8 months ago

BusinessDay 15 April 2018

10 C002D5556 Sunday

10 C002D5556 Sunday 15 April 2018 Feature Investment promotion in Niger Delta: Belemaoil showcases formula for eradication of violence to US delegation IGNATIUS CHUKWU The United State delegation that visited Port Harcourt listened carefully to a business case for the Niger Delta. The proposition dwelt around the Belema Model said to have so far recorded 100 percent success in eradication of pipeline vandalism and other forms of violence on oil assets in Oil Mining License 55 (OML-55). The oil field was sold to Belemaoil Nigeria Limited in June 2016 by an American company, Chevron, apparently due to deteriorating violence in the oil region. The American delegation was led by the US Consul-General (CG) in Lagos, F.John Bray, who seemed impressed by the presentation by Jack-Rich Tein Jr. founder/president of Belemaoil. The CG however, pointed to persistent electoral violence soiling the image of the oil city and urged the political class to make a new case by allowing the 2019 elections to appear free, fair and peaceful. Only on this ground could the Consulate make a case for Port Harcourt. The Belema founder had built his case for the oil region on the Belema Model that was launched in September 2017, which detailed a new working system that would make an oil host community to be partner (not observer any more) in developing and enjoying the wealth of an oil field. It is a model that would integrate the host communities in the deployment of about $10billion voted for operations in the oil region every year. The Consular-General was primarily in Port Harcourt to flag off the training of 121 Nigerian budding entrepreneurs selected through vigorous screening processes to get the best business schemes. The training held at the IPS in the University of Port Harcourt. The CG then paid visits to strategic locations and listened to the business case made at Odili Road headquarters of the Belemaoil. Belemaoil Producing Limited (BPL) is said to be Africa’s only community-owned oil company. It is indicated as a world-class indigenous but independent exploration and production (E&P) company operating in the Niger Delta Region of Nigeria with a host of strong partners across the globe. “We are a dynamic entrepreneurial organisation with a portfolio of world-class assets located in Nigeria. Our activities span the full-cycle E&P value chain of exploration, appraisal, and development through to production. Our success depends on our ability to deliver long-term value for all our stakeholders through a clear and consistent strategy which recognises that our responsibilities go beyond our operations,” the founder declared to an audience that included top managers and investors. Tein Jr displayed several operational models and facilities that may make Belemaoil one of the fastestgrowing oil giants in Nigeria with interests in refining, gas, marketing and other oil-related ventures. Belemaoil produces 12,000 bpd from OML 55 at the moment while also eyeing other oil fields that are up for (L-R): Nancy Nwankwo, Rivers State Commissioner for Commerce; John Bray, consul-general of the US in Lagos; Jack-Rich Tein Jr, founder/president of Belemaoil, and his wife, Elizabeth. grabs as well as exploring for virgin fields with huge gas reserves. The Belema Model shows intricate designs and schemes to integrate the oil host communities in oil operations as a way to restore the once-cherished love and trust between the oil industry and host communities. The founder said the presence of the US in Port Harcourt would simply complete the rebuilding process and cause a mass return of investors to the Garden City, the acclaimed hub of the Gulf of Guinea. Explaining the model for peace and prosperity in the Niger Delta so as to make case for US presence in the oil region, the founder talked about creating wealth both for the company and the communities. He pointed to the employment of 3,000 youths by Belemaoil from the communities; and award of 400 scholarships at once to indigenes with beneficiaries going home same day with their cheques. He also talked about certified water from water projects to places that never saw good water in over 600 years of existence; roads built by US-made bulldozers; and the building of what he called the Technology Centre to groom technically sound youths. On the medium and long term, the Belema president mentioned mouth-watering figures including 36,000 jobs to be created in three years and 60,000 in 10 years with plans to create $1.4billion value in over 240,000 homes. To achieve this, he said Belema must increase value and production to 2000 percent in the next 10 years from the present 12,000 bpd from OML 55 acquired from Chevron in 2013. He added that the company would need to work with at least 240 vendors. He talked about so far achieving 100 percent eradication of incidents related to pipeline vandalism and economic sabotage within operated OML 55. He said the model builds trust and confidence in operational areas, restoring the love that oil communities had for oil companies in years gone by. He called it; “Restoration of confidence, cooperation and partnership with host communities which guarantees economic activities, creates jobs, empowers our host communities and thereby occasioning peace and stability within the Niger Delta”. He gave instances of Graduate Trainee Scheme that has so far over 100 graduates currently on training in different technical and engineering fields. He said the model would also protect and heal the environment, an issue kicking up the highest dust in the oil region. He said that there was urgent need to rescue the oil city and save the bulging youth population to avoid political instability in Africa’s largest population. Tein Jr. said the US has much to do to help some few courageous investors like Belemaoil pumping huge funds to prove that Port Harcourt can rise again. “Port-Harcourt is West Africa’s economic hub for oil and gas investment which operates over 85 percent of Nigeria’s economy. The city is also the heart of the Niger- Delta, which is Nigeria’s treasure base. Therefore, such US Commercial presence will greatly foster economic and diplomatic cohesion Placing a definite