Niger Delta crises: Stakeholders meet in Ondo to strategise on solutions | Nigeria Newspaper- Nigeria News| Naija News

11.9.17

Niger Delta crises: Stakeholders meet in Ondo to strategise on solutions

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IN efforts to tackle the challenges and obstacles to the development of the Niger Delta region, stakeholders held a consultative forum to identify and evolve strategies of overcoming them.
This took place on Friday in Akure at the on-going National Council on Niger Delta (NCND) organised by the Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs, in collaboration with the Ondo State Government.
In his presentation titled: “Security and Amnesty in the Niger Delta” Gen Paul Boroh ( Rtd), Special Adviser to the President on Amnesty, said that the Amnesty Programme was being sustained by the Federal Government to cater to the yearnings of the region, disclosing that Federal Government was committed to exploring new strategies of ensuring peace and security in the region.
He revealed that a lot of “quick impact projects” were being executed by the Amnesty Programme to ensure that the region is safer and conducive for economic growth and development. Though he disclosed that there were more social responsibilities for oil companies.
The Presidential Aide disclosed that the Federal Government was focused on developing the agricultural sector of the region as “it was the nation’s best alternative to oil.”
In his presentation; Environmental Challenges: The Niger Delta Debacle- Ogoni Clean Up and Restoration of Ecosystem, Dr Dekil Marvin, Project Coordinator, Hydrocarbon Pollution Remediation Project (Hyprep) said that oil spillage will be recurring factor in the region as adequate preventive measures have not been put in place by relevant authorities.

Marvin stated that though sabotage and vandalism have been identified and are being tackled as causes of oil spillage in the country, little acknowledgment or attention has been given to equipment or operational failures, as practiced in more developed societies. He stressed that unless drastic measures are taken to curb the trend, the future of the region would be bleak.
He, thereby, urged operators of the oil and gas industry, as well as government agencies to adopt “realistic risk assessment” as well as “the culture of change in safety performance” models in their operations in order to ensure safety in the region.
Mr Bolaji Ogunseye, a Sustainable Development Practitioner, in his presentation titled: “Following the Process, Ensuring the Destination; Moving Niger Delta from Pre-industrial to Wealthy Industrial Society” said that one of the ways of fast-tracking development in the country is ‘revolutionising important sectors of the economy’.
He said that there was need to change the ways things were done in the country if it was serious about being industrialised. According to him, apart from improved infrastructure, the agricultural and educational sectors need to be improved upon as they are vital to national development.
To maximally utilise the agricultural sector, Ogunseye said there was need for widened “product specific research and agronomic innovation as well as the development of afro-allied processing or value-chain investment and capability, locally and with international partnership in the region.”
He also advocated for the provision of a financial base for investment in the manufacturing industry as well as the expansion of the multifaceted service industry in the region.
For improved capacity building, the expert disclosed that there was need for collaboration of universities in the Niger Delta region with educational institutions in more developed societies.
Buttressing the points raised, a participant, Mr Charles Achodo, added that “value-added” agriculture can be used to encourage development in other sectors of the economy.
Mr William Park, a Security expert, in his presentation; “Security: An Inclusive and Collaborative Security strategy of the Niger Delta Region,” identified oil spills, poor means of livelihood and lack of coherent an integrated development plan as the biggest threats to security in the region.
Subsequently, he advocated the practice of an “inclusive security approach” which includes the involvement of stakeholders in the prevention and transformation of violent conflicts in the region.
Park added that efforts should be put by government, oil companies and host communities to develop sustainable industries in the region as this will reduce rural-urban drift and check unemployment with attendant boost on the nation’s economy.
To curb violence in the region, he advised oil companies to always implement provisions of Memorandum of Understanding signed with oil communities in addition to creating employment opportunities. He stressed that all approaches must be based on truth, equity, fairness and inclusiveness.

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