Minister hinges revival of Niger Delta economy on youths, women
Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Usani Uguru Usani has called for the revival of the economy of the Niger Delta to include focus on women, community leadership, and youths.
According to him, there is need to revive the economy of the region and lift the people out of poverty before the issue of sustainable development can be talked about.
The minister, who was speaking at a summit on the Niger Delta in Abuja, stated that it is a common statement to say that there should be sustainable development in the region even when the development is not yet there.
He said: “We have been dishonest in the application of the resources to the region. The ministry has been viewed as an infrastructure ministry. We need to shift to be more holistic about the management of the Niger Delta. This is why an integrated approach with other necessary ministries and agencies working in the region is desperately needed.
“Anyone that has a plan for the Niger Delta needs to include focus on women, youths and community leadership. We need to adjust in our mission and activities for the region. We do not want to copy paste any programme in the region to simply impress an international community”, the minister said, adding that there will have to be a focus to rebuild the human capital of the region.
He enjoined stakeholders to lay down the plan for the region so that resources can then be applied in a more effective manner.
He said: “The term sustainable development is a fancy term that everyone loves to use. However, we need to have the core elements to coordinate these efforts. For now, what we are really talking about is redeeming the economy, not sustainable development. Sustaining development is when we have reached development, we are simply not there yet”, he said.
Minister of the Environment, Hajiya Amina Mohammed who also spoke at the summit titled “Niger Delta Way Forward, From Stabilisation to Sustainable Development”, emphasized on the need to create an enabling environment of security and addressing the root causes of insecurity as very important in the development of the region.
She also spoke about the need to address corruption and ensure good governance, rule of law and creation of jobs for youths and women. “Democracy is a huge challenge for a developing country like Nigeria. We are in the process of trying to understand what went so wrong. We need a longer-term vision of what we are trying to achieve with development and democracy. Money and resources need to follow the plan, not the other way around”, she said.
According to her, maintaining the narrative and taking key climate action as well as protecting the environment – building a green economy, have remained a challenge for the ministry of environment.
“The long awaited clean up of the Niger Delta, the UNNEP document on the environment and clean up. Resources have been misused. Starting in Ogoni land, the issue of oil pollution is a Niger Delta challenge.
We need to define the real roles and responsibilities for all stakeholders involved in the Niger Delta. We may need to really address the fact that people don’t really trust each other. Why is that? Constructive dialogue needs to focus on the solutions. We should not hurry to fail”, she submitted.
In his address, Special Adviser to the President on Niger Delta, and Coordinator of the Presidential Amnesty Programme, Brig. Gen. Paul Boroh stated that since the recent attacks on oil pipelines, his office has relocated to the region to maintain stability.
He added that the amnesty office is currently working on an exit strategy to gradually wind down the programme within the next two years, “So far, 17,320 of the 30,000 beneficiaries have been trained and 3,232 have been empowered with starter packs to begin their own businesses.
“They are being prepared to exit the amnsesty pogramme. Subsequently this year, about 4,000 others will be exited, thereby saving the federal government about N3.5 billion in stipends payment”, he said.
Representative of the Vive President, Ambassador Yemi Dipeolu who gave the first hand account of his own experience in the Niger Delta region environment stated that it is imperative to overcome the neglect of the past and tackle the environmental damage of the region.
Programme Director of the PIND Foundation, the organizers of the summit, Dr. Dara Akala said the two days summit would address issues of security and stablisation, massive downturn in economy during the rise of the militancy, post Niger Delta militancy, oil theft and refining, community level security and other topics.
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