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Oil is Owned by Niger Delta, not Nigeria

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Michael Owhoko

By Michael Owhoko, PhD

For the record and for posterity, it is imperative to state that oil found in the Niger Delta region belongs to the people of the area. It is not owned by Nigeria. God provided every habitat with natural resources, including agricultural crops for subsistence. Oil, among others, is one of the natural deposits God provided for the Niger Delta people for existence.

The region had existed before Nigeria was created, and the oil was never part of sovereignty it ceded to bring about the country. This explains why other regions in the country have control over natural resources in their domain.

Therefore, it is morally wrong for the government to single out the most valuable resource of a particular region for confiscation while leaving other regions to enjoy their resources exclusively. That the Federal Government has oppressively expropriated the oil in the Niger Delta region by transferring ownership to itself and using the law to legitimize the process, does not make it morally right.

The obnoxious Petroleum Act of 1966 which now forms part of Section 44(3) of the 1999 Constitution was used to legitimize this illegality. It confers on the Federal Government, ownership and control of all petroleum resources found in, under or upon all land or waters in the country.

However, this is at variance with practices in advanced democracies where host communities, states or regions own the resources and pay taxes and royalties to the government.

In law, whoever owns the land, owns the resources therein, and this principle is supported by the Ad Coelum Doctrine. Why single out petroleum resources in a particular region for acquisition? If the intention of the government was sincere, the law should have been extended to cover all natural resources, including food and cash crops across the country.

The Niger Delta people believe strongly in their soul, spirit and body, that the oil belongs to them but that the federal government has unjustly used its might to seize it because of their helpless polyethnic minority condition. It is most likely this could not have happened in a monolithic majority group in the country for fear of resistance.

Depriving the Niger Delta region of its oil while leaving other regions or communities to exploit natural resources found in their areas, amounts to injustice.

Zamfara and Osun States, for example, are currently enjoying the benefits of gold mining, just as other states or regions in the country are reaping from their agricultural crops.

Yet, the Niger Delta people are not only deprived of their oil resources, but they also bear the brunt of oil exploration, including the destruction of their ecosystem. Fish, crops, weather, water and other organisms in the region suffer pollution and contamination. Oil has brought misery to the people to the extent that even basic agricultural and fishery activities which provide succour for the people are no longer generative, due to environmental degradation.

When you complain, those whose only contribution to the economy is their population are quick to remind you that the region is already enjoying 13 per cent derivation proceeds, in addition to input from intervention agencies like the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) and Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs, thus, does not deserve further support. This is population-induced arrogance.

When groundnut, cocoa and palm produce were Nigeria’s economic mainstay, the parts of the country where these produces were derived, namely, the North, West and East separately received 50 per cent of the revenue in line with the derivation principle as contained in the 1963 Constitution.

Why then is the government reluctant to raise the derivation revenue that should accrue to the Niger Delta region to 50 per cent when the 1999 Constitution has given a window for upward review. The 13 per cent derivation principles as contained in Section 162, Sub-section 2 of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) is intended to adequately compensate the people of the region for confiscation and damages arising from oil exploration and production.

While the region is still contending for an upward review of the 13 per cent, about 59 Northern lawmakers in the House of Representatives lately had vexatiously pushed for a bill to expunge the derivation principle under the 1999 Constitution.

Obviously, the intention of the 59 legislators is to deny the Niger Delta region of the 13 per cent derivation revenue to enable redistribution of the proceeds to shore up revenues in their region. This motive is not only thoughtless and heartless, it smacks of parliamentary hypocrisy and insincerity, capable of plunging the region into a pointless crisis that could worsen the country’s economic woes.

Are these lawmakers bereft of ideas that can shore up revenue pots in the northern states or they are just being mischievous?

Rather than channel and expend energy on how natural resources that are spread across the northern states can be explored and harnessed for the growth of the region, they are ridiculing the legislature and exposing the limit of their intellectual capacity for good governance.

It was these same northern legislators that contributed to the delay in the passage of the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) over their insistence that allocation to host communities from oil companies operating expenditure must be reduced from 10 to 3 per cent. They had opposed the initial 10 per cent as recommended in the original draft. The PIB was eventually passed into law on August 16, 2021.

