sales, concealment of recovered debt and extortion using blackmail.

The Chairman of the committee, Mr. Joseph Daudu warned legal practitioners  bringing “ridicule and disgrace to the legal profession”.

Those debarred include Timipa Okponipere, Anozie Ibebunjo, G.C Monyei , J.A Agwuncha ,while Olawale –Ojongo-Daniels  was suspended for five years.

Though none of the accused persons was at the proceedings, their absence did not stop the legal practitioners from handing down the punishment.

One of the accused persons, one Timipa Okponipere was said to have tried to extort the sum of N40 million from the former managing director of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), Mr. Timi Alaibe for unsolicited nomination for the national merit award, an offence contrary to the rules of practice in Nigeria.

While Mr.  Monyei , who acted as a debt receiver for a company, failed to return the proceeds of  the recovery to its owners and Ojongo-Daniels  was found guilty of receiving money from a client and refused to represent the client in court nor did he refund the money.

Having found all the accused persons culpable of the offences against them, the committee directed the chief registrar of the Supreme Court to debar four of the accused persons for misconduct as lawyers, while Mr Olawale Ojongo-Daniels be suspended from practice for five years.

Over time the general belief is that corruption among legal practitioners has been on the rise, and, it is hoped that steps such as this one will serve as checks for legal practitioners in the country.

 

Amaechi To Partner With Rotary International On Development

Rivers State Governor, Mr. Rotimi Amaechi, has indicated the willingness of his government to work with a humanitarian organization, Rotary International, to develop the state.

Amaechi was speaking when the District Governor of Rotary International, District 9140, Nigeria, Rotarian Onyebuchi C. Onuoha with other notable Rotarians paid him a courtesy visit at Government House in Port Harcourt.

The governor also announced that he has handed the management of the Kesley Harrison Hospital and the Ultra-Modern Maxillo-Facial Dental Hospital built by his administration to foreign partners for efficiency and maximum benefits to the people.

Governor Amaechi thanked rotary international for their roles during the recent flood disaster in the state.

He further revealed that the state is in partnership with the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) to build two new mother and child hospitals at the Air Force Base and the old University of Port Harcourt Teaching Hospital premises.

Earlier, leader of the delegation and District Governor of Rotary International, District 9140, Nigeria, Onyebuchi C. Onuoha said they were in Rivers State to assess performance of Rotary Clubs in District 9140, made up of 11 states in the South-South and South-East geopolitical zones of the country.

He equally commended Amaechi for his support for the Super Eagles and congratulated him on their victory at the  just concluded Africa Cup of Nations Football tournament.

“I want to congratulate you for the victory of our own Super Eagles at the Africa Cup of Nations.  I say this because I know your role in support of the Super Eagles in achieving this feat.  Having said that, Rotary like we all know is a not-for-profit organization of business and professional, and community leaders with the passion to do good in the world.  As the District Governor for Rotary International District 9140 which is made up of the 11 states of the South-South and South-East geopolitical zones of this country, I am in Port Harcourt, Rivers State to visit Rotary Clubs in zones 21 and 22 to assess their performance, how well they are performing in line with our Rotary International theme for the year which is ‘peace through service’ and I stand to say so far so good”.

The Rotary District Governor thanked Governor Amaechi for supporting the Rotary International and praised him for his efforts in the fight against polio.

“I want to thank and appreciate you  and people of Rivers State for the support you have given to the Rotary Foundation.  I know that you and your wife are major donors. Now the end-polio-now project, this has been our flagship project since 1985 and I will on behalf of Rotary International, District 9140 thank you immensely for your support in this. ”.

Onuoha recalled that the Rotary had  helped the recent flood victims in the State with materials and medications.  He further said the organization had built public toilets, deep-water wells, provided micro-credit scheme and scholarship and renovated police posts among others.

Among those on the delegation was the former Rivers State Deputy Governor in the Dr. Peter Odili administration, Sir Gabriel Toby.

NNPC fails to remit N726bn To Federation Account in 3 years

The Financial Audit Report of the Oil and Gas sector by the Nigeria Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (NEITI) has revealed that the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) failed to remit the sum of $4.84 billion (N726 billion) to the Federation Account between 2009 to 2011.

The amount is made up of dividends and loan repayments from the NLNG export business in the stated period. This is in addition to a further $3.99 billion in NLNG funds from previous years going back to 1999, the audit report said.

The report also disclosed that the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) had claimed a total of N1.40 trillion as subsidy payments directly from proceeds of domestic crude sales before remittance between 2009 and 2011.

NEITI said it would further investigate NNPC’s rapidly escalating fuel import subsidy bill, which the audit showed rose from N198 billion in 2009 to N786 billion in 2011.

The report further stated that the subsidy payments claimed by the NNPC increased by 110 per cent. It rose from N198 billion in 2009 to N416 billion in 2010.

The Audit report also revealed that the NNPC owes the federation account N1.305 trillion from crude oil sales in the three-year period as at December 2011.

