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Buhari directs Osinbajo to head delegation on Niger Delta crisis

From Femi Folaranmi, Yenagoa

President Muhammadu Buhari has directed his deputy, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, to head a special presidential delegation charged with the task of resolving the crisis in the Niger Delta.

Special Adviser to the President on Niger Delta Affairs, Brigadier General Paul Boroh (retd), disclosed this to newsmen, in Abuja, yesterday.

Boroh said the choice of Osinbajo as leader of the government’s fact-finding delegation to the crisis-ridden region was informed by president Buhari’s strategic plan to engender peace in the region. Before now, the Niger-Delta elders were leading the delegation on the resolution of the crisis.

However, with the new presidential directive, Boroh said the vice president would, henceforth, head the delegation.

According to him, “this will meet the president’s expectations of not only building confidence among the people on government’s intentions, but also help in its fact-finding mission on a workable and lasting solution.

“President Buhari knew what he was doing when he directed the vice president to head the delegation.

“You need to see him in action when he visited different communities in the oil-producing states. There is no doubt that the president knows that peace in the Niger Delta region is crucial to the development of the entire country,’’ Boroh noted.

He said the visit of the vice president to the Niger Delta was in phases to cover all Niger Delta states.

According to him, So far, we have visited Akwa Ibom, Edo, Bayelsa, Rivers and Imo states.

“The next phase will be Cross River, Abia and Ondo states. By that, we would have covered the entire Niger Delta states.

“This visit is in two folds. It is both a confidence-building and a fact-finding mission because a lot of information has been heard about the Niger Delta, but no single person can claim to know all about the Niger Delta.

“It requires effort by all stakeholders toward ensuring that issues of the Niger Delta are resolved,” he said.

He also explained that efforts were on to pay beneficiaries of the amnesty programme studying abroad.

Boroh said that the problem arose due to the inability of the Federal Government to meet its financial obligations in the various countries.

The coordinator said the Amnesty Office would have to offset a lot of liabilities when funds allocated to it were eventually released.

He, however, said that priority would be given to the foreign beneficiaries, especially those graduating soon.

Boroh said that the Amnesty Office daily deals with false allegations made against it by some aggrieved youth craving to benefit from the programme.

He said that the programme is at the integration phase and it would be difficult to accommodate new entrants, who were not captured when the amnesty offer was first put in place.

“The federal government should legalise the operation of local operators in the region because of the huge benefits it will have on the economy. And also it will reduce the environmental hazards we are faced with currently because by sheer ingenuity, the youths have been able to provide products to the region where the country’s refineries cannot meet our demands.

“Ninety percent of the AGO and kerosene around here are being produced by the youths of the Niger Delta via their illegal refineries. Government should set the right standards through enabling laws and the Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR) to ensure compliance.”

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