OUTCOME OF PDP PRIMARIES: POSSIBLE FACES IN 8TH ASSEMBLY
As the PDP Primary for the Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly is finally concluded, the outcome gives window to possible faces that will decorate the 8th Assembly’s calendar and dairies.
Surprisingly, many incumbent Legislators who sought second term have been defeated by fresh seekers of the office.
In URUAN LGA, the House of Assembly Primary was concluded with Dr. (Mrs.) Itoro Etim emerging as the winner. Mrs Etim pulled a total of 34 votes over other contenders of the seat. Her counterparts, Hon. Jude Effiong and Ofonime Eno had no vote.
In ESSIEN UDIM LGA, Prince Ukpong Akpabio was declared winner having scored 30 votes out of 31 accredited voters.
IBENO/ESIT EKET had Udobia Friday winning as the Candidate of PDP with 61 votes flooring the incumbent Rt. Hon. Usoroh Akpanusoh who sought a third-term. He had no vote according to INEC’s report.
ABAK LGA had Hon. Udeme Otong with 33 votes as announced by the Returning Officer, Mr Nkereuwem Udom as he is seeking second term to represent the people of Abak.
IKONO LGA had the result announcing Mr. Itoro Columba with 31votes, all counted. While the incumbent, Hon Asuquo Nana Udo had only 1 vote and another aspirant had 1 vote. Other aspirants had no votes.
NSIT IBOM had Hon Eric Akpan emerging as the candidate of the PDP with all 31 votes of delegates in the area.
ONNA had Mr. Sunday Johnny emerging as winner with highest number of votes cast. The Primaries held at QIC Primary School, Awa, ONNA LGA.
IBIONO IBOM State Constituency at the end of the primaries had Obong Godwin Ekpo emerged with 25 votes. He is seeking to be reelected into the office to represent the people of Ibiono Ibom.
ITU had Hon Kufreabasi Edidem emerging with 31 votes as the PDP Candidate. He is seeking a second term for the office.
NSIT UBIUM had Hon. (Barr) Otobong Bob being declared as the flagbearer. He polled a total of 31 votes and was unopposed.
IKOT EKPENE/OBOT AKARA State Constituency had Hon. Jerry Otu emerging as the winner of the primary election. He polled 61 votes out of the 65 accredited delegates, while Ime Umoh recorded 4 votes.
IBESIKPO ASUTAN had Pastor Ubong Attah who emerged as the candidate of the PDP with 28 votes, while Idong Ukpong had 1 vote and 2 votes were voided.
From UKANAFUN LGA, Evangelist Emem Udom emerged the candidate of the PDP picking all 34 votes.
In MKPAT ENIN LGA, Hon Uwem Imoh-ita floored Hon. Victor Ekwere, the incumbent member representing Mkpat Enin state constituency.
ETINAN LGA, had Mr. Uduak Ekpo-Ufot who emerged as the standard flagbearer of Peoples Democratic Party. He emerged victorious with 32 votes while Fabian Udom and Ebong Archibong Essien had one vote respectively. Other contenders, Nsebong Ekong and Idongesit Artur had nil vote.
NSIT ATAI LGA had Prince-aniefiok Attah who emerged as the Candidate for PDP with 19 votes out of 31 accredited voters. His contender, Hon Emem Ibanga had a total of 11 votes.
EKET State Constituency had Dr. Nsidibe Akata who emerged as the PDP flagbearer with 32 votes.
ORON/UDUNG UKO had Hon Kenim Onofiok emerging with 60 out of the 62 total votes. There were two void votes.
UYO had Uwemedimo Dianabasi Asuquo with 33votes.
INI had Lawrence Udoide emerging as the PDP flagbearer.
ETIM EKPO/IKA had Hon Mfon Idung with 62 votes emerging as the PDP flagbearer and is seeking a second term to the office.
ORUK ANAM has Prince Sampson Idiong who emerged as the PDP Flagbearer.
MBO has Hon Effiong Johnson who emerged as the PDP flagbearer and seeking for a second-term as he recently defected from the APC.
URUEOFFONG ORUKO had Mrs Precious Selong who emerged as the Flagbearer of PDP.
OKOBO had Pius Bassey clinging the PDP ticket as the Candidate for the Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly.
IKOT ABASI/EASTERN OBOLO had Selina Ukpatu emerging as the PDP Flagbearer with 55 Votes out of 61 votes. Her contender, Dr. Charles Mbong polled only 6 votes, Uro Nango and Uzono Ezekiel scored Zero each.
Meanwhile, officials of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) were on hand to witness the process which was acclaimed peaceful.
The big auditorium was filled to capacity as Her Excellency’s motherly, yet, stern-gentle and kind voice reverberated like a falling spring through the minds of the audience, with wisdom, advising the Boy-Children on the need to shun ways which can mar their future.
A cross section of the Secondary schools at the event.
True, the boy children from Secondary Schools across the State left with minds full on what to think and live about as the First Lady, Dr. Martha Udom Emmanuel took time to summarise the speakers’ assertions through the 2022 International Boy-Child Conference.
Her Excellency, Wife of the Governor of Akwa Ibom State, Dr. Martha Udom Emmanuel speaking on the occasion.
Strengthening the voices of life coachers and great mentors whose wealth of knowledge and experiences were worth sharing, the Akwa Ibom State First Lady admonished the Boy-Child of good morale and obeying their parents, constituted authorities and the law. They became the screen for the Boys to see life through and choose which path to follow.
The event set aside to celebrate International day for the Boy-Child by Jerome Teelucksingh, Ph.D, a thought leader on gender issues and founder of International Men’s Day, was officially inaugurated on May 16, 2018, worldwide. But since then, the Akwa Ibom State Government only marked the event on May 16, 2022.
It was a moment for Stock-taking and accepting the reality of the burden of negligence on the Boy-Child over the years with ripple effect on the society today. This is why Dr. Jerome Teelucksingh thought it wise to balance the equation on both genders which require equal attention.
Prof Effiong Johnson addressing the audience.
According to Prof Effiong Johnson who admitted that the negligence of the Boy-Child is the repercussions which the society reaps today and calls for an emergency rescue.
“For long the Boy Child has been abandoned by the society and the society is now reaping the repercussions of the negligence. The boy child has gone into cultism and other vices early, while the Girl- child who was earlier groomed is prepared to face the society positively.
“The Boy Child conference is an emergency, very timely and it should continue if we’re expecting a more responsible society.”
Giving the Keynote address on the theme of the event, ‘Boosting Optimism, Restoring Self-Worth,’ the academic Don, Prof Johnson said for a Boy-Child to aim at a successful living, he must be optimistic about life and never be a mediocre.
He coached the boys on mentorship and illustrated how choosing a good mentor can give focus and advances ones life.
Mr. Aniekeme Finbarr adressing the Students.
Another coach, Mr. Aniekeme Finbarr spoke on the topic; ‘Dare to be different: Migrating from Mediocrity to Excellence’ said excellence must be the watchword of a Boy-Child who sets out to be positively different from the societal crowd.
He added that a Boy-Child must be taught by the parents, guardians and teachers to be able to own up his mistakes and be self- accountable which is the beginning of being responsible. Finbarr added that failure in any case should be made to be seen as part of a success story, not a definite end of a process. He said Boys should be taught to exude positive characters in the face of challenges.
Mr. Idy Uworoufin Enni testifying to the Students.
Another Speaker, Mr. Idy Uworoufin Enni spoke on the topic; ‘What They Won’t Tell You About Cultism,’ chided the students present never to consider or be lured into cultism as it is never a rosy journey.
He gave the admonition as a repentant cultist and said 90% of school dropouts are cultists. Mr. Enni added that cultists live a life of fear and die shameful death.
While Etiyene Ekong explained qualities expected of a Boy-Child by a Girl-Child to include; intelligence, God fearing, responsible, Discipline and the ability of the Boy-Child to create a secured environment for the safety of the Girls-Child.
Barr. Emem Ette, Secretary AKSGBVC giving her appreciation note.
Also speaking, the Secretary of Akwa Ibom State Gender-Based Violence (GBV) Committee, Barr. Emem Ette thanked members of the Committee for a successful outing, appreciating her Excellency, Dr. Martha Udom Emmanuel for being an advocate in the campaign against abuse, rape and other social-vices to boost a good environment for a Boy-Child.
The event themed: ‘Boosting Optimism, Restoring Self-Worth’ was put together by the Akwa Ibom State Gender-Based Violence (GBV) Committee and in attendance were the Commissioner for Education, Mrs Idongesit Etiebet, Mr. James Edet, Permanent Secretary – Ministry of Information, Chairperson, Nigeria Association of Women Journalists, Cmd Nsikak Okon, and others. They unanimously said the Conference was timely to create awareness to the boys’ needs and help to give them the needed orientation and reorientation for a better society.
CRISIS HITS A’IBOM JUDICIARY
… Judiciary Staff Union berates Chief Judge over divisiveness, poor staff welfare.
By Our Reporter
In what was received as a good radiance, the administration of Hon. Justice Ekaette Francesca Fabian Obot has snowballed into a nightmare according to the staff of the state judiciary and members of the Judiciary Staff Union of Nigeria (JUSUN) Akwa Ibom State Chapter.
The union has hinted their readiness to stage a protest against what they described as police intimidation, harassment, divisiveness and poor welfare of staff, among many other anomalies.
In a statement released by the Judiciary Staff Union of Nigeria (JUSUN) Akwa Ibom State led Comrade Oku John Umoh, the union frowned at the recurrence attempt by the Chief Judge, Justice Ekaette Obot to cow union members not to speak up against the numerous violations and Ill-treatment meted out on the staff and union members.