appeal, the oil magnet said: “We cannot do it alone. We appeal to the US to establish presence here in the form of Business Liaison Centre in Port Harcourt. BPL appeals to the US Commercial Department to establish a Business Liaison Office (BLO) in Port-Harcourt to foster strategic economic growth. The establishment of such an office would effectively coordinate the US- Commercial Department activities within the Niger-Delta. “Port-Harcourt is West Africa’s economic hub for oil and gas investment which operates over 85 percent of Nigeria’s economy. The city is also the heart of the Niger- Delta, which is Nigeria’s treasure base. Therefore, such US Commercial presence will greatly foster economic and diplomatic cohesion,” he said. On why collaboration with the US Commercial Department was critical, Tein Jr said it would strengthen existing relationship with the United State and create more value for mutual benefits. He said these would be through “Collaboration in such areas as trainings and workshops, yearly attendance of OTC conference, etc, technical partnerships, procurement of equipment, materials and spare parts, acquisition of state-of-the-art technology support home economy, etc, other bilateral relationships with the Rivers State and the Federal Government.” The Rivers State Commissioner for Commerce and Industry, Nancy Nwankwo, who added a push, described the founder of Belemaoil as a highly respected investor who garnished his business process with high dose of philanthropy. “He is very passionate for local communities. He has done so well in the state,” Nwankwo said. She further said that Governor Nyesom Wike had so far done so much in the area of security and infrastructure to boost investments. “The region was neglected for long and it was about importation of contractors and marginalisation of the local people. Rivers State is a business hub, blessed with so much in terms of assets and natural resources. Our hands are open for investors,” she said. In his response, the Consul- General, Bray, urged the people and government of Rivers State to work on the image of the state in terms of security to attract businesses. He regretted that the state tended to post the worst electoral violence image during the 2015 elections (which went into endless re-runs and court disputes with more violence each time). He hinged any attempt to consider the plea of the business group and the state government on posting a positive image of free, fair and peaceful elections next year. Bray said: “I can feel the enthusiasm to boost the economy of Rivers State. I spoke with the governor yesterday and I could feel the strong push for investments in Port Harcourt. The issue is, how do we reduce security issues so as to convince foreign investors into the place?” He commended Tein of Belemaoil thus: “We can see you are lifting a candle for others to see the way and to follow”. The founder had earlier led the US Commercial Department officials to new site for facilities under construction at the end of Odili Road where a jetty is also being built. Tein Jr also led the CG and his team to the seat of power in Port Harcourt where Gov Nyesom Wike made further calls for cementing US/Rivers relationships and for collaborations. It is expected that the ground rules have been laid by the visit of the CG’s team to Rivers State and that the outcome of the 2019 elections would decide any further outcome. The ball is now in the court of the two rival political parties to allow the return of investors to the headquarters of the Gulf of Guinea.

Sunday 15 April 2018 C002D5556 11 Feature Perspective on Northern states’ high poverty index …Deconstructing Boko Haram, herdsmen menace DANIEL OBI Economic empowerment Last Sunday, Business- Day Newspapers published the story of Terry Ogolor, a beneficiary of job and wealth creation programme in Delta State. With entrepreneurial spirit already in him, hitherto unemployed Ogolor was successfully lured out of planned crime, by the empowerment programme. Ogolor is not alone as other 3,277 youths have been trained and benefited under the scheme. Today, Ogolor is successful in his fish farming enterprise, contributing to his family and the state economy. “Today, I am happy fish farm owner at YAGEP Fish Farm Cluster, Ugbokodo Okpe. I can fend for myself, family and friends”, he said in the report. The programme was strategically designed, stringently planned and specifically tailored to tackle the problem of youth unemployment and produce lasting and sustainable prosperity across board. Contrastingly, in the following page of the same edition of BusinessDay on Sunday, there was a story and pictures of Boko Haram, the Islamic sect that is terrorising Nigeria, with base in the North East of the country. The report described Boko Haram as one of the terror groups with weird objectives which has been dispensing anguish to human beings. So far, the group has killed several thousands of Nigerians and non-Nigerians. The group whose interest is not economic empowerment for its members or the region’s youth has simply frustrated business, farming and entrepreneurship in the Northern region. Apart from the deadly attacks it has carried out so far, on April, 2014 it adopted about 276 female students from Government Secondary School in the town of Chibok in Borno State. It recently adopted several girls from Dapchi School, a quiet community in Yobe. This havoc has severely and mentally obstructed the academic activities of the students, who, on their graduation supposed to contribute meaningfully to their states’ economic growth. “In some parts of the North East, academic programmes have been disrupted and school system altered as many schools have been reduced to rubbles”. One then wonders how development can be achieved without education of the people. Unfortunately, Boko Haram activities have displaced millions of children, youth and parents who supposed to engage in several economic activities for their families, states and the nation. Its sister terror group, Fulani herdsmen have continued and expanded the trepidation on Nigerians, especially farmers in the North Central part of the country. Two scenarios for empower- Boko Haram ment The two published scenarios painted