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ATIKU: Niger-Delta Can Have 100% Of Oil Revenues

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The presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party, Atiku Abubakar, has said he is willing to let Nigeria’s oil producing states have absolute control of crude oil revenues from their domains, but added he is reluctant to immediately implement such policies at this stage of national development.

The PDP candidate told The Africa Report that federating units once had considerable control of their resources, unlike the current federal laws that only allow 13 percent derivation for states in the Niger-Delta, where Nigeria’s sweet crude is extracted.

Although Mr Abubakar acknowledged the appropriate sharing formula might be difficult to say at this point — suggesting it would depend on ‘negotiations’— he recommended a limited role for the federal government in appropriating crude revenues.

Nigerian states “can get more because in the First Republic the regions had 50/50,” Mr Abubakar told The Africa Report in an interview published Wednesday. “I don’t mind giving even 100% […], but I would tax those states to maintain the federal government.”

But the former vice president recognised this is “not advisable at this stage of our development.”

“Even during the First Republic there was this derivation sharing between revenues and resources, or between the regions and the federal government. So I think we could have a middle course. It would be unfair to ask me for specifics; that will depend on negotiations,” he added.

Of all the presidential candidates for the 2019 election, Mr Abubakar has emerged the most vocal advocate of restructuring, an ideological standpoint that canvasses more powers for states at the expense of the central government.

He believes Nigeria’s subsisting Constitution, which recommends a federal system but implements a unitary one, should be urgently reviewed and replaced with a sovereign document that would engender a more peaceful and economically viable nation.

Oil revenues still account for over 80 percent of the Nigerian government’s revenues as of 2017, according to the National Bureau of Statistics, despite efforts towards economic diversification.

In the face of a floundering agriculture and services sector, reducing the federal government’s share of oil revenues to only taxes paid by about nine oil-producing states could be difficult to achieve soon.

“It is a good thing that the former vice president said he cannot go ahead with giving the Niger-Delta total control of oil income right now,” Busola Odukoya, an economist, told PREMIUM TIMES Thursday morning.

“The only problem here is that it could cause some people in the region to resume violent agitation for resource control, especially if Mr Abubakar is elected.”

Ms Odukoya said it would be difficult to predict any negotiation that would result in allocating up to or more than 50 per cent of crude earnings to the states.

“Apart from the offshore oil revenues which the government in Abuja can easily control, the crude lifting within states’ borders in the Niger-Delta cannot be shared even 50/50 with the centre,” the economist said. “The negative impact on some states in the northern or central parts of the country can only be left to imagination.”

“You have to allow decades of regular economic growth, some of which I have seen the candidates talk about this year, before you can be thinking of cutting oil revenues from federal government,” she added.

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Construction of Local Content Board Headquarters, a Token of Redemption for Niger Delta Region – Ekon

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Chairman House Committee on Local Content and Member Representing Abak/Etim Ekpo/Ika Federal Constituency, Rt. Hon. Emmanuel Ekon, has described the ongoing construction of a 17 floor head office building of the Nigerian Content Development and Monitoring Board (NCDMB) in Bayelsa State, as a token of redemption for the Niger Delta region.

Speaking alongside a cross section of the Committee Members at a Transformation Leadership and Management Workshop organized by the Management of the Nigerian Content Development and Monitoring Board (NCDMB) in Yenogoa, Bayelsa State, the lawmaker stated that he was “pleased that a token of redemption is risen in the Niger Delta region with the presence of the new headquarters building of the Nigerian Content Development and Monitoring Board”.

The landmark edifice located at the Bayelsa State Capital, Yenagoa, handled by Megastar Tech and Construction Company is one of several flagship projects of the Nigerian Content Development and Monitoring Board (NCDMB) and part of his committee’s repositioning of the local content board as a hub for industrial revolution and job creation.

While on a tour of the construction site, the lawmaker expressing satisfaction with the level of work done within the stipulated time frame by the contractor and commended the Nigerian Content Development and Monitoring Board (NCDMB) for making sure the project meets specification. He stated that with a renewed vision, the board is energized to deliver on its constitutional mandate to the Niger Delta and Nigeria at large.

