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Extreme bitterness in Niger Delta over Buhari’s appointment of Onochie as NDDC chairman

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There was outrage on Wednesday over President Muhammadu Buhari’s appointment of his Special Adviser on Social Media, Lauretta Onochie, as the substantive Chairman of the Board of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC).
While some Niger Delta stakeholders welcomed the appointment, others urged the Senate not to confirm her.

Senate President Ahmad Lawan read President Buhari’s letter containing a request for her confirmation at plenary.

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The President also nominated others as members of the Board, including Chief Samuel Ibukun as Managing Director for a term of two years to complete the term of his predecessor, who hails from Bayelsa State.

The nominees are Onochie (Delta) as Chairman, Dr. Ibukun as Managing Director, Dimgba Erugba (Abia representative), Dr. Ene Willcox Wills (Akwa Ibom), former Edo State Deputy Governor Pius Odudu, Gbenga Edema (Ondo), Elder Dimaroe Daniya Bofa (Bayelsa representative), Orok Duke (Cross River) and Anthony Ekene (Imo).

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Others are Onyekachi Dimkpa (Rivers), Alhaji Mohammed Kabiru Abubakar (Zonal Representative, Nasarawa), Prof Tallen Mamman (SAN) (Northeast Representative, Adamawa), Alhaji Sadiq Sami Sule (Kebbi State, Northwest Zonal Representative), Maj. Gen. Charles Ehigie Airhiavbere (Rtd) (Executive Director of Finance) and Charles Ogunmola (Executive Director Project, Southwest).

“I hereby present the underlisted 15 names of nominees as Chairman and members of the NDDC for confirmation by the Senate,” the President wrote.

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Soon after the list was read, Deputy Senate President, Ovie Omo-Agege, noted that there was no Delta representative on the proposed board in accordance with the NDDC Act, which stipulates that each state of the NDDC must have a representative.

He urged the Executive to correct the anomaly, arguing that Onochie represents the entire Southsouth and not Delta in particular though from there.

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Lawan promised that he would ensure that the Act was adhered to.

Senator George Sekibo (Rivers East), pointed out that the Senate had in 2019 screened and confirmed nominees for the NDDC board.

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He wondered why a repeat confirmation was needed, which he said was against the Senate’s Standing Orders.

Lawan said the former list could not sail through following the crisis that bedevilled the NDDC.

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Controversy trails Onochie’s appointment

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The apex Urhobo socio-cultural organisation, Urhobo Progressive Union (UPU), rejected Mrs Onochie’s appointment, describing it as “flawed and provocative”.

Its National Publicity Secretary, Mr. Abel Oshevire, said her appointment was flawed because she does not hail from an oil-producing community.

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According to him, Onochie is a stranger who cannot appreciate the pains of environmental degradation many persons in the creeks suffer.

He said: “Her appointment is wrong. She is not from an oil-producing community.

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“This was the same woman rejected by Nigerians as INEC national commissioner. If she was rejected then, what now qualifies her for this job?

“To us in the UPU, it is a wrong appointment. It is a provocative and deliberate attempt to put salt on a festering wound. This appointment does not sit well with us.

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“The Niger Delta region will not accept this appointment because she is not from an oil-producing community. She is unqualified for the position.”

Also, a non-governmental organisation, Policy Alert, urged President Buhari to reverse Mrs Onochie’s appointment.

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Its Director, Mr. Tijah Bolton-Akpan, said since her constituency, Delta, had earlier rejected her nomination, there was no moral justification for her reappointment.

“The task of leading the Niger Delta out of the current phase of underdevelopment is an urgent one and should not be subjected to over-politicisation.

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“This is about legitimacy, and as we know, she cannot function in that position effectively if she does not have the support of her own constituency,” Bolton-Akpan said.

A pressure group, the Ijaw Interest Advocate (IIA), also known as Izanzan Intellectual Camp, commended the President for constituting the board but rejected Mrs Onochie.

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“To be fair, it is the turn of the Delta Ijaws to produce the board chairman. From tomorrow (Thursday) we will resist it. We will never take it. That is the position of the Izanzan camp. That appointment has to be withdrawn.

“We have credible Ijaw sons and daughters that fit that position. To us it’s another calculative attempt to relegate the Delta Ijaws to the background and take the sensibilities of the Ijaw people for granted,” Arerebo said.

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The Pan Niger Delta Forum (PANDEF) would not be drawn on the propriety of Mrs Onochie’s appointment.

Its spokesman, Ken Robinson, said: “We have been demanding the constitution of a substantive board for the NDDC.

