By Emmanuel Obisue
President Muhammadu Buhari has enjoined stakeholders in the Niger Delta region to engage their minds on various issues that will foster growth, and promote peace and security.
A statement made available on Thursday by Deworitshe Patricia, Director of Press and Public Relations in the Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs, informed that the president made the call during the opening ceremony of the 5th National Council on Niger Delta region in Uyo, Akwa Ibom State.
While declaring the meeting open, president Buhari who was represented by the Minister of Environment, Mohammed Abdullahi, reiterated the government’s efforts and commitments to addressing the challenges of underdevelopment and insecurity in the Niger Delta region, by evolving different programmes to address the diverse needs of stakeholders in the region.
Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Umana Okon Umana, in his keynote address, reassured Nigerians of the Federal Government’s unwavering commitment to fast-track the transformation of the Niger Delta region.
Anchoring on the theme, ‘Harnessing 21st Century Development Initiatives as Strategies for Greater Developmental Impacts in the Niger Delta,’ the minister said it was “an apt focus on the commanding imperatives of new strategies, fresh ideas with which to chart a pathway to the development paradigm that can more effectively address persistent problems that have so far defied traditional solutions”.
“The Ministry is responding to the urgent need of developmental strategies that can help the Federal Government to reposition the Niger Delta region for a better economic standing with regards to infrastructure, healthcare, manpower development and security.
“The theme of this year’s conference speaks clearly on why the Ministry was established: to drive Federal Government’s development plan for the region through the formulation of realistic policies and practical programmes that can be efficiently implemented to better the lots of the people of the region,” he noted.
Umana added that the quick deliverables within the mandate of the ministry for the feasible transformation of the region embarked upon include and are not limited to:
“Harmonise and coordinate the implementation of the Niger Delta Action Plan, the Niger Delta Regional Development Master Plan and other relevant plans and programmes to encourage rapid socio-economic development of the region.
“Supervise and control the activities of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC).
“Actively partnering and collaborating with other relevant agencies, development partners, International Oil Companies (IOCs) and other stakeholders on infrastructure development, investment in social services and institutional capacity for the region”.
Also speaking at the event, Governor of Akwa Ibom State, Udom Emmanuel represented by the Secretary of the State Government, Dr Emmanuel Ekanem expressed optimism that the collaboration and synergy between the state and the Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs would deepen developmental strides already achieved and expand them further.
“I am however hopeful that going forward and based on the numerous memoranda of engagements that this meeting, which started last Monday may have produced, will signpost new vistas of collaborations and engagements with member states of the commission and ministry,” he noted.