Gas flaring in the Niger Delta ruins lives, business

Oil companies in the oil-rich Niger Delta in Nigeria’s south destroy gas that could be used as a source of energy. The illegal practice hurts both the environment and business. Meet the people who are fighting back.

Gas flaring (photo: DW/Jan-Philipp Scholz)

It’s a good day for Bubaraye Dakolo. Today, he’s able to stand in front of his house without having a coughing fit.

He’s plagued by gas flaring that takes place less than 100 meters (109 yards) from where he lives. There’s a simple pipe scaffolding with a burner on top burning gas. That’s how the oil industry gets rid of waste gas released by drilling for oil.

Africa’s biggest oil fields are here in the Niger Delta. It’s estimated that gas worth about a billion US dollars is burned every year.

Dakolo lives in a small village near Yenagoa in the Niger Delta region. The burner close to his house is only very rarely used. But if gas does get burned, he and his neighbors can hardly breathe.

“Suddenly everything smells like gas,” the head of the Ekpetiama clan in the region told DW. For him, the fight against air pollution takes center stage.

Read more: Niger Delta: Nigeria’s oil-rich powder keg

Bubaraye Dakolo (photo: DW/Jan-Philipp Scholz)Dakolo says the whole village smells like gas and ruins people’s health

He says oil concern Shell is responsible for gas flaring in the region. “Sometimes without even proper announcement you see the whole atmosphere is covered by gas and then breathing becomes very difficult for everyone. But usually when you try to confront the cooperations they are gone,” he said.

A powerful opponent

Whenever Dakolo shows up in the village center, it doesn’t take long until residents come up to him to tell him about their problems. A young man complains that his new corrugated iron roof has already been destroyed due to acid rain. And the harvest has turned out meager yet again.

They urge Dakolo to finally take it up with Shell so they are able to live a normal life again.

Dakolo tries to calm down the men. He knows they expect a lot from him – but he also knows he’s up against a powerful opponent.

He says most politicians in the region are in support of the oil companies. “The gas flaring is a direct consequence of corruption. The people don’t want it to end because they have been settled,” he said.

Gas flaring was made illegal in 2005

Dakolo’s closest ally lives just a few kilometers from the tiny village, in the regional capital Yenagoa. Activist Alagoa Morris of the “Niger Delta Resource Center” has been fighting against environmental damage by the oil industry for decades. Morris points out that gas flaring in the Niger Delta has been illegal since 2005 when Nigeria’s Supreme Court banned the practice.

Map of the Niger Delta (DW)

“The court ruled that it is illegal and against the fundamental human rights like the right to live and to be healthy,” he said. “And even though Shell said they would appeal the case, it  has never been appealed and it is subsisting.”

However, fines are too low and only handed out in very few instances, he said. That’s why oil companies don’t care about the law, he added. Instead they would budget for these rare incidents when they have to pay a small nominal fee.

It’s a scandal, says Bolaji Babatunde, an internationally renowned biochemist who teaches at the University of Port Harcourt, the biggest city in the Niger Delta. He’s been doing extensive research about the effects of oil drilling in the region.

Gas flaring is one of the world’s worst climate sins due to the massive amounts of CO2 emissions, he said. And as if that wasn’t bad enough, the substances produced when gas is burned have proven to be toxic for plants, animals and humans in close proximity, he added.

The villagers are prepared to sue

“The gas that is being flared could simply be converted and made available for the people to use,” he told DW. “Instead of using kerosene or even firewood, which has a direct impact of saving our forests, the majority of the people where the gas is flared are using firewood for cooking as their source of energy.”

That could help ease the massive shortage of electricity in the country, he said, pointing to the running generator in his office. “Less than a quarter of the gas is being used to produce energy.”

Bubaraye Dakolo with villagers (photo: DW/Jan-Philipp Scholz)The villagers say they are prepared to sue to stop gas flaring in their regions

The reason is obvious: The Niger Delta is a poor region and access is difficult – that’s why oil companies believe clean solutions don’t really pay off.

Shell declined to comment on these allegations. Only a small regional oil company agreed to talk. The vice president of Belema Oil, a company that just started some five years ago, promises to entirely do away with gas flaring by 2019.

“It is amazing that after so many years of exploitation the basic infrastructure [to stop gas flaring] has not been provided,” vice president Pedro Diaz said. The company vowed to learn from the mistakes made by big corporations.

Meanwhile, clan head Dakolo says he will only believe this when he sees the companies have actually put an end to gas flaring. He’s heard all kinds of empty promises before.

That’s why he has started documenting the health problems of his fellow residents. They are determined to bring the case to European courts, if that’s what it takes to make things better.

Courtesy: DW

The new ways of Nigeria’s human traffickers

Thousands of young people move from the Nigerian state of Benue in the east to the country’s southwest every year. They are promised a good education and well-paid jobs. But they end up in modern slavery.

People standing at a market (DW/K. Gänsler)

Judith Akuha, 18, sits on a small wooden bench in rural eastern Nigeria with a blank stare. She now and then shoos away a few chickens which have come to pick melon seeds from a small bowl. She then returns to the bench and continues staring into the distance. She doesn’t show any emotions.

This apathy is typical for those who came back from Nigeria’s southwest. Judith is haunted by her memories from the past three years. Her ordeal started when her now-deceased uncle promised to help her.

