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NIGER DELTA MILITANTS AT WAR OVER PIPELINES SURVEILLANCE CONTRACT

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Militant leaders of the Niger-Delta region are currently at war over the N4.5 billion monthly pipeline surveillance contract awarded to former leader of Movement for the Emancipation of Niger-Delta, MEND, Government Ekpemupolo, popularly known as Tompolo, by the Federal Government, with Alhaji Asari Dokubo, yesterday, alleging that he (Tompolo) bluntly refused to involve him and other ex-militant leaders in a $144 million coastal protection contract ex-President Goodluck Jonathan gave to all of them during his tenure.

Dokubo, leader of Niger-Delta People’s Volunteer Force, NDPVF, has launched series of verbal attacks on Tompolo since the Federal Government, through the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation Limited, NNPCL, awarded the pipeline surveillance contract to Tompolo and other contractors in the Niger-Delta.

It will be recalled that Commander of defunct MEND, Victor-Ben Ebikabowei, aka Boyloaf, and other ex-militant leaders and stakeholders of the Niger Delta, had on Monday, lashed out at Dokubo over his recent outburst against Tompolo over the pipeline surveillance contract.

The Pan Niger Delta Forum, PANDEF, the South-South regional group, and Ijaw National Congress, INC, the umbrella socio-cultural body of Ijaw ethnic nationality in the Niger Delta, had also intervened in the simmering feud.

This came as Niger Delta activist and Itsekiri leader, Chief Rita-Lori Ogbebor, yesterday warned the Federal Government to, as a matter of urgency, withdraw the pipeline contract awarded to Tompolo, describing it as invitation to anarchy.

Reacting, yesterday, Ijaw Peoples Development Initiative, IPDI, a rights group in Niger-Delta, yesterday, urged FG to disregard the call by Lori-Ogbebor to revoke the pipeline surveillance contract awarded Tompolo.

Defunct MEND commander, Boyloaf, who spoke for other ex-militant leaders had said on Tuesday: “I condemn the attack on Tompolo by Dokubo-Asari. This is unacceptable and unexpected of a leader of his calibre.

‘’He is qualified for the contract and Dokubo-Asari did not oppose when somebody else from Edo State, the late Capt Hosa Okunbo did a similar contract in Rivers. His company still operates in Rivers.”

Tompolo just a technical partner — Source

Vanguard could not reach Tompolo for comments on Dokubo’s allegations yesterday, but a source familiar with the matter said: “Maybe he is talking about the Global West Vessel Specialist Nigeria Limited’s $103 million security contract with the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency, NIMASA.

“Besides, the job was not a contract, it was a PPP arrangement which Global West provided platforms to shore up NIMASA’s revenue base above 50 per cent, and only shares from the remaining 50 per cent in the ratio of 60 per cent to Federal Government and Global West — 40 per cent.

“It is common knowledge that President Muhammadu Buhari ended this very contract shortly after he assumed office. Tompolo, as a technical partner, was affected and could not have been involved as Dokubo thought.”

Jonathan confirmed job is for us —Dokubo

However, Dokubo, who did not hide his anger over the Tompolo contract, in a Facebook video, said the Amanyanabo of Okirika, King Ateke Tom, Victor- Ben Ebikabowei, a.k.a. Boyloaf, he, and other ex-militant leaders visited former President Jonathan while he was in office, and confirmed that the contract was for all of them, adding that Tompolo stuck to his guns.

Though Dokubo admitted executing and receiving payment for a pipeline surveillance contract under Jonathan, he said this in a conversation with Tompolo after he sealed the current contract. In addition, he spoke about why he (Dokubo) will not go to Oporoza to meet Tompolo.

He said: “Many people have called me about Tompolo getting a contract. I do not have a problem with Tompolo having a contract, never, and I will never have a problem with Tompolo or any other person.

“Tompolo had been doing contracts, I never complained. Now, during the time of Goodluck (former President), he awarded through NIMASA a coastal protection contract to Tompolo, Amanyanabo Ateke Tom, myself, Boyloaf, Egberipapa, Farah and everybody went to meet with the former President and he said the contract was for all of us. And we left that place. We tried to communicate with Tompolo. He said the contract was exclusively his. We did not want to raise an eyebrow over the $144 million that they gave him per year. He did that contract for two years. He did not give anybody a dime.

“Today, they lied that the Trans-Nembe line contract was the Olu of Warri’s, who has Rivers State; it is a lie. I am talking of Kalabari, I am not talking of Rivers State. 83 kilometers of pipeline pass through Kalabari, through my native Kula, my native Ilama to Cawthorne Channel. They gave it to him.