above show the desperation of youths in different Nigerian regions seeking empowerment. While some youths are forging ahead with economic empowerment, contributing to their state’s economic healthiness, others are busy making complex demands and threatening lives, business and property which have partly assisted to deepen the poverty level in those states. While militancy could be linked to unemployment, it is also a function of the kind of education provided the youth. For instance, “Boko Haram at the onset appears to have had its operational bases located in the poorest parts of Northern Nigeria. It is in such places where people have been denied the opportunity to go to school as well as have meaningful economic sources of livelihood that recruitment is the easiest. Boko Haram leaders are aware of it and of course are maximising the advantages of that obvious truth. It was not any different from the situation that prevailed during the pre-amnesty militancy periods in the Niger Delta. The long and short of it is that with entrenched poverty, illiteracy and unemployment, we cannot eliminate the menace of Boko Haram or similar security threats,” says Olufemi Awoyemi in Proshare Website. Militancy anywhere assists to impoverish the people and the economy. The moneybags and sponsors of Boko Haram may also be using the platform to enrich themselves in the short term but the socioeconomic damage in the long term is humongous. Recent data on high Northern poverty level It is therefore not surprising that recent data from Oxford University Poverty and Human Development Initiative (OPHI), re-emphasised that the Northern states are worst in Nigeria’s subnational poverty rates. Despite having the opportunity of producing highest number of presidents in Nigeria’s history to govern the country, the report states that even with vast land mass, the region largely posted the worst performing in ‘multidimensional poverty index data bank’ in the period under review (year-to-date, 2017), with six northern states ranked as “worse states.” These worst states are Zamfara, the worst state, with 92 percent poverty rate; Jigawa 88 percent, Bauchi 87 percent, Kebbi 86 percent, Katsina 82.2 percent, and Gombe 77 percent. Data from five other core northern states: Kano, Sokoto, Adamawa and Boko Haram-ravaged Borno and Yobe, were not available in the Oxford University Poverty and Human Development Initiative, Multidimensional Poverty Index Data Bank. In the same vein, Taraba State (with 78percent), recently enmeshed in herdsmen attacks, Boko Haram at the onset appears to have had its operational bases located in the poorest parts of Northern Nigeria. It is in such places where people have been denied the opportunity to go to school as well as have meaningful economic sources of livelihood that recruitment is the easiest. Boko Haram leaders are aware of it and of course are maximising the advantages of that obvious truth. along with Plateau (51.6percent) in the North Central Zone were also listed among Nigeria Country Briefing’s “worse states” in subnational poverty rates rankings. However, data from herdsmen harried Benue State were not available. The only exception among the northern region is the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Abuja, with poverty rate of 24 percent, and strike-traumatised Kogi State with 26 percent, according to the OPHI data. Meanwhile, Ebonyi, a saltproducing and a largely agrarian state, majoring in rice production, in the South-East region, is the only ‘worst performed and poor state’ in the entire southern states of Nigeria. The state, currently under the leadership of David Umahi, elected governor in 2015, was ranked with 56 percent in the Nigerian sub-national poverty rates. The OPHI data posted states in the southern region as largely performing fairly well in poverty eradication policies. Lagos State, with a gross domestic product (GDP) economy of $136 billion, and by far, Nigeria’s economic capital, which recently emerged as Africa’s seventh largest economy, bigger than Cote d’Ivoire and Kenya, two of the continent’s most promising economies, is surveyed by OPHI as the least poor state in Nigeria, with only 8.5 percent ranking in sub-national poverty rate. Other states in the South West zone are Ogun 27 percent, Oyo 29 percent, Osun 11 percent, and Ondo 28 percent. Data from Ekiti State were not available. In the South-South zone, Edo State came off with a promising 19 percent sub-national poverty rate, while Rivers ranked with 21 percent and Bayelsa 29 percent. For the South East zone, Imo, a state currently governed by Rochas Okorocha, is 20 percent, from initial 15 percent in 2014-2015. Data from Abia, Anambra and Enugu states were not available. Prominent stakeholders including cerebral Emir of Kano, Muhammadu Sanusi II, who rose to the pinnacle by Western education, has often said that the abhorrence of Western education in the name of practising Islam has doomed northern part of Nigeria into becoming the poorest region in the country. Speaking at 2017 Kaduna State’s Investment and Economic Summit, themed ‘Promoting Investment Amidst Economic Challenges’ Sanusi said Muslims must imbibe and adopt western education and stop using religion and culture to set the region backward. New Focus Today, Boko Haram which is threatening business and deepening the poverty in the Northern region is riding on illiteracy, poverty and to some extent sponsors who are making money through them. Efforts should be made to reverse this in a mid-term through conscientious efforts by stakeholders in the region but more importantly through engaging them in productive activities through such investment in agriculture and solid mineral mining in the region. According to Awoyemi, the states should embark on enhanced social investment and enforcement of mass education. These will have more enduring positive impacts in curtailing the menace of Boko Haram or its variants, which now include kidnapping and outright criminality. The vast majority of Nigerian youth should be educated and engaged in productive activities especially in agriculture, mining to grow the respective regions and Nigeria’s economy. Lack of education and militancy can only take the states’ economy backward.