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Implementing PIA will cause crisis in Niger Delta host communities – INC President, Prof Okaba

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The President of the Ijaw Nationwide Congress, Prof. Benjamin Okaba, speaks with DANIELS IGONI at the Petroleum Business Act, the Niger Delta Construction Fee disaster, the 2023 common elections, amongst different nationwide problems.

What is the location of the Ijaw Nationwide Congress at the submitted Niger Delta Construction Fee forensic audit record?

From the outset, we did point out that the forensic audit (even supposing it’s a regular and standard necessity for each and every organisation) must now not be a reason the NDDC must run with no useful board. That has been our place and we gave examples of a few different organisations that require some type of clean-up or audit. However the Federal Executive insisted the audit had to be achieved prior to the board might be reconstituted and we made up our minds to have faith in the Federal Executive’s plea for time. They promised to conclude the forensic audit prior to the top of July and the board can be inaugurated. The lengthy and wanting it’s that on September 2, 2021, the record used to be submitted during the Lawyer-Common of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami (SAN), however not anything has been heard about it until date. The one knowledge to be had is a few feedback made via Malami who gained the record from the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Godswill Akpabio, indicating that N6tn used to be spent on tasks; over 130,000 tasks are deserted, and that there’s a wish to downsize the NDDC, amongst different suggestions. However our place is that, now that they’re thru with the forensic audit, let President Muhammadu Buhari put the record within the public area for the general public to have get right of entry to to it. Allow us to invoke the provisions of the Freedom of Knowledge Act. Public sources have been spent at the workout and the investigation; we must now not simply learn that contractors ran away with trillions of naira and that hundreds of tasks have been deserted. There used to be mentioned to be at variance with studies that have been printed via exterior auditors and the place of job of the Accountant Common of the Federation that had performed some type of audit across the Ministries, Departments and Companies. We also are curious that the cash owed via the Federal Executive to the NDDC, amounting to N1.3tn, used to be now not given any critical consideration within the NDDC audit record. Cash owed the fee, amounting to N4tn, used to be now not additionally discussed. We also are now not in particular glad concerning the silence at the over N600bn bills made for emergency contracts; the over 1,000 individuals who have been allegedly hired within the NDDC between January and July, 2020 with out due procedure. We also are mindful that the 2020 funds used to be handed in December and N400bn used to be voted for the NDDC however the fee had spent over N190bn prior to the funds used to be handed. So, what came about to the Procurement Act? Those are problems. We additionally need to know the main points of the 13,000 deserted contracts and the contractors. The place are they situated? What are the names of the corporations? That are supposed to be step one of responsibility and the prosecution of those that deserted tasks and brought about ache to the folk. We need to know. Let the general public learn about it. Past that, the president has the record, so what’s preventing him from inaugurating the board? There are a couple of collaborators who use politics and praise-singing to draw consideration. I’m pleased with the type of responses and the backlash they have from the Ijaw other people.

What’s going to the INC do if the record indicts some outstanding Ijaw political leaders, conventional rulers and opinion leaders?

The INC won’t improve any Ijaw individual, or protect Ijaw women and men, whether or not younger or outdated, that has defrauded the Ijaw country. The reason being you can not say you’re a chief and refuse to draw dividends of democracy on your other people. You can not say you’re keen on the Ijaw country and abandon tasks which are supposed for the improvement of our other people. We can’t be crying for construction and inclusiveness if you find yourself available in the market advancing your own pursuits and leaving the Ijaw other people to endure. In actual fact, be it a senator, governor or president, whoever is concerned or culpable is probably not defended via the INC. This may occur so far as due procedure is adopted. For example, there used to be a up to date hearsay that Pa Edwin Clark had some contracts from the NDDC in Nembe and Abonnema or so. The Ijaw other people attacked him and demanded to grasp the reality. He later got here up with the info of the subject in publications, mentioning that he had no such contracts. The Ijaw other people mentioned they might cross-check the ones claims. In line with them, if he’s discovered to be culpable then will stop to be a pace-setter of the Ijaw other people.

What’s the future of the Ijaw country in regards to the Petroleum Business Act, taking into account the truth that the 3 consistent with cent fairness earnings percentage for host communities used to be now not reviewed upward prior to the presidential assent to the invoice?

Our place has now not modified and day-to-day we find extra aggravating infractions within the PIA that display that those that sought after the invoice handed didn’t need the nice of the Ijaw country and the Niger Delta other people. Initially, the 3 consistent with cent represents 0. You give us 3 consistent with cent and you are taking 97 consistent with cent. Past that, you allocate 30 consistent with cent for frontier basins, which we all know is a wild goose chase as a result of there were explorations in the ones spaces for years and not anything got here out of them. Injustice won’t breed any fruitful effects. They’ve to pay for the injustice. With the exception of that, within the control of the 3 consistent with cent, the construction installed position via the Federal Executive in collaboration with the IOCs excludes the state govt and native govt spaces. Already, there’s a disaster within the Niger Delta as a result of the control of the International Memorandum of Figuring out in our native communities as they’re left with critical inter-family, inter-communal and intra-communal conflicts. Disposing of the states and native governments which are, via regulation, the second one and 3rd tier of presidency respectively, is improper. Those states have deputy governors who oversee neighborhood construction processes of their respective states.

