Mookie Betts, David Price introduced by Dodgers | Los Angeles Dodgers

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Mookie Betts and David Price returned to Dodger Stadium on Wednesday for the first time since defeating Los Angeles in the 2018 World Series as members of the Red Sox.

But as the Dodgers’ new duo was officially introduced in center field — not far from where they celebrated the final out of that World Series victory — Betts said he’s hoping to end the 2020 season in similar fashion.

“I’d like to celebrate here again in this jersey,” Betts said, moments after putting on his No. 50 Dodgers uniform for the first time.

The Dodgers are hoping for a similar outcome following Monday’s blockbuster deal that brought Betts and Price to Los Angeles in exchange for outfielder Alex Verdugo (L.A.’s top prospect — and MLB’s No. 35 — a year ago), shortstop Jeter Downs (their third-highest ranked prospect on the 2020 Top 100 list, at No. 44) and catcher Connor Wong (No. 28 on the Dodgers’ 2019 year-end list).

Los Angeles has won seven straight division titles, but remains without a World Series championship since 1988. The Dodgers watched the Astros and Red Sox celebrate titles on their home field in 2017 and ’18, respectively, then won a franchise record 106 games in ’19, only to be eliminated in the National League Division Series — once again in their own ballpark.

“To be able to jump onto a team like the Dodgers, a team that has had the amount of success they’ve had the last couple years, and then add a player like Mookie Betts,” Price said, “and to then be able to add myself to that mix as well, that’s something special to be a part of, and we’re both very excited about it.”

They’ve arrived. pic.twitter.com/UAcvATulxe

— Los Angeles Dodgers (@Dodgers)

Manager Dave Roberts shared his excitement as well, as he is eager to pencil Betts into the NL’s highest-scoring lineup from 2019.

“As a coach, you just want to get going and what we do is compete, that’s what we love to do,” Roberts said. “I couldn’t be more excited.”

It’s hard to blame the skipper, who will have the luxury of rolling out the 2018 AL Most Valuable Player in right field alongside ’19 NL MVP winner Cody Bellinger in center field.

“We’ve kind of talked through passing at the All-Star Game and as we played here,” Betts said of his relationship with Bellinger. “It’s going to be pretty special. He won the MVP last year, so he’s definitely going to put on a show, and I’ll do my best to keep up with him.”

The Dodgers took on Betts’ entire $27 million salary for 2020. The 27-year-old outfielder is set to become a free agent following this season, and he has previously expressed his desire to test the market next winter.

Now that he’s arrived in Los Angeles, might Betts consider signing a long-term extension with the Dodgers?

“Right now, I just got here — still trying to find a house and those kinds of things,” Betts said. “I’m not even really thinking about that. I’m just focused on staying with 2020 and going from there.”

Along with the pair of MVPs in the outfield, the Dodgers will have multiple Cy Young Award winners in their starting rotation. Price, who won the 2012 AL Cy Young Award with the Rays, joins three-time NL Cy Young winner Clayton Kershaw.

Price has plenty of history with Dodgers general manager Andrew Friedman, who selected Price with Tampa Bay’s No. 1 overall pick in the 2007 MLB Draft. The Red Sox and the Dodgers will split the remaining $96 million owed to Price over the next three years.

“I’ve watched him grow and continue to evolve on the mound — and obviously the success he’s had is evident and everybody knows about that — but he was as good of a teammate as I’ve ever seen,” Friedman said. “The impact he has in the clubhouse was as significant as I’ve seen. … What he does on the mound every fifth day is obvious and evident to everybody that follows, but as we look to continue to supplement and add to this core group, what David brings goes beyond what he does every fifth day.”

Though the trade process had its hiccups and took nearly a week to complete after reports of a deal initially surfaced, Price and Betts said they were both thrilled to be in Los Angeles on Wednesday and eager to report to Glendale, Ariz., next week.

“Once we found out we were both coming, we were excited,” Price said. “We shared some text messages and phone calls, and we’re excited to be here.”

Paul Casella is a reporter/editor for MLB.com based in Philadelphia. Follow him on Twitter @paul_casella.

