Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Abuja.
The Federal Government says it is backing its commitment to the Niger Delta region with necessary actions that would lead to the implementation of the President Muhammadu Buhari’s New Vision for the region.
It has also assured that the New Vision for the region would create a future of success and prosperity for the region.
Senior Special Assistant to the President on the Niger Delta Region, Edobor Iyamu, gave the assurance at a one-day capacity building worksho for the media, Civil Society Organisations and staff of Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) at the State House Auditorium, Abuja.
The theme of the workshop was: “Niger Delta New Vision: Partnership for regional development & Nation-building.”
“Not only is government committed, it is backing all of its commitment with the necessary action and steps that need to be taken,” Mr. Iyamu said.
He said that one of the licensed modular refineries in Delta State was about 70 per cent completed, while works on the one in Rivers State was progressing.
Among other projects Iyamu listed that were currently ongoing in the region in line with the Niger Delta New Vision, were the Maritime University, Okerenkoko, Delta State, and the Ogoni Cleanup.
Iyamu said the Federal Government had also demonstrated its commitment to the Niger Delta with consistent increase in budgetary allocations to the region in the last three years.
“Today, the budget of the Ministry of the Niger Delta Affairs has been increased. The budget of the NNDC has also been increased. The budget for NDDC has also been increased.”
Also, following that meeting with elders in the region, in 2017, on behalf of the President, the Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, undertook a tour of oil producing communities in the region. The President Buhari administration’s New Vision for the Niger Delta was, thus, birthed.
According to Mr. Iyamu, the Niger Delta New vision was “designed to promote development in the region through a forthright partnership between the Federal Government, state government, private sector and local community.”
He said the New Vision was also designed to positively change the narrative of failed promises and abandoned projects and creates a future of success and prosperity which the people of the region so earnestly deserve.
He restated Vice President Yemi Osinbajo’s assertion during his engagements with leaders and stakeholders in the region last year that the people of the Niger Delta deserved more than they were getting.
Senior Special Assistant to the President on Infrastructure, Imeh Okon, said the key to what government was doing in the Niger Delta was to complete all abandoned projects in the region.
In the words of Okon, “You don’t start something and then you abandon it where you have limited resources. “You need to finish it and be able to leverage on the resources that you deployed on that project in the first place.”
She said government was working to ensure that all projects with strategic developmental impact were completed.
“And then we also look at new projects that have impact that would be linked to those existing projects. So, we can also fund those projects. But the key is that we are no longer abandoning projects.”
Participants at the workshop were given an overview of the Strategic Implementation Work Plan (SIWP) of the Niger Delta New Vision.
They were also taken through the communication strategy of the SIWP to stakeholders in the Niger Delta and the role of Civil Society organisations in the region.
There was also a session on partnering towards regional development and nation building.
In November 2016, in a move to address concerns in the region and see to its development, President Muhammadu Buhari held a meeting with Niger Delta leaders under the aegis of Pan-Niger Delta Forum, PANDEF.
PANDEF made a 16-point demand to the Federal Government which was subsequently captured in the FG’s 20-point agenda to develop the region.