Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Nigeria News Update: Akwa Ibom State Governor Blames Governments for Niger Delta Crisis; 100 Billion Barrels of Oil; NLC Calls for Secure Pensions

Akpabio Blames Govt, Firms For Niger Delta Crisis

By Clifford Thomas Correspondent, Uyo
Courtesy of the Nigerian Independent Daily

Akwa Ibom State governor, Chief Godswill Akpabio, has said that the deliberate refusal of previous governments of Niger Delta and oil companies to develop the communities is the cause of high rate of poverty and violence in the area.

The governor, who stated this in his independence broadcast to the state, expressed sadness that the area could be allowed to wallow in poverty it has found itself, whereas so much money is got from the soil of states of the region daily.

He said: "In the last 48th years, oil companies have failed to form strategic partnership with host communities, which would involve not only developmental ventures but also healthy environmental practices."

Lamenting the neglect and criminal violation of the principle of integration of indigenes of the area into the major hub of oil production, which forced the people to get involved in issues that have become detrimental to the nation, Akpabio insisted on fair and equitable treatment to people of the region.

According to him, "The problem escalated and as we celebrate this anniversary the humdrum of Niger Delta militancy haunts all aspects of our nation's economy."

While commending President Umaru Yar'Adua for creating a separate ministry in charge of Niger Delta at the federal level, he called for a stepping up of the fight against corruption in the country.

Calling on Nigerians to stand up for the ideals and dreams of the country's founding fathers, he stated: "Our ancestors did not fight for our independence so that we could run our country on tribal lines and institutionalised corruption.

"They had a dream of a land that would be born in freedom, brewed in unity and made the pride of not only Africa, but the entire black race.

"Let us work together to make Nigeria the country of our dream. We may not be able to bend Nigeria, but if all of us work and change our position of it, a new Nigeria will emerge."

'Trade Unions Should Ensure Safety Of Pension Funds'

Stories by Sola Alabadan Senior Correspondent

It is imperative that trade unions ensure that the pension contributions of workers are safe and that employees enjoy comfortable retirement after they might have left active service, says President of Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Abdulwaheed Omar.

The NLC boss also explained why the congress decided to invest in Trustfund Pensions Plc, saying that the main objective is to guarantee proper oversight functions in the management of funds of Nigeria workers.

Omar pointed out that NLC has resolved to strengthen partnership with Trustfund management "in the overall interest of Nigerian workers, especially to ensure the safety of their contributions and for reasonable returns." NLC President, while addressing the leadership of the 37 affiliate unions and state councils n Abuja, said managing pension contributions is a pre-eminent concern of trade unions all over the world affirming that Nigeria cannot be an exception.

"Trustfund Pension is a PFA in which NLC has substantial interest. The motivation for forming the Trustfund Pension is not profit-related. Our vision is that we should sustain a PFA that we can monitor, so that workers contributions are not mismanaged. We feel strongly that as organised labour, we should maintain our own PFA, so that we can have an oversight over the management investment of the funds" NLC President said.

Omar reaffirmed confidence in the management of Trustfund and expressed satisfaction with the constructive collaboration it has enjoyed with other institutional investors in the company. Omar said "it is not my intention to market Trustfund Pension because the company has sufficient expertise to do so.

However, I am obliged to say that Trustfund Pension is our own and that the contributions of the workers are in safe hands". He commended the leadership of the PFA for displaying professional competence in handling the affairs of Trustfund.

On his part, Trustfund Managing Director, Bernard Ekwe. said the active involvement of labour in the affairs of Trustfund has made it the choice of Nigerian workers "it is a generally accepted fact in the pension industry that Trustfund remains a PFA that addresses the social concerns of the workers. This is because our operations are predicated on one belief that our most important asset in our quest for a unique service delivery is you.

You and your family deserve peace of mind and financial security on retirement and this is our sacred trust" Ekwe said. The Trustfund boss noted the commitment of the organisation to providing first class services and continuously improve its operations to ensure that workers retire to comfort.

Ekwe said that the numerous services and products introduced was to guarantee a life of comfort for serving and retiring workers. "At a time when the industry is largely grasping with the rudiments of the business, Trustfund has over 10,000 retirees on its payroll. They receive their benefits before 25th of every month in their bank accounts at various locations across the country; no queues" Ekwe noted.

Nigeria Explores Over 100billion Barrels Of Oil In 51 Years

By Adeola Yusuf, Reporter, Lagos

Nigeria has explored over 100 billion barrels of crude for production between 1956 and 2007, the National Association of Petroleum Explorationists (NAPE) has disclosed.

The country, base on this declaration, has the potentials to add trillions of dollars to the wealth it has made on the resources, which President of NAPE, Kingsley Ojoh described as fortunes.

Ojoh who stated that explorationists are working day-in day-out to discover more crude pointed out that the crude deposit in Nigeria's Niger Delta region alone doubles that of the America's Gulf of Mexico.

"Despite all the noise that America is making about its Gulf of Mexico, it is about one-third or half of the deposit that we have in the Niger Delta," he declared in a paper at the NAPE seminar on 'oil and gas industry for non-professionals.'

Noting that Nigeria accounts for over one-third of the 240 billion barrels of crude explorations in Africa, the petroleum geologist added in the paper titled: 'Niger Delta and Inland Basins of Nigeria' that about 150 billion barrels are yet to be discovered in the continent.

"To say that we are lucky in Nigeria is an understatement; we have oil and gas discovered on our land, in rivers and deep water. Whatever land space that we have explored, we have been having finds," Ojoh said.

The country, NAPE President continued, "has, since the Oloibiri's discovery in 1956, explored over 100 billion barrels of oil in CDP Processing like the one we have in Nembe, Ubit as well as in the deepwater projects like Bonga , Egina and Zafiro.

"This is why we have just instituted an oil giant discovery award for our International conference and Exhibitions slated for November, 2008 to encourage our people in the upstream who are working round the clock to make more discoveries."

Insisting that Nigeria is far ahead of Angola in the crude exploration and production, the Geologist maintained that although "Angola recently has faster discoveries compared to Nigeria; it has not found half of what Nigeria has found in its explorations."

According to him, Nigeria has the potentials to double its explorations if peace reign supreme in the oil reached Niger Delta region of the country.

NAPE would, according to him, continue its deliberations on major challenges in the Nigeria's energy industry with a view to finding solutions to them.

Shedding lights on the planned pre-conference of the association, which would have the Minister of state for Energy (Gas), Emmanuel Odusina as the special guest of honour, Ojoh said; "The annual pre-conference workshop of NAPE over the past 17 years has been an event through which NAPE, the umbrella association of petroleum geologists adds value to the growth of the upstream sector in Nigeria."

He added: "The event, a veritable platform for generating industry contribution to policy formulation and implementation to various departments and agencies of the Federal Government of Nigeria, would live up to its billings.

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