“People said he is not a greedy man. If a man can take $144 million that the former President gave us, Goodluck is alive, let them meet him. Boyloaf was there, Ateke was there, ask them. I will not try to please anybody; he vehemently refused that the contract is his, that he will involve nobody and did not involve any of us.

“I do not need anybody’s respect, you do not have to respect me, I will say the truth. You cannot take what is Gbaramatu’s, after taking Gbaramatu, you want to take Kalabari’s own (portion). I do not want to talk about these things but when you make comments, I will talk about it, and I will clarify issues.

“So, if the Olu of Warri has taken Rivers State, he took this, he took that, what was the approach of Olu of Warri to the people from where they gave them and the approach of Tompolo? Did Tompolo reach out to anybody when he got the contract? He assembled small boys at Oporoza and people started complaining, and he said we should come to Oporoza.

Why I will not go to Oporoza

“I spoke to him on the phone; I am older than him; that I should take my two legs, enter a boat, and go to Oporoza. Amanyanabo Ateke should take his two legs, enter a boat, and come to Oporoza. All the others should come, they went because they want the money, I cannot condescend to that level because of money and go to Oporoza.

“What is the approach of the Olu of Warri to the people within the area that he operates, how has the Olu of Warri been reaching out to the people? Did he sit somewhere and be sending people or even if he sent people, did he ask all of them to come to Ode-Itsekiri or to Warri to meet him in his palace?”

Reverse contract or wait for anarchy, Lori-Ogbebor tells FG

Reacting to the contract awarded Tompolo yesterday, Chief Lori-Ogbebor lambasted the Federal Government for failing in its responsibility to manage oil resources in the Niger Delta and maintaining peace in the country.

Addressing newsmen in Abuja, she said: “I have called you because of the anarchy in our land. There is anarchy in Niger Delta. Some weeks ago, I was a guest at national television and they sought my position on insecurity in the country. ‘’What they asked was connected to the train tragedy. But I told him then that the instability in the country, which is in the Northern areas of the country is little compared to what was coming in Niger Delta.

“I said there will be anarchy and it will be very serious. I told the anchor people should be worried about what is happening in the Niger Delta for two reasons. One, the Niger Delta is where the food is produced, the food basket of the nation and is also what gives us foreign exchange.

Till today, people have been crying about foreign exchange and it keeps worsening every day.

“It is not only that our food basket will stop, our food production, even the foreign exchange of Nigeria will keep going down the drains. I told them, kidnapping is one thing but killing, bloodshed and kidnapping, alongside lack of foreign exchange will be double tragedy. At the time I said it, they said I did not understand the question posed to me.

‘’But I am sure now that they understand. It is not more than four weeks and everyone is running amok, with revelations coming out. When I talked about small and big thieves, they did not understand me. When I talked about vessels being used to take our oil to the high seas and oil bunkering, they did not understand me. I warned then that it is not the small thieves that they should worry about but the big thieves and since then, they have pursued vessels out of our waters.

“Mallam Kyari, GMD of NNPC agreed that everybody is involved in the stealing, that they even found pipelines in churches and mosques. That is how bad it is. I said then that the problem we have is FG, all they do, instead of tackling this problem, is to give few people money to go and give few boys in the communities.”

She noted that the award of the humongous contract sum to one individual in the Niger Delta is a clear demonstration of government abdicating its responsibilities to the people.

Chief Lori-Egbebor cautioned that both state and federal governments must demonstrate the needed political will to implement the NDDC Master Plan and avoid enriching few individuals to the detriment of the common good of the people of Niger Delta, insisting that failure to heed the advice could spell doom for the country.

“In fact, it is unable to manage oil in Niger Delta, take control of the country. They now went back to what we cried against some years ago, dumping money in the hands of some people, abdicating their responsibility to the people to take care of Niger Delta. This was why a week ago, they handed over pipeline surveillance to Tompolo and another man who is part of them, Dokubo has come out to say no, that Tompolo is nobody, and that he dared not come to his area.

“I am not to say who is right or who is wrong but the truth is that you dare not go to another man’s land to take care of what he laboured to plant. So, Dokubo has said it, that when they were fighting the Itsekiris, they knew that the oil in Delta State belong to Itsekiris but they all converged to fight the Itsekiris, that the main oil is in Ijaw land — Bayelsa, Rivers, Kalabari and other areas.

