‘’we are very committed to the interest of peace and sustainability of the Niger delta coming through the concept of amnesty Programme initiated by the late president Umaru yar’adua’’ Prof Yemi Osinbajo.
He stated this yesterday during a town hall meeting with Rivers people and other stakeholders at the Government House, Port Harcourt, as part of his visit to oil producing states/communities in the Niger Delta region.
According to the acting president, sustaining the amnesty Programme was necessary to improve the country’s economy.
He also said the Ogoni clean-up exercise was on course, adding that the federal government was determined in ensuring that the UNEP report on Ogoni was implemented to the latter
He said the federal government was aware of the danger posed by oil and gas exploration in the region, saying it was the reason President Buhari prioritised the clean-up of Ogoni.
According to him, the federal government is in collaborating with the United Nations in the clean-up, while Shell Petroleum Development Company would fund the clean-up exercise.
He said: “The Ministry of Environment has set up a framework to carry the project through its 25-year-life cycle. We have a robust governing structure. The Governing Council and Board of Trustees were inaugurated in November 2016 and have since had two meetings. The project office would be staffed by an initial staff of 30 from both federal and state governments.”
He disclosed that government would train over 2,000 women from four local governments of the state to be self-reliant.
“The federal government is committed to enter into partnership with host communities in Niger Delta. There is no way the new vision for the region can work with the federal government alone. All the stakeholders in the region have to be part of that vision. After the visit of the leadership of the Pan-Niger Delta Forum in November 2016, we decided to offer some of these communities in the Niger Delta a new vision. I have a strong personal affinity for Niger Delta, having spent my youth corps years in the former Bendel State, now Edo and Delta, which is very much an integral part of the zone.
“This has provided me an insight into the potential and opportunities and the challenges that people in this part of the country face on a daily basis. It was a time that I realised that giving the resources of the area, there is a lot that should be done in a deliberate and determined manner to improve the lives of the Niger Delta people.
“The experience also provided an insight to the dangers of the exploitation of oil and gas resources pose to the environment and lives of the people. This experience I talked about was about 38 years ago. It is therefore discomfiting to know that you are still confronted with the same situation, including the lack of basic amenities in the presence of plenty. This vicious circle cannot continue.”
Earlier, in his remarks, Governor Nyesom Wike said his administration’s mandate is to partner the federal government and not be at war.
“We stand for the unity, progress and indivisibility of this nation and part of our mandate is to partner the federal government to move the state and by extension, the nation forward.
“We have demonstrated this commitment from the beginning of our administration with discernible actions. For instance, even without prompting from the federal government, we mobilised some stakeholders to rehabilitate the East-West Road, from Eleme Junction to Onne Junction, with about N3 billion. Today, that part of the road, which leads to the economic heartland of the nation, including the Onne Oil and Gas Free Zone, is in good shape because of our efforts.
Meanwhile, a peace advocacy group, the Niger Delta Non-Violence Youth Leaders Assembly (NDNYLA) has declared that the Osinbajo’s visit has revived the hope of the Niger Delta in the development agenda of the the present administration.
The group commended Osinbajo for the timely visit, and described the announcement made during the visit by the Minister of State for Petroleum, Dr. Ibe Kachikwu on the proposed 20-points agenda to be unveiled by the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) as commendable and a show of competence, in a statement signed by its Secretary General, Ambassador Prince Tonye Jeminimieme.
NDNYLA, said the openness displayed by Osinbajo and Kachikwu demonstrated that the people of the Niger Delta would have a better deal under President Buhari.
“Also, that Rivers State is least affected by the spate of attacks on oil pipelines and other facilities by militants, is not by accident, but by the deliberate and direct involvement of the state government in ensuring that these vital national economic infrastructure are protected and insulated from such attacks by hoodlums.
“Furthermore, the government has spent and will continue to spend a lot of money to support the security agencies to fight crime and safeguard lives and property.
“Only recently, we spent over a million dollars to procure a sophisticated surveillance device for the use of the police and the DSS to facilitate the tracking and arrest of kidnappers as well as rescue of kidnap victims. Regrettably, this equipment is stuck at the port because of the refusal of the federal government to grant the waiver that is needed.”
Governor Wike said despite the contributions of the state to the resource base of the nation, it had been denied access to developmental projects.