Posted by News Express | 27 April 2013 | 3,491 times
Akwa Ibom State Governor, Chief Godswill O. Akpabio, has called on the Federal Government and stakeholders to deliberate on the challenges facing the Niger Delta and chart a new course for the holistic development of the region.
He made the call yesterday at the closing ceremony of the Stakeholders’ Conference and first meeting of the National Council on Niger Delta held in Uyo, the Akwa Ibom State capital.
“Let it be a melting point, where we meet to deliberate our challenges, and chart the way forward for the overall development of the region. Let us know that holistic development of the Niger Delta Region depends on what we do in this place, today and now,” Akpabio said.
“The Federal Government has a part to play and the stakeholders have a greater role to play. As elders and opinion leaders in our various communities, it behooves us to advise our youths to shun acts capable of impeding government’s developmental efforts or hampering the development processes. Let us galvanise youths, women and all other stakeholders in this course to co-operative with and be receptive to the Federal Government’s development policy in the Niger Delta,” the governor added.
According to him, “It is worthy of note that since 1958, when oil was first discovered in Nigeria, there have been a plethora of programmes by the Federal Government towards the development of the Niger Delta Region.
Such programmes have included: Niger Delta Development Board (NDDB), Niger Delta Basin Development Authority, Oil and Gas-Community Development Programmes, Oil Mineral Producing Areas Development Commission (OMPADEC), Niger Delta Environmental Survey (NDES), Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), among others.
“These various committees and programmes underscored Federal Government’s interest in the development of the oil-rich Niger Delta region. But it should be said that a ton of interest is not as useful to us as an ounce of commitment. With this latest initiative, we must translate interest into commitment and commitment into purpose and purpose into action. We need action, not talk. We need development, not sympathy. We need help, not analysis.”
Continuing, Akpabio said: “The plight of the Niger Delta people from many years of oil exploration cannot be belabored. It is a cruel fate which we bear with equanimity in the interest and faith of our dear nation. Part of our faith in our nation had been that the nation would see our pains, and agonies, our neglect and ecological devastation, and extend a hand to lift us up out of this mess of oil.
“Our source of drinking water have been polluted and contaminated by oil drilling, and the proceeds of oil drilling provide water for other parts of the nation. But we have not given up hope. Our hope has been deferred many times but we know that suffering may endure for a night but joy will surely come in the morning. It is in the hope of that morning that we came today. A morning of stability, peace and development of Niger Delta Region.”
He recalled that “in 2009, the Federal Government under the leadership of the late President Musa Yar’Adua granted amnesty to restive youths (who agitated for equitable development in the region). He did this to give way for development of the region. The amnesty initiative has brought peace, thus creating conditions for development. The results of this amnesty process must be maintained with concrete and holistic developmental framework for the transformation of the region.”
The governor paid tribute to Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Elder Godsday Orubebe, and his team for what he described as a wonderful initiative geared towards addressing the myriad of challenges confronting the Niger Delta Region as a result of crude oil exploration activities and the prospects of sustainable development of the region.
“The Federal Government through the Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs, in collaboration with other international development partners has developed a comprehensive Niger Delta Action Plan (which was unveiled during this conference). It seeks to address development in the region through effective co-ordination and implementation.
There is no contending the fact that the present Federal Government is committed to the development of Niger Delta region and righting the wrongs of yesteryears,” the governor stated.
In his speech, President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan disclosed that the Federal Government has welcomed the production partnership of the Niger Delta region and international stakeholders for the development of the region. “So, we would work diligently to ensure that the partnership flourish for the benefits of the parties,” said Jonathan, who was represented by Vice President, Arc. Namadi Mohammed Sambo.
He said the Federal Government considered it a priority to sustain and consolidate the current security situation by deepening the foundation of durable and mentally beneficiary peace, saying that it could only be achieved by articulately addressing the security challenges facing the people.
The President reiterated Federal Government commitment to assist the Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs in coordinating its activities effectively for the development of the region and country. He hoped that the conference would engender peace and enhance the oil production activities in the Niger Delta Region.
Jonathan attributed the improvement of 2.5 barrels of oil increase in the year to the sudden peace of the nation through the amnesty programme, which he said, has sustained the current security situational the country and has brought peace and development to the region.
Speaking earlier, Elder Orubebe said the conference was aimed to promote the human policies of the Niger Delta, provide international support for the policies of the Niger Delta Region with a view to fast-tracking the development of the region.
Orubebe commended the Jonathan administration for the sustenance of the amnesty programme, inauguration of the first National Council on Niger Deltans, and commitment to work with developing parastatals to ensure the establishment of the first National Council on Niger Delta, saying that it would engender peace and development among the Niger Deltans.
The minister lauded Governor Akpabio and Akwa Ibom people for their warm hospitality, which he said showed the great love among them, saying: “We are working together to eradicate poverty, promote efficient stability, peace and prosperity for the people of the Niger Delta and the country as a whole.”
•Photo (L-R): Governor Emmanuel Uduaghan of Delta State, Host Governor Godswill Akpabio and Vice President Namadi Sambo at the conference . . . yesterday in Uyo.
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