Monday, June 13, 2016

Trade Union Inaugurates State Care-Taker Committee.

*As Comrade Dumebi Eluaka Emerges State Chairman

Okonta Emeka Okelum, Asaba, Delta State

The national leadership of the Union of Tipper and Quarry Employers of Nigeria (UTQEN) has inaugurated a state caretaker committee for the Union's Delta State chapter.

The event supervised by the Union's national leadership and the Delta State executive of the Trade Union Congress (TUC) witnessed a large turn out of the Union's members drawn from it's 17 LGA chapters.

The care taker committee inaugurated yesterday at the premises of the Trade Union Congress secretariat brought to an end the over three years squabbles rocking the union.

The current wave of peace the union breaths now is a function of the collaborative efforts of the Union's national leadership, proactive engagement of the Delta State Trade Union Congress, as well as, support of the Delta State Alternative Dispute Resolution mechanism.

Earlier, in his welcome address, the Delta State Chairman, Trade Union Congress (TUC), Comrade Lawson Efenudu, thanked the UTQEN members for their peaceful conduct during these trying period of the Union's impasse.

His gratitude also went to the security agencies, Delta State Peace Mediators and state government agencies, whose inputs and efforts helped the Congress and the union attain it's current peaceful status registered.

Prince Tony Ikenwaso Ijeh, National Secretary, UTQEN, expressed gratitude over the peaceful end of the crisis that almost rocked the union.

This caretaker committee inaugurated today, will pilot the affair of the state's union till the national leadership set up an electoral committee for the next Union's state election, Prince Ijeh noted.

Comrade Buter John, UTQEN National Public Relations Office, called up members of the state caretaker committee, while the national secretary led the committee members through taking oath of office.

Presenting his acceptance speech, Comrade Dumebi Eluaka, the Union's state committee chairman, noted that his loyalty and commitment to the union's national leadership is firm and promised to take the union to greater heights.

Within the last few years, I increased the Union's LGA chapters from two to seventeen and will make sure we spread to other council areas.

Under my leadership, the union will partner with the Delta State Government, at creating more wealth and job creation opportunities for Deltans and vast entrepreneurial potentials.

I will extend hands of fellowship to all stakeholders of the union, past leaders and will employ all available means to unite all aggrieved members within the union, so as to sustain enduring peace in the state, Comrade Eluaka said.

Those who will pilot the affairs of the union with Comrade Dumebi Eluaka include, Comrade Patrick Usi, State Vice Chairman; Chief Comrade Moses Ukuedorjor, State Secretary; Comrade Uche Osuya, State Assistant Secretary.

Others include Comrade Ndidi Okoagbor, State Treasurer; Chief Comrade Sunny Shaguolo, State Financial Secretary; Comrade Okolo Onyema, Auditor; Comrade Peter Oshirho, State Taskforce Chairman; Chief Comrade Oni Enem, State Public Relations Officer; Comrade Stephen Rhevwa, State Organising Secretary.

Press Release


Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC) with support from NSRP held an extra ordinary General Meeting of the National Civil Society Consultative Forum on Peace and Security with specific focus on the blasphemy killing in Kano as well as the militancy activities in the Niger Delta region. 

The meeting was attended by the Chief of Army Staff represented by the Commander of Operation Pulo Shield, Bayelsa, Niger Delta Development Commission, Ministry of Niger Delta, National Security and Civil Defence Corps, Ministry of Budget and National Planning, National Human Rights Commission, Peace Corp of Nigeria, Women and Youth groups, Diplomatic Community, Faith Based Organizations, NGOs, Media Practitioners as well as experts in the peace and security sector. 

After exhaustive deliberations we, the participants:
Recognize That we live in a society governed by clearly stated rules and laws.
When such crimes of high magnitude or any at all, are allowed to go unpunished for any reason, we risk descending into a state of lawlessness and anarchy where anyone can assume the role of judge, jury and executioner. The rule of law must prevail. 

We urge all security agencies to ensure that they carry out a thorough investigation into the events that led to her untimely death and ensure that the perpetrators of this crime are brought to face the full wrath of the law

Also Recognize That Islam frowns at any mob action, as there are laid down procedures for apprehending anyone who breaks the law of the land. Even where blasphemy is committed; the woman should have been taken to the police station instead of being brutally attacked.
There is no jungle justice in Islam. Therefore, this is an act of criminality and those arrested in this respect must be treated as such.