Ekon further added that upon completion, the local content board will have a functional administrative headquarters and also bring the board closer to the Niger Delta region which is the mainstay of oil and gas explorations in Nigeria. He said the Local Content Board has come off age and urged other federal agencies to emulate the board by relying on indigenous companies to executr projects of this magnitude.

The Executive Secretary of NCDMB, Engr. Simbi Wabote, who took the lawmakers round the project site, reiterated the lawmaker’s position that the decision to embark on the building a 17-storey head office building was to create an enabling environment for Nigerian Content Development and Monitoring Board (NCDMB) to concretise their administrative base in the Niger Delta region.

It was gathered that the project which is the first of its kind in the Niger Delta is expected to be completed by the end of the year.

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Ekere to build new mechanic village in Uyo

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The Governorship Candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Obong Nsima Ekere, has promised to establish a new mechanic village in Uyo, the state capital, if elected Governor on Saturday.

Speaking during a visit to the mechanic village located at Afaha Offot in Uyo on Thursday, Obong Ekere said the proposed mechanic village will be patterned after what is obtained in advanced countries of the world.

He decried the deplorable state of the present village, established more than 30 years ago, and promised to construct an access road to the village immediately after his inauguration on May 29, 2019.

The APC standard bearer criticised Governor Udom Emmanuel for failing to fulfill the promise he made, four years ago, to reconstruct the village and for coming recently to again deceive the occupants of the village after failing to ameliorate their suffering for nearly four years.

“Akwa Ibom State does not need a lying Governor. That is why we are embracing change. Change has come to Akwa Ibom State. Akwa Ibom State is getting to the next level,” he said.

Obong Ekere charged the technicians in the Mechanic Village to protect and follow their votes to the collation centres.

Senator John Udoedehe, a former Minister of State for the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja, who is an indigene of Afaha Offot, wondered why Governor Udom Emmanuel came to campaign in the Mechanic Village after failing to fulfill his promise to develop the village made four years ago.

“Any government that looks down on mechanics, that government is a fool because you are the employers of labour. Nsima Ekere’s government will retrain and equip you. I want you to be agents for Nsima Ekere because Nsima Ekere is your future. Politics is a game of development. If Udom had performed, we would have nothing to campaign with,” he said.

Senator Udoedehe commended Obong Ekere for awarding a contract for the expansion of the internal roads in Afaha Offot and condemned Governor Emmanuel for refusing to equip the Primary Health Centre which he attracted to the village.

He said that he had also attracted an electrification project from the Ministry of Niger Delta to Afaha Offot.

Atuekong Don Etiebet, the Chairman of the Akwa Ibom State APC Caucus, described Obong Ekere as a quality person who will turn the mechanic village to a quality place.

He predicted total victory for the APC in the Governorship and House of Assembly elections.

Comrade Ufot Eno, the Secretary of the Nigeria Automobile Technicians Association (NATA), Mechanic Village, Uyo, Branch, who represented the Chairman, said Obong Ekere would be elected Governor of Akwa Ibom State, come rain come shine, disclosing that President Muhammadu Buhari won in the Mechanic Village polling unit during the February 26, 2019 election.

Mrs. Iniobong Ekanem, the Women Coordinator of NATA, Mechanic Village Branch, predicted victory for Obong Ekere and appealed to him to build what she called “a digital mechanic village” when he becomes Governor.

Eteidung David Etuk, the Village Head of Afaha Offot, who was present during the visit, thanked Obong Ekere for constructing roads in the village during his tenure as the Managing Director of Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) and expressed the belief that the APC standard bearer will transform the Mechanic Village if elected Governor.

He assured Obong Ekere of the votes of Mechanic Village and the larger Afaha Offot Village, adding that they had a stake in Obong Ekere’s incoming government through Senator Udoedehe, an insider.

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Girls are no longer victims but survivors – Eno-Obong Nkereuwem

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An emerging social crusader and girl rights advocate, Ms. Eno-Obong Nkereuwem has said that girls are no longer victims but survivors who remain resilient in the face of daunting challenges.

