COMMUNITIES IN OGUTA LGA TO COMMENCE LITIGATION AGAINST THE NDDC FOR ABANDONED PROJECTS

Town hall meeting in Izombe community to discuss NDDC abandoned and unexecuted projects in their communities

Community leaders of Oguta local government of Imo state converged at a Town hall meeting in Izombe community to discuss some abandoned and unexecuted Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) projects assigned to their local government in the 2019 NDDC Budget.
The meeting which was held on Wednesday 19 October 2022, was part of a series of activities to strengthen civic and community actions against corruption in the NDDC sponsored by Social Development Integrated Centre, Social Action, and the MacArthur Foundation.

Chibundu Uchegbu listening as the President General of Izombe Community assures him that the community would put a petition to ensure that the undone project comes back to the community

Chairperson of the meeting, Mr Chibundu Uchegbu enlightened participants drawn from youth, men and women groups, and members of the press on the role of the NDDC in championing the development of the Niger Delta Region of which Imo is a member state. According to him, the NDDC has failed in its mandate of providing services that benefit the people of the region. He expressed regret that though provisions were made for projects to be executed in Oguta local government in the NDDC 2019, capital projects monitored by his team in December 2021 showed that most of the projects were never executed while a few were abandoned halfway. This realization informed the Town hall meeting; allowing members of the community to take action.

2 Basil Ejigini, itemizing the amount attached to each project that was not done in Oguta

Mr. Basil Ejigini a member of the 2019 NDDC projects monitoring team gave further details on the actual projects assigned to Oguta LGA. According to Basil, about N121, 750,000 was allocated to cater for five human development projects in the local government for the period under review. These projects include; Rehabilitation of 2 school blocks Trinity High School Oguta, the Provision of Solar Powered Street Light in Ndi-Ikwuegbu, the Construction of the Izombe Federal Medical Centre Annex, the Construction of the Health Centre in Ubi, and the Construction of Okonya/Justice Assieme Road.

These revelations prompted outcries from participants who confirmed that the communities mentioned are theirs but none of the projects had been executed in the community. They promised to convey enlarged meetings with all members of the community and consider possible actions that would be taken to ensure that what belongs to them comes to them unvaried. Although the community blamed the government for not including the community leaders when the funds were released for the project implementation, they insisted on taking action to curb the abnormalities.
Mr. Chibundu thanked all for their reception and informed them to get ready for the third stage of the campaign which is the Litigation stage.

Flooding Disasters in Nigeria: The Effect of Climate Change

Travelers trying to get themselves across the other parts of the road by canoe as the flood takes over

Every year Nigerians living across riverine communities become victims of a ravaging flood situation which has, in the last 10 years, consistently become a perennial menace, leading to over 600 deaths, destruction of lives and properties and disruption of social and economic activities in affected areas.

In 2012, Nigeria recorded the highest flooding experience across states of the country with a loss of revenue and diminishing economic downturn in the affected states with its attendant loss of livelihoods, lives and displacement of citizens in affected states. 10 years later, the country is again faced with yet another challenge of flooding which is adjudged by the Nigerian Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) to be deadlier than that of 2012, with close to 3 million persons displaced.

This year, the flood affected Kogi State, cutting off the road leading into Abuja the Federal Capital Territory from the confluence states, with commuters stranded, leaving a large number of truckloads of perishable goods on both ends of the road. Among other states, Nasarawa and Benue States in the North Central part of Nigeria are not left behind. Lagos State in the South-West, Imo and Anambra States in the South-East and Bayelsa, Rivers and Delta States in the South-South region respectively have been badly affected, with the East-West Road along Patani, Mbiama and Ahoada axis of the East-west road divided.

Confused. frustrated  traders unable to get their perishable goods from one part of the state to the other

This heavy flood has destroyed and submerged houses sacked several communities and made life difficult and unbearable for large numbers of families who now find themselves at different designated IDP camps. Stranded commuters have been left with the option of taking the high risk of crossing with canoes or long and very expensive alternative routes, while farmers conveying their goods had to auction them at a loss.