Now, they have not only succeeded in this overbearing trajectory; they have introduced a 30 per cent frontier exploration fund in the Petroleum Industry Act (PIA) despite previous records of unsuccessful geophysical exploration efforts, including seismic surveying, by international oil companies (IOCs) in the region.

Is there any exploration magic they expect the Nigerian Petroleum Development Company (NPDC), a subsidiary of Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) to perform in a place where the IOCs could not find oil in commercial quantity?

It is a clear demonstration of the pursuit of sectional interests aimed at commuting the exploration fund into an advantage for the North.

In what way has the Niger Delta region offended the Nigerian state and their leaders? Why the show of zero tolerance for development and comfort in the region? Projects meant for development in the area are not only sometimes diverted and moved to other regions, even statutory privileges are occasionally aborted.

For example, former President Olusegun Obasanjo relocated the West Niger Delta LNG, Escravos to Olokola in Ogun State and changed the name to OK LNG.  Protest by the Delta State House of Assembly that the LNG be returned to Escravos, Delta State, was rebuffed by the government.

Former late President Musa Yar’Adua attempted to relocate the Federal University of Petroleum Resources, Effurun to Kaduna until he was pressured to halt the plan by Niger Delta governors.  Rather than establish one in Kaduna, he preferred to strip the region of the university.

The proposed Oil and Gas Industrial Park designed for fertilizer, methanol, petrochemicals, and aluminium plants earmarked for Ogidigben, Delta State, has been abandoned by the Federal Government.  It is hoped there are no plans to move it outside the region.

The Petroleum Equalisation Fund (PEF) which was established to administer uniform fuel prices across the country has consistently failed to extend coverage to the riverine oil communities in Niger Delta in their network, causing fuel to sell above pump price in these areas.

The unending construction of the East-West Road stretching from Effurun, Delta State to Calabar, Cross River State has lasted over 16 years with no hope in sight on a completion date.

It is imperative to calm frayed nerves in the Niger Delta by sincerely compensating the people through measures earnestly designed to develop the area for their oil that has been commandeered by the Federal Government

The template used in developing Abuja can be adopted.  Direct the IOCs and the indigenous oil companies to relocate their headquarters to Niger Delta, just as ministries, departments and agencies of government (MDAs) moved to Abuja. This will accelerate the development of the region.

Also, just as NNPC has directed oil companies to make annual budget provisions for funding of rehabilitation of schools, houses, roads, hospitals and other infrastructure destroyed by terrorists in Borno State and other parts of the North East Region, similar measures can be extended to oil communities whose properties have been impacted by seismic blasting and corrosion arising from activities of oil exploration.

This way, enduring peace can be achieved in the Niger Delta region, rather than see it as a conquered territory whose oil has been taken over as spoils of persecution.

Dr Mike Owhoko, journalist and author, is the publisher of Media Issues, an online newspaper based in Lagos.

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Feature/OPED

8 Tips to Optimize Your Customer Service Experience

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8 Tips to Optimize Your Customer Service Experience

Customer service experience is often the deciding factor for whether a customer will frequently buy from your business or not. Investing time and energy into creating a positive customer experience will produce major returns. Here is a list of eight tips to optimize your customer service experience.

1. Understand Customer Needs

Knowing your customers’ needs and adapting your service strategies is crucial. You can go about this by researching what inquiries are coming in and how satisfied existing clients are. What you learn from these sources can ultimately lead you to develop solutions that will be very useful for the customers. Your team will then be empowered to provide customers with a solution they need rather than what they want.

2. Seek and Promote Customer Feedback

If you want to stay ahead of the curve, it is essential to seek feedback from your customers. Please encourage them to share their experience by allowing them to complete customer service surveys. By doing so, you’ll be able to track trends in your business and make changes where necessary. This will also help you see where improvements need to be completed and what strategies work well for your business. You can get customer feedback through online reviews, face-to-face conversations, and regularly inviting your customers. You can also know more about customer satisfaction through mystery shopping services. This helps you gather first-person insight into the customer experience.

3. Set and Communicate Clear Service Standards

You need to set transparent service standards and communicate them to all of your employees. This will help you ensure that customers receive the service level they expect. Create a crisis management plan and have it in place before any major incidents take place. Ensure that you train your staff to understand these procedures. When setting customer service standards, it is essential to consider the resources such as technology and staffing, realistic timescale, and the main customer contact point.

