* Biggest town-hall centre in Rivers unveiled at Okochiri
* Shore protection project, fish pond, CT centre, science labs, foreign postgraduate
By Codratus Godson
A mega town hall centre that sits 1500 persons in its twin halls is one of the many community development projects commissioned in Okrika local government area of Rivers State last weekend by the NNPC/Eroton E&P joint venture (JV).
Eroton is a joint venture with the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) in the operation of Oil Mining License 18 (OML 18) which until 2014 belonged to SPDC in the Cawthorne Channels and areas around Asari -Toru local council area as well as Alakiri and Orubiri (Okrika) areas.
Eroton E&P on January 17, 2020, showcased the sustainable development projects it has so far executed in Okrika local council area of Rivers State. The projects include a multi-million naira ultra-modern town-hall centre at Okochiri declared mother of all projects by the board.
Others that impressed the guests include the construction and equipping of Comprehensive Secondary School, Ibaka, Science Laboratory; renovation of six classroom block at Okrika National Secondary School; a solar-powered water project at Community Secondary School, Okochiri; and the construction of ICT Centre and Library with renovation of school hall at Ibaka town.
Others mentioned by the cluster officials include renovation and completion of Ofiomina Ama Public Health Centre; construction of four concrete fish ponds at Okochiri; construction of Ofiomina Ama Concrete Walkway Bridge; purchase and installation of 38 desktop computers, computer workstations & swivel chairs at Ibaka.
There is a shore protection project at Offiomina Ama Community said to be ongoing. Already, there has been distribution of textbooks to secondary schools in Okrika as well as making of 1000 desks to secondary schools in Okrika plus supply of chairs for students and teachers in the local council area, according to the secretary of the WCDB, a private legal practitioner, Benebo Tamunosisi Alayineka, who took officials round. He confirmed that the board gets N45m per year in the past six years to execute projects under the global memorandum of understanding (GMOU) scheme inherited from SPDC.
Eroton E&P executed the projects in partnership with the Nigeria National Petroleum Development Corporation (NNPC), which is a joint venture (JV) arrangement. The projects were handled by the Wakrike Cluster Development Board (WCDB) with about N270m in the past six years since the divestment of SPDC in Oil Mining Lease 11 (OML 11) which covers the Alakiri and Orubiri fields.
In his address, the Wakrike Cluster Development Board chairman, Chief Dean Sandy Tonyesika, said: “The citing of this building here was divinely ordained and we thank God for bringing this project to a successful completion. When the project was conceived in 2011 as a legacy project by SPDC, Okochiri was chosen as the best place for its location and today, it stands as a symbol of beauty and authority in this kingdom.
“The town-hall started as a Pre-GMOU legacy project by SPDC and was subsequently handed over to a formal GMOU arrangement between NNPC/SPDC JV financing and carefully managed by the Wakrike Cluster Development Board (WCDB. However, when SPDC divested and some of its assets in 2014/15, Eroton (E&P) Company Limited took over operations in OML 18 which covers Alakiri and Orubiri fields in Okrika. By this arrangement, the new JV and Cluster Board worked hard to deliver this project.
“We thus thank both NNPC and Eroton E&P for their commitment at ensuring that this project is completed. When I say completed, I mean both in structure and equipment. The hall is ready for use and can seat 1500 persons in two conducive halls. There is none like it in Rivers State for now.
“I recall how His Royal Majesty occasionally toured this environment to see the progress of work all this while. Thus, your encouragement and advice were key factors that spurred the Board with purpose and commitment to accomplish this. These town hall and facilities in and out of it are self-sustaining. Your Majesty, it is my request that the proper management of this facility should be your interest so that this kingdom derives maximum benefit from it. There are many other projects beyond this town-hall that would interest everybody and show how hard the Board has worked so far.”
The NNPC GMD, Mele Koko Kyari, represented by Tolulope Derin-Adefuwa of the Public Affairs Department, explained why the NNPC is the main owner of CSR projects, saying the corporation brings 55 per cent of project costs which the JV operations partners execute.
She went on: “NNPC is a torch-bearer in community development. They carry out projects in education; also in infrastructure such as roads, electricity, water, buildings, etc. Over the years, the NNPC has supported development in the north also through the National Independent Power Project (NIPP).
We hope these projects just commissioned would be protected by the communities where they are located. We commend you for providing the peaceful atmosphere that delivered the massive development projects so far.”
Speaking, Eroton MD, Ebiaho Emafo, who spoke through the CSO, Peter Abere, expressed delight in the type of cooperation the company has so far received in Okrika. “Much more is expected to accomplish these projects.”
The Okrika local council chairman, Philemon Iwoloma Kingoli, who is also an Okrika chief, however thanked the NNPC/Eroton JV partners for what was done but asked for more especially in the area of power supply.