“He said he wanted to send me to school in Yorubaland. He even paid for the trip,” she recalls.

But that couldn’t have been farther from the truth. Her uncle had teamed up with human traffickers. She doesn’t know why he decided to arrange for Judith to be sent there or if he was given a reward.

Instead of going to school, she had to go work on the fields.

Read more: Nigeria: Fighting hunger and Boko Haram

Judith Akuha (DW/K. Gänsler)Judith was forced to work on a field all day long – she was promised a good education

“I had to get up at 6 in the morning and was brought to one of the fields. In the evenings, I was brought back,” she says with a monotone voice.

She talks about the hunger and the shortage of everything. She was only given some money to buy a few cookies.

She said the only thing more degrading than the lack of food was her torn and dirty rags. “I didn’t have a second set of clothes.”

Human trafficking and slavery

When people here in Benue refer to “Yorubaland,” they refer to the southwest. For decades, people have been flocking to the region for work. In the 1980s, farmers came to Benue and negotiated wages that were actually paid after the work was done.

Farmers from the opposite end of the country came to look for workers here due to the similarities in agriculture.

What was once merely an offer people could decide on has now turned into something else entirely, says Valentine Kwaghchimin, who works for Caritas in the provincial capital Makurdi.

He’s collected data in the past year and says the voluntary approach is no longer. “The process of moving them to those locations is purely a trafficking arrangement,” he says, adding that conditions there translated to modern slavery.

Forced into prostitution

Workers were denied basic rights, according to Kwaghchimin’s research. They are trapped on farms and are only allowed to leave when being supervised. They are not allowed to keep their cell phones. They sleep on the floor in crowded rooms. Often, they don’t have access to toilets.

That’s what Judith describes, too. Other women recount rape and forced prostitution. Those who don’t do as they are told are denied the little food rations they were given before.

Watch video03:44

Nigerian women forced into prostitution

Kwaghchimin estimates about 11,000 people from Benue are living under these conditions in the southwest.

The real figures are probably much higher.

Sylvester Udam Ugbede has observed a similar trend in Naka, a small town of around 30,000.

The pensioner has seen many people leave for the southwest.

“The figures depend a bit on how many workers are needed at the moment. Especially young men are at risk; those who have no one to pay for their schooling,” he says.

While girls are lured with the promise of a good education, boys are promised good wages – about 30,000 to 40,000 Naira (70 to 93 euros; $81 to 108). The minimum wage in Nigeria is 18,000 Naira.

No chance for justice?

But most of them will never see that kind of money.

“Initially they say the harvest was bad,” Ugbede says. “Then the harvest needs to be sold. They are always put off.”

Still, most of them don’t go to the police. “Now and then someone manages to demand full payment. But more often than not this doesn’t happen. Because you have to pay the police to take on the case.”

Sylvester Udam Ugbede (left) in Naka (DW/K. Gänsler)Police demand money before they start taking your case, says Ugbede

The National Agency for Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP) has become aware of the system that’s organized just like international human trafficking and forced prostitution. Daniel Atokolo who heads NAPTIP’s regional office in Makurdi says they are trying to raise awareness for people to stay home and form cooperatives to work the fields.

“If you want to farm, please bear in mind the food basket of the country is in Benue,” he says.

Traumatized and alone

Judith who now lives with friends in Naka says she has never heard of NAPTIP. She also doesn’t know of another organization that is offering therapies for victims of human trafficking. She received help from a woman whose name she doesn’t know.

“She approached me and said ‘Judith, if I give you money for transportation, will you go home?’ I said yes!”

She wouldn’t have had the money to flee, had it not been for that woman.

Many return like Judith after years, feeling traumatized and with nothing to show for. All they have is shame – shame that they didn’t make it – and their reclaimed freedom.

Nigeria: Oil spills lead to increased newborn mortality in the Niger Delta

Researchers from a Swiss university have found that neonatal mortality rises if a child’s mother lives close to an oil spill before conception. The findings are worrying for residents of the oil-rich Niger Delta.

A boy with a fishernet standing next to the oil-stained bank of a creek (picture-alliance/dpa/EPA/Marten Van Dijl)

Niger Delta resident Annkio Briggs still remembers the days when she could simply draw water from her family’s well without having to worry about it being contaminated.

“I grew up drinking water from a well in my grandfather’s house. We just used to take a clean bucket, lift water up and drink it,” Briggs, now an environmental campaigner, told DW.

“Nowadays the water is polluted. I cannot drink it anymore, although it is a natural source meant for me and my people,” the 65 year old said. He has since resorted to buying bottled water.

Persistent spills in Nigeria’s oil-producing region have not just contaminated water resources. Residents are also exposed to harmful chemicals found in crude oil through direct skin contact or the consumption of polluted vegetables. Many also inhale the smoke released by burning oil.

“Black spots recently covered the entire city and beyond,” Delta resident Kie Oboe told DW. “This is a very serious issue, because it is affecting our health and the environment.”

A man is showing his hand covered with oil (picture-alliance/dpa/M. van Dijl)Oil spills are contaminating the livelihoods of many Delta residents

Newborn children not immune

Research has already shown how harmful the petroleum industry can be for residents. But a new study by the University of Sankt Gallen in Switzerland has revealed that the chemicals can also be dangerous for unborn children in the Delta region if their mothers live too close to an oil spill before the pregnancy begins.