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Church kicks as Niger demolishes building

Justina Asishana, Minna

The demolition of church building by the Niger State Ministry of Lands and Housing is raising a lot of questions with the church accusing the government of unfairness.

The building, which belongs to Icons of Summit Glory Ministry, was demolished by the state Urban Development Board on Friday.

An investigation by The Nation revealed that underhand practices by officials of the Ministry of Lands and Housing are rampant making a number of people to lose their houses and structures to government demolition.

While some of the officials of the Ministry of Land claimed that the land is free, other top-ranking officials and the State Urban Development Board insisted that the demolished structure was on land allocated to the government and not free for individual use.

Speaking to The Nation about the demolition, the Senior Pastor of Icons of Summit Glory Ministry, Pastor Olamide Adeoye, said that the demolition was carried out while correspondences were ongoing on the land.

He said that the structure was already at the roof level when it was pulled down without prior notice, adding that the Ministry has spent a lot of money in putting up the structure only for it to be pulled down without any consideration for their sweat.

Read Also; Police arrest 173 suspects, recover N17.5m in Kano

Adeoye stated that due diligence was carried out by the church, which saw some officials of the ministry visiting the land and declaring it free.

“From their intelligence sheet, the officials told us that there was no article on the land, that it is free. The intelligence sheet is a sheet that shows if the government will want to use the land in the future and after due checking, they said the land is free for use and we should go ahead and begin our development.

“We did not even pay for the land until all the due diligence was done by us, our architects and our lawyer. So how come a land that is free on the intelligence sheet now become government land?” he asked.

Adeoye accused the Ministry of trying to secure the land for a high- ranking government official saying they have received threats from people representing the government official.

“If it is government land, how come a government official is having five hectares of the land all to himself? How come will the Ministry approve a Certificate of Occupancy to two people? How can a government official allocate five hectares of government land to himself? They should explain this if the ministry is really claiming the land belong to the government.”

Adeoye further said that the Ministry held its anniversary service in the structure two weeks ago and it was demolished after that.

“We had our anniversary here. After the anniversary, we heard people saying that they said they do not want church here. We thought it was a joke, only for us to be told on Friday that the structure was demolished. Without any information or notice, who does that?”

When the reporter visited the District Head of the area, Alhaji Shehu MaiAngwan, he was unavailable but a member of the family who gave his name as Abu said that the land belonged to the natives, saying claims by the government that the land belongs to them are mischievous.

“I agree that the three arms zone is for the government but this area which is after the road is not part of the three arms zone. This land is for the natives and we have been giving the land out for sale without any problem,” he stated.

When queried about the demolition, he said: “For this demolition, we were not given any notice. What surprised us is that only two structures were brought down and one does not have any mark for demolition. We have been wondering why other structures were not also brought down.”

The reporter visited the Niger state Urban Development Board where the General Manager, Habiba Ahmed said that there was approval for demolition of the structures.

She said that the structure was on government land, adding that the owners had been warned not to commence any building process there.

Commissioner of Lands and Housing, Barrister Muktar Nasale, promised to get back to our reporter on the issue.

She was yet to call as at the time of filing this report.

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JUST IN: LASTMA officer stoned to death in Lagos | P.M. News

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Oyeshina before his death

By Kazeem Ugbodaga

An officer of the Lagos State Traffic Management Authority, LASTMA, Ola Oyeshina has been stoned to death at Iganmu-Sifax axis of Apapa, Lagos while trying to decongest the area of traffic.

The incident reportedly occurred on Friday around 5.00pm.

According to LASEMA’s General Manager, Olajide Oduyoye, a large stone was thrown at him by some people and that two persons had been arrested in connection with the murder.

Condemning the murder of Oyeshina, the LASTMA boss said the government would not fold its arm and allow its officers to be attacked by hoodlums.

Oduyoye said when the LASTMA officer was stoned, he was immediately rushed to Area “B” police station along with two of the people who attacked him, as ACP Bayo Sulaimon thereafter ordered the detention of the two (2) attackers that were arrested while a letter of medical referral was issued for the victim’s attention at the hospital.

He further revealed that owing to the traumatic experienced, Oyeshina was immediately referred to LUTH from Randle Hospital, Surulere.

