By Enyeribe Ejiogu
Notwithstanding the reservations being expressed by some stakeholders in the Niger Delta over the outcome of President Muhammadu Buhari’s recent meeting with Niger Delta elders led by Chief Edwin Clark and Obong Victor Attah, National President of Southern Youths Development Forum and convener of the National Youths Impact Security Conference, Pastor Bassey James has commended the president for exploring the option of dialogue towards resolving the crisis in the Niger Delta.
He also lauded President Buhari for appointing a technocrat like Ekere Nsima as the managing director of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), stating that both steps were in the right direction and in line with the Change Agenda of the government.
James said the meeting was a perfect expression of the emphasis on dialogue as a key element for attaining peace in the troubled oil-rich region.
He said that stakeholders and youths of the region should necessarily trust the president and buy into the peace initiative.
His words: “The president has started well by having his first meeting with the elders of the Pan Niger Delta Forum. I think the president should go a step further to talk with the emerging youth leaders across the Niger Delta. It should be an open-minded town-hall meeting that is more like a father calling his children together for a frank talk. The importance of having a dialogue cannot be over-emphasized.
“The president must be trusted and should be trusted. I believe that the president will do the right thing and he has started by appointing Ekere Nsima, a seasoned technocrat as the managing director of the Niger Delta Development Commission. He is bringing his rich private sector management experience to the execution of the mandate of the commission. Again, the Minister of Budget and National Planning, Senator Udo Udoma, is the chairman of the Board of NDDC. These two great sons of the Niger Delta will deliver the goods.
“I want to appeal to our people in the Niger Delta to be calm and give the president a chance. I believe very strongly that under the leadership of Nsima, the NDDC will kick-start the massive development of the Niger Delta. Already, the president as I understand, is moving to provide adequate funding for the NDDC to pursue and achieve its core mandate. More importantly, Nsima is a man known for prudent management of resources.
“I am convinced that he will apply this skill in managing the NDDC. He will change the face of the NDDC and I am sure the Buhari administration will provide every financial and moral support that he needs to achieve the desired result. With more funding, NDDC will do better than it did in the recent past.”