The latest of her intimidation happened on Monday 25th April, 2022 where she petitioned the Union’s Chairman to the Police and sanctioned his arrest for daring to speak up against her ploy to withhold the package for the 2022 Workers’ Day Celebration.
It is understood that the union dared the Chief Judge when it was evident that the CJ had concluded to sponsor her “favorite” one, Katele Henry Ajah to host few staff on Workers’ Day while leaving the union to their fate, even as report has it that the said Ketele Ajah was seen bragging that he has been empowered to host the staff on the said day.
The reaction of the union’s chairman did not go down well with the CJ as she ordered the Police to grill the union’s chairman and keep him for several hours before the intervention of the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) which took over the matter and signed for the release of the JUSUN’s leader.
Again, on Thursday 28th of April, 2022, the union’s leader, Comrade Oku Umoh was greeted with a query over the same issue that took him to the police for interrogation and settlement.
Similarly, the union decried that they are yet to fully receive her last year’s Christmas welfare package which they said have left the staff unsettled and uncomfortable with the leadership style of Justice Obot.
Comrade Umoh lamented,
“Our members welfare has now gotten to an all-time low as last year’s Christmas package is yet to be completely delivered. The treatment was so poor that workers were returned to the inglorious era were rice was shared in cups. Outright rejection of the act made the committee in charge of disbursement to repackage the rice into 5kg and 10kg bags for few, albeit, local rice with huge deposits of sand.
“We have never had it this bad as the voice of the union was an indicator to the Management of the needs and demands of the staff for a better welfare and working atmosphere, but a situation where our plights made known are seen as threats is a misnomer in a proper administrative environment.”
JUSUN in their press statement expressed displeasure over the flagrant abuse of the principle of due process by the Chief Judge, stating that transfers are now politicized, used to haunt members and done without regards to good conscience.
They made a case for Mr. Afaha John Afaha, a former Head of Administration of grade level 16 who is due for retirement in 4 months. Union explained that as a senior staff who has pad his dues, Mr. Afaha is supposed to either remain at the headquarters pending his retirement in August 3, 2022 or posted to a High Court with respect to his grade position and not a Magistrate Court at Awa, Onna LGA. The union added that this action is tantamount to human-right infringement and injustice according to the civil-service guide.
Also, issues of sidelining Head of Courts (HoCs) and District Resolution Officers (DROs) in imprest increment which the union fought for was described as barbaric, unkind and a way of depriving officers who are really deserving and in serious need of the imprest.
The statement reads, “The Chief Judge decided to increase money for Judges, Magistrates and Chairmen of District Courts without accommodating Head of Courts and District Resolution Officers because they are non-legal officers and members of the union.
“We believe the DROs need the imprest more than the Chairmen of District Courts who are sitting at home and collecting a whooping Fifty Thousand Naira (N50,000) without going to work as the Governor is yet to constitute members of the District Courts.
“Registrars who are Head of Courts are given meagre Fifteen Thousand Naira (N15,000) imprest which covers for running cost, stationary, cleaning of court premises including grass cutting and other exigencies including augmentation in diesel which is now selectively given by the CJ’s ‘preferred’ plant unit officer. We have taken all these anomalies up with the CJ for a review but to no avail as the CJ has instead slashed the sum to a laughable Ten Thousand Naira (N10,000).”
Reacting to questions from newsmen, the Public Relations Officer (PRO) of the union, Comrade Idongesit Mbat lamented that the union has been forced to sit on a keg of gunpowder awaiting imminent explosion. The information officer collaborated the position of the chairman while laying emphasis on the factionalism of the union by the Chief Judge through Mr. Katele Henry Ajah whom she openly describes as her ‘preferred’. Mbat wondered why a Chief Judge will charge the executive and members of the union to love and cooperate with Mr. Ajah if they desire her love in return.
The union also disclosed that the present Chief Judge, Justice Ekaette Francesca Fabian Obot has accused the former Chief Judges including the immediate past Justice Godwin Abraham for never releasing Christmas packages nor workers’ package to staff during Workers’ Day celebrations.
Meanwhile, when The Crest Newspaper reached out to the Chief Judge, she said she cannot be intimidated or allow the union to be used against her administration.
She added that she cannot divulge the information to the reporter as she does not know the reporter nor the news outfit. Efforts to get some answers from her proved abortive.
Over a month of traversing the creeks, mangroves and shores of oil producing communities in Akwa Ibom State lies a picture of rich, green vegetation mashed in the sheen of oil flowing to the surface by the operations of oil companies.
Few species of flora and fauna left recedes and become afraid of the environment they once survived in.
Unyenge Community, Mbo LGA -Akwa Ibom State
The 1hr 34 minutes drive from Enwang to Unyenge Community of Mbo LGA, covered approximately 10km due to undulated road terrain to Stubb Creek where Universal Energy Resources Limited operations site is located.
Universal Energy Resources Limited is a marginal oil field of Oil Mining Lease (OML) 13/14 into Crude Oil production at Stubb Creek, Unyenge, Mbo LGA with Five Hundred Million Naira (₦500,000,000) Share capital. It has no person of significant control according to CAC directory.
Only five (5) Officers are put up on CAC website out of the six (6) officers. Out of the five, three (3) are Directors, one (1) is a Company Sectary and the other, a Deponent.
Four are Nigerians living in Nigeria. Only one of the Directors, Wibrew Roger is from United Kindom with no trace to place of resident.
All are of active status, no email addresses except Wibrew Roger, which email has linkage to Savannah Energy Limited. Only Nkoyo Etuk and Ogunmekan Funmilola, who are two of the three Directors, have same date of appointment, 23 Jan 2020.
Only Wibrew Roger has date of birth, May 1977.
From MoUs available to The Crest Reporter, Nkoyo Etuk is a Managing Director in Universal Energy Resource Limited; and also a Chief Operating Officer signing for Savannah Uquo Gas Limited.
This reveals the monopoly of one individual or two to these companies and the interwoven connection existing in their operations.
From CAC registry, Director Nkoyo Etuk may be duplicating other roles with just one other on the team. Then, stretching tentacles to Savannah Energy Limited (which is not traceable on CAC Registry).
Through the lonely road, echoing a community in dire need of development, are lined up electrical poles but unconnected to the national grid.
The major occupation of the people in this area is lumbering. That is why traditional injunctions (Mbiam in Ibibio dialect) are sighted displayed on top of these firewood position for sales along the way. This shows that lumbering as an important means of livelihood to the people of this locality.
Others engage in petty trades like small provision shops, while those in farming business can not boast of good yields due to polluted environment.
“Concerning Universal Energy Resources, their operations is on land not in water. We have other companies in Mbo like Adak Oil, Total E&P and Monopoly Oil. They have not tried. For whom much is given, much is expected.
“You can see the road from Enwang to Unyenge Community is very, very bad. We don’t have even electricity,” The Paramount Ruler of Mbo, HRM Ogwong Asuquo Okon Abang posited.
He went further to admit that the review of MoU carried out last year, 2021, in the State capital, Uyo, has not been respected by Universal Energy.
The royal father said the traditional stool has been completely deprived and marginalized of what should be the benefits as contained in the MoU.
“In the MoU, the rights of Royal Fathers as contained in the MoU are completely deprived. Nothing like monthly stipend or quarterly stipend to us. Whatever comes out of the earth, we Royal Fathers are the custodians here.”
According to the MoU between Universal Energy Resources Limited and Unyenge Community and Mbo, Oro Nation, Ntak Inyang Community and Esit Eket LGA and Government of Akwa Ibom State, Sec 12 (a) with subtitle ‘Courtesies and Homage’ says,
“To mark the culture, customs and tradition of the Host Community and catchment Areas, UERL shall undertake a yearly courtesy visit to the village heads of the Host Community, Ntakinyang community including the council of Chiefs, Youth Council of the Host Community, women forum of Host Community, key community leaders and Chairman of Mbo and Esit Eket Local Government Areas. PROVIDED also that the UERL shall undertake a yearly courtesy visit to the Paramount Rulers in respect of Local Governments captured under the catchment Areas in this MoU.”
Mbo Paramount Ruler continued,
“They only take expatriates to work with them and neglect our indigenes. If you don’t have degree, MA or well-skilled, you can not work there and yet they refuse to train our children.”
He added that it is very hard for the Company to meet with the people and discuss employment slots. The Local Committees set up to liaise with the Company for the interest of the people is only for Unyenge people, leaving other parts of Mbo LGA.
“It is very hard for Universal Energy to have a meeting with us to discuss about slot matter.
“The Committee set up to liaise with the Company for the interest of the people is only for Unyenge people, not for entire Mbo LGA.”
The Paramount Ruler commended Oriental Energy for training and giving scholarship to youth of the Community. He also commended Oriental Energy for constructing and equipping science Laboratory at Community Grammar School, Ebughu, Mbo LGA; and skill acquisition centre at Enwang.
The Youth under the aegis of ‘Youth Progressive Association of Unyenge’ further tell the story.
“If you check our community, you will realize we don’t have portable water or good roads. The Companies are not providing anything for us or our people. Universal Energy has worked in our community for over 10 years but no tangible development in the area,” Augustine Nkwobia, National Youth Leader of Unyenge Youth Progressive Association.
“There was timely interface with the Company at least twice in a year but recently, there are selected group of people who do that and they are not doing anything in the interest of the people except their personal interest. I can say they have been bribed against the people,” Youth activist, Stephen Akpanim submitted.
A source from Biakwan Light Green Initiative, an NGO working on Water Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) and also engaging communities on sustainable forest resources management and human wellbeing, said, Stubb Creek mangrove which served as a reserved area for species of animals which are almost going extinct, has been affected by exploration and other human activities including lumbering.
“Some primates and birds which make habitat from the mangrove at Stubb Creek have been threatened by encroachment of human activities. We have also lost forest resources by exploration activities,” Mr. Ikponke Nkanta of Tropical Research and Conservation Centre.
