Nigerian govt reiterates commitment to Niger Delta development

*Fishermen in Gbaramatu, Delta state.

Oscarline Onwuemenyi

31 March 2017, Sweetcrude, Abuja – The commitment by the President Muhammadu Buhari administration to accelerate the development of the Niger Delta region got a boost today with the pledge by the Pan Niger Delta Forum (PANDEF) to work with the Federal Government to bring peace and development to the region.

Representatives of the umbrella body for the development of the Niger Delta made this pledge today in the meeting of the Inter-Ministerial/Agency Technical Working Group for the Development of the Niger Delta held at the Boardroom of the Ministry of Petroleum Resources.

The Working Group which was created under the heels of the Vice-President, Yemi Osinbajo’s peace shuttles in the Niger Delta states, has its key membership drawn from three Federal Ministries: Niger Delta Affairs, Environment, Works and the Amnesty Office and the Niger Delta Development Commission.

The Group is charged with the responsibility of working with State Governments, development partners, oil companies and other stakeholders which include PANDEF, to come up with a concerted plan, with timelines and personally responsible agencies or ministries to spearhead the development of the long-neglected region.

Speaking earlier, Mr. Charles Achodo, the Special Adviser on Niger Delta Affairs to the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Dr. Emmanuel Ibe Kachikwu, said the meeting between the Working Group and PANDEF was convened for both sides to adopt a common work plan for developing the Niger Delta in order to ensure that there were no duplication of projects aimed at bringing progress to the region as has been the case.

He said the task now at hand is for the Group to come up with a clear roadmap, which assigns clear responsibility and accountability to specific agencies, persons, corporate entities or groups and with clear timelines for deliverables to be worked out.

It will be recalled that as part of efforts to find a lasting solution to the Niger Delta problem, PANDEF in a meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari in September last year, handed over to the president a 16- Point Demand which they said was a minimum pre-condition for peace in the region. It is from that document that the Federal Government through the Ministry of Petroleum Resources developed a 20-point agenda focused on three thematic frame work namely security, development and political issues aimed at addressing the challenges in the Niger Delta region.

Speaking at the event, the Special Adviser to the President on Niger Delta Affairs and Coordinator of the Presidential Amnesty Programme, Brigadier-General Paul Boroh (Rtd), commended President Muhammadu Buhari for his deep interest in solving the Niger Delta problem.

He said it was under the auspices of Mr. President’s goodwill that the Inter-Ministerial/Agency Technical Working Group was here discussing critical issues affecting the Niger Delta region and assured Nigerians that within the next few weeks the blueprint for a coordinated development of the Niger Delta region will be out.

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