Vice President Yemi Osibajo has declared that the development of the Niger Delta region remains a top priority of President Muhammadu Buhari, and vouched that the Federal Government is fully aware of the peculiar challenges facing the region.
The Vice President made the declaration yesterday in Port Harcourt, the Rivers State capital during a forum for sustainable development that was hosted by the Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC, noting that the Federal Government was equally committed in solving the environmental challenges facing the region.
He stressed the need for a paradigm shift from oil dependency to agriculture, in order to create jobs, and also encouraged the development of the manufacturing sector, just as he called for inclusion in all levels of government.
Professor Osibajo, who was represented by the Deputy Chief of Staff in the Presidency, affirmed the Federal Government Ade Ipaye, was making progress in its pursuant of sustainable development, which has a key role to play in creating jobs and preventing the migration of people from the urban to rural areas.
“The development of the Niger Delta region remains a priority for President Muhammadu Buhari-led APC government. The President has repeatedly emphasized that ‘devastation and environmental degradation in the Niger Delta region must be attended to.’
“The Niger Delta Development Commission is established by law for the rapid and sustainable development of the region, and will receive all necessary assistance and support from our government to achieve this mandate.”
“However, realizing the concept of sustainable development comes with numerous challenges, especially the Niger Delta region that represents the world’s third largest wastelands, with several years of unaddressed oil pollution issues that has hindered agricultural growth of the region as well as affected general health of the populace.”
While urging the private sector to encourage manufacturing, communication and ICT, he pledged government’s commitment to provide electricity, improve transportation network and provide education and healthcare for the people.
“This government will continue to pursue improved electricity generation and distribution… The current government has already commenced work on the clean-up of the Ogoni area and other seriously affected communities.
“It will be our primary task to ensure that strategies are put in place to protect the environment as well as apply remediation measures to alleviate the impact in areas already polluted.”
Meanwhile, the Managing Director of the NDDC, Barr Dan Abia called on the management of the Nigerian Natural Liquefied Gas to start paying its own contribution to the development of the region, arguing that the company falls within those doing business in the Niger Delta region.
Barr Abia, who stated this in his welcome address at the event, said that such contribution would enable the NDDC to move forward in terms of development, and also drew attention to the collaboration between the NDDC and Shell Petroleum Development Company, SPDC, in the Ogbia/Nembe Road project.
He said: “Perhaps, it will not be out of place to use this forum to appeal to the NLNG to initiate the process of paying its own contribution to the funding of NDDC because it is an undisputed fact that the NLNG falls within the oil/gas producing companies operating within the Niger Delta region within the contemplation of the NDDC Act