The LASTMA General Manager further revealed that it was unfortunate that the agency lost the young promising officer to the cold hand of death in the early hours of Saturday, 30th November, 2019.

He, therefore, assured that the perpetrators of the dastard act who were caught would be prosecuted in court to serve as deterrent to other members of the public who might harbour notion of committing such crime in future.

Oduyoye said that “LASTMA was established to manage and control traffic in order to reduce the people’s travel time on our roads, increase economic growth through increased productivity and ensure the populace’s safety and security.

“A situation where road users will now turn against any government official in order not to answer the consequences of breaking the law, is unacceptable and would not be condoned henceforth”.

Oduyoye emphasised that with the recent inauguration of a committee on war against traffic and environmental offenders, there was no more hiding place for Lagos residents or visitors who go against the law.

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Safety violation/noise pollution: Lagos govt seals coy over controversial death of staff – Vanguard News

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Water Parks, 20 others too

By Olasunkanmi Akoni

The Lagos State Government has sealed off the premises of Multipak Nigeria Limited, a plastic production factory located at Plot F8, Kudirat Abiola Way, Oregun, Lagos for violation of safety rules and regulation as well as complete lack of safety management system.

In similar incidents, officials of the State Environmental Protection Agency, LASEPA, in its on going clampdown on noise pollution and determination to curb the menace of environmental nuisances across the state and further restore sanity and orderliness, on Saturday, shut over 20 facilities which included: Mosques, churches, Water Parks, Ikeja, West Gate Lounge, Omole, Magodo phase 1, among others for various environmental related issues.

The state government, through the State Safety Commission shut the production company, following the untimely death of one Mr Femi Olatunde, a factory worker who got his head stuck while operating one of the processing machines.

Director General, Lagos State Safety Commission, Lanre Mojola, stressed that the State Governor, Mr Babajide Sanwo-Olu’s administration has laid emphasis on safety of lives and property of its citizenry, hence, declaration of zero tolerance on factories and private organisations that violate health and safety rules and regulation.

ALSO READ: Man drowns in National Stadium swimming pool

According to Mojola, “On no account should any factory operate without putting in place safety measures at work places, good housekeeping, safety signage, firefighting and suppression equipment, good electrical wiring systems and a clean environment devoid of hazards to the lives of workers and visitors.”

He said that full investigation has commenced into the ugly incident to determine the immediate and remote cause of the death to prevent future occurrence.

Mojola added that investigation was also  ongoing with regards to safety infractions at another steel factory in Odonguyan, Ikorodu. “If they are found wanting after the investigation, the factory will be sealed and prosecuted fully in line with the extant law.

He therefore, urged organisations and individuals to embrace best practice in international safety operations to prevent fatal incidences that endanger lives, stressing, “safety of lives and property is our collective responsibility.”

The Lagos safety boss further warned factories and organizations that violators of safety rules would be severely sanctioned if found wanting.

On closure of religious houses and social centres over noise pollution, the exercise which cut across the state had others like: Skylouge Bar, Oko Oba, Mallam Garba Mosque, iloro, Dick Jockey outlets, Dopemu, Agege, Christ Embassy Church, Iyana ipaja ,El Castillo Homes, Abule Egba, others are Triple Z Hotel and Suite, Shasha, Akowonjo, Regia Luxuria Hotels & Suites, Alimosho, Kings of Diamonds, Coker, Barrel Louge, Opebi, Voice Of Elijah Christian Church, Ikeja, Celestial Church of Christ, Ilupeju and unnamed Mosque at Allhamdiyah all shut.

The General Manager, LASEPA, Dr Adedolapo Fasawe decried the frequent attacks on the officials and obstruction of same from carrying out their official duties by unidentified hoodlums hired by facility owners to prevent lawful application of the law.

Fasawe, however, warned the general public, particularly unrepentant noise polluters to desist from the act of attacking its officials while discharging their duties or face the full wrath of the Law.

This warning came on the heels of clamp down exercise embarked by the agency to curb the tide of noise pollution in the state.

She narrated how officials of the agency were attacked by hoodlums at the Westgate Louge, Omole and Sky Louge, Oko Oba while performing their duty to shut down the facilities for their persistent noise and failure to operate within the orbit of the law.

