Okon Bassey in Uyo
The Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs yesterday regretted that efforts to bring development to the Niger Delta region were still threatened by increasing violent agitations and general insecurity that have made the region volatile and unattractive to investors despite its huge potentials.
“Businesses are being shut on certain days in some states, there is an increase in armed robbery, kidnapping, communal tensions, pipe line vandalism, oil theft etc. across the Niger Delta Region.
“The destruction of national assets such as pipeline vandalism and oil theft has resulted in the country’s dwindling oil production.”
A representative of Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs, Mr. Chukwudi Njoku, stated this at a one-day town hall meeting held in Uyo, Akwa Ibom State’s capital.
The meeting, which was tagged “Promoting Sustainable Peace and Economic Development in the Niger Delta Region,” was in collaboration with the Foundation for Partnership Initiative in the Niger Delta (PIND).
Njoku noted that “this has exposed the country to a lot of economic uncertainties, as it has become difficult to meet up with its OPEC quota, control a fast rising inflation and adequately fund the annual budgets.”
He disclosed that in an effort by the federal government to reverse this ugly trend, Mr. President had mandated the ministry to develop a security framework for participatory incident reporting and strengthening of rural-urban security in the Niger Delta Region.
“This non-kinetic approach seeks to bring together all critical stakeholders to a round table to brainstorm and develop a regional peace building strategy for the Niger Delta Region.
“Given this background, the Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs in collaboration with PIND has carefully selected and invited you all, considered as critical stakeholders to be part of the Town Hall meeting that would assist in carrying out this all important national assignment.”
He maintained that the efforts being made by the federal government would not yield optimum results without the participation of the states and local governments, traditional institutions and other critical stakeholders as they have a better understanding of their localities and, therefore, in a better position to provide the most accurate data possible to guide this important assignment.
“Therefore, there is need for an effective collaboration by all and sundry, and that is the critical essence of our gathering here.
“The Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs is committed to fostering more opportunities and fora that would enhance this kind of required collaborative effort,” he stressed.
In spite of the numerous challenges face in the course of executing projects and programmes, the Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs had recorded considerable successes as a result of immense investment in infrastructural development, environmental remediation, human capital development, peace building and conflict resolution.
“Furthermore, the various infrastructural investments in the region, such as the construction of the East West Road and human capital development initiatives such as the skills acquisition training and empowerment programmes, are also an attestation to this administration’s desire to put an end to youth restiveness in order to engender massive industrial development in the region.
Speaking for PIND, Mr. Peace Edem, said conflict issues in the Niger Delta region include communal tensions, political competition, organised criminality and resource-based conflicts among others.
He said any initiative aimed at addressing conflict in the Niger Delta region should adopt an approach that views the issue from a security and a peace building perspective.