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“Though its coming late, we commend the effort that at last, the presidency is responding and doing what is right.

“It shouldn’t have taken this long. All the excuses and pretences were unnecessary and unacceptable.

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“Concerning the person who has been nominated as board chairman, Lauretta is from the Niger Delta; she is from Delta State.

“Is she competent? We will leave that to see her performance as Board chairman.

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“PANDEF is pleased that the presidency is finally responding, doing what it should have done two or more years ago.”

Chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Edo, Col. David Imuse (rtd.) hailed the appointments, especially those from his state.

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He is confident they would deploy their competence and wealth of experience in the service of Nigeria.

But, the leader of a youth group, Anioma Youth Forum Worldwide, Nnamdi Ofonye, hailed Mrs Onochie’s appointment, saying it was a welcome development.

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Ofonye said: “Her appointment is a welcome development to us from the Anioma region. This is not just because she is an Anioma Amazon, but for what she represents.

“We are aware of President Buhari’s quest to sanitise NDDC and there is no other person than Onochie that can clean the Augean stable at that regional interventionist body.

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“We thank Buhari for giving us a result-oriented person so that Niger Deltans can start witnessing signature projects.”

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After giving my wife, N100k, she lodged in hotel with her lover for 4days, man tells Court

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Mr Hakeem Olarenwaju has narrated his ordeal to a court, how he gave his wife, N100,000 and she lodged in a hotel with her lover for four days.

To this end, Olarenwaju, has approached Grade A Customary Court, Mapo, Ibadan, Oyo State, seeking that it dissolves the 16-year-old union between him and his wife, Fatima Olarenwaju.

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Hakeem told the court that his wife whom he met as a single parent started misbehaving a few years into their marriage.

The plaintiff stated that he went into marriage with the defendant despite his father’s disapproval of their relationship, and that today he is regretting his action.

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Hakeem explained that Fatima who was initially loving, dedicated and obedient, suddenly changed and became defiant despite allowing her to bring to his house the child from her first marriage.

According to the plaintiff, the defendant constantly denied him sex and rubbed shoulders with him in the house.

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He further stated that she took to leaving home without his knowledge and consent, adding that there were times she travelled without informing him.

Hakeem added that he later found out that she was having an affair with another man whom she sometimes lodged with.

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Fatima, he added, finally moved out of his house.

He thus begged the court, if his prayer of divorce was answered to grant him custody of their two children whom she has failed to be a good example to.

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Fatima was absent in court despite being served court summonses.

Hakeem while giving his evidence said, “I went against my father’s wish and went ahead in 2006 to marry my wife who I met as a single parent.

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“Fatima and I had a blissful marriage despite the criticism from my family and my father in particular.

“She was well behaved and dedicated to me and our children. We were always together and shared each other’s dreams. She was my best friend.

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“I gave her N100,000 to start a business which blossomed and flourished in a short period.

“We were a happy family until my wife started misbehaving in 2010.

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“Fatima cultivated the habit of leaving home without my knowledge and consent and would return home late.

“The more I complained, the worse she became. Fatima would call off my bluff any time I threatened to deal with her.

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” I overlooked her shortcomings and allowed her to bring her daughter by another man to my home. But rather than be thankful for my display of generosity, all I got from her were abuses as a result of her caustic tongue.”

The plaintiff further said, “My lord, my wife is unfaithful to me. She was dating another man while under my roof.

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“She would lie to me that she was going to cater at a party being a caterer, but would go and spend the weekend with her lover.

“Fatima once travelled out of town for four days without informing me. She left no clue about her whereabouts while her phone was switched off.

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“I later learnt she travelled with her lover for those days and this led to a quarrel between us.

“I reported her to her parents and they helped resolved our differences, but Fatima to my chagrin abandoned all her duties in the home.

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“She refused me sex and stopped cooking my food. Her daughter was the one preparing my meals.

“She totally neglected me and refused to have anything to do with me.

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“Fatima finally packed out of my house which was why I came to court.

“My lord, I entreat the court to officially end our marriage and grant me custody of our two children.

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“Fatima’s lifestyle is questionable and as such can’t be a good example to our children.

The court president, Mrs S.M Akintayo, adjourned the case after he has heard the plaintiff and ordered that a fresh hearing notice be served the respondent.

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Truck Kills Road Safety officials on patrol

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By Gloria Ikibah

Two patrol operatives of the Federal Road Safety Corps were crushed to death on the Ikot-Ikpene-Aba road on Friday.