Another Community source said there have been several meetings but none of their requests concerning community welfare has been granted.
Prince Edet Akakattan, Secretary, Village Council of Atakidiang – Ebughu, Mbo LGA said the only two health centres in the area can not carter for the health needs of the 16 villages in the area.
“Here, we suffer high level of environmental degradation and outbreak of diseases. The only two health centres in this community can not carter for the health needs of the people in the 16 villages.
“From acidic rain, damaging the roofs of our homes, to the oil spills, spoiling the nets of our fishermen, tell a lot of the situation we found ourselves.
“We don’t feel any impact of the Oil Companies. We have been having several meetings with them without a snowball effect on the people.”
“Even during the intense period of Covid-19, the palliative was not enough for the people and quantity of two cups and an indomie was a take home for the people at the end of the day.
“We need serious and massive intervention by the Government and the Companies because we have been greatly marginalised.”
Efforts to speak with a source from Universal Energy Resource Limited proved abortive and the FOIA request was not responded to.
Meanwhile, it is also stated in the copy of MoU at the disposal of The Crest reporter ‘between Universal Energy Resource Limited and Unyenge Community and Mbo, Oro Nation, Ntak Inyang Community and Esit Eket LGAs and Government of Akwa Ibom State,’ that:
“UERL agrees to fund sustainable development projects and programmes to the value of Sixty Million Naira (₦60,000,000.00) per annum,” MoU sec 11(d).
The above section makes the community members question the nonrealistic Community Development Projects in the area by the Company (UERL) in the past years.
Since there are no projects justifying this amount in the area according to Community leaders, the following questions arise;
~Do they make this financial remittance?
~If yes! To who?
This exposition tells of the disregard and abuse of agreement entered by the oil Companies and host communities in the State.
In Ibeno, the polluted environment which contaminates all sources of water, including borehole, is said to be one of the factors contributing to low life expectancy.
Gospel Obio Japheth, Youth Leader of Atabrikang II said SEEPCO is not transparent in its dealings with the people in his community, Atabrikang II.
“In Atabrikang II, Sterling Oil Global is slow. They say they are not drilling oil yet, but what we found out may be they are saying that to wade us off. The MoU is not completed, that is why we can’t take them up yet.
“The Chiefs and family heads are doing hide-and-seek with the MoU. The youth wing doesn’t have an idea what is the content of the MoU. They don’t want us to know. But with time, we will still know.
“As I speak to you, there is only one source of water (borehole) by NDDC that is feeding the entire community.”
According to the Paramount Ruler of Ibeno LGA, HRM Owong (Dr) Effiong B. Archianga (JP), life expectancy has been reduced due to oil exploration carried out in the area by Exxon Mobil and other Oil Companies.
“The water here is highly contaminated. If it rains, it is acidic. There are frequent lung problems here amongst my people because of excessive gas flaring.”
He added that durability of buildings have also been threatened by exploration activities.
“If you sleep at night, sometimes during the day time, you will hear some cracking sounds or serious vibration in the building. There is so much deprivation here.”
This was collaborated in a separate interview with the Youth Leader of Ibeno LGA, Barr Martins Asukpa.
“If you are in this House for hours, you will hear some cracking sounds which gradually sinks the building. Our roofing gets spoilt in no time and painting fades speedily because of the operation of Oil Companies.
“For me as a person, I will say that there is nothing that Oil companies have done that will be commensurate to the direct impact of the exploration in the area. There has been series of oil spillages and if you try to draw their attention to it, they say it is not from their facility. And you know the locals don’t have enough resources to hold a multinational Company like Mobil or others accountable. So, they take advantage of this.”
Barr Martin Asukpa also lamented over the quality of drinking water in the area.
“As you can see, that is well-water and natural water from the ground. But it is not clean but brownish in colour. Had it been there was no operation of ExxonMobil and other Oil Companies, the water would have been so clean. The activities of Oil Companies affect everything in this community.”
Ibeno locals further decry of neglect as packages design to be Corporate Social Responsibility of Exxon Mobil are almost withdrawn.
“On daily basis, the situation is getting worse. Before now, we used to have packages and other incentives from the Company like; training, scholarship and employment quota. But today, none of those things are anymore. Our people are no longer sent to Mobil Training School which was there before. I can not recall the last time anyone in the Community has gotten Mobil Scholarship,” Prince Afaiko Bassey Etim, Ibeno youth lamented.
Ibeno Youth Leader, Barr Asukpa added that since the outbreak of Covid -19 in March 2020, Exxon Mobil has been hiding under this cover to shy away from its Corporate Social Responsibilities to the people.
The Youth Woman Leader in Ibeno, Patient Eshiet lamented of no capital for traders and fishers who would have been interested to go into other businesses as fishing business has been greatly affected by oil exploration.
“There is no capital for businesses and our mothers’ farms have been destroyed due to oil exploration. The Companies should at least support our mothers and Fathers who are fishers with fishing nets as their nets have been damaged by oil spillages. The only Government Primary and Secondary schools in the area are overcrowded to carter for primary and secondary education needs of our children.”
The Ibeno Paramount Ruler submitted that the Community took Exxon Mobil and NNPC to court. The court ruling was in favour of the Community which the firms were asked to pay a fine worth N82b for ecological damages to the Community.
He also added that there is serious need for embankment work to be done by Exxon Mobil in the Community as there is threat of ocean surge in the area.
Meanwhile, it is in the news that Seplat Energy, together with a partner, is in competitive discussions to acquire ExxonMobil’s Nigerian shallow water business. ExxonMobil’s President, Liam Mallon on October, 2021, had said the company remains “committed” to Nigeria despite its decision to divest from the joint venture (shallow water) with the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC). The company has divested some of its assets in Africa, selling an 80 per cent interest in a Ghanaian offshore block and proposing to offload its stake in the Doba oilfield in Chad.
Edo Atai Community, Esit Eket LGA
Another OML 13 Company, Frontier Oil Limited, a fully owned Nigerian E&P Company with Twenty Million Naira (₦20,000,000) share capital, has a footprint in Esit Eket LGA. In Ibeno, Frontier Oil operates as a group joint venture consisting of Frontier Oil, Universal Energy Resource Limited and Network Exploration and Production Nigeria Limited, forming the FUN Group Joint Venture.
Also in Esit Eket is Savanna Uquo Gas Limited which share same location with Frontier Oil in Esit Eket. It is a full cycle E&P British Independent Company.
Out of 21 Officers of Frontier Oil Limited on CAC registry, only eight (8) Officers’ data are published. Out of these eight Officers (8), six (6) are performing the role of a Director. G. E. & P. Nominees Limited (297793) is performing the role of the Company’s Secretary with distinct email address and appointment date of 05 August 2020.
Six (6) Directors share two appointment dates; 02 Nov 2013 and 21 February 2014. The Deponent officer, Adesuyi Olateru-Olagbegi, has no data except an address, 6, Catholic Mission Street, Lagos State, and is a Nigerian living in Nigeria.
The MoU reveals that Solomon Dada Thomas is the CEO/Managing Director of Frontier Oil Limited with Wole Adefila as Operations Director.
Residents of Edo Community where the production base of these Companies are located have their stories to tell.
The Village Head of Edo Community, Etteidung Sunday Joseph Unyongmkpo said the community had long been forgotten by Frontier Oil and Savannah Uquo Gas despite their existence.
“The Companies do not even pick our calls again. The Royal father’s welfare and that of our community is neglected by the company against the terms in the MoU.
“There was no Christmas package last year and in fact, the welfare package for the Community was stopped immediately we said they should not be visiting the Community jointly but as two separate Companies which they are.”
The Chief lamented how few interministerial jobs by the State Government has been the only source of intervention to the infrastructural decay in the area.
The Royal Father further explained that lungs disease which give rise to chronic cough and catarrh is a common ailment in the area as young and old are affected due to gas flare.
He said that Esit Eket LGA needs a General Hospital not a Healthcare centre as the health needs of the people are enormous due to the activities of these Companies in the area.
According to section 11 (1) of the MoU between Akwa Ibom State Government and Frontier Oil Limited and Savannah Uquo Gas Limited and Esit Eket LGAs;
“FOL – SUGL shall set aside annually a minimum of the sum of ₦80,000,000.00 (Eighty Million Naira) only for its sustainable community development projects and programs for the duration of this MoU.”
The situation in Esit Eket queries the availability of this fund towards the development and wellbeing of people of the host community.
The outcry of the people makes one more worried about the functions of the Local ‘MoU Implementation Committee’ which duties seem to be relegated.
An environmental expert from Esit Eket, Pastor Macaulay Nyoho said the quantum of gas flared in the area is beyond the expected quantity per day and against environmental standard.
“There is a limit to the quantum of gas that should be flared in a day. Anything more becomes a problem to the Community. They have been doing this consistently. Any agitation or raising of eye-brow to these obnoxious activities makes the Companies to run to the political class with peanuts or contracts to cover these environmental flaws against the wellbeing of the people,” Pastor Macaulay Nyoho lamented.
He went further to disclose a spill in the area which the Companies have denied responsibility.
The spill in Edo Community, Esit Eket LGA alleged to occur on November 25th through 26th 2021 was said to be reported to the spiller, Savanna Energy Resource Ltd in charge of Savannah Uquo Gas, by a community source when the spill occurred last year.
The community source who is an environmentalist said the Company denied impact of the spillage on the environment.
“Recently, there was an oil spill in the area and you know when there is a spill, it will either spread and go deep to the water base and kill the phyto-plankton (plants) and zoo-plankton (animals) of the ecosystem. This is why most of our plants species and animal species are going extinct which saved as food to our people.
