‘Why government is yet to begin Niger Delta dialogue’
Development forum to hold in Owerri
Efforts to use a workable model to resolve the crisis in the Niger Delta are responsible for the delay in the takeoff of the planned negotiation with stakeholders of the region, according to the Minister of State for Petroleum, Dr. Ibe Kachikwu.
Kachikwu who was a special guest at the 2016 convocation of the Petroleum Training Institute (PTI), Effurun, near Warri, Delta State said the government was searching for a model that would be different from the existing ones that have not yielded the desired results for the Niger Delta and not ended the destruction of critical oil infrastructure in the region.
The minister said: “The proposed dialogue has not collapsed. I led that process and the president is very supportive of the process. What the president does not want to do is to put in place some old models that have failed after four months, and the militants are back to the creeks. So we need a long-term model - a roadmap that comprises short- and long-term solutions and engagement with members of the communities. We are working towards it.
“We absolutely believe that the Niger Delta is key to this country. It has contributed so much and in many ways the people feel the society has failed them. I use the word society and not government because if you look at what was provided to the region for a long time, it is quite a lot. We need focus on how the benefits of what the region produces gets to the people.”
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According to him, Nigerians need to change their attitudes from being a consuming nation to a producing one. He said the era when everyone looked up to government for all their needs is over as government has little resources to satisfy huge expectations of Nigerians, with the decline in the global price of oil.
Kachikwu urged the principal and chief executive of the PTI, Prof. Sunny Iyuke, to ensure the unique facilities at the institute are maintained. He praised the management of the PTI for the judicious use of the funds provided to make the institute one of the best in Africa.
Meanwhile, the Foundation for Partnership Initiatives in the Niger Delta (PIND) in collaboration with the Imo State government and Market Development for the Niger Delta (MADE) is set to hold the fifth edition of the Niger Delta Development Forum (NDDF) in Owerri, Imo State.
In a statement released by PIND and signed by the Advocacy Programme Manager, Ese Emerhi, the forum scheduled to hold on 19 and 20 October 2016, will help increase awareness and shared understanding among stakeholders on the critical steps needed to move the region towards a re-imaged Niger Delta.
The organisers of the NDDF stated that the Niger Delta states are experiencing crisis - politically, economically, socially, and environmentally. The statement added that the collapse of global oil prices has taken its toll on the nine states of the Niger Delta, resulting in the re-emergence of violence by new militancy groups. “Despite numerous efforts by both independent organisations and the Federal Government in convening key stakeholders in the region to collectively explore the imperatives of inclusive economic growth in an environment of dwindling oil prices, little headway has been achieved or documented on a firm way forward for the region”, the statement read.
According to the statement, the forum tagged ‘Towards Self-Sustaining Development in the Niger Delta: Narrating and Showcasing a Re-Imagined Niger Delta’ will create a platform to increase actionable opportunities for sustainable development initiatives and activities in the Niger Delta region through evidence based policy influence at the state and federal levels.”