Express our Deep Concern that like a storm from the blues, a new militant group, Niger Delta Avengers, NDA took the region by surprise when it announced its formation on February 3. It launched a website and social media page, which it uses to publish statements of its activities, including its February 10 blow up of the Bonny Soku Gas Line which carries natural gas to the Nigeria Liquified Natural Gas plant and an independent power plant at Gbaran. 

This was followed by a major destabilizing attack on the Forcados 48-inch export pipe­line at the Forcados export terminal. 

Note that the attacks, among others, have no doubt had a devastating effect on the country’s oil revenue projection in the 2016 budget. Besides, the activities and statements of the group have led to restiveness in the region, a signpost of a return to the pre- 2009 militancy level.
Curiously, no known face or name has claimed the leadership of the NDA apart from one Col. Mudoch Agbinibo who has been signing press releases on behalf of the group. 

Security agents however, believe that Mudoch is a pseudo name and faceless like the notorious Jomo Gbomo of the Movement for the Emancipation of Niger Delta, MEND, fame.
Also Note that the near collapse of social values, failure of leadership at all level, and neglect of the youth is now a current problem in Nigeria.

This vice now increases the spate of unemployment, abject poverty; illiteracy, frustrations and the resurgence of many militant and terrorist groups in different part of the country.

What then will be sustainable if amnesty is the does not seem to be the lasting solution to the problem in the region considering the unabated activities of the militants despite the amnesty programme, a more creative measures should be taken.

Further Note that In halting grammar, rambling syntax and embarrassingly poor English, the avengers have used their online resources to articulate the basis of their discontent with the Buhari administration.

They are angry over the continued marginalization of the Niger Delta, the unjust allocation of oil licenses to persons from non-oil producing areas, and hounding of officials of the Jonathan administration by the present regime. 

The NDA is also miffed about environmental pollution and scrapping of the Maritime University at Okerenkoko.

Some have denounced the insurgency as a rally of miscreants, but the campaign has proven to be deadly with attacks on oil infrastructure despite the heavy military presence in the area.
It is crystallizing into an all-out war against the nation’s economic lifeline. Shell has shut down its Forcados terminal. 

Chevron’s Escravos operation has been breached.
ENI and Exxon Mobil have declared “force majeure,” even as Shell and Chevron move their staff out of the Niger Delta. 

We Commit to engage gate keepers in the region to request the NDA to unequivocal terms channel their grievances without perpetrating acts that could be interpreted as an attempt to enthrone instability and render the country ungovernable. 

Whilst it is part of democracy that people should air their views, however jaundiced, they should, all the same, not translate grievances into violence and bloodshed. 

Those in the creeks, whose only political education comes from the misguided verbiage of clannish role models, should be cautious not to become cannon fodders for mischief-making.
Just as it is true for the insurgents, the army should not be provoked into violence-inciting actions as the collective punishment of the Niger Delta people suggests. 

We Affirm that this NDA insurgency speaks volumes about the fact that the Niger Delta challenge is far from over. 

And it must be tackled urgently and sincerely in the national interest. Certainly, there has been no serious effort on the part of government to tackle the Niger Delta development crisis beyond palliatives, vague gestures and empty rhetoric.

There are no good roads; the East-West Road has been abandoned; the water is polluted and electricity supply is still a luxury where it exists at all. 

Good schools, from primary to secondary, not to talk of tertiary institutions, are virtually non-existent. 

In other words, the people of the Niger Delta remain impoverished.

We Endorse the forging of community policing partnerships and implementing problem-solving strategies to necessitate assigning new responsibilities and adopting a flexible style of management.

Traditionally, patrol officers have been accorded lower status in police organizations and have been dominated by the agency’s command structure. 

Community policing, in contrast, emphasizes the value of the patrol function and the patrol officer as an individual. It requires the shifting of initiative, decision making, and responsibility downward within the police organization. 