“Enforcing environmental law in our society that thrives on impunity will require enlisting maximum support of the members of the public, especially our clerics, opinion, political and market leaders to lend their voices to the campaign and condemn the unwarranted but coordinated attacks being launched on the officials while performing their duties,” she stated.

Fasawe further addressed the on-going insinuations and campaign of calumny against the agency by some mischief makers that particular religion was being targeted in the fight against noise pollution.

“Our operation devoid all religious coloration and no particular religion is targeted, our primary objective is to ensure decorum and sanity in the state. The Agency in the past months has being recording tremendous success and which must be supported by all rather than unwarranted attack of our intention by means of misinformation, misrepresentation and deliberate negative reports to bring the agency to disrepute and causes chaos amongst our people,” Fasawe charged.

She continued: “We have deployed various innovations and techniques to tackle environmental pollutions, especially in the area of noise pollution all to no avail, such as engaging the public through advocacy, social mobilisation programmes, stakeholder’s forum, Alternate Dispute Resolution (ADR) and lastly the use of enforcement as last resort in maintaining sanity.

“Voluntary compliance is more important to the agency than enforcement but regrettably our people doesn’t honour holistic path hence the need to use the provision of the law to curb the tide” she lamented.

Fasawe, also said that some facilities in Lagos were re-opened after complying with the directive of the agency.

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Jacob Stallings grows with 2019 starting reps | Pittsburgh Pirates

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PITTSBURGH — The Pirates’ next general manager is going to have to figure out the club’s immediate future and long-term plan behind the plate. Francisco Cervelli is gone. Elias Díaz, once a well-regarded prospect, followed up an encouraging 2018 campaign with a stunningly poor season. There isn’t a catcher among the club’s Top 30 prospects, according to MLB Pipeline.

It’s entirely possible that Pittsburgh’s next starting catcher isn’t currently on the roster. But part of the solution might have emerged amid the disappointment of this past season.

Jacob Stallings spent the past four years as the Pirates’ third or fourth option at catcher, which means he’s familiar with the road between Pittsburgh and Triple-A Indianapolis. But this season, Cervelli’s concussion and Díaz’s struggles opened the door for Stallings to receive more regular playing time.

Stallings’ offensive performance was fine, especially compared to the Pirates’ other catchers. But the 29-year-old earned the club’s trust with his diligent preparation and his performance behind the plate. By the end of the year, most of Pittsburgh’s starting pitchers had asked to work with Stallings.

Where that leaves Stallings going forward is anybody’s guess. Maybe a new GM will view him as a short-term starting option for a team focused on the future or perhaps as a spiritual successor to Chris Stewart: a quality, defensive-minded backup on a potential contender.

Before looking forward, though, let’s review Stallings’ season.

What went right?
His defensive work, primarily. It’s tough to quantify everything about catchers’ defense, but Stallings graded out well in the areas we can measure and those in which we depend upon the word of his teammates.

Stallings has long been praised by pitchers for his preparation and game-calling, and that showed this year. By late May, Chris Archer worked exclusively with Stallings. Joe Musgrove soon followed suit. Most of Trevor Williams’ and Mitch Keller’s starts down the stretch came with Stallings behind the plate.

Joe Musgrove, on working with Jacob Stallings tonight: “Stalls was spot-on with everything. It makes my job a lot easier when I trust my catcher to call the game. It’s almost like he’s the brains and I’m the muscle. You just tell me where to throw it, and I’ll throw it there.”

— Adam Berry (@adamdberry)

Catcher ERA is a flawed statistic in some regards, but it can paint part of the picture here. Consider how Pirates pitchers performed when throwing to Stallings (4.47 ERA), how similar that was to their work with the veteran Cervelli (4.42) and how different it was with Díaz behind the plate (5.95).

There are more advanced metrics to consider, too.

Stallings ranked eighth among all Major League catchers in adjusted Fielding Runs Above Average, according to Baseball Prospectus, and 11th in Framing Runs. The latter was a focal point for Stallings this season, as he committed himself to the skill of framing pitches with former bench coach Tom Prince and bullpen catcher Jordan Comadena.