Hawkers whose survival depends on their daily sales braving the odds and eking out a living in spite of the flood situation.

When Social Actions team visited the affected areas on the 17th of October, 2022 beginning from the Ahoada axis of the East-west Road, which has been cut off completely, commuters were being ferried by canoe and speedboats with so much cost to be crossed over to the other part of the road. They paid as much as N1,200 naira on speedboats and N600 on wooden canoes. Those who didn’t have as much to pay had to cross the water on foot, which, at the time of the visit, was deep into the chest region. Goods were seen scattered all over the place with no hope in sight. We also received reports of some persons who could not make it through the flooded road as they were swept away by the current of the flood. This is sad and pathetic.

PALLIATIVES FROM RIVERS STATE COMMITTEE ON FLOOD

So far, it has been confirmed that the Rivers State Government has set up a flood management committee and to that effect released the sum of 1 billion Naira for palliatives and to cushion the effects of the flooding situation for affected families. They have also identified different primary and secondary schools designated as temporary Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) camps across the affected LGAs.

As at the time of the visit, the Team could not proceed beyond the Ahoada axis as the flow was still very high with a lot of persons scampering for safety.

Stranded goats’ merchants with their goats at the scene

Market men and women conveying perishable goods like plantain stranded at the scene of flood after many days

The Affected LGAs in River State include Ahoada-West, Ahoada-East, Abua Odual and Ogba/Egbema/Ndoni areas respectively. For now, we are yet to ascertain the number of deaths and the total number of persons and families affected. We hope to get that as the flood recedes.

 

CAUSES OF THE FLOOD

The major culprit of flooding is always going to be the climate change associated with global warming which has altered the weather patterns thereby causing a rise in the sea level as the snows melt further into the seas and rivers. The rainfall also have shown an unusual pattern and some location not known to have heavy rainfall have experienced an increase in volume recently

The flood which has affected an estimated 27 out of the 36 states in Nigeria[2] is also a result of water released from the Lagdo Dam in Cameroun, overflowing the banks of the rivers along the Nige Basin. This situation is further exacerbated by the inability of the Federal Government to complete the Dani Hausa Dam which would have been used as a buffer to regulate the water level on the Nigerian side of the river. The River Benue and Niger and other tributaries along their coasts like Engenni and Orashi Rivers have been heavily silted over the years, making the waterways shallow and unable to contain much water volumes flowing into them.

 

SOLUTION AND RECOMMENDATIONS

The flooding situation could be tackled using short-, medium- and long-term measures. Beyond providing prompt emergency relief materials for the victims and displaced persons of the flood, there is a more crucial need to put in place medium to long-term measures to mitigate the floods and their effect to prevent the colossal losses in its wake.

Some of the recommendations include

  1. Constants desilting of drainages.
  2. Provisions of medical support for affected families and persons within the affected LGAs
  3. Supply of food items to help them stand on their feet again
  4. Support of startups fund for small businesses for affected families
  5. Construction of embankments within the communities that are close to the river banks
  6. Dredging of the Orashi River by the Rivers State Government with help from the Federal Governments
  7. Dredging of the River Niger by the Federal Government of Nigeria
  8. Completion of the Dasin Hausa Dam in Adamawa State by the Federal Government
  9. Provide adequate warnings and information for those occupying natural waterways to evacuate the areas

 

https://www.thisdaylive.com/index.php/2022/10/17/nema-2-5-million-persons-affected-by-flooding/

[2] https://www.africanews.com/amp/2022/09/20/nigeria-battles-worst-floods-in-years-300-killed-in-2022/

