30 March 2012, Sweetcrude, PORT HARCOURT – Nigeria’s oil-rich Niger Delta region requires N600 billion on a yearly basis to be able to combat poverty, build infrastructure and bring about genuine development in the region, according to the Niger Delta Youth Parliament.
Mr. Imoh Okoko, national coordinator of the group, said the region required that amount over the next 10 years to attain the desired level of development.
According to him, funds allocated to the Niger Delta Development Commission and the Ministry of Niger Delta were inadequate in addressing the challenges of the region.
He stated that the lack of development in the Niger Delta had been exacerbated by environmental degradation in the area, which has attracted the attention of the United Nation.
“The level of underdevelopment in the Niger Delta is alarming. Apart from the absence of basic infrastructure, continued oil exploration is adversely affecting the region. Surprisingly, everybody is behaving as if all is well. When we talk of the development of the Niger Delta region, we mean that apart from the funds given to repentant militants, the area should be physically developed,” he said.
He continued: “During rainy seasons, we in the Niger Delta find it difficult to come out because of the bad roads that are full of gullies. That is not what we bargained for when we called for the massive development of the Niger Delta region.
“For us to get to the level we should be, the region needs at least N600bn every year to solve the problem of poverty and lack of basic infrastructure.”
He maintained that government’s attitude to the development of the region had so far not been encouraging, urgeing that the government should show more commitment to issues affecting the Niger Delta.