Published On: Wed, Mar 29th, 2017

“Appraising Osinbajo’s visits to Niger Delta”

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By Abujah Racheal
No doubt, the Niger-Delta, with its huge deposits of crude oil, is of huge economic importance to Nigeria; hence the need for stability in the region. Against the foregoing, the Federal Government initiated a post-Amnesty engagement which has taken the Vice-President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo to the region four times between January and March.

(l-r) Vice President Prof. Yemi Osinbajo in a handshake with The Coordinator, Presidential Amnesty Programme and Special Adviser Brig. Gen Paul Tarela Boroh (Rtd) alongside with Minister of State for Petroleum, Emmanuel Ibe Kachukwu in one of the Vice President’s visit to the Niger delta region

The Vice-President has led the Federal Government’s high-level delegation in engaging with leaders and representatives of the nine Oil-producing States with a view to finding a long lasting solution to the Niger Delta crisis.
Prof. Osinbajo, in one of the visits, said that the Muhammadu Buhari’s presidency was fully committed to having an effective dialogue and positive engagement that would end the crisis in the Oil-producing areas.
Osinbajo said he believed that the visits would further boost the confidence necessary for the attainment of peace and prosperity in the region and the Nation at large. He regretted the poor level of development of the Oil-rich Niger Delta region of Nigeria.
During his visit to Delta State, including the Ijaw community of Gbaramatu in Warri South-West Local Government Area of the State, Prof. Osinbajo decried years of palpable neglect of the region. He however, charged the people of the region to ensure stability of the region in order to gain speedy development of the area since violence and insecurity were inimical to any meaningful development as they created instability.
Addressing stakeholders at the Conference Hall of the Petroleum Training Institute, Effurun, near Warri, the Vice-President described as unfortunate the fact that there was little evidence to justify the huge contribution of the Niger Delta to the development of Nigeria.
“No Nigerian can be proud with the state of development in the region; we are all beneficiaries from resources from the region.
“However, we cannot have instability and be able to carry out speedy development of the region
“The issues at stake are very clear; this is not time for negotiation, it is time to act as we know the issues, we must all prepare for a future that will not be dependent in oil resources
“The Lagos-Calabar railway project is in the 2017 budget and when completed, it will benefit all the people of the Niger Delta, the Maritime University will come on stream; I can assure you that it is a done deal, we must do it.”
He said that the Ports were revenue generating, adding that there were also plans to develop them.
On his part, the Coordinator of the Presidential Amnesty Programme, Brig. Gen. Paul Boroh (Rtd), urged the people of the region to embrace the Federal Government’s gesture to develop the region.
Gen. Boroh, who is also the Adviser to the President on Niger Delta Affairs, said that the government’s readiness to treat the region as a Special Economic Zone was a lifetime opportunity for the stakeholders.
He called on the people of the region to maximize the benefits of the Vice-President’s visit.
The tour, he said, was part of efforts by the Buhari administration to find a lasting solution to the protracted crisis in the region through engagement with the people.
Gen Boroh, said that the current administration deserved cooperation and support for appreciating the environmental challenges of the Niger Delta.
“The government’s acceptance of the 16-point demand by the Pan-Niger Delta  Elders Forum (PANDEF) as an important working document for the resolution of the Niger Delta issue is worthy of commendation.
“The region’s development is a significant concession which PANDEF and other groups in the region should embrace.” He said.
The Coordinator commended President Buhari for his directive that everything possible should be done for the Nigeria Maritime University (NMU) to take off in the next academic year.
He, therefore, urged all concerned to get to work immediately, while appealing to the National Assembly to pass the Nigeria Maritime University -NMU Bill on time to meet the timetable.
Boroh expressed happiness over the very warm reception accorded the Vice President and his delegation by the Niger Delta people.
He urged all stakeholders in the region who pledged to work for peace to keep to honour their promise  “which they willingly made before the entire country.”
While noting that even Siamese twins have disagreements, the Presidential aide said it was normal for the people of the Niger Delta to differ on issues.
According to him, Niger Deltans have a common agenda of a clean environment, jobs for the unemployed, peace and overall development of the region. He appealed for better understanding and tolerance and the need for a united front by all the peoples in the region.
The Coordinator said that one important take-home from the Vice President’s visit was that people could agitate and win without resort to violence.
He then added that the Traditional leaders, Elders, Leaders, and the Youths of the Niger Delta have a duty to work for a climate of peace in order to ensure development.
Gen. Boroh called on the Oil companies operating in the region to go beyond tokenism and invest in the environment, the human capacity and infrastructure to ensure a win-win outcome and confidence building in the area.
The Coordinator maintained that it was time for those from the region to take the responsibility of ensuring peace and security in the area in their own interest and that of the future generation.
He stressed that it was the duty of all stakeholders to be committed to the peace, security and prosperity of region.
Gen. Boroh further maintained that development could not occur without peace and security and called for collective action of the people to ensure a more peaceful and secured Niger Delta region.
He, however, said President Buhari deserved commendation for his determination to develop the region.
In his submission, Sen. Victor Ndoma-Egba, Chairman, Governing Board, Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), said the increase in the budgets of the Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs, the NDDC and the Amnesty Programme by the Buhari-led Federal Government should be particularly commended.
According to him, the achievement in the East-West Rail line, the proposed clean-up of the Ogoni region and the recent dialogue with leaders from the region will be sustained.
The Vice-President also inspected projects in Rivers State and expressed his satisfaction with the rate of infrastructural development in Rivers State.
Gov. Nyisom Wike, had assured Prof. Osinbajo that the State government would cooperate with the Federal Government to develop the State.
“I believe that the visit of the Acting President will bring good relationship between the Federal Government and Rivers State.
“Let us allow the interest of the majority in whatever we do. Party must take the back seat.
“The interest of Rivers State is paramount. That is why we are doing everything we can to cooperate with the Federal Government because we believe in the unity of this nation.”
Continuing Gov. Nyisom Wike reiterated that this could only be so, if the enabling environment is created by the people of the region for meaningful development to take place.
The Federal Government came out with a package aimed at accelerating the return of peace to region and ensures the steady production of Oil,  that is Nigeria’s biggest foreign exchange earner, in a bid to bail the country out of recession.
Some of the resultant effects of Prof. Osinbajo’s recent outreach are the agreed take-off of NMU, the return of Oil Pipeline Protection Contracts to ex-Agitators, agreed construction of Modular Refineries, the overhauling of the Presidential Amnesty Programme, which enters its seventh year this October among others.
Observers believe that the Vice President’s visit have reduced tension in the polity and curbed Pipe-line vandalism with its resultant impact in crude oil output.
While the Vice-President’s outreach to the Niger Delta continues, there is need for all parties to abide by the agreements in order to restore stability to the region, increase Oil output and get Nigeria out of recession.

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