“Oil spills that occur within 10 kilometers [of the mother] prior to child conception strongly increase the risk of mortality during the first months of life,” the study’s author Roland Hodler told DW.

According to the report, “The Effect of Oil Spills on Infant Mortality: Evidence from Nigeria,” oil spills which occur within this 10 kilometer radius increase the neonatal mortality rate by 38 deaths per 100,000 live births. That corresponds to an increase of 100 percent on the sample mean. In contrast, spills that occur during pregnancy do not have an impact on infant or neonatal mortality, the study says.

Holder and his colleague Anna Bruederle analyzed data from the Nigerian Oil Spill Monitor, which provides information on neonatal and infant mortality. He compared the data to the Nigeria Demographic and Health Survey which provides the birth histories of more than 23,000 Nigerian mothers, as well as relevant health information about their children.

Members of the MEND rebel movement holding guns in their hands (picture alliance/dpa)Militants have attacked pipelines in the Niger Delta

Surviving children also at risk

“Oil spills also increase infant mortality after the first months of life and continue to have negative effects on the health of surviving children,” Hodler said. The study also claims that children who survive the neonatal period still have a high chance of suffering health problems during their first year of life, including a low weight-for-height ratio.

Hodler and his colleagues based these findings on 2,744 mothers living in oil spill-affected areas.

The Nigerian Oil Spill Monitor recorded some 5,296 oil spills between January 2005 and July 2014.  It reports that up to 75 percent of the spills are caused by sabotage or theft. Militants and oil thieves have repeatedly attacked pipelines. Maintenance issues account for approximately 15 percent of all oil spills. Environmental campaigners have long accused companies in the area of neglecting to properly maintain pipes and other important installations. No causes have been listed for the remaining 10 percent of spills.

Nigeria is home to Africa’s largest petroleum industry, with crude oil making up a sigification portion of the country’s exports. But many residents in the Niger Delta region say that they have not benefitted from the oil industry. Instead, oil spills have become an alarmingly common event, devastating swathes of forest and waterways.

Man walk past a burning flame and an oil pipeline (picture-alliance/dpa)Nigeria is Africa’s largest oil producer

Should Nigeria’s government do more to help?

In 2015, Anglo-Dutch oil giant Shell agreed to pay 61 million euros ($71.89 million) in compensation to 15,600 fishermen and farmers after a Shell-owned pipeline burst twice in 2008 and destroyed thousands of hectares of mangroves, effectively bringing the region’s once prosperous fishing industry to a halt.

The out-of court settlement was the culmination of a three-year legal battle in Britain. The company also agreed to begin the cleanup of two major spills; however, local civil-society campaigners claim that progress so far has been too slow.

Hodler wants Nigeria’s government to take on a more active role in preventing oil spills in the region.

“In my view, it would be the government’s duty to regulate oil companies and control the maintenance of their pipelines,” Hodler said. “It would also be the job of the government to prevent oil theft and sabotage.”

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Courtesy: DW

Steering the Economy back to the Path of Growth and Development: The LandAssets Plan Concept

Gabbby Ogbechie, TPG.


Two and one-half years after the transition from the ‘’clueless’’ government of Goodluck Jonathan to the ‘’change’’ government of Muhammadu Buhari, the economy is still mired in the throes of recession. If the classic definition of recession is still the economic situation in which many are out of work, the economy not growing, and wealth not being created, then Nigeria is still wallowing in deep recession.
One would expect that for a government that seeks the welfare of its citizens, the welfare of Nigerian citizens should be the number one priority, but as some of us suspected, the government has rather concerned itself with such divisive policies as the Islamization of Nigeria; a northernization policy which excludes the other regions within the federation from governmental development objectives; paying a blind eye to the destructive activities of Fulani herdsmen or Janjaweed militants; the confusion-fused policy of fighting Boko Haram which it promised to wipe out immediately it assumes office by releasing back into the society, captured Boko Haram terrorists, instead of prosecuting and jailing them; and making the war against IPOB, a non-terrorist organization its priority.

There is this tendency to conjecture that things are the way they are because our political leaders are not truly leaders but managers who can only manage to the level or extent of their capabilities. Most Nigerians are excellent at pointing out the things that are wrong with the economy. However, what Nigeria needs at the moment are leaders who have a map of the Promised Land which the Nigerian ship of State should be steered to.
We therefore feel very deeply about the suffering most of the masses of our countrymen undergo on a daily basis, with no hope, as it were, of things ever getting better. The high rate of unemployment is the reason Boko Haram easily finds recruits; mobs readily gather to maim and lynch; IPOB easily attract adherents; and the embarrassing level of kidnapping, slaughter for body parts and ritual killings tend to be on the increase.
Fifteen years ago, almost to the very date, the Lord God gave me a concept which, when implemented, would get Nigeria back to the path of Economic Growth and Development, and lift many out of the throes of deep and abject poverty. In order to test the Viability of the concept, I engaged my staff at the time in using Nigeria as a test case. Our findings were as follows:
A little over N3.00 trillion in Insurance Premium would be generated per annum;
Over one million enduring jobs would be created;
At the prevailing corporate taxation rate, an additional sum of about N1.67 trillion would be added to government coffers.
The closest I got to the LandAssets Plan scheme being adopted by the Federal Government was in the last government; the problem however was that those who engaged us wanted to take it over; a development we weren’t disposed to accepting.
The LandAssets Plan
The LandAssets Plan is a concept which seeks to increase the volume of property insurance and use it to provide solutions to the world-wide problem of unemployment, and enhance poverty reduction, wealth creation, industrialization, manufacturing and housing provision. Put in a nut shell, the LandAssets Plan could be defined as the compulsory insurance of all urban and semi-urban based Real Estate within an economy, with a view to:

deepening insurance penetration;

increasing insurance volume and increasing appreciably, the Gross Annual

Insurance Premium;

providing therefrom, the required funding for infrastructure provision and maintenance;

providing long term funding for the private sector of the economy;

reducing the cost of funds to single digit from the current, tortuous

Double digit rates; and,

jump-starting the economy from a recessive to a productive one

The Basis for Acceptability
Naturally, the question, what is the basis for the acceptability of the LandAssets Plan Project should be a viable question, since, as has been stated elsewhere, the state of insurance penetration is as low as well under three percent in the Nigerian economy. Given the drive towards attracting higher insurance volume, penetration, and premium, our projections on premiums were considerably lower than what currently obtains in the industry, ranging from 2.5% to 7.5% of units of Real Estate.
Based therefore on premium anyone could derisively refer to as “peppercorn,” the projected increase in insurance volume would be over 500% of the current volume, and would therefore result in a Gross Premium of N3.00 trillion in the first year of implementation of the scheme. Attracting more premiums at lesser premium per unit of Real Estate would therefore result from increased volume of insurance coverage per annum. Without any controversy whatsoever, this makes more sense than insisting on the subsisting rates. Insuring 10,000 houses at N10,000 per unit and grossing N100,000,000.00 per annum makes better sense than covering only 100 units at N100,000.00 per unit and grossing only N10,000,000.00 per annum.

As obtains in so many developing economies, Nigeria is troubled by such economic problems as:
♦ Unavailability of long-term Development Funds;
♦ Infrastructure deficit;
♦High interest rates;
♦ High inflation rates;
♦High rate of Capital flight;
♦ Exchange rates deficiency;
♦ Inadequate housing provision;
♦ Decaying manufacturing infrastructure; and,
♦ Very low rate of industrialization.
The existence of the foregoing problems, result in high unemployment and poverty rates. Such economies are often caught in the throes of recessionary spirals. The problem therefore, properly situated, is the need to conceptualize ways to fund job creation, create wealth, reduce poverty, industrialize the economy, enhance manufacturing, and create the enabling conditions for provision of affordable and adequate housing. Nigeria fits into this mold, and we believe that the LandAssets Plan would work as well in the Nigerian or Greek economy, as well as any economy in which private Real Estate development has been enhanced, but at the peril of the economy.
The State of the Economy Today
In the over thirty odd years since the abrupt end to the second republic, the economy has gone from bad to worse. The pool of the poor has increased at a tremendously scandalous rate. Most efforts at poverty reduction have ended up enhancing the financial status of the same ubiquitous agents that government employs in purchasing the machinery/equipment the beneficiaries of government’s poverty reduction strategies need.
In retrospect, most commentators on the state of the economy have stated without equivocation that the economy is in a worse state now, than was the case thirty odd years ago. It has equally been generally accepted that the problem with the economy, amongst other factors are:
Its mono-cultural nature – oil being the major exportable product, with virtually no value added;
Lack of industrialization;
Lack of long term credit with which to industrialize, enhance the capital formation process, and enhance housing provision for the middle and low income groups.
‘Needs’ and the Restructuring Process
The key to revamping the economy lies in restructuring in such a way such that wastages in every facet of the economy would be, if not entirely eliminated, reduced to the barest minimum. The privatization exercise of the Federal government; the personnel reduction within the Civil Service; and the restructuring of the methods of affecting contractual obligations by the Federal Government, evidence the foregoing assertion. But, at what cost to the economy, especially with regards to the burgeoning army of the unemployed?
However, irrespective of the method found expedient, the object of former President Obasanjo’s NEEDS was to evolve an economy which is restructured to the extent that individuals, small and medium scale enterprises are empowered, through the provision of economic leveraging, by way of venture capital provision and long term credit, to become part of, and play effective roles in evolving a healthy and vibrant economy. The current administration’s resolve to go down the same path is commendable, but given the fact Banks are not given, in this economy, to helping Small Scale entrepreneurs, it is our bet they would make mince-meat of the idea like they have done near similar ideas in the past.
The LandAssets plan, as posited in elsewhere, would, amongst other things:
 Grow the economy by adding trillions of Naira to the GDP during its first year of implementation;
 Add over N… trillion to the GDP over a ten-year period;
 Improve and standardize the Capital Formation process by providing annually for infrastructural development and maintenance;
 Provide long term loan able funds for Industrial, Manufacturing and Housing development;
 Create wealth with the concomitant creation of millions of jobs, traversing the financial {insurance and banking institution}, construction, housing, manufacturing, industrial and service sectors of the economy;
 Raise the funds for giving the economy the required head-start by attracting insurance premium on our national Real Estate, the value of which we have estimated at N 900 trillion;
 Evolve a private sector driven economy which is neither dependent on government nor oil, given that an estimated N15.00 trillion per annum would be realized as Annual Premium during the first five years of implementation;
 Impact the GDP by cumulatively adding over N30.0 trillion to the economy over a ten-year period.

