1.1 The Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs recently forwarded an invitation letter to the Commission for the participation of the Commission in the rescheduled 5th National Council on Niger Delta that was held between the 12th and 15th of September, 2022 at Le Meridian Ibom Hotel and Golf Resort in Uyo, Akwa Ibom State.
2.1 The technical committee and the Council meetings were held between the 12th to 15th of September, 2022 and were attended by all the invited representatives of the nine Niger Delta states including the Deputy Governor of Ondo State, His Excellency Lucky Ayedatiwa among many other Dignitaries.
3.0 COMMUNIQUE THAT WERE ISSUED AT THE END OF THE 5TH MEETING OF THE NATIONAL COUNCIL ON NIGER DELTA
3.1 It is no longer news that the 5th meeting of the National Council on Niger Delta (NCND) was held at Ibom Icon Hotel and Golf Resort, Uyo, Akwa Ibom State on Thursday, 15th September, 2022. The Meeting was declared open by His Excellency, President Muhammadu Buhari, ably represented by the Honourable Minister, Federal Ministry of Environment, Mohammed H. Abdullahi. The theme of the Meeting was “Harnessing 21st Century Development Initiatives and Strategies for Greater Development Impacts in the Niger Delta Region”. In attendance were Members of Council drawn from the Nine (9) States of the Niger Delta Region, relevant Federal and States Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs), Representatives of Development Partners, Traditional Rulers, Host Communities of Oil and Gas, Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) and International Oil Companies (IOCs).
2. Preceding the Council Meeting, Two (2) Technical Committee Meetings were held. The first one took place between the 11th and the 13th of May, 2022 at the Monty Suites, Calabar, Cross River State . It must be noted that OSOPADEC Officers were not able attend this meeting because the Commission did not receive any invitation to that effect and the second meeting was held on the 12th-13th of September, 2022 at the Ibom Icon Hotel & Golf Resort, Uyo, Akwa Ibom State to which OSOPADEC was represented by 4 Senior Officers including the Director of Budget, Planning Research and Statistics, Prince Menukuro Olatunji Frank, Director Accounts, Pastor Ikuomola Vincent, Special Assistant to the Chairman on Political Matters, Pastor Tony Ajimuda and the Deputy Director Road quality Control, Pastor Aworetan Goke. I wish to stress that both meetings were preceded by a session of presentation on the essence and purpose of the Council meeting and the judicious utilization of public funds, adherence to extant rules/regulations for effective and efficient service delivery in the region respectively. The first and the second Technical Committee sessions were declared open by the Head of Service, Cross River State and the Deputy Governor of Akwa Ibom respectively.
3. The Report of the 4th NCND and the status of its implementation actions by the Ministry and Stakeholders were presented to Council and adopted. The Technical Committee sessions appraised Twenty-Three (23) memoranda altogether, two were stepped down while 21 (Twenty-one) approved and were presented to Council.
4. After extensive deliberations on the Report of the Technical Committee and the Memoranda presented, Council noted:
i. that strict adherence to the provisions of the Finance Act 2021, Public Service Rules (PSR), Public Procurement Act and other extant regulations of government aimed at ensuring service delivery and efficiency in Recruitment/Appointment, Discipline/Promotion, public procurement and expenditure are prerequisites for greater development impacts in the Niger Delta region;
ii. the need to foster collaboration, partnership and cooperation amongst all stakeholders in the Niger Delta region;
iii. the need to connect all survey activities within the region to the geodetic control established by the Office of the Surveyor General of the Federation for quality control and quality assurance to ensure uniformity of survey data in the region;
iv. the need for human capacity development programme to drive entrepreneurial skills for youths in the region;
v. the menace of water hyacinth/evasive water weeds and other bio-wastes and their prospects as resources for wealth creation through water hyacinth related businesses; and
vi. that to harness the 21st Century Development Initiatives in the Niger Delta region would require a change in approach and strategies. vii. the expressed commitment of the United Nations International Development Organisation (UNIDO) to support the Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs and the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) in their programmes to develop the region.
