By Ignatius Ushie
The overseeing Director in the office of the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs (MNDA), Mr. Alfred Abah has noted that President Muhammadu Buhari has continued to demonstrate the willingness of his administration to improve the living conditions of the people of Niger Delta region particularly in the areas of policy enactment, investment, infrastructure and economic development.
In a statement made available to Transport Day in Abuja, Mr. Alfred Abah made this statement during the opening ceremony of the Technical Committee meeting of the National Council on Niger Delta (NCND) held in Calabar, Cross River State recently.
The Director explained that the approval of the Strategic Implementation Work Plan (SIWP) by the Federal Executive Council (FEC) is another dynamic step taken by the Government to drive development in the region.
Speaking further, the chairman of the committee said that the Technical Committee is made up of 53 members which membership cuts across Ministry’s Departments and Agencies (MDA’S), at the states and Federal level, Development Partners and Stakeholders with the mandate to prepare all documents and Memoranda for consideration and approval of the council.
According to Mr. Abah, “the council is structured to function within the thematic areas of infrastructure development, environmental preservation, human capital development, monitoring and evaluation, economic recovery and growth plan are the key focus areas that the council would deal with”.
“The council is also an avenue to discuss and strengthen the working relationship between various stakeholders on policy issues that would set the region on the path to sustained peace, infrastructural and socio-economic development.” He said.
“Our core responsibility at this session is therefore, to review the level of implementation of the resolutions of the 4th NCND held in Rivers State, Port Harcourt, in December, 2020, as well as consider memos submitted and come up with feasible and actionable recommendations for council consideration and approval, and also finalize preparations for the 5th National council scheduled for later, in the year,” he said.
The Director disclosed that the Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs (MNDA) and the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) have harmonized all the different Development plans in the region into a single regional development strategy which will help to synchronize and galvanize the intended rapid and uniform development of the area.
Mr. Abah who acknowledged the tremendous support of the Honourable Minister, Minstry of Niger Delta Affairs, Sen. Godswill Akpabio and the Hon. Minister of state, Sen. Omotayo Alasoadura for their untiring efforts towards improving the situation of the region and for making the meeting possible, also expressed his appreciation of the interest shown by participants and hope that their wealth of experience and knowledge would chat a better format for future NCND meetings.
The chairman said that, “the bane of the Council, has been that of the implementation of its resolutions, we must drive people to implement the resolutions and if we are able to deal with it exhaustively, we would have dealt with the issue of development to a great extent in the region”.
In his goodwill message to participants of the Technical Committee on NCND, the Head of Service, Cross Rivers State, Mr. Timothy Ogbang Akwaji said the Niger Delta Region which is blessed with Petroleum and Gas deposits, Minerals that drive and sustains the Nation’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) has for decades been in the news either as the goose that lays the golden eggs or as a region experiencing the storms of environmental consequences of oil exploitation and exploration.
The region is rift with issues begging for attention, in this regard we need to set an agenda for positive and result oriented discourse, the council must embrace the coming on stream of renewable energy being orchestrated as panacea for climatic change mitigation. Conversations on the Niger Delta question should not be limited to oil mineral exploration and exploitation but the focus should be on how to navigate economic survival for the people.
Mr. Akwaji who commended the harmonization of the two action plans of the ministry noted that “the Federal Government have facilitated growth and development in the region over the years, such support has not really translated to concrete development in the area”.
He therefore urged that, council’s resolutions reached at the meeting are pushed for implementation, to achieve the desired benefits for the region and the people. He said that there should be a parameter for ensuring that all component states are accorded a sense of belonging in the scheme of things.