From Bamigbola Gbolagunte, Akure
Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo, has said the Federal Government has injected fresh N35 billion into the Niger Delta Amnesty Programme, for greater impact on people of the region.
Besides, Osinbajo said clean-up of Ogoniland, embarked upon by the federal government, is a continuous programme, which President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration is committed to. He also stressed that the exercise would be extended to all parts of the Niger Delta.
The vice president, who spoke at the opening of the second national summit of the National Council of Niger Delta (NCND) held in Akure, Ondo State capital, yesterday, said the federal government, under President Buhari is committed to the Niger Delta Amnesty programme with a view to ensuring peace in the region. He added that the initiative has recorded tremendous achievements.
Osinbajo assured that the federal government would continue to invest in the Niger Delta for the overall development of the region and the country at large.
He solicited the co-operation of all stakeholders in the region and called for the sustenance of peace in the region.
“We have started with the clean-up of Ogoniland and we will continue with the exercise which is still on going. We will ensure clean up of all polluted areas. What we are doing in the area is called hydro carbon clean-up and this will not be limited to Ogoniland.”
Osinbajo disclosed that the present administration has set up various inter-ministerial committees on the development of the Niger Delta, and that the Maritime University established by government will kick off next month.
According to him, the federal government committed N2 billion to the establishment of the university, which he said will focus on maritime training.
However, he expressed the readiness of the federal government to diversify the economy as oil may soon go into extinction, just as he advised the state governments to invest in culture and agriculture which he said are good alternatives to oil.
Speaking, Ondo State Governor, Mr Rotimi Akeredolu (SAN) stressed the need for the federal government to develop the Niger Delta region. He said the welfare of the people of the region should be paramount to the government.
Akeredolu said: “Issues of gross infrastructure deficit, security challenges and the general absence of social amenities expected in a modern society remain intractable. This region presents a cruel paradox; the entire country depends on it almost entirely for sustenance. It, however, lacks evidence of development depicting its status as the proverbial goose that lays the golden egg.
“We must seize the opportunity offered by this special meeting to ruminate on the methods adopted, whose impact have been insignificant in bridging the infrastructure gap. It is also incumbent on us to set our priorities right. Embarking on any white elephant projects cannot be in their interest.
“Consequently, it would appear reasonable that all those saddled with the responsibility of alleviating the sufferings of those citizens residing in this region should have priorities reflective of the dire needs of the region. No doubt, our efforts to fast-track development and peace will depend on how well we are able to interpret existing outcomes against the expectations of our people.
“We are not oblivious of the long history of development interventions in the oil producing areas. We are equally aware of the commendable efforts made by past administrations to transform the physical and economic landscape of the region. These engagements have yielded positive results, even if marginal. We must, however, not fail to mention the glaring facts of grinding and relentless poverty which has been the lot of the region. This is deplorable.”
The governor called for a sustainable means of genuine empowerment of the youth of the region through job creation and inclusion in decision-making processes.
He also stressed on the need “to cater for the aged and other vulnerable groups and engender opportunity for wealth creation and redistribution through private sector driven investments.”
“We must provide potable water and electricity for our people, provide them access to quality healthcare, safeguard their environment, and give them a sense of belonging in matters concerning them,” he added.