By Ndubuisi Francis in Abuja
The federal government disclosed yesterday that it had commenced the process of setting up a trust fund for the Niger Delta, and expressed a resolve to leave no stone unturned in ensuring a structured and sustained development of the region.
The disclosure came even as the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) pledged its readiness to support in any capacity, particularly in the area of technical support and procurement.
The Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Usani Uguru Usani, who spoke while receiving the UN Resident/Humanitarian Coordinator and UNDP Resident Representative to Nigeria, Mrs. Fatma Samoura, in his office in Abuja, said as part of overall efforts to ensure the sustained development of the region, the federal government was on the verge of setting up a trust fund for the Niger Delta.
Although the minister did not divulge much information on the proposed trust fund, THISDAY gathered that the fund is being configured in a way that donor agencies, international oil companies (IOCs), local and multilateral international financial institutions and corporate entities will contribute to a pool of funds that would be deployed in developing the Niger Delta.
Usani disclosed that serious collaboration between his ministry, the Ministries of Finance as well as Justice had commenced to ensure that the finer details of the fund are put in place as soon as practicable.
“We believe that in no distant time, it will be concluded,” he assured.
The minister noted that the process of consummating the modalities of the fund would have been concluded before now, but had to be delayed a bit to ensure that everything that would guarantee its operational workability is taken into account.
Usani expressed gratitude to the UNDP for its activities and support to the ministry in particular and the country in general, over the years, admonishing the UNDP to work towards closer collaboration with his ministry to ensure that their interventions in the region in the area of infrastructure and other commitments are more impactful.
According to him, a closer partnership and communication between his ministry and UNDP would guide the UN agency on the best way to invest and get such investment achieve maximum benefit to the region.
The minister stated that his ministry’s objective was to entrench maximum peace in the Niger Delta by carrying the people along and making them see themselves as part owners of every investment or infrastructure sited in their communities.
Earlier in her remarks, the UNDP Resident Representative, Samoura thanked Usani for the efforts of the current administration to fight corruption, and pledged the agency’s continuous support in any capacity, within the envelop of available resources to achieve the ministry’s mandate.
She disclosed that currently, the UNDP supports the baseline survey of social and infrastructural resource base in the Niger Delta, adding that the survey would provide the much-desired baseline data for the region’s development.
Samoura assured that the UNDP would continue to support the effort of the ministry to ensure accelerated but effectively coordinated development in the region, affirming that this would promote sustainable peace and socio-economic well-being of the people of the area.
She noted that the UNDP was ready to support the ministry and the region in any capacity, particularly in the area of technical support and procurement, listing some of the roles and contributions of the UNDP in the past.
Samoura recalled that in 2007, the UNDP helped the federal government to enhance its initiatives on the Niger Delta through assistance to the Presidential Initiative on the Niger Delta which organised the National Conference on the Niger Delta Crisis, adding that the recommendations of the conference led to the establishment of the Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs in 2008.
The UNDP Resident representative also stated that the agency had continuously supported the ministry since its creation in the area of capacity building of its staff on programme management and community moblisation as well as the creation of the ministry’s website, among many other areas of support.