28 March 2018, Sweetcrude, Port Harcourt — As a way of diversifying from oil to the non-oil sector, the Chairman of the Governing Board of the Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC, Senator Victor Ndoma-Egba, SAN, has identified tourism as one fast strategy that can integrate the Niger Delta region and create a regional economy.
The NDDC Chairman noted that the Niger Delta region, with its rich ecosystem, mangroves, rivers, tributaries, flora, and fauna, had great potentials for tourism, adding that the current board of the Commision had drawn up strategies to make the region a tourism destination.
Speaking at the 42nd Annual General Meeting of the National Association of Nigeria Travel Agencies, NANTA, in Port Harcourt, Senator Ndoma-Egba, underlined the need to harness the rich tourism potentials in the region to create a competitive and integrated aviation and tourism template.
Senator Ndoma-Egba said that the new spirit of partnerships being driven by the NDDC board envisaged a working relationship with the NANTA, the National Council of Arts and Culture and the Nigerian Tourism Development Commission, NTDC, to add value and convert rich tourism assets into huge industries.
According to him, “We must deploy our national endowments to create the much-needed wealth beyond oil which has been more of a curse than the blessing that it should have been to the region.
“I have a dream that someday soon, the Niger Delta region will be peaceful, secure and prosperous and that the young men and women of the region will take full advantage of the new opportunities their environment offer for their betterment.”
Senator Ndoma-Egba said that the NDDC board and management had commenced setting up critical pillars for the creation of an integrated regional economy, which will assure economics of scale and make the region more competitive.
“We need to change the narrative of militancy for which the region has become infamous and improve the general security of the region. We must move from militancy of kidnapping and pipeline breaches to a new kind of militancy; militancy for peace, security, and development.
“The narrative of the Niger Delta must change from the negatives of kidnapping, pipeline vandalism etc. to a new narrative of peace, security, and development. This we can achieve through bold initiatives pursued with the appropriate will and single-minded focus.”
Also speaking, the Rivers State Commissioner for Culture and Tourism, Mrs. Tonye Briggs-Oniyide, who identified tourism as the second largest industry in the world, said the government at all levels had a responsibility to formulate and implement policies that would support tourism development.