Stallings did all the necessary drill work, catching weighted balls and properly positioning his body behind the plate and his glove around the strike zone. He watched video of elite pitch-framers and noticed how well they were able to keep their gloves in the zone, rather than letting the ball move them, so he strengthened his body in the weight room.

“It’s been a continual growth process. I feel like I’ve gotten a lot better as the year’s gone on,” Stallings said in late September. “It’s been more this year than ever in the past.”

What went wrong?
This is not a knock on Stallings, but the answer is probably his games played total (71) and the fact that he had more plate appearances (210) than Cervelli.

Stallings started 53 games for the Pirates this year, which is not how you draw it up for your third catcher leaving Spring Training. Díaz started 75 games behind the plate despite having a brutal year overall, and Cervelli made 32 starts before he was sidelined and later picked up by the Braves.

Offensively, Stallings was more or less who he’s always been. The 29-year-old batted .262 with a .325 on-base percentage and a .382 slugging percentage. The good news is he tapped into a little more power to hit six home runs, as many as he’s ever hit in a professional season. He credited hitting coach Rick Eckstein for that improvement.

“Working with him, learning about my body and my swing,” Stallings said. “Pulling the ball in the air with backspin was something I struggled with. I used to always just topspin the ball because I wasn’t putting myself in a good position to hit. I really dove into that. It’s something that I will always struggle with because I’m so big and lanky with a lot of moving parts, but body position to hit has been the biggest change for me this year.

“I feel like I have a good swing. I just don’t put myself in position to hit all the time. So we worked a lot on that, and it’s something we always have to work on. Putting myself in a more consistent position to hit has helped a lot.”

Best moment
How about June 27, when Stallings had three hits and a homer and caught a shutout against the eventual American League champion Astros in a 10-0 Pirates win at Minute Maid Park?

Or how about the Pirates’ September series in San Francisco? Stallings hit two of his six homers in a historically pitcher-friendly ballpark while catching a pair of victories.

2020 outlook
Stallings is under club control, so he should be back in some role. But will the next management group take another shot on the upside Díaz showed in 2018?

There are plenty of free agents available, and the Pirates picked up recent contributors like Cervelli and Stewart through smart trades. How would that decision or another acquisition affect Stallings? Stay tuned.

Adam Berry has covered the Pirates for MLB.com since 2015. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook and read his blog.

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Cubs extend TV reach with Mediacom | Chicago Cubs

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CHICAGO — The Cubs will be launching Marquee Sports Network in February, just in time for Spring Training games. In the meantime, the club’s business arm continues to make progress with carriage agreements that will bring the team’s new regional network into more homes.

On Wednesday, Sinclair Broadcast Group — the Cubs’ partner in the Marquee venture — announced that it had reached a multiyear carriage agreement with Mediacom Communications to carry the new network. The deal with Mediacom follows carriage agreements with both AT&T and Charter Communications.

“We couldn’t be more excited to bring Marquee Sports Network to Mediacom customers,” Cubs president of business operations Crane Kenney said in a release. “When you combine this deal with AT&T, we can guarantee that Cubs fans in our home territory across Chicago and the Midwest will have the ability to access the network next year.”

Mediacom provides carriage of Marquee in certain parts of Illinois, Indiana and Iowa. Terms or financial details of the agreement were not provided.

News of the deal between Sinclair and Mediacom on Wednesday came one day after Marquee announced the hiring of Michael Santini as the senior vice president of programming and production for the Cubs’ network. Santini previously served as the vice president of production for MLB Network, which he helped launch in 2009.

At MLB Network, Santini headed the production department and oversaw such shows as “MLB Tonight” and “MLB Central,” among others. He also has 20 years of production experience in a variety of roles at MSG Networks in New York.

“To be selected to lead programming and production for Marquee Sports Network is beyond exciting,” Santini said in a release. “MLB Network was a challenging, fluid and fast-paced environment. I am honored and grateful to have that same opportunity this time in Chicago for one of the most iconic sports franchises with the best fan base in the game.”

With Marquee, Santini will be responsible for managing the network’s live programming, pregame and postgame shows and all original content. He will also oversee the network’s on-air talent, production staff and crew members.

