The Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Sen Godswill Akpabio, stated that the Niger Delta region remains the most peaceful region in Nigeria and seeks collaboration with United Nations to maintain peace and development in the Niger Delta region.
Senator Akpabio made this statement when the United Nations, Deputy Secretary-General, Hajia Amina Mohammed, paid a courtesy visit to his office.
The Minister explained that the Ministry is developing a programme “Catch them young” where young people in primary and secondary schools are enlightened on the importance of peace and the dangers of destroying oil installations, which has a serious impact on the ecosystem and the nation’s economy.
He said since the discovery of Crude Oil in the region in 1956, several interventionist agencies had been set up to address the social and environmental degradation of the area, but they all failed to provide the needed succour to the people.
In other to address the situation, the Minister said the present administration decided to set up a forensic auditing process to access and evaluate the achievements that have been made by NDDC in the region since its existence.
According to him, “interim reports of the forensic verification exercise has been revealing. The process has been transparent, we listed 9,080 projects to be considered in the verification process but in less than three months the report so far shows that 12,128 projects have been discovered as abandoned projects with no specific ownership attached to them”
“Most of these abandoned projects have become sanctuaries to criminals. Projects were embarked on without consultations. There was no initial coordination. So, as part of its mandate the Ministry has adopted a program called “Strategic Implementation Work plan” which will coordinate the activities of development partners and stakeholders to prevent duplication of projects in the region,” he added.
Speaking further, the Minister acknowledged that Hajia Mohammed was a frontrunner in championing the course of the Niger Delta region and the Ogoni Clean-up during her tenure as Minister of Environment.
In her response, the United Nations, Deputy Secretary-General, Hajia Amina Mohammed, stated that issues bordering on the Niger Delta region are peculiar to the heart of the UN and would do everything within UN programmes to address all issues of disillusionment in people’s expectations.
She commended the efforts of the Federal Government and the Ministry in the way they have handled the Niger Delta affairs and laid emphasis on the need to maintain peace and stability in the region because without peace there cannot be any meaningful development especially when the aspirations and rights of the people are not recognised.