14 December 2018, Sweetcrude, Port Harcourt — The Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC, has appealed to the United States government to support programmes that would enhance peace and security in the Niger Delta to facilitate sustainable development in the oil-rich region.
NDDC Managing Director, Mr Nsima Ekere, made the appeal when a delegation from the United States Consulate, led by the US Consul-General, John Bray, paid him a courtesy visit at the Commission’s headquarters in Port Harcourt.
Ekere emphasized the need for an enduring peace in the Niger Delta region, stating that security was critical for development and growth.
He said that the visit of the US Consul-General was re-assuring as it showed that the US government was always thinking and working on ways to collaborate and deepen the conversation on the challenges and growth of the Niger Delta region.
“It is noteworthy that you are coming at the onset of our political season. We expect some assistance from the US government. We have specific concerns in the Niger Delta, especially during an election period like this, principally in the area of security.
“The US government can use its influence to prevail on our politicians to allow democracy to thrive in Nigeria. If politicians can be made to play by the rules, it will help in the process of maintaining peace and security during and after the elections,” he stated.
The NDDC boss further remarked that the NDDC had in the last two years recorded some tremendous achievements in the area of development in the region.
He recalled that at a previous visit of the Consul-General at the inception of the current NDDC Board, the Commission had just rolled out its reform agenda.
“We have since made tremendous and appreciable progress in reforming the Commission to be better placed to deliver on its mandate to the Niger Delta people and to Nigerians,” he further said.
He added: “A lot of the youths because of the challenges of unemployment and poverty, lend themselves to be used by politicians as thugs.
“Most times what makes the political process explosive and dangerous is the attitude of some sit tight office holders who do not believe that the political process should be a referendum by the people on their performance in office.
“The reason the constitution allows us to have a chance to conduct elections every four years is so that those that did well could be considered to continue, while those that did not perform well should be kicked out. They should be honest enough to allow that process to evolve so that the citizens can have their say in the governance system.”
In his remarks, the United States Consul-General in Nigeria, Mr John Bray, stated that the US government was committed to ensuring credible elections in Nigeria.
Bray said that it was important to keep an eye on the development programmes in the Niger Delta region as the country enters the political season leading to the general elections.
He added: “The United States Government does not support any candidate. We support a clean fair process in which the choices of the Nigerian people will prevail. The interest of the United States is to see a free, fair, transparent and non-violent election in Nigeria in 2019.”
“As part of that, we are visiting key political institutions and figures. We are trying to work out ways our government can engage with Nigerians, candidates, INEC and security agencies as we go into the elections.”