“I sent the pictures to the Company for compensation to the damages. One Mrs Nkoyo Etuk replied that the spill was on Company’s land. This is ridiculous because as an environmentalist, you can’t stop the spread. Once a spill occurs, it can spread on water surface and seep into the water base. This affects our ecosystem so much.”
In Eastern Obolo, the Executive Chairman of Eastern Obolo, Rt. Hon. Abraham Odion said the State Ministry of Environment was contacted about a spill which occurred three years ago. But as at press time, the source of the spills three years ago has not been detected.
“We have informed the Ministry of Environment about the spill in Eastern Obolo LGA but up till now, the source of the spill is not ascertained. The Ministry of Environment will carry out their investigation of the last spill which occurred three years ago and Sterling oil was not in picture. Even up till now, the Company has not started real drilling to say they are responsible for the spill.”
The community still awaits report of the Ministry of Environment about the last spill.
Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) response from National Oil Spill Detection and Response Agency (NOSDRA) duly signed says there was no spill reported in these areas. Hence, no spill occurred.
“I wish to inform you that National Oil Spill Detection and Response Agency (NOSDRA) has not received reports of any oil spill incidence from Edo community in Esit Eket, communities in Eastern Obolo LGA or Oil Operators in those Communities; as such, there was no response action.
“NOSDRA Established Act, 2006 and NOSDRA Statutory Instrument 25 Part II section 4(1) stipulates that an oil spiller or any person who observes a spill should report to the facility owner, the Agency or any other related regulatory or security organization. To the best of the Agency’s knowledge, there was no occurrence of an oil spill incident on 25th to 26th November 2021 in Edo Community in Esit Eket and communities in Eastern Obolo LGA,” the FOIA response reads.
FOIA request to NOSDRA and their response.Meanwhile, all effort to reach the Commissioner for Environment and Natural Resources Akwa Ibom State, Mr. Charles Udo proved abortive and text messages to his phone line were not replied.
Even as Nigeria bagged the Open Government Partnership (OGP) Global Award in far away Seoul, South Korea, late last year, there are still transparency concerns in the extractive sector.
Nigeria beating Tunisia, Ghana and other Countries in Africa and Middle East to emerge top in the assessment of reforms enhancing transparency in Beneficial Owners, and other factors in the extractive sector to curb corruption, makes one concern over some red-flagged conducts still perpetuated by some individuals in this sector.
The Nigeria Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative, NEITI Act 2007 makes clear the obligations of this body to compel transparency from extractive industries in their dealings not just with the Federal Government, but State and the Local Government of Host Communities in which they operate.
In Section 3 (a) and (g) of NEITI Act 2007 says the body shall;
“Develop a framework for transparency and accountability in the reporting and disclosure by all extractive industry companies of revenue due to or Federal Government.” and,
(g) “Identify lapses and undertake measures that shall enhance the capacity of any relevant organ of the Federal, State or Local Government having statutory responsibility to monitor revenue payment by all extractive industry companies to the Federal Government.”
This is why, annual reports of companies in the sector should be timely published without much delay to enhance follow-ups of their operations by concern publics.
By Open Government Partnership standard, EIA reports and MoUs should no longer become secret documents if environmental standards should be kept and welfare of host communities rightly protected while these Companies go about with their activities.
For public interest and transparency, ‘Beneficial Owners’ should be clearly unveiled by the registry of Corporate Affairs Commission.
Compelling should be the respect of Freedom of Information Act, FOIA, requests from interested Journalists by these Companies to foster transparency in this sector.
In all the FOIA requests with reminders made to relevant firms to back up this report, only NOSDRA and later Ministry of Justice-Akwa Ibom State were swift with response.
If National Environmental Standards And Regulation Enforcement Agency (NESREA) Act 2007, Section 7 provides authority to ensure compliance with environmental laws, local and international, on environmental sanitation and pollution prevention and control through monitory and regulatory measures, it therefore behoves on the Regulators of this sector, including Federal/State Ministries of Petroleum Resources; Environment etc, not to be complacent in their regulatory duties over these companies operating in Niger Delta region. They must step up in their responsibilities if the narrative must change in this sector.
The influences, manipulative Local Committees, evasions, denials, blame-game and making public information ‘strictly confidential’ will continue to be challenges endangering the collective good of the people if the commitments on Open Government Partnership (OGP) and Extractive Industry Transparency Initiative (EITI) are not taken serious.
Until these veils are up, the people’s benefits will still be denied by unrepentant benefit captors hidden under shallow pretenses which should be long overthrown for needed development.
This investigation is supported by Policy Alert with funding from Open Society Initiative for West Africa (OSIWA).
“Their occupation was greatly affected. So, we gave them each ₦100,000 each to buy fish, crayfish and start selling,” – Community stakeholder.
INCONCLUSIVE is the Memorandum of Understanding, MoU, as at the time of this report which should guide the activities of Sterling Oil Exploration and Energy Production Company Limited, SEEPCO, in host communities in Eastern Obolo LGA, Akwa Ibom State.
Several assertions by stakeholders of Iko community, Atabrikang I, Obianga, Ikonta, Okoroinyong, Iwofe, Egwenwe, Amazaaba, Emero-oke, all in Eastern Obolo LGA, point to this fact.
Environmental experts view this as abuse of contract process which a duly signed MoU should have followed an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) report before commencement of any kind of work by the Company in the area.
“It is wrong for any Oil Company to begin any activity without EIA report and MoU duly signed. EIA is one of the tools required before commencement of any site project. Existing ones requires periodic review to meet with the reality of a particular place as it concerns its environment.” Mr. Macaulay Nyoho, Environmental expert said.
The discrepancies surrounding the Status Of EIA, MoU of Sterling Oil with Eastern Obolo LGA, the host community reveals the environmental flaws committed by the Company.
According to a crown Chief of the area who wants his name not mentioned said the stakeholders condemned a previous EIA report by SEEPCO, alleging it was an obsolete one used by Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria (SPDC) before they bought over that old asset.
“There was a previous EIA conducted by the Company. We had to condemn that one because it used an old one by Shell company. After the visit of Senate Committee on Petroleum Resources (Upstream), the EIA contract was later given to Senate Committee on Petroleum Resources (Upstream) headed by Sen. Bassey Albert, representing Akwa Ibom North-East District.
“As at now, the only MoU we have is for Civil works and Rig works. We were expecting another MoU on drilling which will be the Cluster MoU for actual production work and will be the last MoU,” the crown Chief said.
The inconsistency testimonials about the state of MoU and EIA conduct by Sterling Oil which is already operating in the communities make the substandard environmental practices of the Company clearer despite established environmental laws to guide operations of Oil Companies.
Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) Act, Cap E12, Lfn 2004, Section 2 (1): requires an assessment of public or private projects likely to have a significant (negative) impact on the environment. Section 60 creates a legal liability for contravention of any provision.
An Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) is an assessment of the potential impacts whether positive or negative, of a proposed project on the natural environment. The E.I.A Act, as it is informally called, deals with the considerations of environmental impact in respect of public and private projects.
Also, the National Environmental Standards And Regulation Enforcement Agency (NESREA) Act 2007, Section 7 provides authority to ensure compliance with environmental laws, local and international, on environmental sanitation and pollution prevention and control through monitory and regulatory measures.
The Village Head/Clan Head of Iko Town in Eastern Obolo LGA, HH CH (Capt) Eteidung Isaiah Thomas Okonko spoke on the EIA and MoU status of the Company.
“Initially, when the Company came in 2017, they agreed on Cluster MoU which is an agreement with respective Communities in Eastern Obolo LGA which Iko Town is one of the Communities but external influences wanted to take their minds away from it.
“We observed that since the Company (SEEPCO) came into the community in 2017, they have not been doing anything. But in 2020 we observed that they started operation and we said no, you can not come into our community and not talk or negotiate with the community people. We started protest. You may have heard of a demonstration we carried out in 2020 which lasted for months and almost created crisis. It was a protest by the community against the company.
“After the demonstration, the Company agreed to enter into an MoU with us.”
A Community source who pleaded anonymity said, “going by what is happening today, I will say that Iko community had issues initially when it was as if Sterling Global (SEEPCO) was not going to enter into an agreement with us by Cluster arrangement but to have a Central MoU which we did not agree. But there is an agreement now by the Company for an MoU with the community. That is by Cluster arrangement.”
The Youth Leader of Eastern Obolo LGA, Samuel Gogo Adasi have this to say about the MoU:
“Even the MoU, EIA is still in progress since they have not started production aside minor intervention and ongoing structural construction at site.”
Effort to speak with the Company’s source proved abortive as FOIA Request to both email and hardcopy letter to the Corporate Office were not given replies. Calls and text messages to the Base Manager of SEEPCO in Iko Town, Eastern Obolo LGA to further seek Company’s side of the story was rebuffed with no replies.
Meanwhile, the Ministry of Justice, Akwa Ibom State in its response letter dated 9th February, 2022 and signed by Bar. (Mrs) Mfonobong Udo-Inyang for the Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice, said that the information solicited for can not be disclosed as FOIA is inapplicable in the State as of date. And account of monies paid by oil companies as revenue to State, at any period, can only be released to NEITI.
A member of the General MoU Committee who pleaded anonymity said EIA was conducted last year, 2021. A year after SEEPCO commenced operation in the area. On the status of MoU, the source said the Committee in still on it.
“Yes! EIA was conducted and I was part of it last year. The areas there were concerns were corrected. For the MoU, the drafting Committee is on it.”
Some community members further revealed the inconclusive status of the EIA and the GMoU which SEEPCO has ignored, placing the cart before the horse and proceeded with activities.
“We have not signed any GMoU. We are waiting for the implementation of the Petroleum Industry Act (PIA) 2021. What we did was the EIA and the drilling MoU until their first oil. This is when we will now sit and sign a GMoU with them.