If the states don’t have regulatory roles, who will keep watch over the control of the 3 consistent with cent? Is it going to be one person who will likely be appointed via the Federal Executive? Is it going to be every other NDDC? That could be a major problem! The state governors are the Leader Safety Officials in their states. Every time there’s a disaster, they’re on the forefronts of efforts to get to the bottom of this sort of disaster. However if you happen to don’t give them any duty, how will they serve as? If the PIA is carried out the way in which it’s, there will likely be a major disaster that can flip our host communities right into a disaster zone. We see that as otherwise of inflicting crises within the communities and hanging the blame on our other people. It’s tantamount to dividing the Niger Delta other people and inflicting inside crises via depriving them of what they must have. They’re most effective looking to set us ablaze in order that we will be able to be ate up via inside crises.

What exactly does the Ijaw country need regarding restructuring?

Our thought of restructuring as a philosophy is that the present construction of the rustic, which no one needs to name a federation, is flawed and anachronistic and needs to be remodeled. Nigeria isn’t operating, so allow us to pop out with a technique that can make Nigeria a in point of fact federal state. It approach, due to this fact, that there should be a centre this is vulnerable with some constitutional pieces of nationwide passion that may be controlled on the centre reminiscent of exterior affairs, foreign money, immigration and so forth. We will be able to then permit the federating devices to take fee of the working in their affairs. One primary corollary to restructuring is useful resource keep an eye on, this means that that no matter sources are discovered or domiciled inside of your territory must be harnessed via you and also you pay tax to the centre and make rules. There may be already useful resource keep an eye on in some portions of this nation. The gold and different mineral sources present in different portions of this nation are explored and offered via people and state governments. Just lately, we heard that the CBN used to be going to shop for gold from some states within the northern a part of this nation. Why do we have now two units of rules on this nation? Now we have one regulation for forged minerals and the opposite for oil and gasoline sources? Within the rules for forged fabrics, there’s a provision for useful resource keep an eye on and remediation. At the factor of VAT, for example, we need to thank the likes of the governors of Rivers and Lagos states, Nyesom Wike and Babajide Sanwo-Olu, respectively. How do you generate budget in a spot and ship the entire quantity in other places? Now, states within the North generate earnings however what proportion in their revenues move to the nationwide handbag? Rivers State, along with its oil sources, generates such a lot. About 70 consistent with cent of VAT comes from the South-South states and Lagos, then you definitely now move to the centre and obtain a paltry percentage. In the meantime, the earnings you [the North] accumulate at your yard, you stay to yourselves. So, what they’re pronouncing is that the Niger Delta oil belongs to everyone; what belongs to us belongs to everyone however what belongs to them belongs to them. That’s not honest. Let me make this transparent: restructuring isn’t concerning the Niger Delta by myself, however we wish to stay each and every state afloat. God has blessed Nigeria. There’s no a part of this nation that can’t maintain itself. There are mineral sources in every single place however crude oil is making us to be lazy as a rustic. The North used to be identified for groundnuts. The Center Belt, up until now, is the meals basket of the country. If states are instructed to harness their sources and pay a proportion in shape tax to the nationwide handbag, you are going to see them taking issues critically. Most significantly, other people will likely be extra prudent with the control in their sources as a result of if what you get is what you utilize, a governor won’t want 20 automobiles in his convoy; he’s going to now not constitution airplane, he’s going to know the choice of individuals to nominate into place of job, the Nationwide Meeting is probably not the way in which it’s. The earnings sharing mentality has made us lazy. While you don’t paintings arduous to your sources, you gained’t cherish and price them. There may be such a lot unfastened cash on this nation, however the financial system is collapsing each day. Very quickly the alternate fee might get to N1,000 to at least one greenback. The management query stays unresolved and the capability to do the proper factor is missing; love for the rustic and nationwide passion could be very important. Now we have all it takes to be an ideal country. We was the large of Africa. Now we have numerous billionaires on this nation, however the nation is broke and this is without doubt one of the greatest contradictions on this nation. So, restructuring is the one means out.

The amnesty programme for former agitators of the Niger Delta area seems to be working with out an finish. What do you are making of this example?

The amnesty programme used to be designed to be in 4 levels: disarmament, rehabilitation, reintegration and all that. Ordinarily, we must have a scheme with exact projection and particular timelines in order that the beneficiaries, after their coaching and having garnered sufficient talents, can move into the society and be on their very own. I’ve by no means supported the theory of any person being put on a per thirty days stipend of N65,000 ceaselessly. Any such individual does now not have worth for the cash as a result of he doesn’t paintings for it. It doesn’t make sense. This cash, through the years, must be paid to simply the ones present process coaching and abilities acquisition and there must be some extent the place they’ve to vacate and get built-in into the society. It is a programme the place other people aren’t graduating from their coaching. You don’t have an endless procedure; other people must move in batches and graduate to generate capital as employers of labour and marketers to succeed in attitudinal alternate. That’s my take at the amnesty programme. Take a look at the revelations popping out of the Presidential Amnesty Programme Place of business. Over 400 pretend names have been found out lately. I’m certain in the event that they move deeper, there will likely be extra discoveries and it’s every other conduit pipe. That’s why in spite of the massive amount of money that had long gone into the scheme, there is not any signal of its use. There’s no outstanding distinction some of the beneficiaries who’ve achieved the educational. The programme used to be designed to make a metamorphosis however with the N65,000 stipend, the beneficiaries are as outdated as the ten years since which the programme has been working; that is improper. I’ve interacted with a few of them and so they don’t connect worth to the cash. They nonetheless declare to be unemployed, however fail to grasp that there are people who find themselves hired and nonetheless earn N65,000 and even lower than that. Those individuals are nonetheless glad as a result of they’re operating for it. However the amnesty stipend is unfastened cash.