Narrating a story of her recent work with Smartmothers Foundation – an Akwa Ibom based NGO that aims to educate 3,000 students on sexual education and reduce the menace of teenage pregnancy across high schools, she wrote on her timelime:

“Barely less than a week after joining Smartmothers Foundation founded by Sifon Udo, I was handed my first challenge of coordinating an outreach. I was initially jittery for two reasons. Firstly, I had never coordinated an outreach of this sort, and secondly, the timing for me was quite ‘short’.”

“Buoyed by my passion, I knew this was a project that must happen. Sadly, the narrative around the girl-child has been demeaning and sometimes, hurting. And maybe I’m convinced it’s time to challenge this norm and recognise the place of the girl-child. I have been pondering well on this.”

“It touches my humanity that young schoolgirls are subjected to various degrees of abuse for things they cannot control while the society continues to look away. She reaches puberty and because she cannot afford pad, she becomes vulnerable to men who entice them with ‘money’ and most times lure them to bed resulting in teenage pregnancy. It’s a simple but dehumanizing cycle!”

“We live in a society that distributes free condoms instead of teaching young people to appreciate their sexuality and stay away from early sex. But can’t the society donate free pads to teenage girls? Can’t the society initiate stronger policies that protects the girl-child and reduce the menace of teenage pregnancy across high schools in Akwa Ibom State? The questions are endless!”

“But in of all these, young girls must develop their capacities and realise that we’re no longer victims but survivors who remain resilient in the face of daunting challenges.”

“Thank you Mr Gideon Ekanem
Thank you Smartmomsfoundation for believing in me to deliver.”

“SESEP was a success and we have GOD to thank for that.”

She called on well-meaning Nigerians to join the movement and donate pads to support the cause.

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NGO Targets 3,000 Students on Sex Education, Teenage Pregnancy in Akwa Ibom

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Smartmothers Foundation, an NGO based in Akwa Ibom State, on Tuesday said it had concluded plans to educate 3,000 students on sexual education and reduce the menace of teenage pregnancy across high schools in Akwa Ibom State.

The NGO disclosed this in a flyer exclusively obtained by Akwa Ibom INFO on its Sex Education Sensitization Programme organised for teenage students of Community Comprehensive Secondary School, Four Towns Uyo, tagged: “Sex Education is the Right of Every Teenager”.

The Program Director, Ms Eno-Obong Nkereuwem said that the sensitization programme is aimed at interfacing with young school children to reduce teenage pregnancy and also enlighten them on the basics of sex education.

Meanwhile, Akwa Ibom INFO learnt that the the founder of the NGO, Sifon Udo is targeting at empowering 3,000 teenage students in select schools across three Akwa Ibom senatorial zones.

According to her, pre-marital pregnancy in Nigeria is the highest in sub-Sahara Africa and is mostly prevalent amongst teenage girls in high school.

“The event slated for tomorrow, 28th February, 2019, will educate over 1000 teenagers and share pads to 200 vulnerable female students who cannot afford it and as a result resort to sex in order to get one”.

“Most young girls resort to sleeping with their peers or older men to give them money to buy pad. We are sharing the pads to them and giving them other options of getting pads instead of sleeping around.

“We are also educating young girls, ladies in particular and the public, about menstrual hygiene as well as breaking the stigma, clarifying myths and misconceptions around menstruation.

“There will also be pep talks on girl child empowerment, self esteem and confidence as a tool for nation building and donation of free sanitary pads and other hygiene products.

“Providing sanitary pads to young girls in schools will go a long way in supporting and dissuading them from keeping unhealthy relationships with the opposite sex. There’s reducing the rate of teenage pregnancy.” Eno-obong said.

Sifon stressed the urgent need for government at all levels to incorporate sex education into the school curriculum, so as to extend this sustainable value to teenagers in other schools in Nigeria.

The foundation calls on individuals and organizations to donate sanitary pads to support vulnerable teen girls in schools.

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