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Ogoni Cleanup: President Buhari Approves N6 Billion Potable Water Project for Ogoni Communities

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Yesterday, at the Federal Executive Council meeting, President Muhammadu approved the sum of N6,048,318,974.74 for the provision of potable water supply in Ogoniland. Six companies will by this approval begin the process of rehabilitating existing water facilities in the four LGAs of Ogoniland to provide water for the communities in the coming months.

Speaking to newsmen after the approval, Minister of Environment, Dr. Muhammad Mahmoud Abubakar, said “This is a project that previous governments have tried to do, but it just turned out to be just talk. But President Buhari started in 2016 and currently, there will be six water projects that will be provided in these four local governments of Ogoniland and this has just been approved and work will start immediately.”

The journey to provide potable water to the hydrocarbon impacted communities of Ogoniland started in 2017 and was one of the top priorities of the Dr Marvin Dekil led administration as Project Coordinator. It includes a long and tedious process of assessment of all drinking water sources in , assessment of the integrity of existing water facilities, assessment of the reticulation network in various communities, countless meetings leading to the signing of MoUs with relevant stakeholders for sustainability purposes, and then a rigorious procurement process that involves technical and financial bidding opening ceremonies that was concluded in August 2020. By September 2020, after the evaluation of the bids and inspection of the company facilities, HYPREP forwarded the bids to the Ministerial Tenders Board for onward transmission to the Federal Executive Council who then yesterday approved the awards of the contracts.

About 30 Ogoni communities will be provided potable water in the first phase of the water scheme. More communities will then follow in the subsequent phases of the water scheme which is not going to take long again to do having done most of the work in the preparation for this first phase.

The Report identified in one Community, Nsisioken in Ogale, that Benzene level was 900 times above WHO Standards and recommended clean water for the impacted communities. HYPREP decided to extend the water beyond the hydrocarbon impacted communities to other Ogoni communities not affected by the oil pollution. Countering and cleaning up the pollution and catalysing a sustainable recovery of Ogoniland could take up to 30 years as stated by the Report. HYPREP has just concluded its second full year of operations having started actual remediation works in January 2019.

Governance

Govt Agency ‘Illegally Sold SUV Worth N18m To Top Official At N750k- Report

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Mr. Yakubu Tsala, former chairman, Governing Board of The Lake Chad Research Institute, Maiduguri, Borno State, bought a Prado Jeep worth N18 million at the rate of N750,000, according to the agency.

According to an information on its website, the Lake Chad Research Institute (LCRI) is responsible for conducting research into the improvement of millet and wheat.

In 2017, the office of the Auditor-General for the Federation had queried the institute over alleged disappearance of two SUVs.

Upon investigation, it said the Prado Jeeps were procured in 2013 and 2014 but were sold three years after.

The report is being considered by the Senate Public Accounts Committee, chaired by Senator Matthew Urhoghide (PDP, Edo).

The audit query reads, “Management of the Institute could not account for 2 Nos. Toyota Prado Jeeps which were purchased in 2013 & 2014 with registration No. 45KOIFG for one Jeep and none for the other.

“No reason was given for not registering the second Prado Jeep. In addition, a Toyota Hiace bus with registration No. 45KO3FG could not be accounted for during audit.

“This is a violation of Financial Regulation 2128 which states that “Every public officer is personally and pecuniary responsible for government property under his control or in his custody.

“Inability of the management of the Institute to account for government property under their custody suggests abuse and mismanagement, as government property may have been diverted to private use.

The Executive Director is required to account for the vehicles. The issue was communicated to the Executive Director through my Audit Inspection Report Ref. No. EIAD/WTR 16/CORP/4 dated 21st December 2017 but he failed to respond.”

The institute in a written response said, “The vehicle (Prado Jeep) was purchased on 21st March, 2014 at the Cost of N18.7 million and the former Executive Director, Dr.Oluwasina Olabanji, sought the approval of ARCN (Agricultural Research Council Of Nigeria) for boarding the vehicle to the former chairman Governing Board , Mr. Yakubu Tsala at the cost of N750,000 only.”

The second Prado Jeep, according to the institute, was purchased on 18th September, 2013 at the cost of N12.4 million and request for approval to board the vehicle was written to ARCN dated on June 7th , 2017.”

The Senate panel therefore ordered the institute’s Executive Director, Dr. Alhassan Bibinu to appear before it along with the former Executive Director, who gave order for selling of the two Prado Jeeps.

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Again, workers drag Gov Ishaku to court over unpaid 77 months salaries

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Gov Ishaku of Taraba

While the Taraba State Government under the leadership of Governor Darius Dickson Ishaku is yet to settle the ongoing impasse with the organized labour, another set of workers have again taken it up with the governor by dragging the government to the national industrial court.

This, is not in connection with the non-implementation of the new approved national minimum wage of N30.000 but in connection with the unpaid 77 months salaries of 18 non-indigenous workers of the defunct Nigeria Sunrise newspaper which has accumulated to over N73 billion.

The court, which is in Jos, the capital of Plateau State, was said to have been assigned with the responsibility of presiding over the case.

The said defunct newspapers which was established by the late governor of the state, Danbaba D. Suntai, in 2010, went out of existence shortly after the 2012 plane crash that rendered him incapacitated before he was eventually called to glory.

Narrating the ordeals they have been going through since the refusal of the state government to absorb them into the state civil service like their counterparts who have been absorbed due to their indigene status, the aggrieved workers believe that dragging the governor to court is the surest way out of their present predicaments.

The workers who spoke through their solicitors, M.Y Saleh (SAN), lamented the degrading conditions they have found themselves because of the inability of the state government to extend the same olive branch that was extended to the indigene workers of the defunct newspapers to those of them that are non-indigenes.

In their statement of claim which the eighteen workers who are non-indigenes made available to our correspondent through their counsel, they alleged they were denied salaries since the company stopped operation in 2014 and that they were discriminated against based on their States of origin.

Affirming that the “refusal of the defendants to pay the salaries and entitlements of the claimants is unlawful,” they pleaded with the court to as a matter of urgency call the defendants to order.

Sad that the defendants discriminated against them on the basis of “our states of origin in refusing to redeploy us in its service and this contravened our right to Freedom from Discrimination as protected by Section 42 of the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria”, the court, as pleaded by them, should take their pleas into consideration.

Before resolving to drag the governor and the defendants to court, several attempts according to the plaintiffs were implored to ensure a round table dialogue to no avail.

According to them “we wrote a complaint letter to the Public Complaints Commission who in turns wrote to the 5th defendant on the matter and the 5th defendant, through its Managing Consultant/Chief Executive Officer (CEO), responded via a letter to the Commission dated the 23/5/2018 confirming our story and who also attached a list containing our names, dates of employment and salaries, among other information.”

Those dragged to the court alongside the state governor include the Attorney General and Commissioner of Justice, Sam Adda, the commissioner of Information and Reorientation, Danjuma Adamu, the defunct publishing house, etc.

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