Port Harcourt — The Institute of Chartered Economists of Nigeria, ICEN, has appealed to the Federal Government to appropriate significant funds to the Niger Delta, to compensate for its long neglect and ecological risks from oil-companies’ activities in the region.
The South-South Coordinator of ICEN, Mr. Friday Udoh, made the appeal while briefing newsmen amidst Senate’s rejection of the N23billion Niger Delta Ministry’s 2020 budget proposal presented before the Senate Committee on Niger Delta.
Udoh commended the thoughtfulness of the Senate and efforts of the ministry, headed by Sen. Godswill Akpabio, describing both side as stakeholders and friends of the region.
He said considering the multifaceted social and economic problems, only infrastructural development and sustained human capital development can promote peace in the region.
“Even though we have move a step forward, at the same time there is no intrigue that can foster the required peace hitherto the creation of the right atmosphere for investment in the region.
“Just as the security forces and army cannot achieve a decisive peace, but effective institution to a degree that it meets the tough challenges of resource allocation, coordination and communication that fosters institutionalization of reciprocity along groups and legitimately offers reassurance to skeptical groups.
“It is beyond any question to postulate that the effect of any given gesture only have impact when there is a significant capability to allocate services and material resources,
Udoh who sponsored the first and second Niger Delta Summit for Economic and Social Development at the height of unrest in the region in 2008, which demanded for amnesty which was latter adopted by the Federal Government in 2009.
Situating the place of stable and stronger Niger Delta to economic prosperity, the Economist said for the region to grow, it must evolve foresighted strategy given the strategic national interest of the region, and threats posed by weak nations along the coastal West and East African countries given its geographical location at improving it resilience.
“Our President, His Excellency Muhammadu Buhari, does not hide his desire for sustainable economy. More proactive action of the state governors in the region is sin qua non to growth in the region.
“While this responsibility seems particularly difficult, interestingly success does not necessarily require that all is accomplished fully or immediately.
“Ideally, we must see success and failure as foreseeable, believing that level of successes could be varied and at worst unattainable, but to an extent that its enforces the radius of trust between the government and the governed, consequently my submission to the increase in budget allocation given the overreaching needs of the region.”
Connecting the importance of research, innovation and entrepreneurship to regional economic development, Udoh call on the Ministry to increase its funding to human capital development, sponsorship of researches among universities in the region, and lending support to the concept of business cluster development across states in the region.
He also advocated for programs and projects that would exert a symbolic impact on citizens by meeting their daily needs.
“Sustainable level of prosperity, productivity and wages in a region like the Niger Delta is determined by the ability of the region to create and commercialize innovations,” the Economist said.