The Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Sen. Godswill Akpabio has expressed support for partnering with the private sector towards providing and improving critical infrastructure in the oil-rich Niger Delta region.
He said this would ensure that development strides in the region could change for good and ease the suffering of the people.
Sen. Akpabio stated this when he met with the Executive Members of Petroleum Products Retail Outlets Owners Association of Nigeria (PETROAN), who visited him in Abuja.
In a statement issued by the Ministry’s Director Press and Public Relations, Patricia Deworitshe, the former Akwa Ibom State Governor explained that the flood ravaging the region had made the distribution of petroleum products very difficult, particularly for retailers who may want to access the area.
This, he said, has seriously affected the economy and peace of the region, noting noted that, the idea of Pontoons, floating Stations and Motorized Barges for the distribution of Petroleum and Gas products across the riverine Communities is a welcome development introduced by PETROAN.
The Minister stated that there is an existing government policy on the establishment and provisions of Floating Stations that may have become moribund due to issues of irregular supply and management problem.
According to him, it was important to revisit the policy and look at ways to re-introduce the facilities and facilitate the provision of goods and services to the riverine Communities.
“I think it is something that is do able considering the quantum of funds that have been allocated to the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) as an interventionist agency over the years. We can collaborate to do things in this regard that would improve the economy and foster infrastructural development of the region.
“It is in line with this that the Federal Government has ordered the release of over N2 billion for the construction of Eket By-Pass of the East-West road.
“We have had different developmental agencies in the past, but the truth is that, not many changes have occurred in the region, it has only resulted to changes in the pocket of few individuals.
“Consequently, President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration is determined to unravel the situation that lead to the under development of the Niger Delta region by implementing the Forensic Audit report”, he added.
On his part, the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs, Dr. Babayo Ardo, stated that the Ministry is doing everything to ensure that Mr. President’s directives on the completion of the East-West road by December 2021 would be realized.
Dr. Babayo noted that partnership with other private organisations would be a welcome development that will bring to fruition the Minister’s positive intention to deliver other numerous people oriented projects and programmes before the end of his tenure.
Speaking earlier, the National President of the Petroleum Products Retail Outlets Owners Association of Nigeria (PETROAN), Dr. Billy S. Gillis-Harry commended the Minister for his efforts towards the advancement of the Niger Delta region, especially during the early ravaging days of Covid-19 pandemic.
Dr. Billy requested the support of the Ministry, in providing Pontoons, Floating Filling Stations and Motorized Barges to deliver petroleum products to the riverine areas of the Niger Deltans, which according to him will certainly alleviate the massive suffering of the people living and doing business in these areas.