Who, within the view of INC, must be Nigeria’s President in 2023 given the present catch 22 situation the rustic has discovered itself?

We’re extra involved in elementary questions on this nation which borders on restructuring. Going into the 2023 presidential election in this sort of construction that Nigeria these days operates in would carry no excellent to any one except we restructure. It’s because the device will arm-twist the most efficient of applicants that emerge as president. For example, if a president isn’t robust and he is attempting to be a statesman, this corrupt device has some way of influencing him to do issues that can make him maintain a corrupt device. There’s a systemic downside that needs to be handled prior to we bring to mind who emerges as President in 2023. There’s a systemic downside that should be corrected, if now not, if you happen to carry angels from heaven to rule over Nigeria in its present shape, the angels will develop into the satan. Allow us to suppose a real southerner turns into president with the entire superlative credentials and he has to visit the Nationwide Meeting to hunt improve over tasks or insurance policies some other people would possibly not like, It is going to now not paintings. The Nationwide Meeting is over-bloated via individuals who don’t have any industry being there within the first position. You infrequently report 30 consistent with cent attendance within the Nationwide Meeting with the exception of when there may be cash to percentage from the Global Oil Corporations. The present politicians on this nation are extra involved in politics of advancing private aggrandizement. The most efficient of leaders won’t emerge while you spend your whole time as president looking to convince and assuage those individuals. When you don’t do what they need to do, they’re going to impeach you as a result of some spaces have the numbers within the Nationwide Meeting. So as an alternative of speaking about 2023, Nigerians must be fascinated with easy methods to restructure this nation, if now not the poverty stage, mismanagement, deficient financial system and lack of confidence will proceed to upward thrust. That’s the fact. Once more, in restructuring, we speak about neighborhood policing; when communities are fascinated with managing their safety structure, it’s a lot more straightforward. An enemy doesn’t come to a neighborhood and is going scot-free except there may be connivance. So, we have now so much to achieve from restructuring this nation.

A large number of other people imagine that the time has come for a South-East presidency. Do you additionally subscribe to this view?

From the perspective of ethnic stability and inclusion, you’ll be able to say that when the Nigerian Civil Conflict, no South-Easterner, except Alex Ekwueme who used to be vice chairman to President Shehu Shagari, has occupied the number 1 and two positions on this nation. This must be a reason for worry, in particular to these from the South-East who’re asking themselves if they’re nonetheless Nigerians. They’re asking that if the Yoruba and Hausa may also be president, why can’t they? The Hausa has achieved it a few occasions, The Yoruba has achieved it, what stops them [the South-East] from occupying the presidency? To scheme them out, for me, is some way of deepening the sense of marginalisation that they have got no stake on this nation. Why are they in a rustic the place they can’t be president? Once more, the political device we perform is such that except you grasp that place of job, you get not anything. Now we have a nil device. So the conclusion is that it’s when there may be an Igbo presidency that the myriads of issues going through the Igbo may also be addressed. So, from that perspective, why now not? If we imagine in a united Nigeria the place fairness, justice, honest play reign; the place we’re all handled as equivalent with out discrimination towards any crew, why can’t they produce the president? However the query is: do the political gladiators suppose this manner? Ordinarily, we must expand as a country to some extent the place we must now not be pondering of the place the president comes from if we had the proper device. But it surely’s now not the program.  We must have a statesman who sees each and every village within the nation like Nigeria, regardless of creed and gender; a statesman who believes in meritocracy. However in a rustic the place the entire carrier chiefs are from a specific area, it’s in some way. Within the NNPC, the entire most sensible control positions are occupied via other people from a bit of the rustic. The opposite day, we have been speaking concerning the siting of a naval base in Kano and this presentations a device of injustice wherein, since you are in energy, you have interaction in primitive accumulation of items which are helpful and now not helpful. You wish to have energy however how you utilize it’s not essential. The essential factor is that you’ve energy and with the facility, you’ll be able to drag the rest on your position; you’ll be able to drag a naval base to a Sahara wilderness. Remodeling this nation will likely be on the detriment of many individuals who imagine that if a excellent device prevails then they’re going to move down on account of the havoc they’ve wreaked in this nation. They would like the established order ante to stay, they need to be recycling themselves, push one in every of their very own to energy to give protection to their pursuits and promote oil wells, make billions and let Nigerians stay impoverished.

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