The state-oil firm receives 445,000 bpd of crude oil to refine locally but only uses 20 percent of it because Nigerian refineries are in disrepair. The rest it sells, the audit said.

NEITI said NNPC then removes subsidy from the money it earns from the crude oil sales before sending the balance to government accounts, a practice the auditor said the government should change because it left “gaps in the process”.

The report further revealed that Nigeria is owed around $5.85 billion in underpaid taxes and royalties from oil and gas producers but did not name specific companies because some firms are seeking legal action on the alleged debts.

NEITI is a government agency that operates as part of a global EITI scheme to investigate and monitor the extractive industry.

The also revealed that a total of $143.5 billion (about N21.5trillion) was earned by Nigeria as revenue from the sector between 2009 and 2011. The sum amounts to about five times the nation’s budget for the year 2013.

The monies were earned from sales of equity crude, royalty, signature bonus, concession rentals, gas flaring penalties, Petroleum Profit Tax and companies’ income tax.

Other areas that contributed include earnings from Pay As You Earn (PAYE), Value Added Tax (VAT), dividends and repayment of loan by the Nigeria Liquefied Natural Gas (NLNG), contributions to the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) and the Education Tax Fund (ETF).

At the formal presentation of the independent audit report on Thursday, the Chairman of the National Stakeholders Working Group of NEITI, Mr. Ledum Mitee said the report was commissioned in line with Section 16 of the NEITI Act.

 

 

US – Nigeria Bi-national Commission meeting begins in Port Harcourt

A two day meeting of the US – Nigeria Bi-national Commission on the Niger Delta and National Development Working Group today began in Port Harcourt, the Rivers state capital.

Expressing sympathy to the people of the Niger Delta region on the flood that have displaced a lot of persons, the leader of the US delegation, Cynthia Akuetteh said the essence of the meeting is to discuss the challenges facing the Niger Delta region and to finding lasting solutions to their problems.

She pointed the areas of discussion to include the acceleration of development through public – private partnership, enhance environmental protection and strengthen maritime security in the region

In her opening remark in a paper titled “Laying A Foundation For Lasting Peace In the Delta” Akuetteh disclosed that, the region faces three complex overarching and overlapping challenges, which if not addressed could lead to renewed insecurity in the region.  Those challenges, she said, are low levels of development, environmental devastation, and maritime criminality.

According to her, onshore and maritime oil theft persists, and environmental degradation caused by oil spills threatens the livelihoods of local communities.

she also disclosed that Nigeria has received almost $42 million in the first two years of Feed the Future which is the U.S. government’s global hunger and food security initiative), a portion of which has been used to improve food security and livelihoods in the Niger Delta.

She said since 2006, the United States has provided over $35 million worth of equipment, to include automatic identification system, radars, defender class boats, and very high frequency (vhf) radios to Nigeria as well as to regional partners Benin, Cameroon, Gabon, Ghana, Sao Tome and Principe, and Togo.

This also includes associated training to those same countries.

Permanet Secretary, Ministry Of Foreign Affairs, Ambassador (Dr) Martin Uhomoihi, in his remarks ,while noting the strategic importance of the region to the nation’s economy and development, expressed hope that “the decision of our country with the US to have a working group solely devoted to the issues of Niger Delta and national development”.

He stated that the federal government has established the Ministry of Niger Delta, established the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) and currently allocates 13 per cent as derivation revenue to oil producing communities, and has commenced Amnesty Programme for militant youths in the region

The host and governor of Rivers state, Rt. Hon. Chibuike Amaechi, while thanking the organisers for choosing the state to host the conference, welcomed the delegates from both countries, and assured that the state was poised to ensure the meeting achieves its aim.

The commission was inaugurated on the 6th of April 2010 by the US Secretary of States Hillary Clinton and then Nigeria Secretary to the Government of the Federation Yayale Ahmed with the aim to strategic dialogue, designated to expand mutual cooperation across the broad range of shared interest.

NDDC begins free health care delivery in Imo

The Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) has commenced its Free Health Care Medical Programme to some communities in the Niger Delta region as part of its commitment to enhance better healthcare delivery to the people of the region

Speaking at the flag off of a week-long free healthcare programme organised by the commission in partnership with AM Project at the General Hospital Oguta Imo state, the NDDC Managing Director, Christian Oboh told the people of Oguta that the medical mission was in compliance with the commissions mandate to intervene in the health need of the people.

He solicited their support towards the protection of the government projects sited in the various communities as they are important to their needs.

Mr Oboh who was represented by the Commission’s Assistant Director Health, George Uzonwanne, announced the commencement of the programme for children against typhoid fever across the region.

He also told them that the commission will be donating one million auto disposable syringes, 10,000 doses of typhoid vaccines and mosquito nets to Imo state government.

The Imo state Commissioner for Health, Joe Njoku commended the NDDC for the gesture and charged the community to avail themselves of the medical services but, like the oliver twist, he said they will continue to call on the commission to extend their services beyond the shores of Oguta

Chief Medical Coordinator of A.M Projects, Frank Ezeana said a total of 4,000 cases have so far been treated since the free medical mission started.