Chineme Okafor in Abuja
The federal government has streamlined its plans to end militancy in the Niger Delta and develop the region to become productive and beneficial to its communities.
In the restructured plan, which the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Dr. Ibe Kachikwu disclosed to participants at the just concluded 2018 edition of the Sustainability in the Extractive Industries (SITEI) Conference in Abuja, the government has opted to pursue five strategic programmes that could stabilise and develop the Niger Delta.
The five key plans, according to Kachikwu, would include deploying what he said was a Niger Delta Development Compact; pursuing regular engagements with the Niger Delta; implementing the modular refinery initiative as well as community-based pipeline protection framework.
The other two, he explained, would be executing the Nigerian Gas Flare Commercialisation Program (NGFCP) and sustainability initiative in extractive industries.
He explained the Niger Delta Development Compact was targeted towards ensuring the realisation of development projects accountably and transparently.
â€œProjects targeted towards improving the standard of living in these areas would be monitored, thus fostering completion,â€ said Kachikwu.
According to him, the NGFCP is a market driven program that would provide an avenue for gas flares to be economically utilised.
He noted that: â€œThe presence of these gas flares have adverse effects on the health of individuals and therefore, frustrations. This program would allow for companies to utilise these wasted gas towards more productive means. It would provide jobs, reduce pollution in the environment and increase the standard of living.â€
Speaking further, the minister explained that: â€œConflict in some instances can be attributed to the scarcity of developmental projects. Unemployment/underemployment are issues known to cause tensions, as people are more likely to be restless. Hence, we initiated a modular refinery drive that has garnered strong interests.
â€œAlready, two of such modular refineries have reached advanced stage of construction. This initiative would help in providing jobs and increase cash liquidity within the environment.â€
â€œOther actions of ours like the newly developed policies and investment drives, are also targeted towards reducing the high levels of inequalities experienced in extractive regions. The lesser the inequality gap, the lesser the security problems.â€
Kachikwu, said: â€œWe are also deploying a community-based pipeline framework that is targeted towards fostering community relations, while ensuring the protection of our source of income. This approach of protection is underpinned by the concept that adequate security is in the best interest of everyone.â€
â€œAll the points allude towards a fact – we are collectively responsible for the management of conflict and security within our extractive industries. It is important we work assiduously to protect ourselves, our communities and our institutions. The sustainability of our extractive industries is a need.â€
Talking about the decision of the government to adopt a robust engagement mechanism in its management of the Niger Delta issues, Kachikwu said: â€œConflict turns smiles into frowns. It results in negativities like unrest, loss of human lives, environmental degradation or destruction of institutions. It is extremely thought provoking that conflicts are synonymous with extractive industries.
â€œIn the past years, conflicts have resulted in losses and dispossession. It has translated into vandalism, kidnappings and alike, ultimately contributing towards a suboptimal standard of living within our extractive regions. Most resource rich countries have been unable to utilise resources optimally due to conflicts and inadequate security. Therefore, it has become imperative to emplace a comprehensive framework that effectively manages conflict and security.â€
â€œConflict resolution requires robust engagement. In the absence of robust engagement plan, all solutions would prove to be ineffective. Thus, we identified and deployed a robust engagement strategy under the leadership of HE the Vice President as a tool for alleviating conflicts and inadequate security in the Niger Delta region,â€ he added.