“Now, Dokubo has said Tompolo should not come to his area, whose area will Tompolo go with money being paid to him to look after? Because it is clear now that Itsekiri people have more oil in Delta State than anybody else? What is the Federal Government going to do? Now the house is divided against itself? The Federal Government is busy creating NNPC Limited to come and carry oil in the Niger Delta, and they want to do that very quickly, and talk unequivocally as if all is well but all is not well.

“Recently, Dokubo was brandishing assorted weapons and the Federal Government kept quiet. If this is allowed to continue, anarchy will consume the nation. The Federal Government must stand up to its responsibility against any form of lawlessness and do the needful, so that peace will return to Niger Delta and Nigeria in general. To achieve a lasting peace in the region, FG must withdraw the Tompolo pipeline contract award, constitute NDDC board properly and ensure a holistic implementation of the Petroleum Industry Act.”

Ignore Lori-Ogbebor’s call to revoke Tompolo contract

—IPDI

Tackling Lori-Ogbebor yesterday, the National president of IPDI, Austin Ozobo, said in a statement: “We have studied Chief Lori-Ogbebor’s statement and wish to state that it did not come as a surprise because she is on record to have opposed every effort to attract development and positive appointments to Warri area, Delta State and the Niger Delta region.

“The IPDI calls on the NNPC and FG to ignore Chief Lori-Ogbebor. She is neither a Niger Delta activist nor a leader in the region. Also, she does not live in the Niger Delta to feel the devastating effect of the activities of oil theft nor has any stake in the region through investments.

“All her investments are in Abuja and Lagos, from where she addressed press conferences from time to time to promote her selfish interests at the expense of the ordinary Itsekiri people that she claims to be fighting for. Let her invest in rural Itsekiri communities like Ogheye and Ebrohimi to develop the communities as Chief Tompolo did with Kurutie, if she loves her people.

“Niger Deltans from across the nine states of the region have wholeheartedly embraced the award of the surveillance contract to Tompolo and are ready to work with him. This is evident in the thousands of people that have paid solidarity and consultative visits to him at Oporoza, Delta State.

“The fact that Tompolo can deliver on this very sensitive national assignment is not in doubt and key stakeholders are all behind him to stop the environmental genocide in the Niger -Delta, increase the nation’s oil production and protect the environment.

“IPDI strongly believes that this contract would lead to the employment of thousands of youths and help in addressing youth restiveness in the region; hence well-meaning Niger Deltans support him.’’

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Places

PART OF ONURA FOREST GIVES WAY

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Onura forest covering tens of hectares is the last rainforest in Alesa community. It is host to rare animal and plant species including the alligator that has been traditionally protected by Onura deity.

By Emmanuel Obe

Violation of the forest began in the early 1970’s when the northern fringe of it was cleared to give way for the East-West Road. The dualization of the road that dissected it to the nearby petroleum Refinery complex gave further impetus to its invasion. Mechanic workshops, and a shantytown began to develop around it.

Part of the Refinery Junction that dissects the forest

A major bank took a plunge and cut out a sizable area to locate its branch just by the junction. Last year, a major eatery and a petrol filling station opened shop opposite the bank and took off a large area of the forest. The entire Eastern flank of the forest has been lost to land speculators and developers.

Sometime in 1985, a local avatar caused a stir when with two nails and a hammer he climbed to the top of one of the tallest trees in the forest. To signpost his feat, he carved out a place at the top of the tree and inserted a piece of mirror. A day later, elders of the community ordered the felling of the tree fearing that the man might have placed some mystic object on the tree that could be ominous.

In time past, the forest provided the community with different species of freshwater fish, fresh palm wine from its rich reservoir of raffia palms and water for domestic use. The wetland within the forest soaks storm water from the community and keeps the community well drained.

Every June, a special festival of the Onura deity is celebrated by the locals. It is attended by priests of other deities in neighbouring communities. The festival comes before the beginning of the harvest season.

An attempt was made by Rivers State Government to declare the forest a protected zone about 20 years ago. The effort was resisted by the custodians of the Onura deity and it was stalled.

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IMO RIVER, ONCE A BOOMTOWN

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By Emmanuel Obe

This town, abandoned by the eastern bank of the Imo River along the equally abandoned old Port Harcourt – Aba road, was once the epicentre of activities in an entire region reaching up to about six Senatorial zones in Rivers, Akwa Ibom, Abia and Imo States.

Surprisingly, it had gone off the radar of cities in Nigeria since after the Nigerian civil war, when an alternative expressway was constructed to bypass it from Port Harcourt to Aba; the reason why many Nigerians born after the war hardly know about Imo River Town.