The officer must become responsible for managing the delivery of police services to the community. Patrol officers are the most familiar with the needs and concern of their communities and are in the best position to forge the close ties with the community that lead to effective solutions to local problems.

Will ensure that advocacy for a new approach to the Niger Delta issue in the region and the country shall enjoy lasting peace. Such an approach should provide for a more sustainable protocol for managing the expectations of the region vis a vis the exploitation of the vital resources there. 

Some observers have already likened Niger Delta Avengers to Boko Haram.
In some respects that is true but in other respects, Niger Delta agitation can at least be tackled in a rational manner.
For instance, the Avengers are demanding that the 2014 National Conference’s recommendations as pertains to the region should be revisited.
One of them is the increase of the derivation fund from 13% to 17%.
Another recommendation calls for the setting up of a special intervention fund for the region.
Other parts of the country may not be happy with some of these recommendations and may not view the Conference that made them unfavourably, but the government can still discuss these matters in the National Assembly and other councils.
A good starting point is to provide effective coordination for all the ongoing remediation efforts in the region.
Way Forward
Shall Effectively mobilizes CSOs, key actors and the media to build collaborations, corporations to use its various radio platforms to advocate for dialogue as a panacea for sustainable peace and development as well as advocate for regular meetings to resolve issues of conflict that might affect all parties using a platform.
Will Support that the immediate, short, medium and long term intervention that will strengthen accountability and justice mechanism from security agencies, provide space for dialogue and interaction in various communities as well pressure the media to balance reportage to reduce misconception, perception and stigmatization of any group of people in Nigeria.
Agreed that Social media offers exciting possibilities for early-warning systems as well as violation reporting and monitoring activities.
Such systems should be approached with caution, however, as new media can just as easily be used to spread inflammatory rumors and false information.
Trusted citizen monitors should be culled from experienced, preexisting early-warning networks originally developed at the community level for monitoring ongoing tensions.
Auwal Ibrahim Musa (Rafsanjani)
Executive Director
Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC)
Idris Musa
Centre for Justice and Peace
Jaye Gaskia
Praxis Centre
Ariori Jemina
Federation of Muslim Women Association of Nigeria

Niger Delta Avengers: I Don't Know Them....Speaker, DTHA

* They Are A Faceless Group

Okonta Emeka Okelum, Asaba, Delta State.

Condemning the recent multiple bombings of the dreaded Niger Delta Avengers, Rt. Hon (Chief) Monday Ovwigho Igbuya, Speaker, Delta State House of Assembly, has distanced himself from the group.

Fielding questions from journalists, today, about the activities of the Niger Delta Avengers, said he doesn't know the dreaded group.

During the first anniversary press briefing of the 6th Assembly, he described the freedom fighters as a faceless group.

I don't know who the Avengers are, I can't speak of what I don't know, Rt Hon (chief) Igbuya noted.

Their activities have affected us so badly and impacted our economy negatively, he observed.
Responding to questions on the legislative romance with the executive and the State Governor specifically, the speaker affirmed that the relationship is cordial and fruitful so far. 

Come 2019, there will be no election in Delta State, as it will be, what in his words he described as 'Okowa Carry Go' electoral affair cum business. 

Speaking as a PDP chieftain, as a political leader from the Urhobo nation, come 2019, Okowa will win in my ward, Local Government Area and Senatorial District, the Speaker boasted. 

Surprisingly, speaking further, on the Niger Delta Avengers, Rt Hon Igbuya urged the Federal Government to set in motion, mechanism to commence dialogue with the dreaded group, he termed faceless. 

The Speaker cited as overall benefits of the sixth assembly to Deltans, as the fall out and on going implementation of the 2016 Delta State Budget Appropriation Act.

Funding and related financial constraints were cited by the Speaker as the most crushing challenges the sixth assembly is contending with.

This is the reason for all parliamentary administrative lapses and staff welfare challenges you have heard and read of, but soon we will overcome them all, the Rt Honourable assured.

Earlier in his press statement, Rt Hon Monday Igbuya noted that the sixth assembly received a total of twenty three (23) bills, of which, ten (10) were passed into law.

A total of thirty five (35) motions were received and approved, eighteen (18) reports have so far being received and adopted as well as, a number of other issues are before different committees for consideration, the Speaker affirmed. 

