Port Harcourt —There was a protest by pensioners in Rivers state on Wednesday due to unpaid gratuities and pension arrears for over six years.
This has made a former director-general of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Dakuku Peterside, to describe Governor Nyesom Wike as “wicked and irresponsible”.
Mr. Peterside, in a statement on Thursday, urged the governor to heed to the cries of the retired workers and clear their outstanding entitlements without further delay, Premium times reports.
According to him, the governor cannot give lack of funds as a reason for owing the retirees for the quoted period.
Dakuku said: “The governor cannot complain of lack of funds, because the state had received huge allocations in the last six years, in addition to Paris Club refund, credits from banks, and N75 billion refund from the federal government.”
The former governorship candidate said pensioners have never been neglected by the state as they are now.
He noted that it was an eyesore seeing aged people on the street begging for what is rightly their entitlements.
Peterside maintained that what has befallen the pensioners “typifies the attributes of a ‘wicked and irresponsible’ emperor, who derives pleasure in seeing people cry and sometimes die in the course of demanding for their rights.”
“I was moved to tears when I saw the pictures of old men and women protesting at their age.
“This is embarrassing and shameful to a state that has enormous resources to pay them all their entitlements and allowances.
“Governor Wike still has an opportunity to redeem his battered image by immediately commencing the processes to pay them.
“On no account should they come out protesting again, enough is enough of their unmerited sufferings every year,” he said.
Reacting to the remarks of Peterside, the Commissioner for Information in Rivers state, Paulinus Nsirim, refused to give direct answers as to if the state government was owing the pensioners or not.
He said a “thorough investigation” should be done before Mr. Peterside’s remark is addressed.
In his words, “When you see allegations like these, investigate them. Be sure that what the person is alleging is correct and then confront the person that is being accused. Not just someone throwing something there and then you begin to give the person cheap publicity.
“I’m sure if you have been following the development in the state over these few months, you will know the character of the person who is talking. That’s for me.”
Indigenous oil company donates relief materials worth N170m to flood victims in Bayelsa
Yenagoa—An indigenous oil firm, First Exploration and Petroleum Development Company (First E&P), which operates the Oil Mining Leases (OMLs) 83 and 85 in a joint venture with the NNPC, has donated relief materials worth N170m to some communities affected by the recent floods in Bayelsa State.
The nation newspaper reports that the handover of the relief materials was performed yesterday at an event held at Danielle Jetty, Oxbow Lake area of Yenagoa, the state capital.
The relief materials were officially presented on behalf of the First E&P by the Head of Social Performances, Mr. Ayebatonye Basuo.
The materials were received on behalf of the benefiting communities by leaders of Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) camps from across the state.
Representatives of the Bayelsa State government led by the Commissioner for Mineral Resources, Mr. Ibiere Jones, witnessed the ceremony.
It was gathered that over 24,000 IDPs, whose homes and farms were submerged by floods, are expected to receive the relief materials.
It was also gathered that the donations of the oil company would help alleviate hardships from the disaster across 48 IDP camps.
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Items presented as part of the donations comprised foodstuffs, water and other hygiene products.
Speaking at the handover event, Ayebatonye Basuo said: “Our thoughts and prayers have continued to be with all those who have been affected by the flooding experienced across the nation in the last few weeks.
“We understand how difficult it must have been for people to be displaced from their homes and to see their sources of livelihood adversely impacted.
“At First E&P, we seek to always ensure that through our social performance strategy, stakeholders and host communities benefit from our presence on a sustainable basis.
“We drive this through flagship community development programmes which cover interventions in the areas of education, health, infrastructures and human capital development.
“However, when unprecedented disasters like the recent floods occur, we also seek ways in which we can intervene to make positive impacts.”
Responding, Governor Douye Diri applauded the JV for showing concern and empathy to the people of Bayelsa beyond their immediate host communities, describing the approach as impactful.
The Governor, represented by the Commissioner for Mineral Resources, Mr. Ibiere Jones, said: “I want to say that the approach adopted by the NNPC/FIRST E&P Joint Venture is novel.
“They thought outside the box by using the IDP camps as points of contact unlike other companies who come into the state and went to the communities and gave out items without the knowledge of the government; they duly informed the government and that shows that they are indeed a partner.
“From what I can see, the value of this intervention is huge, and being a wholly indigenous company owned by Nigerians, it is very pleasant.”
On hand to receive the relief items were representatives of over 40 identified internally displaced persons camps.
Reacting to the donation, an IDP, Mrs. Charity Godwin, recalled the ordeals of the floods and expressed gratitude to the JV for identifying with the people of Bayelsa.
Also, Mr. Konyeifa Austin, from Mechanic Road camp, Yenagoa, recalled that most displaced people were also victims as criminals made away with the valuables they left behind.
He said that the items would ameliorate the sufferings faced by the people as the floods recede.
PAP: Ndiomu seeks support of traditional rulers to execute reforms
Abuja—The Interim Administrator of the Presidential Amnesty Programme (PAP), Major General Barry Ndiomu (retd) has sought the cooperation and support of traditional rulers in the Niger Delta in his ongoing reform of the amnesty programme.
Ndiomu said as custodians of the culture and tradition of their people, the monarchs command enormous influence and can use that to propagate the new policy direction.