WOMEN GROUPS IN IKERE LGA BUDGET ADVOCACY CLUSTER ADVOCATE FOR THE PASSAGE OF THE LOCAL GOVERNMENT FISCAL AUTONOMY BILL

Cluster members in a photograph after the Cluster meeting in Ikere, Ondo State

Social Development Integrated Centre, in collaboration with (LAPDO), organized a one-day budget advocacy cluster meeting for selected cluster members in Ikere LGA, Ondo State, on 10th September 2022.
The meeting was part of the cluster programmes aimed at strengthening advocacy for transparent and inclusive budget processes across LGA in Nigeria. It brought together civil society organisations, representatives of religious and traditional institutions, women and youth groups, the media and other stakeholders to discuss their roles in the budget process. It also highlighted the functions of the Local government and their responsibility in identifying & prioritizing the needs of citizens at the grassroots by implementing inclusive governance through needs assessment and robust consultations with the people.

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Restructure the NDDC and Make Public the Forensic Audit; Stakeholders Urge Presidency

Stakeholders in the Niger Delta Region have called on the Federal Government and the Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs to make public the Forensic Audit report of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) to reposition the commission for effective service delivery. This call was made on Thursday, 8th September 2022 at a Virtual Public Dialogue on, “Effective Service Delivery in the Niger Delta: A need to Reposition the NDDC for Accountability” organized by Social Development Integrated Centre (Social Action) with support from the MacArthur’s Foundation.

In an opening remark on behalf of the Executive Director, Mr. Botti Isaac, Programmes Coordinator of Social Action said that the event was coming at a time when the underdeveloped Niger Delta region is littered with abandoned projects due to the gross mismanagement and misappropriation of funds allocated to the NDDC.

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CIVIL RIGHTS COUNCIL CHARGES PORT HARCOURT CITY LOCAL GOVERNMENT ON CITIZEN’S RIGHTS IN BYE-LAW ON WASTE AND OTHER ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION

Figure 3 Sanitation Marshals at the public hearing in Port Harcourt

The Civil Rights Council has admonished the Port Harcourt City Local Government Council on the consideration of the constitution and the respect for the rights and interests of the citizens in the formulation of a by-law in the local government. This submission was made at the public hearing on a bylaw to prohibit the indiscriminate disposal of waste and other environmental offences in Port Harcourt City Local Government Area of Rivers State organised by the Council.

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ANOTHER FRESH OIL-SPILLS DESTROY FARMLAND AND  CROPS IN BODO, GOKANA LGA IN OGONILAND

A portion of ravaged farmlands and frustrated villagers scooping from the spilled oil around the farm

In the early hours of Tuesday 2nd August 2022, the residents of Bodo city in Gokana Local Government Area of Rivers state were thrown into pandemonium owing to the occurrence of fresh oil spills in the area from one of the shell pipelines that conveys crude oil to Bonny through the community.

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BUDGET ADVOCACY GROUPS IN ANINRI AND ENUGU HOLD CLUSTER ENGAGEMENTS IN SUPPORT FOR LOCAL GOVERNMENT AUTONOMY

Women Group in Aninri LGA supports local government fiscal autonomy

The Budget Cluster Groups in Aninri LGA of Enugu State Advocacy cluster group unanimously came together to lend their voices to advance better ways of demanding Local Government Autonomy especially in the Enugu State.

The group asserted that they have been in the forefront for the demand for an accountable local government for a meaningful grassroot development and for this to be possible, the government closest to the people must have truly fiscal autonomy.

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THE NIGERIA RESOURCE JUSTICE CONFERENCE 2022

Representatives of oil-bearing communities in the Niger Delta, members of the regulatory institutions, youth groups, traditional rulers, concerned citizens, and the press, gathered in Yenagoa in August 2022 to brainstorm on the Petroleum Industry Act (PAI) 2021 and the matters arising for communities in extraction sites. The Nigeria Resource Justice Conference organised by Social Development Integrated Centre, Social Action, in collaboration with Bayelsa Non-governmental Organisation Forum (BANGOF) was to review the PIA 2021 as it affects the host or oil-bearing communities as provided for the new law. It was also to intimate community leaders and representatives of the communities of salient provisions of the law and how it is likely to shape the relationship between the host communities and the oil exploration companies.