“EIA was concluded and public hearing was done in Uyo, the State capital, but there were issues we raised concerning the EIA. There were issues of environmental degradation and pollution. The Ministry of Environment saw with us and they asked them to address those issues with us.
“Up till now, the EIA statement has not been released. Most of the things they were told to do, they did not do them. That is why, recently when they came out with another workshop for seismic data gathering for another oil exploration. We told them, you are not done with the other one by bringing up a EIA statement, now you want to commence another EIA,” Chairman of the Central Local Committee, Dr. Charles Mbong further revealed.
Iko Rich Wells with Poor people
“According to the forecast of SEEPCO, an oil well has the potential of producing 1000 barrels a day,” Clan Head of Iko, HH CH (Capt) Eteidung Isaiah Thomas Okonko revealed.
Going by this claim, it therefore means for over 70 Oil wells and more discovered in Iko Community alone in Eastern Obolo LGA, worth billions of Naira from crude resource that will be taken out from Iko community in a day.
By current exchange rate as at the moment of this report, live interactive chart of West Texas Intermediate (WTI or NYMEX) crude oil prices per barrel as of January 31, 2022 was $88.15 per barrel.
If 1 barrel = 88.15 USD.
Then 1 Dollar = ₦415.26 (CBN exchange rate price as at January 31 2022).
Naira worth of 1 barrel will be $88.15 × ₦415.26 = ₦36,605.17.
And for one Oil Well, ₦36,605.17 × 1000 barrels = ₦36,605,169m/day.
This therefore means for over 70 Oil wells discovered in Iko Community alone in Eastern Obolo LGA and more are still being discovered, Billions of Naira worth of Crude will be taken out from Iko community in a day.
Going by the 70 Oil Wells already discovered, the worth of value of Crude in Naira will be at ₦2,562,361,830B/d of drilling activities of SEEPCO in Iko Community of Eastern Obolo LGA in Akwa Ibom State. By simple arithmetic, a dollar value at current CBN exchange rate and the value of 1barrel of Crude in USD calculated as at press time above sums up Iko wealth per day to approximately, One Oil well = ₦36,605,169m/day × 70 (Oil Wells) = ₦2,562,361,830B/d.
Few Foot Prints of SPDC, SEEPCO in Eastern Obolo
Current condition of communities in Eastern Obolo LGA is that of rape and devastated environment from rash operation of Oil giants over the years.
Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria (SPDC) Operated in the area between the 80s/90s and left a spill incurred by SEEPCO.
“Shell drilled Oil for so many years in our Communities far back in the 80s. Later we were annoyed that we only see them drilling Oil without positive impacts in the community.
“When our roofs, farms, water bodies and environment were destroyed, we stood up to ask shell why?
“They brought security men, Nigerian Police and shot our sons, burn down houses with corpses of our people who died out of environmental hazards and were embalmed locally at home,” Clan Head of Iko Community, HH CH (Capt) Eteidung Isaiah Thomas Okonko further explained.
He said the carnage took place between 1983/84, 39 years now, as there were no hospitals within the Community or good roads to take the sick out for treatment and to embalm the dead.
Today, not much has been achieved in the aspect of development and environmental protection.
According to Iko Clan Head, part of what Iko Community term ‘Legacy Projects’ in their Cluster MoU, is to clear the environmental mess by SEEPCO which is a liability left by Shell Company which they inherited.
“We made ‘Legacy Projects’ part of re-entering projects. These include; installation of transformers, provision of school desks, maintenance of Primary Healthcare Centre, renovation of royal palace. They have not completed these reentering projects but still on it.
“SEEPCO has started minor interventions in Health Centre at Iko Town. They promised to construct 2000 desks for our schools in OML 13 communities. Some have started arriving with inscriptions ‘sponsored by Sterling Global/NPDC. There are seven transformers on ground but not installed. Also, they are parching the road we asked them not to ply again.”
The Youth of Eastern Obolo recently protested over the dilapidated ‘Iko- Okorombogho-Okoroette-Okoroinyong-Akpaden’ road, the only access road to the LGA which was worsened by the plying of heavy vehicles of SEEPCO since commencement of their operations in 2020.
“The facelift to the Primary Healthcare Centre should not only be the structure but also the equipment and facilities as it was completely dilapidated. The nets were outdated and mattresses were eaten up by rats. There are no drugs, everything is just bad. So, the company only handled the physical structure of the health facility,” Dr. Charles Mbong said.
During the intense Covid-19 period, the Community stakeholders said they were able to secure Covid-19 palliatives, grants worth ₦100,000 each for women across the Local Government to advance their trades.
According to them, the grant was to cushion the effect of ground clearing work of the Company which destroyed a lot of natural habitats like the mangroves where the women hunted crabs, periwinkles and other seafoods for their livelihood.
“Their occupation was greatly affected. So, we gave them each ₦100,000 to buy fish, crayfish hand start selling,” Dr. Charles Mbong submitted.
… Community Self Help
The Clan Head of Iko explained how he has been utilising community efforts in the area of development before SEEPCO’s few interventions.
“I constructed 1000 desks, 600 for the three sections of the community, Okoroetor, Ataessien and Akprikpe axis. Before the desks arrived, the children in Primary and Secondary Schools were sitting on the floor for lessons.
“When the transformer in the area was vandalized, we reinstated it and bought ormoc cable, poles, grass cutting machines to the two schools we have, Iko Community Secondary School and the Government Secondary School, Iko Town. We have also repaired our Corper’s lodge with burglary proof.
“Also, since I assume office as the Village Head, it is the community that pays the light bills not individuals.
“Also in Schools, we do not have teachers. The community pays outside teachers to teach the children.”
Going by the worth of resources drawn from Iko community and other communities in Eastern Obolo, stakeholders say the few development in the area is not commensurate.
The Iko Clan Head, HH CH (Capt) Eteidung Isaiah Thomas Okonko said, “The volume of oil drilled in Iko is not commensurate with projects and development in the area. I have never seen a community with so much wells of oil within it. Others that I have been privileged to witness in all my 14 years as an oil worker, are in mangroves in other states.”
He said the community only source of electricity is from Port Harcourt Electricity Distribution Company, PHED, and supply is very poor.
“So, you can see, the impact of Oil is directly on the people. The Company suppose to supply light to the people from their base station directly. We don’t have light here except NEPA brings light which is very rare.”
The Executive Chairman Eastern Obolo LGA, Hon Abraham Odion said the major challenge is the training of the youth so they can fit into positions available in the Company when drilling will commence in earnest.
“The only Challenge we have is calling the attention of the Company to train our youth so when they finally move in full swing, our youth can be employed and engaged favourably.”
He said insecurity is also a challenge which the Company should join force to beef up security in the area.
The challenge of spillages in the area was disclosed by a youth source.
“We have suffered oil spill since we were very small. It has affected our sources of drinking water. Even water from our boreholes is brownish in colour.
“It has affected our aquatic lives. Most of our fishes have gone extinct. Our seafoods including periwinkles, crabs, prawns, oyster, Octopus locally called ‘Obrikosok’ and ‘Ajitlulut’ fresh fish, are now scare which used to make rich our local soup called ‘Grogro soup.’ They are no longer much and you can not find them come ashore anymore,” Samuel Adasi, Youth Leader of Eastern Obolo LGA lamented.
Sterling’s delay tactics
Community stakeholders say SEEPCO is slow in keeping its part of agreement.
“We are the people living in these communities and feel the impact of this exploration which needs urgent attention. We are not asking the Company not to know the Government. They neglected the people up till now. Look at this road (internal road in Iko Community), if not NDDC, Iko would not have feeder roads. The one that leads to Eastern Obolo LGA was done by Shell company, then, while that of Atabrikang I and II was done by NDDC and completed by Sterling Global (SEEPCO).
“They want to do something according to the Cluster MoU but they are sluggish. The problem now is delay on the part of the Company,” Clan Head of Iko, HH CH (Capt) Eteidung Isaiah Thomas Okonko said.
The Village Head of Emere-oke II, Eastern Obolo LGA, Ayagwung Joshua Matthew (Regen) Okama-elect, said he suspected the Company trying to play smart on the people.
“Infact, from the information getting to us, they are even lifting Crude Oil from Iko town.
“My brother told me that late 2021, they saw an escort vehicle about five Hilux vans and five tankers came into the community. He said even when the youth said they should be stopped, Naval officers, soldiers and the rest of security personnel accompanying the entourage scared the people away from the road.”
More findings have strengthened the claims that SEEPCO may not be transparent with their dealings in the area with the unnecessary excuses they tender on fulfilling their obligations.
According to the Paramount Ruler of Eastern Obolo LGA, HRM Rt. Hon. Chief Harry J. Etetor (ILILE X1)
“About last month, we heard that they lifted Crude for testing. At this point you can’t demand much from them because as we speak, they have not signed the MoU.”
Another Chief in the area who pleaded anonymity said, “Is what I have been asking myself. In the course of taking quantity for test, they can do small business. If it is just for testing, it will be a small quantity not a tankful of crude taken out of the community. So, we can’t stop them. Even if you stop them, what will you do with the crude. They have authority in the area to do their work and we won’t interfere.
“The only time we will raise eye-brow is when they will think they are fooling us by saying they are through with a particular rig which is up to five or six Oil wells, and still want to take Crude for testing. When they come back to take Oil from the same rig for testing is when we will say no.”
Another Community stakeholder, Dr. Charles Mbong said, “We are not satisfied at all, at all. In fact, from the onset we asked questions why of all exploration Company, they asked Sterling to come and do exploration in Eastern Obolo. Because we know Indians are people who cut-corners. We know they do substandard things. We were assured they were the only company to do the business as IOCs are packing up from Nigeria and Shell selling off their assets.
