The Minister, Ministry of Niger Delta affairs, Senator Godswill Akpabio has reiterated that President Muhammadu Buhari is determined to change the story of the Niger Delta Region from having to bear decades of decay in infrastructures to that of access to services and infrastructural development.
A statement by the Ministry’s Director, Press and Public Relations, Patricia Deworitshe, on Thursday said Senator Akpabio stated when he met with the Charge ‘d’ Affaires of the Embassy of Ireland to Nigeria Mr. Conor Finn in Abuja.
The Minister noted that the people of the Niger Delta region have had to bear with strive violence and deprivation since 1956 when oil was first discovered in Oloibiri Bayelsa State.
The former Akwa Ibom Governor said pollution in most areas is so serious that it destroys aquatic life, which should be a source of livelihood for the people, noting that what led to Militancy was the attitude and method of operations adopted by the international oil companies (IOC’S).
He said the IOC’S displayed insensitivity and lack of corporate social responsibility, which led to the people being side-lined.
“The present administration even when working under very difficult circumstances is doing everything to alleviate the peoples suffering and the first thing that must change is the attitude, not just of the IOC’S, but also of the people because they are part of the problem. So there must be a change of attitude from that of receiving tokenism to that of insisting on access to development and services.”
Earlier, the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs (MNDA) Dr. Babayo Ardo who posited the historical perspective of the Ministry, said the Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs was established in 2008 by Late President Musa Yar’ Adua basically as an interventionist ministry to enhance the development strides in the Niger Delta Region.
According to him, since the assumption of office by the Hon. Minister, Senator Godswill Akpabio, all efforts have been directed to ensure that the mandate of the Ministry is not only realized through effective coordination and harmonization of the action plans and there should be synergy in the activities of Stakeholders in realizing development in the region.
He said: “we are working together to actualize all the deliverables particularly in the areas of women empowerment initiatives, skill acquisition by youths to provide basic skills and means of livelihood for that segment of the population. The completion of 346km East-West Road is our priority and other projects that have been completed are slated for commissioning soon.
The Minister who has also been on the front line of engaging stakeholders in ensuring sustainable peace within the region said things are definitely going to change to move the region forward, we are also ready to partner with people like you and organisations that believes strongly in human capacity development.
The Charge d’ Affaires of the Embassy of Ireland to Nigeria, Mr. Conor Finn in his remarks commended the Minister and his team for the ongoing efforts at repositioning the Niger Delta and curbing extremism within the region.
He assured that the Irish will continue to partner with the Ministry to provide sustainable development for the region and the country as a whole stressing the need to improve services and infrastructure.
Reaffirming the Irish partnership, Reverend Father Kevin O’ Hara said he has great hope in the Minister having seen what he did in Akwa Ibom State, he believes he will actualize more as the Niger Delta Minister, adding that Stakeholders Alliance for Corporate Accountability (SACA) is here to improve the standard of living of the people in the region.
He, therefore, sought for areas that the Irish government can key in to help the region to make a little difference in the Niger Delta region.