4. Communicate Company Culture

The goal of the business needs to be communicated clearly and consistently to all employees. When this happens, every employee will abide by it and should be motivated to work hard to achieve it. Ensure that you have a positive corporate culture, which all employees in the company know. You can utilize customer service training at your company, which will help your employees understand their roles and responsibilities and how they can contribute to achieving the business’s goals.

5. Personalize your Customer Service

Customers are susceptible to how they are being treated. Establish a personal relationship with them and provide them with a pleasing experience. This will encourage them to come back in the future and refer their friends to you. You can achieve personalized customer service by listening and responding to them, addressing them by their names, greeting and welcoming them, and demonstrating empathy in poor experience situations. Try to achieve this in every customer interaction.

6. Invest in Customer Service Training

Customer service training will help employees to understand the importance of customer service and how to deliver it. Consider getting your employees to attend a good customer service training program, which will significantly improve the level of customer service at your business. At the end of these programs, employees can put their new-found knowledge into practice and bring their expertise with them to each specific customer interaction. The trained staff will provide tailored customer service more sustainably.

7. Analyze Customer Concerns and Complaints

Find out customers’ complaints and ensure that your business handles them effectively. You can find out the reasons for customer complaints by analyzing them. This way, you can know how to solve problems. You can use many tools to find customer concerns and complaints, such as mystery shoppers, questionnaires, and surveys. You can then use this information to change your business strategy if needed.

8. Reward your Employees

Employee recognition is critical to any business’s success. You can recognize your employees by giving them special gifts, rewards, and bonuses. You can also give them thank you cards or even a simple thank you email. This will encourage them to work hard and help deliver great customer service to their clients.

Conclusion

To succeed in customer satisfaction, it is essential to know your customers. The best way of doing this is by establishing a personal relationship with them and understanding their needs. By setting clear standards for your team, communicating with them well, and analyzing customer concerns and complaints, you can improve your business’ efficiency in providing excellent customer service.

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The Coming of Barry Ndiomu as Presidential Amnesty Interim Coordinator

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Barry Ndiomu

By Jerome-Mario Chijioke Utomi

The recent disengagement of Colonel Milland Dixon Dikio (rtd) as the interim Coordinator, Amnesty Programme, after two years of being in the saddle by President Muhammadu Buhari precisely on Thursday, September 15, 2022, and has in his place appointed Major-General Barry Ndiomu (retd) has again shown that bosses are neither a title on the organisation chart nor a function. But they are individuals and are entitled to do their work. It is incumbent for the occupier to do this work or be shown the way out by the real job owner.

Qualifying this recent development as a departure from the old order is the new awareness that the Dikio has, unlike his predecessors, congratulated the Odoni, Sagbama Local Government Area, Bayelsa State-born, and Nigerian Defence Academy 29th Regular Combatant Course trained Ndiomu for succeeding him as the new boss of the programme.

While thanking God for His grace and profound gratitude to President Buhari for allowing him to serve the country, Dikkio, in that report, explained that he has firmly set on the course the mission to transform ex-agitators to become net contributors to the economy of the Niger Delta and the nation at large.

To keep issues where they belong, it is important to underline that the purpose of this present intervention is not to subject Dikkio’s tenure to intensive scrutiny. Rather, it is aimed at assisting the Coordinator in succeeding in his new responsibility. That notwithstanding, the truth must be told that Dikkio’s claim of transforming ex-agitators into net contributors to the economy of the Niger Delta and the nation at large had not gone without eliciting reactions from stakeholders and the general public.

For instance, while some consider the claim true and objective, others view it with scepticism.

Moreover, from the above experience, Ndiomu, the new interim boss of the organisation, must, as an incentive to success, design a circle of learning and empowerment for himself that will allow him to see things that his predecessors did not see and formulate transformational strategies.

He must not fail to remember that the luxury of a leisurely approach to an urgent challenge is no longer permissible in the modern-day leadership arena. He must recognise the fact that what partially explains the failure of his predecessors is traceable to their decision to do good instead of doing well.

For a better understanding of this position, ‘doing-good entails charity service or so-called selfless service where one renders assistance and walks away without waiting for any returns. On the other hand, doing well describes reciprocation and ‘win-win’ because the doer is also a stakeholder and intends to benefit at least in goodwill and friendship’.