“We are not satisfied because most of the things tabled before them have not been done. Like the percentage of community workers and their welfare have not been considered by this company. We are asking them to do more but they are lagging behind in their Corporate Social Responsibility.”
The relocation delay of the people of Ikonta-Obianga, who are fishers, to a new location due to SEEPCO’s petrochemical and fertilizer plant in the area, taking over 1000 hectares of the community land, is attributed to the Company.
Some indigenes alleged that the compensation paid to the fishers at Lagos fishing settlement was not commensurate.
“We know how much was paid to the fishers at Lagos fishing settlement as compensation. It was quite small compared to the damages in the area,” Paramount Ruler of Eastern Obolo LGA, HRM Rt. Hon. (Chief) Harry J. Etetor (ILILE XI) lamented.
Another community source attributed the relocation delay of Ikonta-Obianga to SEEPCO’s non-execution of their commitment in making the new location habitable for the fishers.
“Lagos fishing settlement’s compensation was made through the State Ministry of Lands and Water Resources by carrying out enumeration, Community did their enumeration and State Government did. The leaders of Ikonta-Obianga community worked out modalities to ensure that everyone was paid.
“Why they have not moved is not because the amount was not commensurate but because Sterling Oil has not provided an alternative location for them. Which must be identified, cleared up, sand-filled and compacted to make it habitable. We even asked for further embarkment work so the place will not be swept off by ocean surge.
“But as we speak, they have not made the place ready for the people to relocate. It is not the fault of the Local Committee or the Community but the fault of the investors,” Dr. Charles Mbong said.
“Why they want to take our lands” – Eastern Obolo Youth raises alarm
“If you take a look at the remapping, most of the places they claim is in ONNA are in Eastern Obolo LGA. How can the state suddenly deny people of Eastern Obolo of their heritage. Like now, if the remapping should be, my Certificate of Origin which authenticates my origin and identity as an Eastern Obolo man will be changed. How can I speak my language in a strange land?” – Eastern Obolo youth cries out.
Ilima Obolo, a socio-cultural organization of Eastern Obolo LGA recently in an organised press conference raised alarm over the political manipulation to seize their lands through remapping plan of the State Government.
The youth of Eastern Obolo expressed disappointment over the State Government plan which might be unconnected to the entitlement benefits of oil producing communities captured in the Petroleum Industry Act assented by the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Muhammadu Buhari.
“The essence of the remapping is so that Esit Eket will have access to the Atlantic ocean through Ibeno; Eket will have access to the Atlantic ocean through Ibeno; and ONNA will have access to the Atlantic ocean through Ibeno and Eastern Obolo LGAs. Mkpat Enin LGA will have access to the Atlantic ocean through Eastern Obolo; and Ikot Abasi LGA will have access to the Atlantic ocean through Eastern Obolo LGA. Meaning that most communities of Eastern Obolo LGA will be ceded to about three LGAs of the State,” Youth Leader of Eastern Obolo, Samuel Gogo Adasi lamented.
Another youth of the area, Magnus Richard Jessy said, the State Government did not make an Eastern Obolo person part of the team for aerial mapping of the State. He wondered how effective the exercise will be if people who know the ancient landmarks of their localities are not part of the team.
“How can outsiders determine our natural boundaries. There is need to take our elders in the respective communities to be part of the team to determine our ancient boundaries.
“If you take a look at the remapping, most of the places they claim is in ONNA are in Eastern Obolo LGA. How can the state suddenly deny people of Eastern Obolo of their heritage. Like now, if the remapping should be, my Certificate of Origin which authenticates my origin and identity as an Eastern Obolo man will be changed. How can I speak my language in a strange land?”
The Village head of Emere-oke II, Ayagwung Joshua Matthew (Regen) Okama – elect said the State Government’s move to remap the State was the more reason the youth of Eastern Obolo agitated for the preservation of their ancient and territorial landmarks by taking the State Government, Surveyor General and State House of Assembly to court.
Findings show poor communication gap between the Company and the host communities despite the community interface committees set up to serve as an intermediary for the people.
The existence of these Committees may further worsened the plight of poor communication with community members, deepening social class status in these communities.
“You know our people, the State Government came in and set up a Committee led by Dr. Charles Mbong. This Committee interfaces with the people, Government and the Company. So, you can see, the story they tell us is what we take. They don’t allow the Company to come to us anymore,” The Village head of Emere-oke II, Ayagwung Joshua Matthew (Regen) Okama – elect explained.
The Chairman of the Central Local Committee, Dr. Charles Mbong said of Sterling Oil throughout last year has not organised any community engagement with the Local Committees.
“My Committee is determined once the GMoU is signed for Sterling Oil, we suppose to have quarterly interface with the Company. Now, the interface is abandoned and they do not meet with the people or do anything.
“For the whole of of last year, we did not hold even one meeting. We just send them a mail this year on the matter.
“We have told them that by the end of this 1st quarter, if they don’t hold meeting with us, the Community is going to shut down their operations in the area. This is the language they understand. They need force. We have been very, very lenient with them,” Dr. Charles Mbong said.
While some stakeholders claimed that the Company is at the structural level of construction and has not commenced drilling, others are of the opinion that this Company have been lifting Oil secretly from the area.
“We were told about the lifting of crude from the facility for testing. That was the speculation though not substantiated yet,” Chairman of Central Local Committee, Dr. Charles Mbong said.
KORRA OBIDI BREAKS DOWN,TELLS FANS TO BE EMPATHETIC AND KIND
The famous Nigerian Dancer, Korra Obidi has finally opened up about the recent rumour of her marriage crashing down immediately after giving birth to a new born on March 1, 2022.
In her live video, earlier today, the mother of two, breaks down in tears telling fans to be empathic and kind with words to her as she is going through a difficult time and needs to put up courage for her kids.
She admitted that she has erred by pretending to have a perfect marriage and apologized to her fans.
She pleaded with her fans to be patient, that in time, when she is strong enough and healed, she will tell her own side of the story.
Few shots from Korra’s teary video
She said the reason of her silence was not to speak out of anger or revenge as she does not want to speak ill about her husband, Dr. Justin Dean or offend her family as internet never forgets.
Korra Obidi however thanked her fans for the support as they are the reason she is able to act strong and happy for her girls.
She confessed of missing her family back in Nigeria and being the only one in America who is taking care of her newborn and two-year toddler at a trying time as this.
Meanwhile, internet has been awashed with opinions of people concerning the divorce gist by Korra’s husband coming out to announce on internet just few days after having a home-birth with the wife, Korra.
Many have had reasons to condemn the Husband and some have what to say concerning the wife.
But from Korra’s recent video, breaking the silence, has given the anxious fans a glimpse of what she has been going through, gaining more sympathy and affection from fans.
Many too commend her maturity for not joining the husband to spill the milk on internet.
The number of aspirants vying for the 26 seats in the Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly keep increasing by the day as preparations are on top gear for 2023 elections.
The many faces running for these 26 seats across the 31 Local Government Areas of the State will either have to battle with incumbent Lawmakers of these areas who are vying for a second term or more; or outsmart other contestants in the race to emerge in areas without a sitting member seeking for another term.
Currently, about 14 Lawmakers have done their two terms in the State Assembly and may not indicate further interest to contest for State Assembly due to certain political arrangements in their respective localities. These include; Uruan, Ibesikpo, Etinan, Nsit Atai, Ikot Abasi/Eastern Obolo, Okobo, Oron/Udunguko, Orukanam, Ibeno/Esit Eket, Eket, Uruefong/Oruko, Ini, ONNA, and Ikot Ekpene/Obot Akara.
But there is a speculation that the current Ibeno Esit Eket Lawmaker, Rt. Hon. Usoro Akpanusoh is seeking for a third term in the 8th Assembly.
Current Lawmakers who have done their first term and may be seeking for a second term include; Hon. Godwin Ekpo (Ibiono); Hon Asuquo Nana (Ikono); Hon Otobong Bob (Nsit Ubium); Hon Ifiok Udoh (Nsit Ibom); Hon Charity Ido (Ukanafun); Hon Victor Ekwere (Mkpat Enin); Hon Effiong Johnson (Mbo); Hon Mfon Idung (Etim Ekpo/Ika); Hon Esse Umoh (Essien Udim); Hon. Udeme Otong (Abak); and Hon Kufreabasi Edidem (Itu).
The current Lawmaker for Uyo, Hon Anietie Eka is said not to be interested in a second term.
In 2023 for UYO STATE CONSTITUENCY, the likes of Elder Ndanti Ekuh from Ikono clan in Uyo LGA, a media practitioner and current SA to the Governor for Research and Documentation said he is in the race to give the people of Uyo a robust and effective representation befitting of a State Capital. Others contesting from the area too are; Ubong Ubong Benjamin, Etiene Ukpong, Idongesit Imo and Aniedi Isong. Sources from the area said zoning favours Elder Ndanti Ekuh and Ubong Ubong Benjamin who are from Ikono clan in Uyo LGA.
In NSIT ATAI STATE CONSTITUENCY, three aspirants are prominent including the sitting Chairperson of the LG, Hon. Emem Ibanga. But micro zoning in the area seem to favour two aspirants, Prince Aniefiok Attah and Mr. Ndu Davis who are from Ibedu group of villages leaving the incumbent Chairperson who is from Ndisiak in Afaha clan. But other political calculators in the area said that Akwa Ibom Law 2000 validates zoning to favour Ndisiak as one of the two additional clans created in Nsit Atai LGA making five clans.
This political faction argues that out of the five clans created in the State Law 2000, only Ndisiak clan has not tested the State Assembly seat. Essien Itiaba Clan had their share through Rt. Hon Emmanuel Ekpenyong; Ibedu Clan had thiers through Obong Asuquo Darby; Afaha Clan had their own through the representation of Hon. Sarah Elijah while Ibiaikot Clan has theirs through the incumbent who is concluding the second term ever in the area, Rt. Hon Mark Esset.
