President Muhammadu Buhari says the Federal Government is committed to fast track the development of the Niger Delta Region.
President Buhari stated this during the 4th National Council on Niger Delta, in Port Harcourt on Friday. 18th December 2020.
Represented by the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Senator Godswill Akpabio, President Buhari, said the Niger Delta Region has suffered a lot of deprivation despite the huge commitment of the Federal Government to change the face of the Region and give the people a new lease of life.
He said the completion of the East-West Road which is a priority of his Administration has been handed over to the Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs, adding that the road would be completed by the end of the year 2021 or early March 2022.
According to him “as stakeholders some of the issues that must engage your minds as you deliberate in this meeting today should relate to economic diversification, fostering economic growth, eradication of extreme poverty, promoting social inclusion, creating of jobs and taming environmental degradation”.
President Buhari who commended Governor Nyesom Ezenwo Wike for the hospitality he extended to delegates of the 4th National Council on Niger Delta, expressed delight with the relative peace in the Region.
In his opening remarks, Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Ezenwo Wike, who spoke through his Deputy, Dr. Mrs. Ipalibo Harry Banigo said the Niger Delta is the region that produces the bulk of the wealth on which the nation depends for its development, but regretted that the Region is largely characterized by endemic poverty and gross under development, which he attributed to the denial of a fair share of development resources, economic investments and basic social infrastructures by the Federal Government.
Governor Wike said the minimal progress in the Region are attributable to the efforts of the respective State Governments, stressing that because of limited resources and technical capacity, the level of progress remains slow throughout the Region, much to the discomfort and dislike of the people.
“When we complain about the resources denial, they reluctantly ceded 13% oil mineral revenues derivation fund to the States to address all the inherent and associate environmental and development challenges that we face.” Governor Wike stressed.
According to the State Chief Executive, “we complained of lack of Federal Government’s projects and development attention, they gave us the Niger Delta Development Commission(NDDC) and the Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs with nebulous mandates to drive and meet the developmental needs of the Region”.
He further said, “When the youths protested against the neglect, marginalization, and the expropriation of the Regions’ resources, they again responded with a placatory Presidential Amnesty Programme to nip the increasing militancy and restore normalcy, so, oil production activities can continue unhindered”.
Governor Wike insisted that “If the Federal Government can fund Abuja-Kaduna- Zaria- Kano road, Lagos-Ibadan road and the 2nd Niger Bridge from the Sovereign Wealth Fund, then there is no reason why the East-West road, which is critical to the progress and development of the Niger Delta Region cannot benefit from this opportunity. I, therefore, call on the Federal Government to urgently fund the completion of the East-West Road “.
Governor Wike revealed that “the reality is for the people of the Niger Delta Region to put our development fate in our hands, instead of waiting for the Federal Government, which is interested much more in our petroleum resources than our progress and prosperity”.
Governor Wike also said the agitation and demand for fiscal federalism, economic, environmental, and development justice for the Niger Delta Region is just, legitimate and compelling, adding that it is a struggle we must continue and win by the Grace of God, in the interest of our Region and the survival of our people.
In his address to the Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs, Senator Godswill Akpabio, who commended Governor Wike’s developmental strides in the State said “I have seen the Flyovers in Rivers State, very high quality and the roads, we are proud to be associated with the efforts going on in Rivers State irrespective of the Political Party, all we are interested in is development, as hunger has no political party, unemployment has no political party, decayed infrastructure has no political party, any infrastructure is done by Government should be appreciated”.
Recall, that the National Council on Niger Delta is the highest advisory body for the initiation and formulation of policies, programmes, and strategies to achieve accelerated socio-economic development of the nine Niger Delta States. The theme for the 4th National Council on Health is Achieving Uncommon Development in the Niger Delta Region: The Road Map and Strategy.