The question naturally, is how is it possible?
We began our enquiry by taking a good look at our economy and its attendant problems, which are typical of most developing African and third world countries. Such problems are as follows:
1. Lack of fully developed capital formation process;
2. Lack of a well-developed manufacturing /industrial sector;
3. Prevalence of high interest (lending) and exchange rates;
4. An external debt overhang, which basically, enslaves third world nations;
5. Lack of long term loans for meaningful Manufacturing/Industrial investments;
6. Lack of response to the phenomenon of the rich getting richer while the poor get poorer;
7. Evidence of non performing wealth all over the economy;
8. Lack of wealth creation schemes;
9. Lack of job creation schemes;
10.Lack of any wealth redistribution scheme or policy.

Ten – Year Cash Flow Projection of The LandAssets Plan
From the projections, deductions and computations we have made, in consonance with our projections above under the subject scheme, we shall be dealing with a net worth of N 900 trillion in Real Estate, country-wide. If allowed to function as projected, our analyses of this net worth show the following computations/ figures for the first five years of implementation of the LandAssets plan:
Capital and Insurable Value ………      N 900 trillion
Rental Value                        ………       N 45 trillion
Annual Premium                 ……….      N 2.7 trillion
Valuation Fee   (ES&V)            ………      N 45 billion
Other Professionals              ………..      N 100 billion
Retention by Insurance Companies…  N2.30 trillion (1st year)
Retention by Insurance Companies … N2.35 billion (2 – 5 yrs)
Coordination/Management Fee …   N 270 billion

S/No

Year

 

CapitalValue

N Trillio

RentalValueN Trillion PremiumBuildings      N

Trillion

PremiumContentN 

trillion

Valuation FeeNtrillion OtherProfessionalsNtrillion RetentionIns. CoysNtrillion    Coordination/mngmtFeeNtrillion
1 900 45 2.300 0.700 0.045  0.100 2.33 0.270
2 900 45 2.300 0.700  0.100 2.33 0.270
3 900 45 2.300 0.700  0.100 2.33 0.270
4 900 45 2.300 0.700  0.100 2.33 0.270
5 900 45 2.300 0.700  0.100 2.33 0.270
6 1000 50 2.500 1.000 0.050  0.150 2.515 0.300
7 1000 50 2.500 1.000  0.150 2.565 0.300
8 1000 50 2.500 1.000  0.150 2.565 0.300
9 1000 50 2.500 1.000  0.150 2.565 0.300
10 1000 50 2.500 1.000  0.150 2.565 0.300