Santini joins a group at Marquee Sports Network that is led by Michael McCarthy, who was hired in May to be the channel’s general manager. Previously, McCarthy was the president of the MSG Network, and also had leadership roles with the St. Louis Blues and Milwaukee Bucks. He had been a consultant for the Cubs dating back to August of ’18.

“As we near the launch of the network,” McCarthy said in Wednesday’s release, “we look forward to giving fans the in-depth Cubs content they want and deserve through multiple providers.”

Jordan Bastian covers the Cubs for MLB.com. He previously covered the Indians from 2011-18 and the Blue Jays from 2006-10. Read his blog, Major League Bastian and follow him on Twitter @MLBastian.

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OML 25 OCCUPATION: ‘Some of us gave birth to babies here!’ – Vanguard News

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…N-Deltans set new standard for prosecuting resource control

By Egufe Yafugborhi

For two years, resolute host communities to Oil Mining Lease (OML) 25 in Akuku Toru Local Government Area (LGA) of Rivers State  sacked on duty personnel, shut down operations and occupied key assets.acquisition

Mele Kyari, Group Managing Director (GMD), Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), lead stakeholder in the OML 25 Joint Venture (JV) with Shell Petroleum Development Company as Operator, lamented  that the shutdown resulted in consequential “loss of 25, 000 to 35, 000 barrels of oil per day (bpd);  in monetary terms, that is about $1.7billion.”

The  fulcrum of the assets occupation by Belema, Offoin-Ama and Ngeje host communities was that, for four decades, such humongous accrued income as Kyari declared lost to the JV partners in two-year of shutdown failed to provide schools, hospitals, potable water, capacity building or meaningful employment for the host communities.

Mrs. Ogbumate Opumabo, among the womenfolk who occupied the flow station, narrated: “Since good things don’t come easy, as living conditions in our community got more pathetic, we subjected ourselves to suffering, even set up church where we fasted and prayed to God everyday at the occupied facility. Some of us gave birth to babies here where we also had our pots, plates, mats, everything needed to aid our occupation. Our experience there is unexplainable, but God answered us in the end”

October 10, as the teeming community protesters eventually pulled out of OML 25 for its formal reopening, following, the  win-win resolution of the conflict among stakeholders, the original demand to evict Shell was not met as set, but the protesters won even a bigger prize, an awakening of a new narrative for prosecuting the struggle for gainful resource control in the Niger Delta.

Checkered  history of long suffering

According to the communities, their hardship was rather aggravated by avoidable oil pollutions that degraded their land and aquatic environment, jeopardising their livelihood which depends on fishing on the rivers and cropping on the soils. Their clear demand was, “Shell must go”, relinquish OML 25 to preferred competitor, Belemaoil Producing Limited (BPL), to farm the assets.

Publicity Secretary, Pan-Niger Delta Forum (PANDEF), Anabs Sara-Igbe, who hails from the OML 25 host communities, said, “We have been agitating for long. The flow station was shut down as far back as 2004. Government intervened and we let them re-open it. 2008, it was again shut, a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was signed, and we let them resume. In 2014, same thing happened, so in 2017, the communities said we have had enough.

“There was no time Shell provided us water. Infrastructure in our communities were poor. Government under military regime gave us water, but it was laden of iron, not healthy for consumption. Fetch it today, the following day the whole water will be coloured. So, we have not been using the water. In recent times, state government has not done anything for us.”

At the latest reopening of the assets, Sen Ita Enang, Presidential Adviser, Niger Delta, representing President Muhammadu Buhari, attested to the health dangers at ‘Opusuya”, the age-long pond water that sustains Belema people in the absence of functional modern taps from government and Shell, which was laden with crude oil when Enang scooped it with bare hands.

At the co-host communities of Offoin-Ama and Ngeye, the story of squalor, deprivations and neglect was pretty much same. At Offoin-Ama, the only educational institution present, a piteous makeshift basic school, made of wooden structure was said to be from communal effort. The European Union and Rivers State Government had erected in the village square, a water project five years back, but Amayanabo of Offoin-Ama, HRH King Sibia Sukubo Aaron, Kilima Diaba Offo XIII said, “It was never completed.”

King Sibia, in unison with his Belema counterpart, King Boudilion Ekine, Oko XXVIII, Amayanabo of Kula, alleged that SPDC had  always reneged on its agreements with the community.

