Sylvester Idowu in Warri
The Convener, South South Reawakening Group, Mr Joseph Ambakederimo has said that President Muhammadu Buhari-led government should not be blamed for the nation’s current economic hardship stressing that the ‘current recession was self inflicted’.
According to him, decades of lack of planning, mismanagement and corruption coupled with the importation of eventually every goods the country can produce plagued the country into recession.
He however, warned the federal government not to conceive to piling pressures from some rich individuals into selling some of the nation’s valuable assets as he was hopeful that the current economic recession would not last long.
Mr Ambakederimo spoke in Warri at a world press conference organised by the South South Reawakening Group to mark the 56th Independence Anniversary of Nigeria.
He called on leaders from the South-South region of the country to change their antagonist posture against the present administration and support the Buhari towards the development of the region.
Ambakederimo lamented that successive governments in the past spent paltry foreign exchange from oil to import items such as Toothpick from China and Dubai, Irish Potato from South Africa, sugar from Brazil, fish from Mauritania, Morocco and Norway, Tomato Purée from China and Italy, Water from France, Rice from India, Pakistan, Thailand and Palm oil from Malaysia which are readily in abundance in the country.
According to him, “As identified earlier in addition to ‘planlessness’, mismanagement and corruption, we are a heavy consumer nation and minimal production levels that could not sustain any meaningful development and less emphasis on our human capital development which in real term should be our strongest selling point with cheap labor in abundance.
“As we speak billions of Naira is still being spent for the importation of rice meanwhile, the entire swamp that we have in the Niger Delta is fertile for the cultivation of rice. Meanwhile, Governors cannot pay salaries, local Government cannot plant rice to fend for themselves we all waiting for ‘Abuja’ to share oil money.”
Mr Ambakederimo, while answering questions from journalists took swipe at governors from the Niger Delta region for not saving for raining day,noting that life was more difficult in the region than other region because it produces nothing aside crude oil.
He urged the region to take practical steps to address the looming famine in the region stressing that eventually whatever the people of the region consumes is either brought from northern part of the country or is imported from neighbouring countries.
“On the call for the withdrawal of the military from the region we say NO. SSRG supports the militarization of the region as this has brought some sanity and safety of lives and properties. It is only those who have something to hide would be uncomfortable with the presence of the military.
“If we follow due process and employ civilized means of ventilation of grievances there would have been no need for the military to be deployed to the region. We invited them and therefore we have to endure the pains and discomfort that comes with it.
“What should be paramount in our hearts is the overall development of the area which is gradually taken place with the approval and establishment of an Army Battalion formation in Bayelsa, and Agbarotor in Delta state. Establishing of a marine police training school in Bayelsa,” he added.