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Diri debunks alleged plan to scuttle Brass fertiliser project

Governor Douye Diri of Bayelsa State has debunked allegations that he was planning to scuttle the Brass Fertilizer and Petrochemical project on the grounds that it was sited in a ‘core Ijaw area’.

The accusation on social media has reignited issues concerning core Ijaw and non-core Ijaw that have divided the ethnic Ijaws in Bayelsa State, regarded as the most homogeneous Ijaw state in Nigeria.

Apart from ethnic sentiments arising from core Ijaw and non-core Ijaw, politics has also largely divided the people since the All Progressives Congress (APC) emerged as the leading political party in the area.

The project has suffered delay over the years and the latest controversy could derail attempts to commence the project which is seen as critical to efforts to industrialise the state and create jobs for the people of the state.

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Diri, who reacted in a Government House statement signed by his Chief Press Secretary, Daniel Alabrah, condemned what he described as an attempt to cause ethnic disharmony in the state through the Brass Fertiliser and Petrochemical Company project.

He said those behind the allegation did not mean well for the state and the Ijaw nation and that only enemies of the state could concoct such falsehood and spread fake news on social media in order to create ethnic disaffection.

Governor Diri maintained that his administration was committed to the unity and progress of the state and the Ijaw nation, rather than engaging in pettiness and promoting a divisive agenda.

He called on critical stakeholders, including the Minister of State for Petroleum, Timipre Sylva, whose ministry supervises the project, to consider the overall interest of the state while working with others to ensure the project succeeds.

“As governor of the only homogeneous Ijaw state, I owe our people the responsibility of promoting and preserving our unity. Having been in the forefront of advocacy for a better Ijaw nation in the past, I cannot now negate those cherished principles and ideals. It is therefore out of sync to ascribe to my person such primordial and base sentiments,” Diri said.

Diri’s administration has held meetings with various stakeholders for commencement of the project and Biriyai Dambo, Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice, who has been part of the meetings, equally described the allegation as a blatant lie.

Dambo said from inception, Diri’s administration has wholly supported the project.

“I have been part of the entire meetings with the governor and top officials of Brass Fertiliser and Petrochemical Limited. The Bayelsa State Government under Governor Diri is in full support of the project and meetings are still ongoing to finetune the Joint Venture Agreement to be executed by the parties. Core Ijaw has had nothing to do with this,” Dambo said.

“The progress, development and interest of the state is key to the administration. We must be very circumspect in whatever we utter or write,” he said.

The Commissioner for Lands and Housing, Esau Andrew, who hails from the host community, Odioama, said in all meetings on the fertiliser project, the governor had shown absolute commitment, alleging that the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) was being influenced to sabotage the project.

Andrew, however, failed to name those allegedly influencing the NNPC to sabotage the project while also alleging that someone wanted to relocate the project to Okpoama, Sylva’s hometown, in 2017.

“Rather, it was someone else who covertly wanted to relocate the Brass Fertilizer project from Odioama to the Okpoama LNG site in 2017, but the people of Odioama Kingdom vehemently protested and resisted it,” he said.

According to him, the same blackmail was used against former Governor Henry Seriake Dickson, but the Odioama people were fully aware and resisted it. He described the current development as “a deliberate, cheap and notorious blackmail intended to poison the minds of Bayelsans, all in a bid to cover a malicious intention”.

According to him, Diri held a meeting with the Chiefs Council of Odioama Kingdom and restated his stance of protecting the community’s equity share, and also informed them of his efforts in bringing about the prevailing peace in Odioama Kingdom.

He disclosed that the Brass Fertiliser and Petrochemical Company acquired 595 hectares of land from the host community and that the state government had long issued the Certificate of Occupancy and other title documents to the company.

He also disclosed that Certificate of Occupancy processing fee of N116,075,000 was suspended for two years by the Bayelsa State Government in fulfillment of the state’s responsibilities as contained in the Joint Venture Agreement.

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