In his welcome address, the Executive Director of Social Action, Dr Isaac Asume Osuoka, noted the deliberate design by the state to deny or subjugate the indigenous communities on the altar of state or “public interest” by its delineation of geographical state enclave; an attempt to project the interest of the unitary system at the centre over and above the community interests. In his speech, read by the Senior Programs Officer, Prince Ekpere, Dr Osuoka condemned state policies or laws that deny communities access to the land and its resources, and sought to explore the possibilities for using the new legislation to address the environmental and social problems associated with the petroleum industry. He was concerned that the drafters of the law were more concerned with maximizing profit and revenue potentials of the oil and gas than funding the development of host communities and addressing the dangers of gas flaring and other environmental concerns.

In his Keynote presentation, HRM King Bubaraye Dakolo, Chairman Bayelsa State Council of Traditional Rulers, regretted that despite the allocation of 3% revenue to the host communities by the PIA, fundamental interests of the communities were not taken into consideration. He also decried the situation where the responsibility of ensuring the safety of oil installation was vested on the communities by the Act, whereas the JTF with all their trainings and arsenals have not been able not guarantee same.

In a paper presentation, Dr Pereowei Subai, A lecturer at the Niger Delta University, gave a rundown of the PIA as it affects host communities and the environment they live in. He noted the ambiguity in the definition of certain provisions and terms like the Host Communities which, rather than make for better governance and administration would create more acrimony among communities and with the operators. The stages passed by the Bill before it was passed into law had consistently changed with time and process to eventually hand the communities the short side of the stick

The Chairman of the conference Justice Simon Amaduobogha, Judge of the High Court in Bayelsa, charged the participants to consider how communities could take advantage of what the law currently provides in advancing the standard of living and welfare of the people. This could be in progress while we lobby our lawmakers to initiate the process to amend the law in the future for a better bargain for the oil-bearing communities.

This Nigeria Resource Justice Conference 2022 provided a platform for interaction among community members and leaders, citizen groups, scholars, government agencies and elected representatives as panel sessions were held. The panelists who include experts, activists, agencies, and the victims of environmental pollution from the communities agreed that the communities deserve better than the PAI offered.  It was observed that the PIA vested too much powers on the state and the operators much to the disappointment of the communities who bear the brunt of the hazards of the industrial.

Participants at the conference among other issues observed that

  • Oil production has displaced local inhabitants from their sacred and ancestral lands.
  • Oil production has caused over seven (7) decades of pain and this has resulted in a destruction of the structures of livelihood.
  • The PIA is an obnoxious act and has dealt with the Niger Deltans.
  • The Act does not protect the people and their environment
  • The PIA does not respond to the irresponsible measures taken by security operatives to combat oil theft.
  • The PIA does not have provisions that check or prevent oil spillage.
  • The PIA does not empower communities to obtain compensation for oil spillages.
  • Gas flaring in the Niger Delta has been given statutory backing by the PIA as it allows it to continue while fines are paid to the Federal Government.
  • The PIA criminalizes the oil-bearing communities
  • The Joint Task Force (JTF) of the Federal Government and its various operations have failed to stop oil theft in the Niger Delta.
  • Crude oil worth several billion dollars have been stolen from the Niger Delta under the watch of the JTF.
  • It is wrong to criminalize the Niger Delta community for oil that is stolen from the region by people outside the region.
  • The PIA is retrogressive, backward and obnoxious.
  • The PIA presents another opportunity for capture of community resources as is the case with GMOU mechanism.

RESOLUTION

Participants at the conference resolved that;

  • There should be a review of the PIA 2021 (Amendment)
  • The PIA should make provisions to compel the decommissioning of oil wells that are no longer in use.
  • Niger Delta communities should build a consensus.
  • The communities should start organizing to include local experts at the Board of Trustee level.