Even now, when the misfortune on the the new Port Harcourt – Aba expressway has forced the never-say-die transporters between Aba and Port Harcourt to rediscover the route to Imo River Town, they merely refer to is as Imo Gate.

I remember as a kid handling photographs with the stamp, ‘Photo Imo River,’ meaning that Imo River Town had photo studios and labs that processed pictures from my area and beyond. In fact, we had one photographer called Ogbukwe that moved around the villages on his bicycle taking children and family pictures. He returned a few weeks later with black-and-white copies of the pictures after processing them at Imo River.

How come the town doesn’t have an indigenous name? I was told it was founded by Europeans that used the Imo River to penetrate the Eastern hinterland after breaking through the Jaja of Opobo barrier in the Bight of Biafra, where the river empties into the Atlantic.

It kind of draws a corollary with Oji River town in Enugu, whose prominence was diminished by the opening up of the new Enugu – Onitsha expressway. But Oji remained in the limelight because it was a colonial administrative headquarters and host of the thermal power plant fired by coal from Enugu. The coal from Enugu almost being a common factor in their relationship.

So it preexisted as a modern city before Aba and Port Harcourt. It looked like it was the first cosmopolitan settlement outside colonial district headquarters in the old Eastern region. An account has it that the town would have been the choice location of Port Harcourt after coal was discovered in exportable quantity in Enugu at the turn of the 20th Century. But Imo River was found not to be navigable by ocean liners. The British founders of Port Harcourt had to move down a few miles to the West where they discovered a natural harbour at the opening of the Bonny River and built Port Harcourt.

But that did not diminish the profile of Imo River Town with its prime location between Aba and Port Harcourt. People coming to the Rivers area from Igbo hinterland often stopped over at Imo River Town, which soon became popular as Imo Gate. People coming from the coastal settlements of present-day Akwa Ibom, Opobo and Ogoni areas to Port Harcourt and Aba followed the river and berthed at Imo River Town. Business boomed and thrived.

It was by accident that I ran into Imo River Town a few months ago. I was working on a report on the devastated Ukwa West section of the Port Harcourt – Aba expressway. So, I boarded an okada from Oyigbo to get to the very bad spots. That’s how we took a detour that saw us pass through what is now left of this former boomtown.

Wow! The town had features of a full urban centre: a major road, with adjoining street spurs, a railway line, a Shell location, schools, big churches and a mixed population. I took a second trip to Imo River and met a dying town that has been denied basic amenities.

The last time they had public power supply I was told was in 2019. One lady that operates a restaurant in the town said they cannot get power supply from Afam power station a few kilometres away because Afam is in Rivers State while Imo River is in Abia State. “Our light comes from Aba,” the lady who disclosed 5hat she could be moving out of the town in 2023 if the power situation does not improve said.

Residents get water for domestic use from private boreholes. The road leading into and out of the town are terrible. They are water filled canals during the rains and open craters during the dry season. Ever since the alternative road to Aba was opened in 1970s, no touch has been made to the road passing through the town. Despite being an oil-producing community, there is no sight of an NDDC project. There is military presence in the town, which usually indicates that there is some rich facility that requires state protection. And this is likely the oil installation owned by Shell.

The major business in the town is sand mining on the river. Some lumbering also takes place. There used to be big rubber plantations. But they are gone. But the young people are very well involved in illicit artisanal crude oil refining and trading despite the military security. The black film of oil spread on the river was indicative of the damage that crude artisanal oil refining could be doing to the aquaculture of the river. Located at the entry and exit points of the town are big mortuaries. They could be ominous of the life in town?

The location of the multi-billion dollar Aluminium Smelting industry downstream the river at Ikot-Abasi, with the attendant proposal to dredge the river brought a flicker of hope to the community. But all that has died with the abandonment of the projects.

Talk of a once boomtown becoming a doom town.

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TOP 5 ISLANDS IN THE WORLD YOU CAN VISIT FOR HOLIDAYS AND HONEYMOON.

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Are you looking for a place to spend your holidays and honeymoon? If yes, then an island is probably where you should visit. An Islands are known for their beautiful and attractive nature.

An Island is a place where families, friends, lovers and couples rekindle their love and spend quality time together. An Islands are surrounded by coconut trees, beaches, seas and lots of fun activities that could make you feel really good and have a memorable experience.

This article will tell you about the top 5 Islands in the world you can visit for holidays and honeymoon that could make your trip an unforgettable experience.

Ready? Let’s dive in!