In another view, Nsit Atai politicians say that there are only three recognisable group of villages in the area which are; Afaha, Ibiaikot and Ibedu, which political seats rotates. They said it is the turn of Ibedu because Ndisiak which is under Afaha Clan had their turn through Hon. Sarah Elijah. They added that after Ibiaikot Clan which is currently taking their turn in the State Assembly, it will be Ibedu Clan before Afaha and it continues so.
ABAK has it State Assembly seat zoned to Abak Urban bloc which the incumbent Lawmaker, Hon. Udeme Otong is from and is seeking a second term. Another aspirant from Abak Urban bloc is Mma Ekemini Umoh while Mr. Monday Dan from Eastern Annang bloc is unfavoured by micro-zoning in the area. Eastern Annang bloc had their fair share through the two term representation of Rt. Hon. Friday Iwok which is why political gladiators in the area stand for fairness and encouraged Abak Urban aspirants in the 2023 race.
URUAN in 2023 will have a representative in the likes of any of the following; Hon Desmond Etim, Dr. Itorobong Francis Etim, Mr. Emmanuel Nicholas alias Whyte Bom Bom and Jude Effiong. However, the State Assembly seat is zoned to Central Uruan and any of these aspirants who are from the area will emerge the voice for Uruan people.
In IBIONO IBOM, the incumbent lawmaker, Hon. Godwin Ekpo who is from Ward 10, Ibiono Ibom Central is interested for a second term. Also, SA to Governor on Project Monitoring, Mr. Moses Essien from Ward 9, still in Ibiono Ibom Central is vying for the same State House of Assembly seat. Political stakeholders in the area opined that Lawmakers are often given the leverage of two-terms to solidify democratic gains initiated by each representative per time in the area. So, they support the second term quest of the incumbent.
The ORUKANAM seat is zoned to Ibesit-Akparakwa for the political reason that since the creation of the Local Government nearly 30 years, the zone has never tasted leadership in the State Assembly. Ndot-Ikot Okoro zone is said to have produced representatives in the persons of Sunday Okoko and Iboro Udom and can’t afford to aspire for the office in 2023. Meanwhile, Mr. Sampson Idiong who is Governor’s in-law from Ndot-Ikot Okoro is vying for the State Assembly seat. Others vying for State Assembly seat from the area are from Ibesit Ekparakwa axis and they are; Mr. Nsidibe Essien and Mr. Akpabong Udoekpo.
ITU has the incumbent member, Hon. Kufreabasi Edidem indicating interest for a second term while another aspirant from Oku-Iboko axis, Engr Bobby Ekanem also vying for the seat. Political pundits in the area say it is Oku-Iboko turn to produce House of Assembly member as West-Itam has gotten its share with a four-year term by the former Lawmaker, Hon. Idongesit Ituen plus another four years with the incumbent still from the axis, completing their two-terms.
ESSIEN UDIM which is divided into two blocs; Udim and Essien blocs, has the incumbent Lawmaker, Hon Esse Umoh from Udim bloc. Other aspirants from the area include; Prince Ukpong Akapbio still from Udim bloc and Barr Imowo Okpokpo who is from Essien Annang bloc. Another aspirant from the area is Unwana Ibekwe. Political calculation in the area shows that zoning favours Essien Annang bloc.
For ETINAN, there are; Barr Paul Judge, Mr. Udo Jonathan Ekwere, Mr Pius Emmanuel John, Idongesit Arthur, Ebong Essien and others who are all from Southern Iman which zoning favours. No aspirant is from Northern Iman as the current representative of the area is from Northern Iman.
In ONNA, zoning is said to favour Nung Ndem Clan as the incumbent is from Awa Clan. Meanwhile, Barr Akwaowo Ikot, Sammy Umofia, Udo Ituen are said to be from Nung Ndem Clan. Others who are from Awa axis (according to political stakeholders in the area) have linkages to the Governor and intentions is to scuttle the zoning arrangement in the area. They include; Aniekan William, Etini Paul and Imoh Eka.
IBESIKPO has Pastor Nnamso Lyons, Lady Andino Robson, Iniobong Ekpenyong, Itoro Umoh, Ubong Mkpong, Tony Usenekong, Idong Ukpong, and Imo Attah and are all from Asutan ward 1, where the seat is zoned to.
All the aspirants in respective State Constituencies may not be captured in the list here as the number keeps increasing by the day and the queue gets longer.
“Sterling Global took 1000 hectares of our mangrove for its Petrochemical Chemical plant and even push forward for more 700 hectares. Now they want to pay compensation and relocate our people who have stayed for 137 years to another place. The Governor suggested that the people of Ikonta-Obianga be relocated to ONNA LGA where they have a massive land. How will our people be taken to a different land?
“When Sterling Global came to Ikonta-Obianga, they used the Committee to oppress the people. The place they vacated the fishermen, they only paid peanut. It is not everybody who will refuse to take money and do the right thing.
“We know after payment of the compensation, the land will be automatically Company’s land. So that anytime the Company leaves, Government will take over our land for their business and our people will be displaced for ever.” – Ayagwung Joshua Matthew (Regent) Okama-Elect, Village Head Emere-oke II, Eastern Obolo LGA.
SEEPCO, Sterling Oil Exploration and Energy Production Company Limited presence in Akwa Ibom State has raised more tension and fear amongst host communities compared to past exploration activities of Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria (SPDC) in the area.
The Company’s web of confusion on the locals is as a result of host communities’ vulnerability caused by poverty. The Company sees this as an added advantage to turn the people against themselves. State Government and few elites scramble for the spoils at the expense of the majority of the people.
Sterling Oil, SEEPCO
Sterling Oil Exploration and Energy Production Company Limited (SEEPCO) is the Financing and Technical Services provider developing an old Oil Mining Lease (OML) 13 on behalf of Nigerian Petroleum Development Company, (NPDC). The asset was formerly operated by Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria (SPDC).
The deal is between SEEPCO and NPDC, the exploration and production arm of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) is worth $3.15 billion for the Financing and Technical Services Agreement (FTSA) of the oil asset located in the eastern axis of the Niger Delta covering a total area of 1987km². The FTSA is for a period of 15 years and the $3.15 billion ceiling funding would be provided by SEEPCO with a 10-year capital investment period and five years for cost recovery.
The Federal Government is expected to make $10.2 billion in royalties and taxes while the NNPC would earn over $5 billion after payment of the entire financing obligation.
OML 13 acreage has over 926 million stock tank barrels (mmstb) and 5.24 trillion cubic feet (tcf) respectively of oil and gas reserves.
First oil of about 7,900bpd was expected from the project by 1st April, 2020, while production is expected to peak at 94,000bpd and 542mmscfd within four years.
According to the 2018 annual report of the Nigerian Upstream Petroleum Regulatory Commission (former Department of Petroleum Resources), shows that NPDC holds 100% equity distribution of OML 13 license which was granted on December 20, 2016, to expire on December 19, 2036, twenty (20) years period.
SEEPCO, has been active in Nigeria’s oil and gas industry since 2006 and has made a name, not for good as it concerns their operations in host communities in the Niger Delta region of the country.
SEEPCO, on October 19, 2015 was given a Court sanction to pay National Oil Spill Detection and Response Agency, NOSDRA, a fine worth N68m for failure to report a spill that occurred on March, 2011 at Okwuibome location C (OPL 280), Asaba, Delta State.
Also, last year, SPEECO’s operational dealings with Agge Federated Communities of Kou Kingdom of Bayelsa and Delta States went sour over the Company’s delay tactics in implementing their terms in the Global Memorandum of Understanding (GMoU) entered with the Communities on July 30, 2014.
Nevertheless, in ONNA LGA, footprint of Sterling Oil, SEEPCO, is found in Ibotio Community where their operational site is located.
The people of this community decried “wanton” destruction of their farmlands and the sand-filling of their streams by this Company.
The village head of Ukpana, ONNA LGA, Eteidung Goodnews Bassey Ranzi lamented that the company trespassed on their land without due consultation or proper conduct of EIA.
The people of Ukpana Community in ONNA have pushed for ₦177 billion worth of compensation from Sterling Global Oil Limited for the “wanton” destruction of their lands, properties and to appease the deads whose graves have been destroyed.
SEEPCO, an offshoot of Sandesara Group in India is alleged to be owned by ‘fugitive brothers’ Nitin and Chetan Sandesara. They operate in six (6) continents and several Countries including; China, Japan, South East Asia, Europe, Middle East, India and USA, Nigeria, etc.
Their escape to Nigeria from their Country, India, on the allegation of bank-fraud has made sane minds worried of their tie with the Nigerian Government.
Sterling Global Oil Limited also known as SEEPCO has a registration number of 648962 with Corporate Affairs Commission of Nigeria.
The Board is expected to have seven (7) Officers. One (1) member is missing in the list. Only six active members’ data are displayed on CAC portal. But without specific email addresses.
Amongst the active six (6) Officers, three (3) perform the same role as ‘Directors’ with similar names.
Two are Americans, residents of United States, Patel Dakshay and Patel Trupti. But Patel Devak is an Indian. The three are Directors of the Company with the same address, 4595 Sandesara Drive, Prince George V.A 23875 Prince, except Patel Devak, with service address at Plot 205, Abiola Segun Ajayi Street, off Mury Okunola Street, V/Island, Lagos State, which is the headquarters’ address of SEEPCO in Lagos.
Dakshay and Trupti have the same date of appointments, 08 March 2006; and were born 1959 and 1962 respectively. Devak was born July 1991 and was appointed 05 March 2020.
