Niger Delta stakeholders have called on President Bola Tinubu to increase funding for the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) and Niger Delta Affairs Ministry.
The two demands form the major components of wish lists they want the President to attend to this year in the interest of the Niger Delta and the nation in general.
Others include restructuring of the country, the establishment of Federal Oil and Gas Facilities Protection and Enforcement Authority (FOGFPEA) and modular refineries; completion of the East-West Road and commencement of a coastal road linking the region and Lagos; reduction of prices of petroleum products, appointment of a Niger Delta indigene as substantive Minister of Petroleum, adequate funding of Niger Delta Affairs Ministry and a review of the Presidential Amnesty Programme (PAP).
The stakeholders are the Pan-Niger Delta Forum (PANDEF), Itsekiri Leaders of Thought (ILoT), Future Nigeria Movement (FNM) , the Movement for the Survival of the Izon Ethnic Nationality in the Niger Delta (MOSIEND), and Isoko Development Union (IDU).
A former Deputy Inspector-General of Police (DIG), Udom Ekpoudom, former National Vice-Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (Southsouth) Edet Nkpubre and erstwhile Speaker of the Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly, Bassey Essien toed the same line with the groups.
PANDEF, according to its Publicity Secretary. Ken Robinson, particularly wants the “deplorable condition” of federal roads to be tackled and modular refineries set up to engage unemployed youths in crude oil refining.
The group recalled that in 2017, former Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo promised a presidential initiative for the establishment of a modular refinery.
PANDEF said: “There should be a presidential initiative for modular refineries to take care of our unemployed youths. This will solve youths’ restiveness and unemployment.
“Aside from the above, President Tinubu should pay attention to the economic well-being of the people of the Niger Delta by resuscitating the badly managed ports, including those in Calabar, Onne, Koko, Warri and Port Harcourt.”
ILoT wants the Tinubu administration to enhance security in the Southsouth, complete the East/ West Road, commence the construction of a coastal road project linking Lagos and the Niger Delta as well as end environmental pollution in the region.
The group, through its National Publicity Secretary, Amorighoye Mene, praised the President for the policies already in place, adding that they have led to increased oil production.
It said: “Previous governments have not done much in building critical infrastructure such as roads, schools and health facilities in the region, which is a major reason for restiveness in the region.
“The coastal road should be put on the front burner. We hope it will pass through Delta State. Although we have not seen the masterplan, we sincerely hope as Itsekiri people, that the Coastal Road project links Delta state through the Koko- Ogheye axis to the Ibeju- Lekki industrial hub so we can benefit from the growth potentials of that corridor in Lagos state.”
Also, FNM appealed to the President to set up a Federal Oil and Gas Facilities Protection and Enforcement Authority (FOGFPEA) to eliminate oil theft.
Its Leader, Livingstone Wechie, said that if established, FOGFPEA would result in a community approach to the protection of oil facilities.
He said: “It is strongly recommended that the Tinubu administration should urgently set up a Federal Oil and Gas Facilities Protection and Enforcement Authority (FOGFPEA).
“This should be staffed by capable locals with special training and armed with the skills to protect oil and gas facilities across the country to guarantee maximum production in that sector, which is the lifewire of the nation’s economy. It will fully contain the teething problems of oil and gas theft and promote accountability in that sector.
“Mr. President, in keeping with his renewed hope agenda, should come up with a national policy to place a travel ban on himself and other appointees including elected officials.
“All foreign engagements by the federal government should be designated and delegated to Nigerian diplomatic and Consular Agents abroad. This will impact positively on the economic recovery plan.
“Mr President should review his security management plan by ensuring that those who have turned insurgency merchants should be brought to justice.
“The President should be more intentional in stimulating Nigeria’s economy. The economic environment should be liberalised to give room for a new army of entrepreneurs. Government should open the window to encourage citizens’ innovation so great ideas do not die from bottlenecks and lack of incentives.