The Maldives

1.            The Maldives

Located in Asia, the Maldives is considered one of the word’s most beautiful islands and tourist paradise.  The Maldives lies across the southwest of Sri Lanka and India. The Maldives is the smallest country in Asia and is an independent island country in the North-Central Indian Ocean.

The Maldives is known for its unbeatable beautiful, attractive and luxurious nature, which makes it the most dreamed islands for holidays and honeymoon. The Maldives islands have one of the best beaches and sea in the world, alongside its amazing underwater restaurant, villa resort, snorkeling, spa , mosque, museums and markets that give a wonderful experience.

Your vacations, holidays and romantic honeymoon aren’t complete without visiting Maldives Island. The Maldives can be quite expensive to visit because of its luxurious nature. When visiting the Maldives, the average cost should be around US$9500 or more.

Bora Bora , French Polynesia

2.              Bora Bora , French Polynesia

Experience love, romance, relaxation, fun and luxury at its best with the beautiful Bora Bora Island. The Island is known for its amazing and unique nature, with turquoise water of bright blue and greenish color.

 Belonging to the society of Islands of French Polynesia, the Bora Bora islands are beautifully surrounded by a ring of an atoll, alongside overwater bungalows, a beach resort, luxurious villa resort, and an amazing spa that makes you feel like heaven on earth. The Bora Bora islands are  simply the best place you can be.

Get lost in endless fun activities in the Bora Bora Islands with amazing helicopter tours, whale watching, Jet skiing, quad biking, boat tours, scuba diving, kitesurfing, wake boarding and lots more.

If you are planning a weekend gateway with friends and family or a romantic honeymoon, then Bora Bora Island is the best place you can be. Bora Bora Island can be quite expensive to visit, but it is  surely worth the price.

Santorini

3.            Santorini

Santorini is simply one of the best magical places you can be in the world. It is considered the world’s most visited holiday destination and honeymoon vacation.The structural aspect of the Islands makes it even more attractive and gives it a perfect background for your picture display.

As one of the best and most visited volcanic island of Greece, Santorini Island comprises top notch hotels and restaurants with fantastic beaches and an amazing site seeing activities.

Discover and enjoy your holidays and honeymoon with a tour of  the Oia village, the Volcano, the red beach and the exciting wine testing tour. Santorini Islands can be assessed directly through flight and ferry  from most European cities and Athens.

Seychelles

4.            Seychelles

Seychelles is home to some of the world’s tropical Islands and tourist attractions. Located in  Africa,  Seychelles  is situated 100 miles from Kenya and about 700 miles from Madagascar. Seychelles is  comprised of two main popular islands known as the Mahé group and the Coralline group.

Seychelles is known to be Africans most visited and beautiful islands. With lush tropical vegetation, beautiful silver-white beaches, and lots of marine animals. The atmosphere at the Seychelles Islands is breathtaking, with amazing rock views and a ring of coral reef, Cocktails in coconut, palm tree decorations, exotic meals and luxurious hotels and spa.

Make your holidays and honeymoon vacations a memorable one in the Seychelles, with the exciting banana boat rides, water and jet skiing, beach parties, windsurfing, night safaris and lots of endless fun activities.

Bali

5.            Bali

The Bali Islands are certainly one of the most beautiful islands in the world. Bali Is a small island and the fifth largest islands in Indonesia. Every moment spent in the Bali is always memorable and unforgettable because the islands have a special way of welcoming theirs visitors and making them feel at home.

Experience the wonderful rich cultures of the Bali, ranging from their local dishes, amazing dance, unforgettable dramas and unique musics that ignites your soul. Bali Islands always has something for everyone, whether you want to get lost with adventures to the sacred caves, serene waterfalls and tropical forest and beaches and lots of fun activities.

A trip to Bali for your holidays and honeymoon can never be boring because the island offers so much for visitors to see from the amazing natural beauty of the islands, yoga classes, surfing, beach clubs, visit to their temple and a breathtaking sunset.

Without doubt, there is no better place in the world to spend quality time with friends, families or colleagues for your holidays or a romantic honeymoon vacations with your loved ones like an island. An Island is arguably one the best places you can dream of being in the world.

Enjoy and experience nature, From the wonderful natural beauty of the island to beautiful beaches, see animals, amazing sea views, spa , top notch hotels and restaurant and lots of endless fun activities.

For more information about where you can spend your holidays, honeymoon vacation, tourist adventures, hiking or where you can have fun enjoying nature, visit our blog at words and shot for more travel tips.

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