Posted by News Express | 23 October 2021 | 476 times
Stakeholders in the Niger Delta Area had condemned highly the lack of attention to the region, especially been the main stay of the economy of the nation, lamenting that one of the painful aspect of the neglect is denial of the region of its water space, and free access to the oil business in the country, therefore advocating for a new form and ways to develop the area.
This was expressed by stakeholders at the Delta Online Publishers Forum (DOPF) 2021 Annual Lecture, with a Theme, “Niger Delta Economy: Building A New Face For The Region”, on Thursday, October 21, 2021, in Asaba, the Delta State capital.
The event, which was the third in its Annual Lecture Series, had in attendant, the immediate past Governor of Delta State, Dr. Emmanuel Eweta Uduaghan, who was the Guest Speaker, the Governor of Delta State, Senator Ifeanyi Okowa, represented his Chief of Staff, Bar Festus Ovie Agas, the Deputy Senate President, Senator Ovie Omo-Agege, who was represented by one of his Aide, Mr. Joseph Adimabau, Miss Ankio Briggs, Professor Prof. Patrick Muoboghare, Miss Faith Nwadishi, Dr. Ignatius Nwanze Ezoem, and the Interim Administrator of the Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC, who was represented by the Director of Media.
In his submission, the Guest Lecturer, Dr. Emmanuel Uduaghan, stated that condemn the idea of the continuous tagging of the Niger Delta Region as a “Red Zone”, by the international community, saying that activities in the area is mainly fueled by the actions of the companies, as not considering the plights and needs of the people, especially in the diversification of the economy of the area.
The former governor stated that the region can be moved from its present underdeveloped phase to a better one, where human capital development is highly carried along with other indices of human development.
He condemned the act of the law of the federation, which denies the states of the region the water space, which is to be harnessed by the various states for their economic growth as it is done with those with massive land space in the country.
On his part, the Governor of Delta State, Senator Dr. Ifeanyi Okowa, who was the Special Guest of Honour, called on the continuous development of the youths through skilled acquisition, stating that the states in the region had agreed to work more closely to have a homogenous drive to improve the lives of the people and grow the economy”.
On his part, the Deputy Senate President, Senator Ovie Omo-Agege, said one of the area for a new economy to be built in the region, should be develop to sources and represent the diversity of facts of the people they serve particularly there is a lot diversity in the form of multi ethnic and multi religious character of the region.
A renowned activist, Ms Annkio Briggs, held the opinion that the region is geographically positioned and endowed with human capital resources, as she said: “When you talked about human capital resources, we have it, when you talked about the geographic location, we have it. Niger Delta as you Know it, the people, the ethnic nationalities of the Niger Delta have no business with poverty.
“If today, after the struggle that we have put in if we find ourselves in a position today, where we are sitting down to discuss the way forward and we are talking about the basis how to get oil investment. How will our people invest when our people are not even participants in the economy that is generated. The people controlling the oil and gas privately are outside the government.”
She added that the region equally have about 20 billion out of the 66 billion barrel of oil enjoyed by the country from the area.
Also, Ms Faith Nwadishi, said when we talked about the Niger Delta with a new face. “We need to talk about a framework for implementation. We have so long talked about the oil and gas in the Niger Delta but we have not realized that even though we have an oil and gas sector in the Niger Delta, we don’t have an oil and gas economy.
“There is no community you will go to and see striving oil and gas business,” she said, describing it as an indictment of the Niger Delta.
She disclosed that if in 1956, about 5, 000 barrel of oil was exported and today over 1.2 million barrel of oil per day and that is yet to translate to the economy that the region is looking for, “there is an indictment on all of us.”
Another discussant, Dr. Ignatius Nwanze Ezoem, former Provost, College of Education (technical), Asaba, ascribed the sufferings of the Niger Delta people to politicians.
“The problem of the Niger Delta, is not what is going to be said. What has been said we ought to work with it. The Niger Delta region, is a blessed region by God but today, we are still discussing about the Niger Delta. I am worried because the Niger Delta that we are talking about, has all it takes to be the Los Angeles of Nigeria,” he said.
He noted that the Nigeria's factor gives emphasis to theory than practicals just as he called on the Niger Delta governors to put on their thinking caps rather than go to Abuja, to beg for what rightfully belongs to the region.
Similarly, Delta State Commissioner for Higher Education, Prof. Patrick Muoboghare, pointed out that it was difficult for government at all levels to employ into the civil service, hence the Dr. Ifeanyi Okowa-led government, has diversified into skills acquisition for youths which according to him has yielded the needed results.
“It is not the responsibility of government to set up a tomato factory, it is the responsibility of the private sector to see the opportunity to set up a tomato factory, government gives the enabling environment for business to strive.”
He said it is out of irresponsibility for anyone to tag Delta State a red zone, “Delta State is about the safest state to live in, in Nigeria, today. Delta is a free zone.”
He pointed out that the Colonial masters caused the agitations in the Niger Delta region, “They abandoned us, took our wealth away but when our boys started going to school and understanding the intricacies of the Nigerian State that we have been pushed against the wall. These boys are merely trying to resist and the role of leadership is to talk them down not to resist,” he said.
He called on the federal government to do the needful by way of relocating the Nigerian Navy to where it originally ought to be instead of siting it in Kano where there is no water.
“Let the federal government of Nigeria, do the needful. They carried the Nigerian Navy to Kano where there is no water. To start with, remove that Naval school from Kano back to where Navy should be in the Niger Delta area. There is no technology that drives ship on land,” he said.
On his part, the Interim Administrator of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), represented by his Media Director, Mr. Chijioke Amu-Nnadi, said doing so would help to properly situate the region and get it focused on things to do that will position the region for all round development.
The commission said much had done to reach the people and transform the lives of residents in the oil rich region.
Akwa said the commission was established to develop, stabilise and make life good for the people in the Niger Delta region, as her dream policy after the forensic auditing, is to speed up development of the region.
He assured stakeholders of the commission’s readiness to collaborate with all players in the region to develop and implement a better economic and social development policy for the area, especially with the conclusion of the forensic audit.
Earlier, in his welcome address, the Chairman of the Forum, Mr Emmanuel Enebeli, said the 2021 theme became necessary as the area which produces the wealth of the nation, over the years had not shown signs of development, as they had not gotten the true value of the black Gold that is in their communities.
He called for new channels of development plan for the Region, that is endowed with others resources, and a very beautiful waterfront that can be harvested for the good of the people.
He condemned the continuous dependent of the governments of the region on allocation from the federation.
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