Note: We project an annual expenditure of 10% of the insurance companies’ retention [i.e. N23.3 billion] as out-going for Loss Adjustments or claims. This would have the effect of creating more jobs.
Moreover, we shall insist that the foremost qualification for participating in the implementation of the LandAssets Plan by Insurance, Construction, Engineering, Estate Surveying, Law, Banking and members of the Service sectors would be to employ new hands, commensurate with the benefit accruable to them from the LandAssets Plan implementation. We expect to therefrom generate one million jobs within the first year, and another million in the second year.
Implementation would result in the following:
1. the problem of mobilization of long-term capital for investment would be finally and adequately addressed, with the Insurance Companies becoming the major players in the financial economy, as should be;
2. the problem of funding, infrastructural provision, and maintenance would also be over, vide the establishment of the Infrastructure Development and Management Fund (IDMF), to which the participating insurance companies would subscribe, and particular effort would be made to construct roads, fire hydrants, and such other provisions for fighting fire, with a view to blotting out our national shame of always knowing that properties worth billions are regularly destroyed by fire, because of lack of water and other firefighting equipment;
3. Investments in the solid minerals exploitation area by insurance companies vide long term loans and direct investment with their surplus funds from the envisaged Annual Premium;
4. Investments by the insurance companies in other aspects of the industrialization / manufacturing processes;
5. Investments by the insurance companies by granting of loans and direct investments in housing programmes;
6. Elimination of individual losses sustainable by property owners who, prior to the introduction of this scheme, often found it impossible to restore burnt/ destroyed properties;
7. Prompt settlement of claims without recourse to time and finance wasting court actions, and the attendant declining from assumed insurable risks, which itself has the effect of destroying the insuring company’s reputation;
8. Reversing the perceived ignoble trend of foisting the cost of running the economy on the poor;
9. Using the wealth of the rich to administer the needs of the economy in a way that further enhances the benefits to such property owners, thereby fostering a win-win situation between the insuring companies and property owners;
10. Fostering a new economic scenario whereby the poor would accept that government policy is not making further financial demands on them;
11. Creation of employment opportunities in every sector of the economy, thereby generating employment opportunities of at least two million jobs by its second year of implementation;
12. Provision of a conducive economic climate for the implementation of the Economic Transformation Agenda of the Federal Government;
13. Enhancement of the GDP of the economy and the per capita income;
14. Reduction of the lending rate, thereby reducing the misery index of the economy;
15. Effectively evolving a private sector driven economy;
16. Increasing the exportation quotient of the solid mineral sector, thereby increasing the economy’s external / offshore income;
17. Effectively beginning the process of wealth creation and redistribution;
18. Effectively increasing by several folds, the size and capacity of the overall finance sector of the economy; and
19. Effectively transforming the economy for good.
The Way to Implementation
First, it is necessary to state clearly and unequivocally that this is not a proposal to the Federal Government for a contract in the usual use of the term. The Federal Government is not under obligation to pay one kobo to LandAssets Consult. But this, inevitably, is an invitation to partner with LandAssets Consult to enable the Insurance companies to become the backbone of the economy by bridging the economy to the long term capital it is in dire need of.
While the insurance companies would be empowered through this concept to grow from a N350 billion per annum industry to a N3.00 odd trillion one, the Federal Government would benefit by realizing about N1.67 trillion per annum in corporate tax, and a further N500 billion in Special Development Fund Appropriation (SDFA) over a period of five years for which Debt Certificates would be issued to the Insurance companies from which the funds would be appropriated, redeemable over ten year periods.
The above stipulation is necessary because otherwise, the insurance company executives would fritter the whole funds away in Capital Flight, unearned bonuses and other frivolities. Moreover, the SDFA is not to be shared among States or State Governors who have become more adept at making development funds disappear into foreign banks.
The first step therefore towards the implementation of the LandAssets Plan, is a legislation authorizing the Compulsory Insurance of all Urban and Semi-Urban located Real Estate at Designated, Affordable Premium Rates which LandAssets would work out at the appropriate time.
LandAssets Consult would play the roles of Conceptualizer, Manager and Co-coordinator of the project. At the concept stage, LandAssets would be an Insurance Agent, and like the average Insurance Agency, would be entitled to twenty percent of the Revenue it generates for the insurance companies. In addition, LandAssets would manage and co-ordinate the entire process; from allocation of the insurable properties to the realization of the Premium Sums by the Insurance companies.
Without necessarily sounding off, we believe that there is no better plan by any government, corporation or institution, not just in this economy, but in the entire world to harness the latent value in the largest investment in the entire world – Real Estate, and using such funds to create wealth, create jobs, reduce poverty, and enable the processes of Infrastructure Development and Capital Formation than the LandAssets plan.
In a world in which the likes of Jack Ma, the founder and chief executive officer of Alibaba.com has resolved to surpass the economies of France and Britain by 2025 through innovation, it is a shame that our economy has consistently gone backwards because of our economy’s reliance on Crude Oil. Give us the place to stand, and we shall not only move Nigeria, but the entire world.
Finally, beyond mere rhetoric, the implementation of the LandAssets Plan will definitely put a check on the migratory tendencies of young Nigerians, who risk life and limb to get to Europe, despite the dehumanizing experiences they undergo in Libya and other migration routes. More than anything, therefore, we believe that the implementation of the LandAssets Plan would help restore the human dignity of the average Nigerian youth.
We look forward to working with the Presidency and the Federal Government towards making the LandAssets Plan concept a reality. We are not aware that there’s a better alternative anywhere else.
Like President Barrack Obama said in one of his ”State of the Union” addresses, “opportunities abound, let’s get to work.” Give a helping hand in reducing poverty. Help us to create wealth.

 

Why we terminated INTELS contract – NPA

 
Hadiza Usman

The Nigerian Ports Authority boats pilotage monitoring and supervision contract with INTELS Nigeria Limited remains terminated, the NPA’s Chief Executive, Hadiza Usman, has said.

The NPA boss told newsmen on Monday in Lagos that the contract was terminated on the advice of the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Malam Abubakar Malami.

According to her, the legal advice was contained in an AGF’s letter dated Sept. 27, 2017, which was a response to NPA’s May 31, 2017 letter in which it sought clarity on the matter.

Usman said that she had raised letters and held several meetings with INTELS management to comply with the Federal Government’s directive on the Treasury Single Account since she assumed office 15 months ago.

“They maintained their stand not to make payment to NPA. They want to deduct 28 percent commission and other costs.

“NPA says a TSA account has been opened and that at the end of the month, there will be reconciliation of accounts but INTELS refused.

“Will I spend 15 months talking to a company to comply with the constitution of the country?” she asked.

Usman explained that all further attempts by the NPA to get the company obey the payment directive were met with various excuses.

She said the NPA management would proceed on a transitional arrangement to engage another firm.

On fear of job losses, the managing director said that the workers would be absorbed by any entity that took up the job.

On repair of port access roads, Usman said she had sent so many letters to the Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Mr Babatunde Fashola, to provide clarity on budgetary provisions for the port access roads.

Similarly, she said that the bad state of Ikom Bridge in Cross River had not allowed containers to move to the northern part of the country.

The managing director, however, said that it was not under the purview of the NPA to provide N1.8bn for the rehabilitation of port access roads.

On the controversial contract on buoys, she said that the NPA management had discovered concerned officers that misguided the authority on the contract.

“We need buoys. We are going to buy more buoys.

“We hope that the controversy will be resolved to enable the firm – Marina Energy- to continue,’’ she said.

