No dialogue, Niger Delta problems already known, says Buhari

• Plans roadmap for region’s growth
• Group seeks revocation of illegally acquired oil blocks
• Ministry gets 48 hrs to produce details of N422b East West road project

President Muhammadu Buhari yesterday openly acknowledged that the Niger Delta zone has been neglected, promising to establish a roadmap for the development of the oil-rich region.

Vice President Yemi Osinbajo who spoke on behalf of the president at Gbaramatu kingdom in Delta State said he was on a fact-finding tour of the region. Osinbajo later met with leaders, youths and women of Urhobo, Ndokwa, Itsekiri and Ijaw ethnic nationalities at the Petroleum Training Institute (PTI) conference centre in Effurun. At the meeting, the vice president said there was really no need for dialogue with the region as the problems of the area had been well documented and presented to the presidency by the Pan Niger Delta Forum (PANDEF) led by Chief Edwin Kiagbodo Clark, and what was needed now was action.

The visit was a means of restoring confidence in the Niger Delta. It has become crucial in view of the fact that the region needs to be given an assurance of the government’s understanding of its plight and the urgent need to alleviate it. Such an assurance is what is needed to stabilise the region for the production of crude oil on which the economy depends. However, it was expected that much more impact would have been made if the president were there himself.

Osinbajo said at the meeting that the Niger Delta must prepare for a better future devoid of the negative activities that characterised oil exploration in the region.

He said to ensure a better future for the region, all the stakeholders, including state governments and Federal Government must sit down and formulate a roadmap. He said the Buhari administration would leave a legacy that all Niger Deltans would be proud of.

“I’m here as an emissary of the president and I’m here as a citizen of the country and brother to you. I have come with a message and it is a short one. We must prepare for the future. The Niger Delta that we see today is an area of poor infrastructure; a few schools and hospitals.

“In the Niger Delta today, there are signboards of projects that are abandoned all over the place. The Niger Delta is a special region which we have all benefited from and should be treated as a special region.”

Earlier, the spokesman of Gbaramatu kingdom, Chief Godspower Gbenekama said there was so much expectation that the visit of the president would be a game-changer in the region

“We wish to express our profound appreciation for this visit which we believe should represent a game-changer, coming at a time of national economic recession and when the Niger Delta, especially Gbaramatu kingdom, has become more endangered and feeling estranged from the Nigerian nation.

“We believe that this visit will truly build confidence of the people of Gbaramatu kingdom and the Niger Delta in the Federal Government to go beyond hitherto frustrating rhetoric, not just in developing but according dignity and pride of place to the oil-rich region. Indeed, Gbaramatu Kingdom is tall and rich in national oil infrastructure that enriches the nation but lamentably lacking in infrastructure that benefits the people.”

Also, a group under the auspices of the Transparency in Petroleum Exploration Initiative (TIPEDI) called on the Federal Government to revoke all illegally acquired oil block licences in the Niger Delta.

It specifically urged President Buhari and the security agencies as well as the petroleum industry regulatory agencies and the National Assembly to urgently scrutinise and terminate most of the other OML transactions entered into by the former Petroleum Minister, Mrs. Diezani Alison-Maduekwe.

The group’s stand, however contradicted the position of the Ijaw Youth Congress (IYC) which decried the singling out of the Malabu oil deal for probe, saying it was disheartening that while the other oil blocks awarded the same time and through the same process were left untouched, the Malabu oil deal had been subjected to sustained probe because it was owned by a Niger Deltan.

Meanwhile, the House of Representatives Committee on Public Accounts has given the Ministry of Niger Delta a 48-hour ultimatum to furnish it with the financial details of the East West road project that runs from Delta State through Bayelsa and Rivers States to Akwa Ibom State.

The committee led by its chairman, Kingsley Chinda at an investigative hearing with government officials, expressed regrets that the ministry had been denying lawmakers the opportunity to see the project’s contract agreement and relevant documents.