However, the reality of pervasive emptiness and squalor in the community supported the perception of his Highness, Ibinabo Daniel Kiliya, Regent of Ngeje Community when he said, “Shell in 40 years never thought of tangible projects in the community.”

Belemaoil, Jack-Rick Jr as game changers

Before now, oil communities in the Niger Delta, even in the days of  the late Ken Saro-Wiwa, have hardly been taken serious by government and industry regulators in agitations for control of their oil and gas endowment chiefly because they prosecuted such struggles in the absence of adequate home capacity (technical or financial) to farm those oil fields on their own. The common approach was to call for eviction of one operating IOC whenever relationship are strained in the hope of patronizing another to take over.

The coming, into the oil and gas space, of Belemaoil changed that narrative. Founded by Jack-Rick Tein Jr, a son of the soil, who has felt the hardship among his Belema folks, Belemaoil wasted no time in building confidence among the host communities the moment it acquired 40% participating interest in neighboring OML-55 from Chevron Nigeria Limited in the Joint Venture (JV) with the NNPC.

Within a year of taking over OML 55 five years ago, the host communities in Kula claimed Belemaoil surpassed 40 years of both International Oil Companies (IOCs) Chevron and Shell interventions in their respective assets host communities through infrastructural transformation and human capital development among the people.

In  its  core business, Belemaoil also grew production from 7000bpd under Chevron to as much as 12000bpd, and  added to more than 70 MMscfd recoverable volume of gas, generating more revenue and sacrificing more funds to develop and carry the communities along in the process. The company through gainful engagement of community youths in facility surveillance has also eliminated rampant oil theft and vandalism on OML 55.

Today the company is reputed as the first upstream major to have began construction of its head office in its operating field while also constructing its own oil terminal, hitherto the exclusive preserve of the IOCs. So, beyond fraternal attachments, these attributes informed OML 25 host communities insistence on “Shell must go” for Belemaoil replicate the achievement in OML 55 in their communities.

A leader among the protesting youths, Iselema Ekini, said,

“We see how Belemaoil employed youths, built markets, clinics, in the places they operate, proving that an indigenous oil company would look after its host communities better. We therefore urged Shell not to seek renewal of OML-25 license, but allow Belemaoil to take over. All the IOCs have been doing is how to repatriate as much revenue to their home offices abroad while we suffer.

Win-win resolution of conflict

In the win win resolution of the OML 25 crisis, Shell, having renewed its ownership of the lease, wasn’t displaced, but Belemaoil with 7.7% stakes on that lease got the privilege of maintaining operations and earning the communities confidence to be the oil firm with right of first refusal to acquire Shell stakes at any point SPDC decides to divest her stakes.

Already Belemaoil has hit the ground running with the sustained commitment to make the difference, facilitating the groundbreaking for 1.5million liters potable water and 12Km treated water reticulation project for Oko-Ama and Belema by the Group Managing Director, Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, Mele Kyari. Kyari, represented by Group General Manager, National Petroleum Investments Management Services (NAPIMS), Musa Lawan who also hoisted the Nigerian Flag and those of key stakeholders at the OML 25 platform to signal its reopening.

HRM King Boudilion Ekiye Okor, Amayanabo of Belema, said in the occasion, “Today, I am the happiest man. Belemail, owned by our son is now in charge of maintaining operations. Now we know who to hold if we are disappointed. If he (Jack-Rich) fails us, we go to his mother and father’s house to complain, but he has given us so much confidence that we know he can’t fail.

Chief E K Clark, Leader of PANDEF which prominently provided motivation for shutdown of the OML25 thanked key stakeholders for the peaceful resolution. Clark represented by PANDEF’s Vice Chairman, Godknows Igali, particularly recognised the role of federal government, host communities, BelemaOil, NNPC and the Petroleum Ministry under Timipre Sylva.

“When the GMD NNPC, Kyari came 28 of last month, he promised to grant all your wishes. I am happy you are already attesting to some being meant already. PANDEF is grateful we are all winners. We have, by this struggle of the past two years, redefined the struggle for resource control”, Clark told the communities.