Courtesy: NAN/PUNCH

Buhari and the Birth of the Far Right In Nigeria, By Majeed Dahiru

Buhari-3

Far right leaders often leave their nations divided. Their style of leadership often leads to the hardening of extreme positions by all conflicting groups, with those feeling marginalised and unprotected resorting to self-help… Buhari’s inaction have emboldened killer herdsmen to continue their murderous activities throughout Central and Southern Nigeria.

We are very quick to denounce Marine Le Pen when she says, “Multi cultural societies are multi conflict societies” and her National Front political party is commonly criticised as being far right. Her open opposition to the unbridled diversity of the French republic often depicts her as intolerant, if not discriminatory of Africans, other peoples of colour and Muslims. Similarly, President Donald Trump of the United States often comes under fire for failing to outrightly condemn White supremacists, neo-Nazis and members of the Ku Klux Klan for their hate filled racially divisive speeches, as exemplified in the recent Charlottesville demonstrations against the planned removal of the statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee, the commander of the anti-slavery emancipation army in the American civil war. In a civil protest that turned bloody, when a member of the far right coalition drove a vehicle into a large crowd of protesters in support of the removal of the now controversial statue, killing a woman identified as Heather Heyer in the process. In all of these unfortunate incidences, President Trump placed the blame for the violence on “both sides”, claiming “there are good guys on the sides, as well as bad”.

In Myanmar is Ms. Aung San Suu Kyi, another fast rising star of the far right. The leader of Myanmar has been criticised throughout the globe for her long silence and failure to condemn the violent ethnic cleansing of Rohingya Muslims by her fellow Burmese Buddhists nationalists. Like, Trump, when Suu Kyi finally spoke, she attempted to place the blame on both sides, saying, “There have been allegations and counter-allegations… We have to make sure those allegations are based on solid evidence before we take action.” She also urged members of all communities in the Rakhine state of Myanmar to live in peace.

Far right politics is characterised by racial or ethnic supremacy, leading to prejudice, hate, discrimination and in extreme cases, genocide. Its leading figures are often divisive and they polarise their nation states by turning diversity into a faultline. Whenever far right figures are propelled to power, they often make more efforts to strengthen sectional interests, which inevitably leads to the marginalisation of groups and individuals other than their own. They deploy the resources of the state to satisfy their narrow bases of political support to the detriment of the unity and stability of their nations. Therefore, Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari deserves a well-earned seat besides Marine Le Pen of France, Donald Trump of America and Aung San Suu Kyi of Myanmar on the high table of the far right.

Whereas France has the fortune of not having Marine Le Pen resident in the Elisee Palace and America’s strong democratic institutions serve as effective checks on the excesses of Donald Trump, Myanmar and Nigeria are unfortunate to be saddled with far right leaders whose excesses cannot be curtailed as a consequence of very weak institutions of state, leaving both nations with the terrible consequences of underdevelopment, instability and insecurity. Muhammadu Buhari has never hidden his sectional agenda in favour of northern Nigeria, since he assumed the mantle of leadership. From his appointments to his close cycle of associates and developmental agenda, his Arewa interests come before the interests of the Nigerian state. Typical of all far right figures, his body language, public statements and state policies often betray this sectional tendencies. Whatever doubt existed about Buhari’s northern agenda should have been put to rest with the recent revelation by the World Bank Chief about the president’s appeal for a special “focus” on northern Nigeria for developmental support.

In Aung San Su Kyi, Muhammadu Buhari has a soul mate. Her long silence on the plight of the ethnic Rohingya Muslims, whose condition have degenerated from being persecuted to being mass murdered in a state supervised ethnic cleansing agenda, by members of her own Burmese community, is similar to Buhari’s long silence on the murderous activities of killer herdsmen among his own ethnic Fulani.

If Marie Le Pen is against a racially diverse France, Muhammadu Buhari does not pretend to be a good manager of Nigeria’s ethnic diversity. His insensitivity to the feelings of marginalisation by other groups in Nigeria clearly illustrates this. The recent revelation by Ibe Kachikwu, the minister of state for petroleum about his redundancy in the affairs of oil resources management in the country clearly shows that Buhari’s cabinet is in negation of the spirit of the 1999 Constitution, which provides for at least a minister from each of the thirty six federating units of the country. By appointing a fellow Northerner, Maikanti Baru as the GMD of Nigeria’s state owned oil company, NNPC, who reports directly to him in his capacity as petroleum minister, Buhari has not only rendered Ibe Kackikwu redundant and irrelevant in the affairs of the petroleum ministry, he has also left the Southern oil producing state of Delta without a minister in the proper sense. In this instance, the president fails to appreciate the necessity of carrying along every section of the country in his government, in line with the wisdom behind the spirit of the constitution.

Muhammadu Buhari also has something in common with Donald Trump. For the first time since the administration of George Bush (snr.), when General Collin Powell was appointed as the first African American to serve as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff of the United States Armed Forces, the White House is truly “White”, as there is no African American – from who Donald Trump got the least support – occupying any of the top jobs in the Trump administration. From the kitchen cabinet to the State Department and Pentagon, all the top positions are occupied by White Americans, from among who Donald Trump got the most votes to become president. Similarly, relying on his “97 percent and 5 percent” of support as a basis for his appointments, President Buhari has appointed a disproportionate number of Northerners into his government, to the dismay of most Nigerians.