The last three (3) Officers of the six have addresses in Lagos. Mabs and Limited (N/A); and another with no name, all have “correspondance” address at 6, Jubilee Road along CMD, Shangisha Lagos. The last Officer simply identified as ‘MabsandCompany Limited NULL,’ address is just Yaba Lagos.
These last three have peculiarities of no Dates of Birth, Nigerians living in Nigeria, similar names, Mabs and Company Limited, except one with no identity. Two play the role as Company Secretaries except one with a role of Deponent. Period of Appointment of two are same except dates, 05/04 June 2007; while the one identified as ‘MabsandCompany Limited NULL’ appointment date is nil.
One is tempted to say few individuals are in charge of Sterling Oil which include the Indian Brothers and a Nigerian as a critical shareholder behind the scene, all duplicating roles. Person of Significant Control for the Company is not disclosed.
Hidden under cover is a Nigerian face behind ‘Mabs and Limited (N/A)’ and ‘Mabsand Company Limited NULL,’ as the firm is not on CAC register.
SEEPCO operates on OML 13 in Iko, Elekpon, Akpabom and Atabrikang Communities of Eastern Obolo LGA. OML 13 operators are also at Uquo Marginal Field/Stubb Creek at Esit Eket and Unyenge, Mbo LGAs. In Ibeno LGA, SPEECO operates in Qua Iboe Marginal Field, Atabrikang II precisely, and ONNA LGA, all in Akwa Ibom State.
Allegation: AKSG cheats Community of ₦270m out of ₦400m compensation
Recently, Eastern Obolo LGA, Akwa Ibom State, tales of woes have been worsened, this time, not only by SEEPCO, but by the Akwa Ibom State Government through its Ministry of Lands and Water Resources headed by Pst Umo Eno.
The Traditional Rulers in Eastern Obolo LGA have accused the State Government of deducting ₦270m from the ₦400m compensation paid by SEEPCO to fishermen displaced from the Lagos fishing settlement at Ikonta-Obianga late last year.
Community stakeholders expressed dissatisfaction over the action which they described as gross misdeed at the expense of the community people who suffer the effect of Oil exploration in the area the more.
“There is a fishing settlement called Lagos fishing settlement at Ikonta-Obianga in Eastern Obolo which the Company gave ₦400m as compensation. But at the end, ₦130m was given to the communities while ₦270m pocketed by the State Government,” Paramount Ruler of Eastern Obolo LGA, HRM Rt. Hon. (Chief) Harry J. Etetor (ILILE XI) said.
The Royal Father further disclosed that another round of compensation will be paid for ecological damages by the Company to entire Eastern Obolo LGA worth the value of ₦3b.
He said any amount lower than the amount, the entire Eastern Obolo people will reject it.
“The value of damages was estimated to the tune of ₦3b but the Commissioner for Lands and Water Resources, Pst Umo Eno recommended a paltry ₦700m to the Governor who further reduced the amount to ₦500m.
“This time, the entire Eastern Obolo will not accept such injustice. We will never accept anything less than ₦3b,” the Paramount Ruler of Eastern Obolo LGA, HRM Rt. Hon. (Chief) Harry J. Etetor (ILILE XI) stressed.
Village Head of Emere-oke II, Ayagwung Joshua Matthew (Regen) Okama – elect in his reaction said,
“When Sterling Oil (SEEPCO) came to Ikonta-Obianga, they used the Local Committees to oppress the people. But it won’t be so in our own community to use the people against the people. The Company pay the elites and forget the people.
“The place they vacated the fishermen, they only paid peanut. It is not everybody who will refuse to take money and do the right thing. People who own the resources don’t even benefits from these resources.”
The Youth Leader of Eastern Obolo LGA, Samuel Gogo Adasi said this about the compensation process handled by the Ministry for Lands and Water Resources:
“The State government cheated the people. The compensation went through the Government. So, is the Government who cheated the people not the Company. The Company paid the money to the State Government who now negotiated with the people. Since the Government is not fair to us the people, we want the Company to deal with the people directly, not through the State Government anymore,” Samuel Gogo submitted.
However, this could not be independently verified by this reporter as all efforts to speak with the Akwa Ibom State Commissioner for Lands and Water Resources, Pst Umo Eno proved abortive. He did not keep to interview appointments given to The Crest Newspaper. Staffers at his office when a call was put across said he traveled out of the state. Further calls, text messages to personal aides to the Commissioner to facilitate an interaction with the Commissioner were ignored. However, Pst. Eno has been sighted at public gatherings consulting for his governorship ambition.
Further findings from The Crest Reporter revealed that, the Lagos fishing settlement is to be taken over by SEEPCO for its Petrochemical and Fertilizer production.
Meanwhile, on reaching out to the Community Liaison Officer (CLO) for Sterling oil Petrochemical and Fertilizer Plant, Sir Ghamalia Harry denied knowledge of the details of the compensation and referred this reporter to the Ministry of Lands and Water Resources who handled the compensation process.
Pst. Umo Eno who is the commissioner in this Ministry has refused to honour media appointment requested to get him speak on this.
To be continued!
This investigation is supported by Policy Alert with funding from Open Society Initiative for West Africa (OSIWA).
POLICY ALERT SUPPORTS FIVE JOURNALISTS ON EXTRACTIVE INVESTIGATION
Policy Alert, a Civil Society Organisation promoting economic and ecological justice in the Niger Delta, has awarded mini-grants totaling N1.25m to five investigative reporters in the Niger Delta region of Nigeria.
This was contained in the Press Statement signed on Tuesday by the Organisation’s Programme Lead on Energy, Extractives and Climate Justice, Mfon Gabriel.
According to him, “The #WetinWeGain Reports is the investigative journalism component of Policy Alert’s project, #WetinWeGain2 – Putting Citizens at the Centre of Beneficial Ownership and Contract Transparency Reforms in Nigeria’s Extractive Sector. The project seeks to popularise extractive sector data, particularly payments to government, beneficial ownership information and contract details. Although recent reforms in the extractive sector have huge potential for detecting and deterring corruption, plugging revenue leakages, and improving the benefits citizens derive from oil, gas and mineral resources, this can only happen where extractive data is effectively utilised by citizens and the media as tools for accountability and improved community beneficiation.”
He further said that in September 2021, Policy Alert had conducted series of training workshops on data journalism and extractive sector reporting for investigative reporters in the four states of the Niger Delta where the project is being implemented. After which, a pitch contest was organized from which five entries were competitively selected.
The winning entries came from Ann Godwin of The Guardian, Ekemini Simon of The Mail, Aiwerie Okungbowa of The Nation, Tony Esin of Comfort 95.1 fm, and Enwonoabasi Elisha of The Crest Newspaper.
According to Policy Alert, the journalists, drawn from the print, online and electronic media, are working in the four pilots of states of the project – Akwa Ibom, Cross River, Delta and Rivers – and will be developing reports focused on the pilot oil, gas, and mining assets being investigated under the project – OML13/14 (Akwa Ibom), Lafarge Holcim cement operations at Mfamosing (Cross River), OML 127/128 (Rivers), and OML 40 (Delta).
The funding is to support the research and publication of investigative stories under its #WetinWeGain2 project.
POLICY ALERT DEMANDS RIVERS STATE 2022 BUDGET PUBLIC
…COMMENDS ORS NIGER-DELTA STATES ON IMPROVED FISCAL POLICIES
Policy Alert has called on Rivers State Government to publish its 2022 approved budget and Budget Implementation Report (BIR) for 2021 to enhance fiscal transparency and budget tracking for the interest of the people.
The Civil Society Organisation (CSO), working to improve economic and ecological justice in the Niger Delta region, stated this on Monday, during a media chat on the reason River State Government should join its league of Niger Delta states to improve on budgeting and fiscal transparency.
In a press statement on behalf of Policy Alert, the Head of Communication and Stakeholder Engagement Officer, Nneka Luke-Ndumere said,
“We must note that this has been an unfortunate trend with Rivers State. The state ranked the least among the South-South States in the Subnational Budget Transparency Index 2020. It has also tailed behind other Niger Delta states in all the annual performance assessments for the States Fiscal Transparency, Accountability and Sustainability program-for-results (SFTAS) implemented by the federal government and the World Bank.”
The Organisation also called on the Government of Rivers State to make deliberate effort to reverse the narrative. Policy Alert worries that despite the boost of Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) of Rivers State, no willful efforts have been made to enhance transparency in the disbursement of such funds.
“It is a paradox that while Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers State has been leading the charge for subnational fiscal autonomy, the state under his watch has failed to put in place the necessary transparency and accountability safeguards to reduce the vulnerability of its public finance system to corruption and other governance risks.”
Policy Alerts commended the Governments of other Niger Delta States; Akwa Ibom, Cross River, Edo, Bayelsa, Ondo, Abia, Imo and Delta States for publishing both their 2022 approved budgets and 2021 full-year Budget Implementation Report (BIR). The CSO noted that it is only Rivers State amongst the Niger Delta States which has not published the two financial documents.
The Programme Officer, Energy Extractive and Climate Justice, Mr. Mfon Gabriel said Rivers State has not leveraged on the States Fiscal Transparency, Accountability and Sustainability Project which the Federal Government of Nigeria is in collaboration with the World Bank to give grants to 36 States to improve their public finance.
He said Policy Alert alongside other Organisations on fiscal policies have made concerted effort to reach out to relevant MDAs in Rivers State on the issue but they have not responded yet.
Policy Alert has relaunched its campaign on #OurBudgetOurMoney and introduced a new one #PublishedRiversBudget.
The Organisation enjoined Rivers State to emulate the other eight states of Niger Delta that have made their documents public for the good of the citizens. They said, it will engender understanding on how the people’s resources were managed in previous fiscal year and how it will be managed in the new fiscal year to reinforce trust in the governance.