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Corps Spokesperson, Bisi Kazeem said that the crash occurred as a result of excessive speed indulged in by the driver of a DAF articulated truck while trying to dodge a pothole along the axis.

“According to preliminary investigation, the fatal crash involved a FRSC Patrol Vehicle and a white coloured truck.

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“The road crash affected a total of eight male adults, out of which two sustained severe injuries, two were killed while the remaining four passengers were rescued without any injuries.

“The injured persons have been taken to Ikot Ekpene General hospital and the dead deposited in the mortuary of the same hospital”, Kazeem stated.

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The Acting Corps Marshal, Federal Road Safety Corps, Dauda Biu, decried the incessant knock down and crushing of patrol operatives.

Biu said that the killing of the two officers was part of the recklessness of some drivers who have continuously violated the legally prescribed speed limit.

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He pledged the resolve of the Corps to apprehend perpetrators of the deadly act and make them face the full wrath of the law.

The FRSC boss conveyed his heartfelt condolences to the families of the staff who lost their lives in active service.

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Biu further assured the public of the Corps’ resilience to ensure that the perpetrators of such bad driving culture were forced to face the law.

“We advise motorists to desist from such act by complying with acceptable road safety regulations, as the Corps will not spare anyone engaged in this deadly act of recklessness on the road,” he added.

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Blind teacher In Oyo State Shares His Experience

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A visually impaired teacher and freelance broadcaster, Ayanwale Ayantola, who teaches English Language at the Adeniran Memorial Grammar School, Ogbomoso, Oyo State, and shares his experience.

*Some people with visual impairment had difficult childhoods. Was it the same for you?*

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I can say yes because the impression Nigerians have about people with disabilities is not encouraging. I was not born blind. I lost my sight when I was a SS2 pupil, though I had a visual problem when I was in junior secondary school. I attended Ori-Oke Baptist Primary School, Ogbomoso, and Ori-Oke Community High School, but did not graduate from the school because of the problem I had with my sight. As a JSS2 pupil, I noticed that I could not see clearly. That led me to use recommended glasses. Later, I found it difficult to see the blackboard unless I moved closer. My school principal and some other teachers noticed the problem when my performance dropped because they knew I was a brilliant pupil.

So, they told me to bring my parents to school and when they came, my father explained the challenges I had with my eyes. We later went to Jos, Plateau State, where I had the first surgery. Each of my eyes was operated on three times, but I did not know what the doctors told my dad. However, I was advised not to force myself to read with the eyes but rather to use the level of vision I had left to aid my movement.

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*Did the doctors tell your parents what was wrong with your eyes or why you could not see clearly?*

Yes. I was told I had glaucoma and my father was advised to enrol me in a school for the blind. In 2007, I was enrolled in the Oyo State School for the Blind, Ogbomoso, where I spent about eight months learning Braille and typewriting. I wanted to become a medical doctor and was a science pupil at Ori-Oke Community High School. I was told that I could not continue as a science student, so I became an arts pupil. After learning Braille and typewriting at the school for the blind, I went back to SS1 at Adeniran Memorial Grammar School, Ogbomoso, where I currently work as a teacher.

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*Can you remember the point when you completely lost your sight?*

When I was at the school for the blind, I could see partially and move about to do one or two things. I lost my sight completely in 2006. That was the time I forced my eyes to read printed copies of the materials I used to prepare for examinations organised by the West African Examinations Council. That was against the advice I was given not to read with my eyes. I can remember that on the day I lost my sight, I visited one of my seniors in school. As I tried to enter the class, I hit my forehead on one of the pillars and fainted. That was when I realised that I could no longer see.

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*How did your condition impact your relationship with people in your community?*

Many of my friends left me because they thought I was no longer part of them since I would attend a school for the blind, which was a boarding school. When I graduated from the school, I could not find any of them, because they had moved ahead of me academically, having returned to SS1 due to my condition.

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*How did you qualify as a teacher?*

I attended the Federal College of Education (Special), Oyo, and studied English/Visually Impaired Study. I graduated between 2004 and 2005. I found it easy to cope there because of my knowledge of the use of Braille. I could still see partially when I was at the college, so it was not difficult to find me around the school. In fact, I was the one guiding most of the blind students there. But now, people guide me because my sight is completely lost. I also attended the National Teachers Institute.

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*Were you bugged by your inability to attend a university and study Medicine, which was your dream course?*

I felt bad. My life has totally changed. If not for the advice I received, I wanted to commit suicide.

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*Read full story in Punch*

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