The president, Niger Delta Coalition of Coastal Communities, Chief Don Ben yesterday said the recent protest by some youths against the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), for award of pipelines surveillance contract as unwarranted and staged managed.
en told newsmen in Benin City, Edo State that there is no iota of truth in all the allegations levelled against the contractor who he said bided for the contract through due process and haven met all the required conditions got the job.
Recall that some youths had last Thursday protested at the Delta State Government House over the pipe line surveillance contract awarded to Ocean Marine, alleging that the company high jacked the contract from them.
“I decided to react to the protest because as one of the leaders in the Niger Delta struggle, I saw the protest against Ocean Marine as a great embarrassment, especially when the chairman of the company is not only from the oil producing state but also from the oil producing communities of two local government areas of Orhionmwon and Ikpoba-Okha in Edo State.
“For the protesters to be accusing the chairman of Ocean Marine, Captain Hosa Okunbo of high jacking their job because Forcados Terminal is in their base in Delta State is far from the truth.
“It cut across the base line, even I can say it is closer to Rivers State and so they should not say Focados Terminal is in their base in Delta State.
“Besides, I was particularly irked and disappointed when I discovered that these group of people who embarked on the protest are not even affiliated to the struggle of the Niger Delta, therefore their going to the Government House in Delta State to register their protest is unwarranted and ill motivated.
“These youths should be weary of being used by greedy politicians because what they are trying to do is to politicise the whole system so that at the end of the day government will now say the Ocean Marine chairman is one of those sponsoring their opposition party and I do not see him as one who will want to be involved in either APC or PDP politics.
“I sincerely called on the Niger Delta governors, especially the governor of Delta State, Dr Ifeanyi Okowa to be weary of these sycophants who are trying to rubbish the name of Captain Hosa Okunbo, a successful business man fighting hard to ensure that the Niger Delta Youths are integrated fully in the system.”
Obaseki Earmark N500m For Benin Royal Museum
BY PATRICK OCHOGA, Benin City
Efforts by the Edo State governor, Mr Godwin Obaseki and the Benin Monarch, Omo N’ Oba N’ Edo Uku Akpolokpolo, Oba Ewuare II, to retrieve artefacts stolen from the state in the colonial era are yielding results as European governments have set modalities in place for either permanent or temporary return of the artworks.
Campaign for the return of the prized heritage objects has raged for decades, with Nigerian authorities mounting pressure on European governments and museums to return them, while the Europeans argue that holding the work was best for the preservation of the artefacts, as there were no structures in Africa to properly hold them.
However, while presenting the 2019 Budget proposal on Monday before a session of the House of Assembly, Governor Obaseki stressed his intention to make Benin the culture capital of West Africa with the planned return of the artefacts and proposed N500 million for the construction of the Benin Royal Museum, a facility to be constructed in collaboration with the Oba’s Palace and the Benin Dialogue Group, a multilateral group of major museums across Europe.
Addressing the legislators, he said, “To fulfil our commitment towards making Edo the culture capital of West Africa, we have earmarked N500 million in 2019 proposed Budget, to commence the development and construction of the Benin Royal Museum. This will be done in collaboration with the Palace of His Royal Majesty, Omo N’Oba N’Edo Uku Akpolokpolo, Oba Ewuare II, Ogidigan.”
The French government recently approved the return of 26 artefacts stolen from Benin Republic after a report recommended the move, raising the prospect of more of such moves from the European country.
After the approval for the return, the Elysée Palace said, “There will be a meeting at the start of 2019 between African and European nations to develop a new policy on the exchange of stolen artefacts.”
The French President was quoted as saying that he would ensure that “African youths have access to their heritage objects and the common heritage of humanity in Africa”, and assured of “a new intellectual connection between France and Africa”.
The Benin Dialogue Group, which is a major partner in the construction and management of the Benin Royal Museum, is also working on something similar. It has built a coalition that will set a framework for the European partners to provide advice, as requested, in areas including building and exhibition design, while European and Nigerian partners will work collaboratively to develop training, source funding, and legal frameworks to facilitate the permanent display of Benin artworks in the new museum.
The Benin Dialogue Group consists of museum representatives from Austria, Germany, The Netherlands, Sweden and the United Kingdom with key representatives from Nigeria.