I am sorry, Buhari empathises with host communities

President Mohammadu Buhari, represented by Sen Ita Enang, Special Adviser to the President on Niger Delta, tendered apology on behalf of the nation to the host communities over their long suffering in the midst of plenty all these years.

Buhari said at the formal reopening of OML 25 that, “We’ve been to the communities. I felt touched that they are asking for for a school, hospitals in 2019 after 40 years of oil and gas being taken from their soils. I scooped the water from pond which you people drink. It is smeared with oil.

“On behalf of the nation, I apologise to you. We will change for the better for you, for us all as a nation. We will not only build schools, hospitals for you, we will provide complete communities for you. Working with state government, Niger Delta Development Commission, Amnesty, Ministry of Niger Delta Affair, we will ask to know what they are doing.

“We are coming here at a very good time. Just two days ago, the President presented the draft 2020 budget to National Assembly (NASS). Now that I have seen what you go through, we are going to take this message to the NASS, to redirect the budget to know what they are providing for you.”

At the OML25 Platform and Flow station where hundreds of community protesters, mainly women formally vacated the flow station and other key assets they have occupied and shutdown since August 2017, Sen Enang expressed Buhari’s gratitude for their peaceful disposition while it lasted.

He also cautioned, “The whole struggle has come to conclusion. We thank you for your peaceful disposition through the struggle. We can now vacate peacefully and allow work to continue, as the issues are being addressed. You are aware that some immediate demands have already been met.”

Lifting up the hand of Jackrich Jr, Enang also told the host communities, “Every community who has sons as Jackrick who care this much for his people should take care of him and pray for him to remain safe, healthy and blessed to continue to move your communities forwards.”

Founder of Belemaoil, Mr Jack-Rich Tein Jr, hardly involved in comments and speeches over the unfolded drama has maintained that, “If you engage the community and make the people an important element of your business, the communities and you will have mutual values and mutual gains.

“If the communities are happy, your business can thrive, but if the communities are not happy, you have lots of operational bottlenecks, sabotage and all that. The most important thing for us today is to see that the resolution, reconciliation has taken place.”

Already, stakeholders in Ogoni, Rivers are canvassing the Belemaoil CSR model to agitate for who takeovers OML 11 that had abandoned for years over the conflict conflict which claimed the lives and Ken Saro-Wiwa and co agitators under Movement For Survival of Ogoni People. Governor Wike, though, had already announced Rivers Government acquisition of Shell’s stakes on that lease.

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South Park creators give ‘official apology’ after reports the show was scrubbed from the Chinese internet

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(CNN)South Park creators Matt Stone and Trey Parker hit back at China after the government scrubbed the show from the Chinese internet.

“South Park” has never been afraid to be offensive, which is why the show now virtually no longer exists in China. Every clip, any online discussion from Chinese streaming services, social media and even fan pages have been deleted by the government, according to the Hollywood Reporter.
Stone and Parker issued an apology on Monday after China’s crackdown — well, kind of.
    “Like the NBA, we welcome the Chinese censors into our homes and into our hearts,” they said in a statement on Twitter. “We too love money more than freedom and democracy.”
    Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey expressed support for Hong Kong’s pro-democracy protests in a tweet on Sunday. The backlash came quickly: The Chinese Basketball Association said it would suspend all cooperation with the team, and China’s top state broadcaster announced that it would suspend airing Houston Rockets events on television.
    The NBA said Monday that it recognizes that Morey’s views “have deeply offended many of our friends and fans in China, which is regrettable.”
    South Park creators give 'official apology' after reports the show was scrubbed from the Chinese internet - CNN
    This isn’t the first time seemingly harmless content has become forbidden in China. After people online compared Winnie the Pooh and Tigger to Chinese President Xi Jinping and former President Barack Obama in 2017, the honey-loving teddy bear was banned from China’s cyberspace.
    The “South Park” creators ended their faux apology with a jab at Xi and China’s authoritarian government.
      “Xi doesn’t just look like Winnie the Pooh at all. Tune into our 300th episode this Wednesday at 10!” Stone and Parker’s statement continued. “Long live the Great Communist Party of China! May this autumn’s sorghum harvest be bountiful! We good now China?”
      Correction: This story was updated to reflect the South Park creators’ correct names.

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