From Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Abuja
The Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Dr. Emmanuel Kachikwu, has appealed to Niger Delta youths to stop the destruction of oil installations noting that meaningful development could only be achieved in an atmosphere of peace.
He made the appeal when he had audience with delegation representing the two oil producing Ohaji/Egbema and Oguta Local Government Areas in the Imo State House of Assembly.
The latest bombing by Niger Delta militants happened last Saturday when it stopped oil production at the Bonny 48 inches crude oil export.
The latest bombing has attracted criticisms from stakeholders in the region, who described the activities of the militants as short-sighted and counter-productive. They said the action would lead to under-development of the region.
The destruction of oil installations has brought oil production down from over two million to a little above a million barrels per day.
The Federal Government’s stakeholders summit meant to address the grievances of the region earlier slated for yesterday was called off.
Kachikwu, who commended the youths of Ohaji-Egbema and Oguta Local Government Area for surrendering their arms and embracing peace, urged other youths in the region to do the same.
He urged other youths of the Niger Delta region to lay down their arms and embrace dialogue, explaining that no region can develop in an atmosphere bedevilled by wanton destruction of critical national infrastructure and economic assets.
“No man destroys his economic potential and still prospers optimally,” he stated.
Kachikwu attributed the neglect and untold hardship being faced by the oil producing areas in the country to misappropriation, misuse and diversion of funds meant for the development of the region, by various state governments and interventionist agencies over the years.
According to him, if the oil derivation funds were judiciously used by various state governments, there would have been meaningful development across the oil producing states.
The leader of the delegation, Ezediaro Uzoma, member representing Oguta State constituency in the Imo State House of Assembly, said the visit was to show solidarity and support for one of their own on his appointment as minister of state, petroleum resources.
“We In NYC are calling on our brothers to please embrace peace. When we continue destroying national asset, we still spend money to fix whatever have been destroyed forgetting that such money would have been invested in profitable developmental project in the region.
“If they felt they have been shortchanged by their leaders, they should let us know and then we know we have to join them to embark on that cause. I want them to know that we also have our security challenge here including herdsmen attacks. We have been engaging stakeholders to nip the menace in the bud rather than resolve to violence. Violence can never bring peace. It cannot bring desired development but can only bring backwardness”, he stressed.