To change this trend, localise, grasp and find solutions to the critical issues plaguing the programme, it is important to recognise that bringing a radical improvement or achieving sustainable development will not be possible if you present yourself as an all-knowing, more generous, more nationalistic, selfless, more honest or kind, more intelligent, good looking or well-briefed than other stakeholders.

Again, succeeding on this job will, among other things, require two things: first, you should guard against the euphoria inspired by such appointments; make no grandiose plans or claims while your thinking is altered by feelings inspired by triumph; and secondly, the corrupting tendency of the additional power you have won. Try not to feel that much less accountability because you have that much power. You still must answer to yourself, and you must more than ever lead.

Another point you must not also fail to remember is that your enemies are everywhere and have with this appointment increased in number, locations and forms. “You must love your neighbour but keep your neighbourhood’, view corruption as something/act that destroys and breaks that trust which is essential for the delicate alchemy at the heart of representative democracy.

You must avoid the ongoing experience at the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC). A sister initiative was also established by the federal government to facilitate integrated development in the region but has yet to be identified because a sheep has gone its way ’abandoning the people of the coastal areas it was created to protect. There is an urgent imperative to carry the stakeholders along, particularly the Niger Delta youths who are supposedly the real beneficiary of the programme.

At this point, it is important to remember that the original amnesty document, as proclaimed by Yar’Adua, was meant to stand on a tripod-with the first part of the tripod targeted at disarmament and demobilisation process; the second phase to capture rehabilitation which is the training processes, while the third phase is the Strategic Implementation Action Plan. This last phase was designed to develop the Niger Delta massively but was unfortunately ignored by the federal government. You must look into this to succeed.

Remember, stakeholders have recently questioned the wisdom behind teaching a man to fish in an environment where there is no river to fish or training a man without a job creation plan. They are particularly unhappy that the amnesty initiative, which was programmed to empower the youths of the region via employment, has finally left the large army of professionally-trained ex-militants without jobs.

In fact, the region is in a dire state of strait because unemployment has diverse implications. While pointing out that security wise, a large unemployed youth population is a threat to the security of the few that are employed, and any transformation agenda that does not have job creation at the centre of its programme will take us nowhere’.

In making this call, it is obvious that there is nothing more ‘difficult to handle, more doubtful of success, and more dangerous to carry through than initiating such changes as the innovator will make more enemies of all those who prospered under old order’. But any leader that does come out powerful secured, respected and happy. This is an opportunity you must not miss.

Finally, as a flood of congratulatory messages continues to flow into your home, two things stand out. The moment portrays you as lucky. But like every success which comes with new challenges, the appointment has thrust yet another responsibility on you- an extremely important destiny; to complete a process of socioeconomic rejuvenation of the Niger Delta youths, which we have spent far too long a time to do.

Therefore, you must study history, study the actions of your predecessors, see how they conducted themselves and discover the reasons for their victories or defeats so you can avoid the latter and imitate the former.

If you can correct the above challenge, it will be your most powerful accomplishment for earning new respect and emulation. And if you are not, it will equally go down the anal of history.

Jerome-Mario Utomi is the Programme Coordinator (Media and Public Policy), Social and Economic Justice Advocacy (SEJA), a Lagos-based Non-Governmental Organization (NGO)

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Searches on Google Reveal Nigerians Are Feeling Uncertain

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Juliet Ehimuan Nigerians Feeling Uncertain

By Juliet Ehimuan

Since Google launched in Nigeria, we’ve seen a few periods of global uncertainty, including the 2008 financial crisis, increasing frequency of climate-related disasters, and a global pandemic. Each brought its degree of uncertainty – and people turned to Google each time to seek information and help them make decisions.

We’re once again seeing search trends that show people are feeling unsure about the world around them. Fortunately, a lot has changed in the past fifteen years that can help. In 2007, only 20% of the world’s population had internet access. Today, 38% of Nigerians and 60% of the world are online: with all the information, skills and support technology can provide.

Technology cannot solve all of these trends’ concerns and anxiety, but it can be used to help. Here are some Search trends we’ve seen in Nigeria this year and how technology and business can and should intervene.

  1. Concerns about covid and the climate aren’t going anywhere

As economies re-open, it could be tempting to think that the uncertainty of the pandemic is behind us. Search interest in coronavirus hit an all-time high worldwide in March 2020 – but it is far from leaving people’s concerns entirely, as searches have changed to reflect new phases of the pandemic.