Rt Hon Monday Igbuya told newsmen that the governor has so far assented to five bills, with four bills forwarded to the state governor, Sen Dr Arthur Ifeany Okowa, for his executive assent.

Endless Stalemate Bedevils Emergence Of A New Odogwu Ahaba

• As Community Opposes Palace Verdict, Directives

Okonta Emeka Okelum, Asaba, Delta State

It appears there are zero possible ends to the controversies surrounding the emergence of a new Odogwu of Asaba.

As we earlier reported last week, accusations and finger pointing towards sharp practices as well as many petitions from contesting aspirants to the Odogwu stool had badly bedeviled the process.

It will be recalled that the Asagba In Council, had earlier this year mandated the Umuonaje Quarters to identify, screen and select an Odogwu elect and present same to the council in two months time.

The council also sent to the quarter a well spelt out guideline, requirement, qualification and criteria to be followed for the emergence of an Odogwu elect.

With more than three months already spent with zero aspirant selected, as well as the many cases of reported and petitioned unwholesome practices by aggrieved aspirants to the palace, the council was forced to roll out a new wave of counter arsenal at the community recently.

Information reaching us had it that with the community’s failure to produce a palace acceptable aspirant with zero complaint of sharp practices, the council had ruled against the community’s selection of Mr. Nwanze Oduah, as the Odogwu elect.

Earlier, the council in a letter sent to the community and copied to all the five quarter heads, as well as the Otu-Ihaza’s leadership and her joint secretaries, rejected Oduah’s nomination as Odogwu elect.

The letter read in parts ‘from the reports and oral evidence received by this council, in respect to the entire process/procedures adopted by your community in the selection of Odogwu elect, the council’s decision is that the selection process was faulty, fraudulent and corrupt and not in accordance with the council’s guideline for the selection of an Odogwu elect’

We have being reliably informed that the Umuonaje community through their secretary had written the council challenging the council’s position and stressing that their final choice of an Odogwu elect is Mr Nwanze Oduah.

You are informed that your selection of an Odogwu elect, as sent to the council is unacceptable, hereby cancelled, declared null and void and of no effect, the council wrote to the community.
During a mobile phone conversation, our reporter had with Mr Nwanze Oduah, he shared that he is his people’s most preferred aspirant and currently enjoys their support and blessings.

You are requested to start all over again the selection process, with strict compliance to due process, absolute transparency, providing a level playing ground for all aspirants and adhere strictly to the guidelines, the council ordered the community.

Opinion shapers in Asaba are of the view that the community stand to lose a lot should they go on with their current position contrary to the palace’s verdict and directives.

An Asaba Alor title holder and some opinion leaders our reporter engaged over this matter, who prefer to be anonymous, pointed out that the community will suffer sever sanctions or have their turn to produce the Odogwu Ahaba transferred to another quarter who are more ready to stick to the guidelines of the council.

You are directed to submit the names of your three nominees selected in order of merit, to reach the secretary, Asagba In Council on or before Monday, 13th June, 2016, the council’s letter instructs the quarter.

The above directive has already been jettisoned, ignored and rejected in its entirety by the Umuonaje quarters, as contained in the letter they forwarded to the palace yesterday.

Interestingly, the other two aspirants to the stool (Ogbueshi Eluaka Onochie and Ogbueshi Eugene Umunnah) do not see anything wrong in appearing before the council for screening and approval.

As at the time of going to the press, the whole town and all traditionally minded opinion leaders are lost with respect to the way forward.

Between the community and the council, who blinks first?

Will Umuonaje gladly cut off her ties with the rest of Ani Ahaba and stick with their son, Mr Nwanze Oduah?

Or will they with arms folded, watch another quarter, this time, Umuezei Quarters, cart away the Odogwu stool that rightly and timely is theirs today?

Will the council’s directives ever be followed? If never, what becomes the public image the council will command in the land thereafter?

Till June 13th, the already and heavily charged heat of the current stalemate and the who blinks first stance, remains an interesting episode in our traditional Ani Ahaba daily drama and possibly soon to be registered reality, if ever, depending on what side wins at last, at any rate, the heat rages on.