RECOMMENDATION

At the end of the deliberations, the following recommendations were made;

  • There should be targeted sensitization on Niger Delta communities on the provisions of the PIA.
  • Niger Delta communities should identify unfriendly provisions of the Act and mobilize demand for the amendment of the Act.
  • Government should take steps to simplify the provisions of the PIA for easy understanding of members of the Niger Delta communities.
  • Members of the Niger Delta community should be educated on the provisions of the PIA and take advantage of the provision to reposition themselves so as not to be short-changed by the state and operators.
  • Niger Delta communities should expose the fault lines of the PIA through town hall meetings, press statements, protests and campaigns to demand accountability from relevant stakeholders.

CIVIL RIGHTS COUNCIL HOLDS SENSITIZATION PROGRAMS

Arochukwu Paul Ogbonna lecturing during the sensitization program held at Social Development Integrated Centre community office at 78 Uruala Street, Diobu, Port Harcourt.

On the 28th and 30th of July, 2022, the Civil Rights Council held a public sensitization program on the rights of women and the girl child in the suburban and rural areas in Rivers State. The essence of the sensitization program, which was held at the Social Development Integrated Centre community office at 78 Uruala Street, Diobu, Port Harcourt was in response to the many cases of violations of women and girl child rights. These practices run foul of Nigerian legislations, including the Child’s Right Act, the Violence Against Person’s Act, the Criminal Code, the Penal Code and the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria as amended.

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CIVIL RIGHTS COUNCIL PROTESTS WITH NIGERIA LABOUR CONGRESS IN SOLIDARITY WITH ACADEMIC STAFF UNION OF UNIVERSITIES TO PRESS HOME DEMANDS ON THE GOVERNMENT

On July 26th and 27th 2022, the Nigerian Labour Congress with its affiliate unions declared a two-day nation-wide protest in collaboration with Civil society organizations. The two days protest was organized in solidarity with the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) that embarked on a strike over breach of labour agreements by the federal government over staff welfare and funding of the Nigerian universities.

Protester march through the streets of Port Harcourt to demand an end to ASUU strike to ensure students go back to school

The procession which took off from the Labour House in Port Harcourt opened with an address from the state NLC Chairman Mrs Beatrice Appiah who reminded participants of the reason for the protest. She maintained that protests and strikes are strong weapons of labour, the working people and civil society actors to drive home their demands and compel the government to action on matters of national important, if the government is reluctant to do so.

 

The NLC chairman regretted the continued stance taken by the federal government which has ensured the striking lecturers continued on the industrial action, keeping students at home for upwards of six months. She said that ASUU, as an affiliate of the NLC, deserves all the support they could get to compel quick and positive response from the government adding that their demands bother on national development as funding of the universities is of key importance to national growth.

Members of Academic Staff Union of University, ASUU, Uniport Branch, set for the protest march

The protesters marched through designated routes in the metropolitan sections of Port Harcourt, singing solidarity songs to drive home their message. At major markets various affiliates of the NLC and Civil society actors addressed traders to sensitize them on the purpose of the protest and the need for all and sundry to support the campaign to save the university and return both students and lecturers back to the campus.

 

 

The protester finally converged at the government house where they were addressed by a representative of the governor. In his address permanent secretary at the Governor’s office agreed with the protesters that the situation of the country is unacceptable. He lamented the failure of the Federal government to reconsider their position on the ASUU crisis which he said is having its negative effect on the educational system. He, however, noted that the funding of the federal universities is not a state government affair’s but the exclusive responsibility of the Federal Government and promised to deliver the letter of demands handed down to him by the protesters to the Federal Government whom the letter is addressed to.

 

 

CRC members supporting the protest march to urge the Federal Government commit to promises made with  ASUU

 

The Civil Rights Council Port Harcourt, supported by Social Action was  well represented by its member as part of its campaign to promote the rights to education and means to reduce the crime rate in the society as many students have taken to crime and other vises as a result of idleness.