Your story will change from agitation to unprecedented development, Osinbajo tells Niger Deltans


Professor Yemi Osinbajo, the Acting President of Nigeria, on Monday assured the people of the Niger Delta of the preparedness of the Federal Government to put smiles on the faces of the people of the region by changing their current condition of agitation and restiveness to that of rapid, sustained, and unprecedented development.
The Acting President who was speaking at Government House, Port Harcourt, during a stakeholders meeting, also declared that the Federal Government was committed to ending what he described as the “vicious cycle of environmental degradation” which had adversely  impacted on fishing and farming, the two main occupations of the people of the region.
Professor Osinbajo, accompanied by the minister of Transportation, Rt. Hon. Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi, the minister of state for Petroleum, Dr. Ibe Kachikwu, among others, said that there was “need for the Federal Government’s meaningful steps to restore the region to greatness and prosperitry.”
He said the Federal Government was committed to sustaining the amnesty programme, saying, “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 potentials 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. These experiences I talked about were about 38 years ago.
“It is, therefore, extremely discomfiting to know that you are still confronted with the very same situation, including the lack of basic amenities in the presence of plenty. This vicious circle cannot continue. We just have to take meaningful steps to bring about prominent peace and prosperity to the Niger Delta. Rivers State is home to many
Speaking on the clean-up of Ogoni, he said: “The Federal Ministry of Environment has set about establishing the framework strong system required 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 said.
Continuing, he added: “The Niger Delta needs a new vision, a renewed spirit by all stakeholders. The Federal Government is committed to pursuing a new partnership with oil producing states. There is no way this vision will be aborted… We must make oil producing communities the hub for petrochemical products.
“The Federal Government is committed in sustaining the amnesty programme. The future is already here.
There is no time to waste. We must make the Niger Delta a vibrant economic zone… This will be the beginning of the narrative that will change the Niger Delta,” Professor Osinbajo.
Earlier in the meeting, the Rivers State Governor, Barrister Nyesom Ezenwo Wike, declared that the state was not in contention with the Federal Government  as it remained  committed to the unity, progress, and indivisibility of the country  
The governor said: “it is important for us to emphasize that the Government of Rivers State is not and cannot by any stretch of imagination be in contention with the Federal Government. We stand for the unity, progress and indivisibility of this nation and part of our mandate is to partner with the Federal Government to move the State and by extension, the nation forward.
“We have severally demonstrated this commitment from the very beginning of our administration with discernible actions. For instance, even without prompting from the Federal Government we mobilized some stakeholders to rehabilitate the East – West road, from Eleme junction to Onne junction, with about three billion naira. 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 singular efforts,” he said.
Continuing, the governor said: “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 ferocious attacks by the hoodlums.
“Furthermore, the State Government has spent and continues to spend a lot of money to support the security agencies to fight crime and safeguarded lives and property in the State.
“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 in the State. Regrettably, this equipment is stuck at the port because of the refusal of the federal Government to grant the waiver that is needed,” the governor said.
Governor Wike  said that despite the contributions  of Rivers State to the resource base of the nation, it has been denied access to developmental projects, saying, “Rivers State alone accounts for not less than a third of Nigeria’s earnings from the export of hydrocarbon resources, yet there is little or nothing to show for the State’s contributions to the national resource pool, which is being used on a massive scale to develop other parts of the country.
“Thus, the lack of tangible federal projects and development attention from the Federal Government are some of the underlying problems that must be addressed as quickly as possible to give our people a sense of belonging,” the governor said.
The governor wondered why the Federal Government has refused to reciprocate the kind gestures of the Rivers State Government after all its positive investments. 
He urged the Federal Government to, as a matter of urgency, tackle cases of underdevelopment  in the stat and urged the Federal Government  to  tackle the East West road, rehabilitation of Port Harcourt International Airport, Omagwa, and Onne Seaports and the completion  of the Bodo-Bonny road.
Governor Wike regretted  the alleged failure of the Federal Government to allow work to commence on the construction of the 7th train of the Nigeria LNG Project in Bonny Land.
The governor  appealed to the Federal Government to give life to the Ogoni clean up project   which has remained dormant  after it was flagged off. 
In his remarks, the Leader of the Elders of Rivers State, Onueze Okocha (SAN) said: “I want to state categorically  that the government and people of Rivers State do not consider  that they are at war with the Federal Republic of Nigeria. 
“This does not seem to be  the case and in recent times. It would appear that the Federal  Government and its ministries, departments and agencies have tended to act, or omitted  to act , as if they have problems  with Rivers State,” he stated.
In her address, Representative of Women, Hon. Ankio Briggs, called on the Buhari administration to ensure  that  they restored the security  details  of  Governor Nyesom Ezenwo Wike, otherwise, Rivers women would provide security  for the governor. 
Similarly, Chairman of the Rivers State Council of Traditional Rulers, King Dandeson Douglas Jaja called for the restoration of the security of Governor Wike.  He said that failure to do would mean that the Federal Government wanted the governor  to come to harm.
Other speakers who represented the oil communities in the state also demanded for developmental projects and  empowerment  of their  people. 

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Ihesiulo Grace

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