A group known as Coalition of Niger Delta Concerned Youths says the government of President Muhammadu Buhari is working to ensure that the demands of the Niger Delta region are met.
Reacting to the claim of the Pan-Niger Delta Forum (PANDEF) that Buhari is against the region, Isaac Eranga, coordinator of group, said the president has interest in the Niger Delta.
PANDEF had cited the suspension of DAAR Communications licence and the suspension of Walter Onnoghen, former chief justice of Nigeria (CJN), to buttress its point
But Ernaga said the claim of the forum is “laughable and nothing short of blind conjecture, especially in the face of facts”.
Eranga said with projects like the Ogoni clean-up and establishment of a maritime university in Delta state, Buhari has shown that he is committed “to develop and reposition the Niger Delta region for a better future.”
“For decades, despite being oil-rich and accounting for a huge percentage of Nigerias oil revenue, the region was given little or no attention in terms of development by successive governments in Nigeria, including under former president Dr. Goodluck Jonathanz who hails from the region,” he said.
“But the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari and Vice President Yemi Osinbajo changed all that with the Niger Delta New Vision, aimed at developing the region.
“No doubt, the Buhari administration is making efforts to ensuring that demands from the region are met.
“While no government is perfect, PANDEF would agree that Buhari administration is backing its political will with efforts to ensure that Niger Delta gets more than their fair share of development.”
The statement further said projects being implemented through the FG’s New Vision “shows commitment of the Buhari government to develop and reposition the Niger Delta region for a better future.”
“In 2016, Vice President Osinbajo went on a tour to the Niger Delta region, meeting with the people and engaging with stakeholders and leaders, including PANDEF, to proffer ways to address the needs of the region. This was unprecedented, and it followed a meeting President Buhari had with PANDEF on the same issue. These robust engagements championed by the President and Vice President was what led to the Niger Delta New Vision to chart a way forward for the regions development. No doubt, the Buhari administration is making efforts to ensuring that demands from the region are met.
“They include the take-off of the Nigeria Maritime University, Okerenkoko, Delta State, the commencement of the Ogoni Clean-up, of which 21 contractors have since moved to site for ongoing remediation works, an unprecedented work of environmental remediation and restoration never undertaken before in Niger Delta communities polluted by past decades of oil spills, and could become a veritable template for the clean-up of the entire region. Also, there is the establishment of modular refineries that will also improve the local economy in communities where they are located.
“What about the Presidential Amnesty Programme, that is still being implemented under the Buhari administration and contributing to the peace and stability in the region? What about the ongoing construction of the Second Niger Bridge that connects states in the South East and the South-South and will increase socio-economic development in the regions, but which before Buharis government, had been an idea merely designed on paper for about 40 years? These facts are in the public domain.
“Also, there is ongoing construction work on the 34-kilometres Bonny-Bodo road, a public-private partnership project, flagged off by Vice President Osinbajo in October 2017. This would connect several major communities in the Niger Delta region, and also boost socio-economic development in the region.
“There are other strategic development efforts being undertaken by Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) of government in partnership with the private sector and IOCs to bring needed interventions in the region, Also, regular engagements on Niger Delta’s development through the New Vision is being driven by the Office of the Vice President, of which CSOs and stakeholders, including PANDEF, have been invited on occasions to participate,” the statement read.