At their last meeting, the committee had demanded the documents, which the ministry had been unable to present, even as the ministry officials led by its Permanent Secretary, Mr. Nwankwo Alo claimed that the agreement was within reach.

Alo, however, said the 48 hours were too short to reproduce the documents in 40 copies, considering their sensitive nature and volume.

He said: “As I speak with you, there is no light to reproduce the documents for you in 48 hours. We will therefore plead for two weeks, considering the volume of the documents you are asking and their quality.”

Insisting on compliance with its directive, Chinda announced members’ willingness to conduct an assessment tour of the project after their next meeting with the officials to ensure that the committee is not misled by the documents provided by the ministry. The next hearing has been slated for Monday next week.

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  • Ezekiel Okeke

    It is fallacy, fairy tales,
    waste of time- Republic Of Biafra now in existence is irreversible.
    Republic Of Biafra will handle its affairs- social, economic etc. as
    best economists. What legacy do these illiterate fools have to talk
    about developments of eastern region of Republic Of Biafra? Is it the
    economic recession or depression etc? Their failures in their own
    regions in which they abandoned or could not develop their economic
    potentials, economies etc. They have neither capability nor capacity to
    talk about developments of eastern region of Republic Of Biafra. Only
    Republic Of Biafra have the capability and capacity for developments of
    eastern region of Republic Of Biafra now in existence. They even need
    assistance of Republic Of Biafra for developments of their regions as
    the best economists.

    • Kekedu

      Why wait? Please wait for nobody… just go ahead and develop ‘Biafra’.

  • Mystic mallam

    The cardinal error of the Buhari/Osinbajo efforts in the ND is the assumption that they know what the problems of the region are. They assume it is a question of infrastructure development and job creation for the youths of the place. But they are wrong. Such paternalistic assumptions do not even come close to addressing the real needs of the Niger Delta. From before Isaac Adaka Boro throught o Ken Saro-Wiwa and the Kaiama Declaration, the people of the ND have left no one in doubt concerning their hearts’ desire – fiscal federalism or resource control. Any other solution foisted on them is not only patronising and paternalistic, it will amount to nothing other than kicking the dirty can down the road. If you suppress the present NDA with Crocodiles smiling, another generation of youths will arise with a more vicious version of militancy because issues of self-determination, limited or total, are generational issues that cannot be wiped away until the spirit of freedom is finally assuaged. So, Mr. Buhari, give the ND people what they want not what you decide is good for them. The people of the ND are adults, they can think for themselves, they can develop themselves and their own environment, they don’t need your patronage or your advice to build up their infrastructure if they have control of their God-given assets. Stop patronising them, you are not their father, and if they need a paternal adviser, you may not qualify to be the one, simply because you have forever been their oppressor even if they are only realising that so belatedly.

  • Osanebi Osakuni

    The beginning of the fear of threat to budget 2017 is the beginning of wisdom. Has Buhari accepted the demands of Niger Delta? The items on the documents weren’t about infrastructures alone. Didn’t Osibanjo and Buhari know about these injustices before demanding for dialogue? What then were the reasons for all the failed ‘operation XYZ’? Let the Daura illiterate go to sleep after this jamboree and there will no longer warnings before the pipelines start rupturing. The days ahead will tell the story

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  • Christopher Adodo

    Well said, then “let justice rain”.

  • Nwaizu Ikechukwu Bruno

    Egbema, Ohaji, since 1960 till date. NNPC and Central Bank intervention fund dey for Lagos, Benin, Kaduna, Warri, Portharcourt, Abuja. Kai wey the Yamiri land, oh yes a piggery on Owerri-Portharcourt Road. Hm! No dialogue kwo Oga Buhari. Abeg Da-Allah reason.

  • UYI111

    How can a malam like buhari know what is good for the ND when he don’t even knows what is good for his little household ?
    We want confederacy or fiscal federalism nothing else is worth talking about anymore the ND has been too patience all through the years all they got was death and the arrogance of the imbecile FOOLANI BURN TO RUST !