In Nigeria, in the past 90 days, searches for “difference between covid and flu” and “symptoms of coronavirus” doubled (+100%), while searches for “causes of coronavirus” went up by 90%.  Google will continue to provide accurate and timely information on everything from symptoms to vaccines as people strive to return to everyday life.

Additionally, Search trends show that apprehension about the climate crisis has continued to grow. Search interest in climate change reached the highest level of the past decade in April 2022 in Nigeria, while searches for other environmental issues, including “climate change”, “pollution” and “global warming” reached an all-time high in April 2022.

Given these concerns, businesses need to both help customers make small, meaningful changes and to walk the walk themselves, reducing emissions and cutting their footprint.

Creating technology to help achieve this is a key part of our role. Google wants to help 1 billion people make more sustainable choices by the end of this year and is making changes to our most popular products to help make sustainable decisions easier. Our eco-friendly routing, for example, which was recently launched in Germany, will help users cut their bills and emissions by providing them with the most fuel-efficient and quickest route. This change alone could save 1 million tonnes of carbon emissions a year.

  1. Cybersecurity and privacy online have never been more important

With more people using the internet to manage their daily lives than ever, it’s no surprise that there has been an increase in searches about cybersecurity and privacy.

Nigerian searches for “what is phishing” increased by 40%, while searches for “phishing attack” increased by 50%. Additionally, search interest in Privacy increased by 30% in Nigeria compared to last year, and searches for private browsing went up by 60% compared to last year.

People want to embrace technology – but they want to know that their personal information will be safe. To help with that, Google has built many of the internet’s first tools to manage confidential data – like the Privacy Checkup, a central place which allows you to review your key privacy settings, and Takeout – where you can download or delete your Google data. We are also working with the industry and regulators to make changes across the board – prioritising users’ privacy and security.

  1. People want to understand the wider economic uncertainty – and are keen to save

As our CEO, Sundar Pichai, said recently, we face “an uncertain global economic outlook”. Search trends show that people want to understand better what’s happening and how they can manage it.

Searches for “how to make money” have been the top “how to make” search in Nigeria in 2022, while searches for “how to save” increased by 20%. Searches for “how to start a business” dropped in Nigeria this year.

We’ve seen this before. During the pandemic, businesses that adopted new digital skills built ‘a digital safety net’. Working in partnership with governments and other organisations, Google has helped 10 million people to find jobs, digitise and grow across the region – and we stand ready to support them again now.

These trends show people feel uncertain about what lies ahead, but no matter where we head, I’m hopeful that technology will form a part of the solution. Our mission at Google to make information accessible and useful has never been more important: and we’re here to help.

Nigeria:

  • In the last 90 days, “covid-19 household loan application form” almost trippled (+180%); “difference between covid and flu” and “symptoms of coronavirus” doubled (+100%); “causes of coronavirus” went up by 90%, “coronavirus history” increased by 70% and “signs of covid” rose by 40%

  • There is no search interest in climate anxiety or eco anxiety in Nigeria. However: Search interest in climate change reached the highest level of the past decade in April 2022 in Nigeria

  • Search interest in the vertical environmental issues – which tracks search interest in search terms such as “”climate change””, “”pollution”” and “”global warming”” – has reached an all-time high in April 2022. “

  • Search interest in Privacy went up by +30% in Nigeria in H1 2022 vs H12021 whilst search interest for Phishing increased by +40%. Search term “phishing website” more than doubled (+100%) while “phishing meaning” increased by 80%. “phishing attack” rose by +50% and “what is phishing” went up by +40%

  • Private browsing went up by 60% in Nigeria in H1 2022 vs H1 2021. Search interest in the topic has reached its highest point of the past 9 years in July 2022

  • Searches for privacy in general went up by 30% in H1 2022 vs H1 2021; selected terms related to privacy which also went up: “privacy policy generator” +130% and “privacy policy” rose by 40%.

  • Search interest in Money peaked in July in Nigeria.

  • “how to make money” is one of the top searched “how to” questions in the country so far in 2022. “how to save” went up by 20% in H1 2022 vs H1 2021

  • Search interest in “how to start a business” has dropped in Nigeria this year

Juliet Ehimuan is the Director of West Africa at Google

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