Glory Edoni

It gives me joy that Ikebiri Kingdom has been able to muster the courage to foster peace and unity under the platform of Ikebiri Development Foundation (IDF). Today’s event, which marks the official inauguration of key committees, namely; oil and gas and security, will certainly go down in history as a bold attempt by the people of Ikebiri kingdom to address their developmental challenges.

The main purpose behind establishing Ikebiri Development Foundation was to attract socio-economic development to communities in the kingdom, based on justice, equality and mutual respect, with a view to building stronger and more resilient kingdom for the benefit of all and sundry.

IDF will continue to push for meaningful community development in our oil rich kingdom, which is privileged to host an international oil corporation, the Nigerian Agip Oil Company (NAOC). We shall use this platform to collaborate with the leadership of the kingdom, NAOC, development partners, relevant government agencies and civil society to leverage on local assets and abundant natural resources in the area to improve on livelihoods and the local economy.

We shall use this foundation to meaningfully engage all stakeholders, including the women, youth, chiefs, civil society, physically challenged and the vulnerable, to sensitize and mobilize our communities, brothers and sisters to take keen interest in driving sustainable development efforts for the benefit of the kingdom.

Community development initiatives are geared towards working with community members to achieving the objectives of participative democracy, sustainable development, equality, social justice, rights, and economic benefit of community folks.

Recent history shows that the relationship between host communities and multinational oil corporations in the Niger Delta region has been largely acrimonious due to the frustration of oil producing communities, which stem from the indiscriminate activities of multinational oil companies, coupled with the seeming insensitivity of government to their plights. Oil bearing communities have often had to press their points through protests and shut downs of oil facilities to draw attention from the oil giants and government.

The use of divide and rule tactics by both multinational oil companies and state actors at federal and state levels, dates back to the time crude oil was first discovered in commercial quantity in the creek community of Otuabagi in the former Oloibiri district, in Ogbia locol government area of Bayelsa state. Such divisive community relations tactics have often led to instability in the region. Ikebiri Kingdom had had her share of violent protests that led to the loss of lives and property in the past and therefore would not want to have a repeat of such urgly incidence.

From federal to the states, no government has done the needful to adequately address the burning environmental rights issues in the Niger Delta region to date. All we see is lip services and unfulfilled political promises from successive administrations in the country.

Therefore, the only option open to the youths of oil bearing communities in the region is confrontation, which most times lead to violent clashes between community youths and security agencies. It is obvious that crude oil politics and the Niger Delta crisis have taken an international dimension, such that some of our communities have been labeled crisis flash points by security agencies.

The internationalization of the Niger Delta crisis which bothers on environmental injustice that fuel community agitations for their share of the oil wealth, calls for the urgent review of some obnoxious legislation, particularly the Land Use Act of 1978, as prelude to promoting sustainable peace in the Niger Delta region.

I want use this medium to call on all sons and daughters of Ikebiri kingdom to rally round the leadership of the kingdom led by His Highness, Chief Francis Ododo and come up with innovative ways of doing things to foster sustainable peace and unity, with a view to harnessing the economic potentials in the area for sustainable development.

In my view, community development is a process where community members come together to take collective actions and generate lasting solutions to their common problems, thereby promoting participative democracy, sustainable development, human rights, economic opportunities, equality and social justice, through a credible platform like Ikebiri Development Foundation.

As part of our community development efforts, we shall give priority attention to education and youth empowerment within the kingdom, with the understanding that community development seeks to empower individuals and groups of people with skills that will enable them to effect positive change in their communities.

These skills are often created through the formation of social groups, working for a common agenda. Community developers must understand both how to work with individuals and how to affect communities’ positions within the context of larger social institutions.

Community development involves changing the relationships between ordinary people and people in positions of power in such a manner that everyone member of the community can take part in the issues that affect their lives.

It starts from the principle that within any community there is a wealth of knowledge and experience which, if used in creative ways, can be channeled into collective action to achieve the communities’ desired goals.

We shall take advantage of the Nigerian Agip Oil Company’s Green River agricultural initiative by collaborating with the company to train our youths in agri-businesses and provide alternative source of livelihood in a bid to discourage them from criminal acts in the creeks.

I like to inform you that in February 2018, Eni signed a collaboration agreement memorandum of understanding with the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) to foster access to safe and clean water in Nigeria, mainly in the north-east areas, by drilling boreholes powered with photovoltaic systems, both for domestic use and irrigation purposes.

Eni’s programmes (Eni E&P Division) to support local communities progressed with: access to energy, portable water and economic programmes for diversification purposes, in particular, with the Green River Project. Professional trainings, scholarship programmes and renovation and construction of health centers and supply of medical equipment are all part of benefits derivable from the oil company by host communities.

IDF needs to take a critical look at the human capital development agenda for Ikebiri kingdom, especially viewed against the unsettling high level of youth unemployment in the kingdom and Bayelsa state at large.

It is against this background that we inaugurate the Oil and Gas and Security committees to help us achieve set goals.

The Oil and Gas Committee is authorized by the Board of Trustees to advise the foundation on the implications of the current Bill for an Act to Provide for Petroleum Host and Impacted Communities Development Trust, for incorporation of Petroleum Host and Impacted Communities Trusts and other Related Matters before the National Assembly.

Investigate any oil and gas related activity and report back to the house.

Co-opt additional members to provide specialist skills, knowledge and experience

Procure specialist ad-hoc advice at the expense of the foundation, subject to budgets agreed by the Board.

Liaise with the multinational oil companies operating within the kingdom and seek relevant information it requires from government agencies in course of the committee’s work, seek legal advice where possible, represent IDF at meetings with multinational oil and gas companies, relevant government departments and agencies, including participation at oil and gas related workshops, seminars and conferences and report back to the board.

While the Security Committee, is mandated to liaise with relevant security agencies to ensure safety of lives and property in the kingdom, advise the board on proactive steps to preempt perceived security breach in the kingdom, take preemptive initiatives to advise the Board on security policies, evaluate new threats, with a view to preventing crisis in the kingdom, in addition to ensuring that the Board decisions on strategy, priorities and risks are properly informed by policies and regulations.

Apostle Timiebi G Kiyaramo

Thanks and God