Port Harcourt — The Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC has opined that the health challenges in the Niger Delta region emanates from environmental degradation, due to oil spill and gas flaring from the activities of oil multinationals.
To this end, the Commission is seeking the collaboration and support of Belgian government in the areas of health, environment, youth empowerment and development of critical infrastructure in the Niger Delta region.
NDDC Interim Administrator, Mr. Efiong Akwa, made the call when the Belgian Ambassador to Nigeria, Mr. Daniel Bertrand, paid him a courtesy visit at the Commission’s permanent headquarters in Port Harcourt on Tuesday.
Akwa stressed the need for assistance and co-operation of multinational companies operating in the Niger Delta region, to stop gas flaring and check environmental degradation through collaborative efforts.
“Part of the health challenges emanate from environmental degradation due to oil spill and gas flaring; there is need for assistance and co-operation of multinational companies in the Niger Delta region to stop gas flaring and check environmental degradation through collaborative efforts.
“Our environment has been put in jeopardy, because of the oil and gas exploration and exploitation by multinational companies in the region.
“We want collaboration in the areas of health, environment, training, agriculture and developing a new master plan.
“Health is a major challenge in the Niger Delta region and Belgium has what it takes to assist us, considering the way it was able to successfully tackle the COVID-19 pandemic.”
Akwa called for collaboration with the Belgian Government in its efforts to produce a revised Regional Development Master Plan for the Niger Delta region.
He said the Master Plan, which had a life-span of 15 years, expired in 2020, appealing to the Belgian Government for a partnership to produce another Master Plan that would facilitate the rapid development of Nigeria’s oil-rich region.
Earlier, the Belgian Ambassador to Nigeria, Mr. Daniel Bertrand, said that the Belgian Government was interested in deepening the bilateral ties with development agencies in Nigeria.
Bertrand stated that he was in the Commission on a fact finding mission to have firsthand knowledge of the mandate of the NDDC and seek ways of partnering with her.
“I wanted to see you to understand what you are doing, your priorities and see what we can do together. I am looking forward to working together with the NDDC to deepen our excellent relationship.”