5. After due deliberations, Council urged:
i. the MNDA and the NDDC to engage relevant Stakeholders in the Gas Industry and canvass for the modification of the NLNG Train 7 Project design to accommodate the creation of a SouthSouth Gas Node;
ii. the MNDA to propose Executive bill to Federal Executive Council (FEC) to amend Section 103 and 104 of the PIA to facilitate the remittance of Gas Flare Penalty into a Trust Fund, for ease of administration;
iii. local and international investors operating in the region, as well as State Governments to submit viable proposals for more road projects geared at embracing the Executive Order 7 of 2019 on Road Infrastructure Development Scheme in the Niger Delta Region in line with the current Medium-Term Plan 2021- 2025 of the Federal Government;
iv. the MNDA, NDDC and the Nine (9) States in the Region to complement the Federal Ministry of Women Affairs on its programmes for rural women in the Niger Delta region such as Liquefied Petroleum Gas use, Economic Tree Planting 4 Programme, improved Agribusiness and financial inclusion to mitigate the adverse effect of climate change in the Niger Delta Region;
v. the MNDA and the Nine (9) States in the Region to evolve a policy framework for holistic stakeholder’s approach towards the conservation and protection of the Niger Delta rainforest, mangrove swamp and endangered flora and fauna species;
vi. the Nine (9) States in the Region to cooperate and commit to the implementation of the Uniform Addressing System Programme of the Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs;
vii. the Nine (9) States in the Region to prioritize investments and support for agriculture to encourage dry season farming through irrigation, modern farming methods, and access of arable lands to avert threats to food security;
viii. the MNDA and other relevant stakeholders to collaborate and develop a security framework for participatory incident reporting to strengthen rural-urban security in the Niger Delta Region; and
ix. the MNDA and the Nine (9) States in the Region to initiate a platform to facilitate the Organized Private Sector to establish modular refinery using the model of the Presidential Artisanal Gold Mining initiative.
6. Council approved:
a. the establishment of Medical Waste Incinerators and Thermal Desorption Units (TDU) by the Nine (9) States to facilitate treatments of hazardous medical and industrial wastes;
b. the establishment of pilot programmes for water hyacinth/evasive water weeds by the MNDA and NDDC in collaboration with Private sector in selected communities impacted by its proliferation;
c. the development of a regional policy to address the menace of black soot and other air pollution induced activities;
d. Council approved that the Ministry of Niger Delta (MNDA) and the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) should assist the Ondo State Government in the establishment of the Araromi Seaside Deep Sea Port at Olokola Free Trade Zone.
e. the establishment of Private sector driven Ferry Services in the riverine states to complement road transport;
f. the intervention of MNDA/NDDC and other IOCs in the Region in the provision of infrastructural facilities to the Port Harcourt International Trade Complex; and
g. that the next meeting of Council should be held in January 2023, at Delta State.
7. Council expressed profound appreciation to the President and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, President Muhammadu Buhari, for the commitment and determination towards the development of the Niger Delta Region. It also acknowledged the kind disposition of the Governor of Akwa Ibom State, Udom Gabriel Emmanuel, and the good people of Akwa Ibom State for their hospitality and support towards the success of the 5th Council Meeting.
4.0 PROJECTS THAT WERE APPROVED IN FAVOUR OF OSOPADEC AND ONDO STATE BY THE COUNCIL.
4.1 It is interesting to note once again that the Council approved the following projects in favour of the Commission and Ondo State.
• The Construction of the 51km Araromi seaside Akodo Lekki dual carriage road
• That the Ministry of Niger Delta (MNDA) and the Niger Deita Development Commission (NDDC) should assist the Ondo State Government in the establishment of the Araromi Seaside Deep Sea Port at Olokola Free Trade Zone.
• The implementation of the shoreline protection project at the Coastal Communities of Ayetoro and Awoye in Ilaje Local Government which was approved at the 2nd National Council on Niger Delta ref.NCND/02/2017/07
5.0 SUGGESTED ACTION PLAN FOR THE IMPLEMENTATION OF PROJECTS APPROVED IN FAVOUR OF OSOPADEC AND ONDO STATE BY THE COUNCIL.
5.1 As a follow up to the implementation of the above projects that were approved by the Council, there is need to step up efforts to ensure that the said projects are fully implemented by the Ministry of Niger Delta and the Niger Delta Commission (NDDC).
These efforts includes, encouraging the Governor and the Chairman of the Commission to be visiting or writing to these Agencies from time to time while the Director of Budget, Planning, Research and Statistics should also be getting in touch with these Agencies continuously.
In the same vein, OSOPADEC should also liaise with the Commissioner that would be representing Ondo State on the Board of NDDC, when the Board is eventually constituted.
6.1 It is heart warming to note that the 5th National Council Meeting of the Niger Delta was tremendously successful and no effort should be spared to ensure that relevant Officers attend the next meeting of the Council in January, 2023 by the grace of God as well as future meetings of the Council.
At this juncture, I wish to express my profound appreciation to the Chairman and the Secretary as well as other Officers for supporting our trip to the 5th Council meeting on Niger Delta.
Menukuro O. Frank, FCCA (UK), CPA (Canada)(Director Budget, Planning, Research & Statistics)