He said the new policy direction is aimed at ensuring that the Programme becomes more impactful to the real beneficiaries.
Ndiomu stated this when he hosted the traditional rulers under the aegis of the Association of Niger Delta Monarchs in Port Harcourt on Thursday.
The amnesty boss made emphasis on the importance of the monarchs, noting that to maintain the desired peace and stability in the region, they need to be consulted just like other critical Niger Delta stakeholders.
According to him, “Ever since I assumed office, I have been trying to get myself acquainted with the mode of operations of the Presidential Amnesty Programme. I have interacted with several stakeholders across the region and I realized that I will also have to meet with the monarchs in the Niger Delta.
“Being the principal custodians of the tradition and culture of our people and by virtue of your positions as monarchs, you’re the closest to the people.
“PAP is a national security programme and considering the role of our monarchs in the Niger Delta, it is very important that you’re carried along with the new policies that I intend to introduce to ensure we maintain peace and security across our region.
“I believe that through you, we can reach out to educate people that we need to maximize the benefits of this programme. This programme has already swallowed over a trillion naira. I personally believe that if we had properly directed the resources, a lot more could have been achieved.”
The PAP boss informed the monarchs that he was seeking the approval of the federal government to commence the process of getting ex-agitators to form cooperatives as part of the deliberate policy to make them self-reliant.
According to him, despite the obvious challenges, the PAP has recorded some degree of success, especially in education and skills acquisition, but insisted that much more could have been achieved.
“We have recorded quite a number of successes in the educational pursuit of the dreams of ex-agitators and all other indigenes of Niger Delta through the very robust scholarship schemes.
“As of today, we have 2,984 students in training, in various tertiary institutions across the country.
“We have also over these years between 2015-2022 produced 121 first-class graduates in various levels of the scheme.
“The total number of graduates between 2018-2022 is 2,881. On this number we have Bsc students 1,862, Masters degree 362, PhD 38, we also have about 53 students currently schooling abroad, first degree, a masters degree, and PhD.”
Highlighting some of the challenges that have bedeviled the programme, Ndiomu said, “One of the challenges I inherited in the amnesty office is the issue of the accuracy of the database, now like I said earlier, initially from the disarmament and demobilisation exercise they had recaptured about 30,000.
“Now when I took over office, they still had the 30,000 intact, based on our records. But you’ll agree with me that that is not realistic, what that means is that nobody died, nobody graduated from the university and got gainfully employed and so I decided to investigate.
“I’m sure our royal majesty and highnesses must have read in the papers some reactions by some of our people, at the end of the day, they call you all sorts of names, but what I am doing is in their best interest.
“In my investigations, now there are two categories of what we call stipend payments of the ex-agitators, you have the bulk payment and you have the single individual payments too, that is supposed to be to individual ex-agitators.
“In the course of our investigations, the bulk payment was explained to me, and I want to believe that that is the truth as monies paid in bulk to some of the ex-militant leaders and the basis for that is because there were a number of ex-agitators in the list, that was not accounted for disarmament and demobilisation phases, and so there was the need for all payments to be made to the ex-militant leaders who will, in turn, disburse same to those affected.
“But strangely in the course of investigating, if we could justify that of the bulk payment programme of the ex-militant leaders, we now found individuals with single BVN having multiple payments into their accounts with a single BVN, so which means a single BVN receiving 33 stipend payments of 65 thousand naira monthly.
“In a bid to now delist these names, well not delisting them to say we’re completely denying them because we have to understand exactly why an individual had 33 stipend payments into his account.”
Speaking earlier, the Executive Chairman and General Coordinator of the Association of Niger Delta Monarchs of Nigeria, HRM King Frank Okurakpo, assured Ndiomu of their support in ensuring the success of his tenure.
Other traditional rulers who spoke at the event described the meeting as a necessary interaction for the good of the Niger Delta, noting that it was the first time any head of the PAP was reaching out to them to collate their views on the programme.
They urged Ndiomu to remain focused and priotize the needs of the ex-agitators while also avoiding some mistakes of the past to achieve his overall plans for the PAP.
Group distributes food items to flood victims in Yenagoa
Yenagoa—A group, the Concerned Niger Delta Unemployed Youth Movement, has distributed food items to some victims of the 2022 flood that ravaged Bayelsa State and other states in the country.
The food items were distributed to victims who are residents of Lala street, Tombia road, Yenagoa on Tuesday.
Prince Furombo George Bokolo who led the team on behalf of its President, Capt. Forteta Sam Ebipadey in a chat with our reporter stated that “the organisation decided to show concern to the flood victims who have not been able to pick up after the devastation.”
Items distributed include bags of potatoes and onions, baskets of tomatoes, bags of salt and cartons of seasoning cubes.
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Appreciating the group for the donation, a resident of the street, Pastor Woyengitari Imbazi while stating that no individual, group, or government has shown such kind gesture to residents of the street, thanked them for the food items.
Another resident, Mr. Dennis Eradiri who bemoaned the hardship occasioned by the flood, commended the group for their timely intervention.
The Concerned Niger Delta Unemployed Youth Movement is a youth-based group with a vision to reach out to the grassroots in the Niger Delta.
It was gathered that the group aims to create an employment bureau for youths in the Niger Delta and also serve as a tool to bringing infrastructural development, sustainability and sensitisation to the host communities in the region.