In Aung San Su Kyi, Muhammadu Buhari has a soul mate. Her long silence on the plight of the ethnic Rohingya Muslims, whose condition have degenerated from being persecuted to being mass murdered in a state supervised ethnic cleansing agenda, by members of her own Burmese community, is similar to Buhari’s long silence on the murderous activities of killer herdsmen among his own ethnic Fulani. These are migratory bands pillaging farmlands and killing members of farming communities in central and southern Nigeria. When eventually pressured to speak, like Aung San Suu Kyi, Muhammadu Buhari blamed both sides.

Whereas the full might of the state was deployed to crush the separatist agitations of Nnamdi Kanu’s IPOB before they were even declared a terror group, no decisive military operation has been launched against the marauding killer herdsmen… The feeling of apartness from the Nigerian state by ethnic Fulani herdsmen, in solidarity with their armed kith and kin from all over the Sahel, is no less treasonable.

The same way Aung San Suu Kyi refuses to acknowledge the murderous activities of her fellow Burmese Buddhist nationalists as genocide, Muhammadu Buhari also fails to address the murderous activities of killer herdsmen as terrorism against the Nigerian state. On each unfortunate occasion of mass killings by killer herdsmen, such as happened recently on the Plateau, the government’s reaction, such as this, “Buhari is devoted to the sanctity of Nigeria’s unity, and he encourages Nigerians of all groups to learn to live together in peace and harmony”, reduces a clear case of terrorism by one group against another to a matter of farmer-herdsmen clashes. And while the security forces in Myanmar appears powerless, if not complicit by failing to prevent the murderous mob of Burmese Buddhist from unleashing terror against ethnic Rohingya Muslims, Nigeria’s northern dominated internal and defence security apparatus appears similarly powerless in the face of the killer herdsmen terror. Whereas the full might of the state was deployed to crush the separatist agitations of Nnamdi Kanu’s IPOB before they were even declared a terror group, no decisive military operation has been launched against the marauding killer herdsmen. The murderous activities of the marauding herdsmen, is a form of secession by elimination. The feeling of apartness from the Nigerian state by ethnic Fulani herdsmen, in solidarity with their armed kith and kin from all over the Sahel, is no less treasonable.

Far right leaders often leave their nations divided. Their style of leadership often leads to the hardening of extreme positions by all conflicting groups, with those feeling marginalised and unprotected resorting to self-help. Just as Trump’s silence has emboldened far right groups in the United States, Buhari’s inaction have emboldened killer herdsmen to continue their murderous activities throughout Central and Southern Nigeria.

Majeed Dahiru, a public affairs analyst, writes from Abuja and can be reached through dahirumajeed@gmail.com

Courtesy: Premium Times

The forgotten Christians of Nigeria — faithful while enduring incredible persecution


By Larry Alex Taunton
Published October 15, 2017
FoxNews.com
“Don’t go. I swore I would never go back there,” came the voice of my friend Jay Smith on a trans-Atlantic Skype call. “I’ve been in
over sixty countries. I’ve been all over Africa. I lived there, and I’ve never felt unsafe the way I did in that country. There is
something especially terrifying about that place.”
“Good to know,” I replied. “Alan said that he goes there all the time. He said he even takes his children.”
Alan was a British politician who had recently attended one of my lectures in London. To hear him tell it, Nigeria was like Club Med.
“Alan?” Jay was incredulous. “Did Alan also tell you that when he goes he’s traveling with the British government and is
accompanied by heavily armed guards? You? You’re going to have an entirely different experience.”
This was my introduction to Nigeria. Jay’s opinion was not acquired from Trip Advisor. He had been there more than once. During
a 2008 visit, he spent nine hours hiding in the wheel well of a car while a mob went up and down a blocked highway looking for
Westerners to victimize. Nigeria was, in his view, unique to the African experience. It wasn’t that terrible things didn’t happen in
other countries; it was the sheer magnitude of them in Nigeria. Even other Africans are afraid of Nigeria and its well-earned
terrifying reputation.
I had been invited there by my friend, Jwan Zhumbes, the Anglican bishop of Bukuru. Jwan and I had done our doctoral work
together. He had asked me some years ago to come and teach the members of the diocese on issues of faith and culture. Jwan is
shepherd to a diocese that has been attacked by the Boko Haram and another Islamic group, the Fulani Herdsmen Militia. He was,
in my estimation, a great man doing a great work.
Now, months later, the mission was complete and it was time for me to leave the country. My time in Nigeria had been one of great
blessing. The experience defies a simple description or even a simple narrative. These are Christians whose churches, homes,
families and friends have been bombed, burned, and persecuted for their faith in Jesus Christ. Indeed, just last month, 20
Christians were slaughtered by the Fulani only a short drive from where I was staying. This is not uncommon. And yet, optimism
prevails with them where self-pity and a spirit of defeat might rule a lesser people.
Packing-up for the journey ahead, I noticed Jwan at my door. He looked upset.
“What is wrong?” I asked.
“It took the housekeeper a long time to answer the door,” he began. “For a moment, I feared something had happened to my friend
during the night.”
“I’m fine,” I reassured him. “I slept well.”

Courtesy: Yahoo/Fox News

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