“There should be a deliberate actionable policy and program of the government to fully support Artisan Refineries in the Niger Delta. We must grow an organic economy where citizens are supported to be involved and become contributors to the economic development of Nigeria.”
MOSIEND also called on Tinubu to do more in funding the Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs (MNDA) and prioritising prompt payment of the outstanding arrears of NDDC.
National President of MOSIEND, Kennedy Tonjo-West, also tasked President Tinubu to site more developmental projects in the Niger Delta.
He implored the Federal Government to take over the Nigeria Port Authority (NPA) Port Harcourt terminals in the region since they are not creating the desired employment and economic progress required like the Tincan and Apapa Ports in Lagos State.
Tonjo-West said: “We commend the Mr President for listening to the people of the Niger Delta by constituting the NDDC Board and the quality of professionals he appointed — they all understand the pains and sufferings of the people, especially the oil-bearing communities. They have been engaging with critical stakeholders to find collective and sustainable solutions that will improve the standards of living of the people, at least better than the previous government.
“Our agenda and expectations are simple and shouldn’t take Mr President time to implement and write his name on the sands of time. We recommend that Mr President make the Minister of State for Petroleum as the substantive Minister of Petroleum Resources for better productivity and performance.
“However, if he wants to show that his decision to be the Petroleum Minister is for a sincere and honest purpose, he should as well make himself the Minister of Mines and Steel in order to identify and uncover the humongous corruption in the ministry.
“We expect Mr President to adequately fund the Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs, prompt payment of the outstanding areas owed the NDDC to enable it to meet the developmental needs of the people of the region.”
The MOSIEND boss urged Mr President to demonstrate his willingness to end illegal bunkering by issuing licences to locals who had indicated an interest in the modular refinery and site more projects in the littoral areas of the region.
He added: “Mr President should instruct the department keeping the monies paid by companies that violate gas flares law causing hazards to the people of the oil-producing communities to immediately release such to the communities.
“We want Mr President to direct an upward review of the budget of the Presidential Amnesty Programme (PAP) as the programme has suffered a huge setback as some former administrators of the programme intentionally stifled the scheme with funds because of their desperate dispositions to shut down the programme at all costs.”
Also, the people of Isoko Nation called on President Tinubu to tackle health, education and energy infrastructural challenges in their area.
The President-General of Isoko Development Union (IDU), Prof. Chris Akpotu, said his people desired improved standard of living, stable power supply as well as better health and education facilities
He said: “I can tell you that our expectations are high, especially when we reflect on the current hardship all over the place, the standard of living falling on a daily basis.
“We look forward to a government that will be able to operationalise her policies and strategies to the extent that people will begin to have some relief, people will have a reason to be Nigerians. That is what we look forward to as Isoko people.
“Our expectations are not far from what every other person is expecting because the economy is actually biting beyond measure.
“Aside from improvement in the standard of living, we are equally looking forward to infrastructural development, especially in the area of health facilities and educational facilities in our schools.
“We are bothered about the state of blackout. In order words, we are interested in seeing energy improved upon. However, the Isoko people have already come up with an initiative of how they can capitalize on the deregulation of the energy sector to possibly have an alternative source of energy.”
“Because once we have that in place, our economy would have been properly triggered to the extent that people become much more engaged in economic activities beyond what it is now.”
Former DIG Ekpoudom, an ex-PDP leader in the Southsouth, Nkpubre, and one-time Speaker Essien advocated restructuring.
They said that human and infrastructural development of the Niger Delta would be boosted if the region is allowed to control its oil resources by way of fiscal federalism.
Ekpoudom said: “I recall that the President as governor of Lagos State had always called for the restructuring of the country. He is a strong believer in true federalism which allows states to control their resources and contribute a quota to the centre.
“As President, he now has the opportunity to match words with action so that states in the Niger Delta can use their God-given endowments to develop themselves and provide meaningful standards for themselves”.
Nkpubre regretted that many federal projects in the region had not been completed due to inadequate funding . .
He lamented that a section of East-West road in Oron Akwa State remained uncompleted many years after it was awarded.(THE NATION)