The Federal government’s Niger Delta New Vision will create a future of success and prosperity for the region.
Senior Special Assistant to the President in Charge of the Niger Delta, Mr. Edobor Iyamu, stated this on Wednesday, June 27, in his opening remarks at a one-day capacity-building workshop with the theme: “Niger Delta New Vision: Partnership for regional development & Nation-building”, for the media, Civil Society Organizations and staff of Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) at the State House Auditorium, Abuja.
Edobor traced the conceptualization of the Niger Delta New Vision to the presentation of the 16-point Agenda of the Pan-Niger Delta Forum, PANDEF, to the Presidency in 2016, which government responded to through the formulation of its 20-point Agenda.
It would be recalled that in November, 2016, in a move to address concerns in the region and see to its development, President Muhammadu Buhari held a meeting with Niger Delta leaders under the aegis of Pan-Niger Delta Forum, PANDEF. PANDEF made a 16-point demand to the Federal Government which was subsequently captured in the FG’s 20-point agenda to develop the region.
Also, following that meeting with elders in the region, in 2017, on behalf of the President, the Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, SAN, undertook a tour of oil producing communities in the region. The Buhari administration’s New Vision for the Niger Delta was, thus, birthed.
According to Mr. Iyamu, the Niger Delta New vision was “designed to promote development in the region through a forthright partnership between the federal government, state government, private sector and local community.”
He said the New Vision was also designed to positively change the narrative of failed promises and abandoned projects and creates a future of success and prosperity which the people of the region so earnestly deserve.
He highlighted some of the achievements recorded since government started the implementation of the New Vision, including the establishment of the Maritime University, the Ogoni clean-up and the construction of modular refineries in the region.
Iyamu said academic activities commenced at the Maritime University, Okerenkoko, Delta State, on the 12th March, 2018 with the intake of 338 freshmen and with three faculties – transport, engineering and environmental management.
He said that prequalification process has been completed for the Ogoni cleanup while the technical and commercial bid was ongoing in line with Nigeria’s extant laws.
On the modular refineries, he said that two modular refineries have obtained licences and have since commenced construction work, explaining that one of them was about 70% completion in Kwale, Delta State while the other is in Rivers State.
Other interventions made through the Niger Delta New Vision, according to Iyamu, were gas commercialization to address the issue of gas flare, increased budgetary allocations and designing of the Strategic Implementation Work Plan, SIWP, for effective implementation of the new vision.
He said the workshop was organized to inform stakeholders of the what government was doing to promote development in the Niger Delta, to get feedback from stakeholders on how to implement the vision better and to solicit for the cooperation and partnership in the area of information dissemination in relation to the region.
Giving an overview on the SIWP, the Special Adviser on Niger Delta Affairs to the Honourable Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Mr. Charles Achodo, said that an analysis of the 16-point Agenda presented by the PANDEF to the Presidency categorized the demands into three broad areas.
These were political, which focused on the issue of resource control; security, tied to the issues about how to secure the region; and developmental, dealing with environmental degradation, modular refineries and infrastructure.
Achodo said that government responded to the PANDEF 16-Point Agenda by formulating its 20-Point Agenda, bringing out specific activities and targeting particular goals for the Niger Delta.
He said Vice President Yemi Osinbajo’s engagements with stakeholders and community leaders during his tours of the Niger Delta Region last year yielded positive results.
According to Achodo, work on the SIWP has shown that there were several agencies working in the region without any result, requiring that a different approach be used in tackling the challenges in the Niger Delta.
One of the facilitators, Pamela Braide delivered a paper on communicating the SWIP to stakeholders in the Niger Delta.
She said the current situation shows that there is lack of clarity, distrust and cynicism about the intentions of government in the Niger Delta New Vision.
She said communicating the Niger Delta New Vision should be well planned and must combine the traditional and new media to reach the people of the region.
Braide said MOUs signed with governments of the states in the Niger Delta must be communicated properly while the SWIP must be broken down to enable people to understand it well.
In her presentation, the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Infrastructure, Imeh Okon, said the key to what government was doing in the Niger Delta was to complete all abandoned projects in the region.
She said government was working to ensure that all projects with strategic developmental impact were completed.
Each session has robust engagements that participants said would further boost the implementation of key initiatives under the New Vision for the Niger Delta region.
The Special Assistant to the President Communication Projects/ Niger Delta, Arukaino Umukoro, also made a presentation on the Niger Delta New Vision website, which he noted was a part of the overall communication strategy of the New Vision.
He urged participants to visit the website for information on the activities on the Niger Delta New Vision.
Participants at the workshop were drawn from the media, government agencies and civil society organizations, where there were breakout sessions for the media, and MDAs and CSOs, which focused specifically on their roles and contributions to the region’s development and nation building.
Facilitators at the workshop include; the Special Assistant to the President on Digital & New Media, and Head of the Presidency Office of Digital Engagement (PODE), Tolu Ogunlesi; the Executive Director of We the People- Centre for Social Studies and Development, Ken Henshaw; the Head of Media & Campaigns, Environmental Rights Action (ERA) /Friends of the Earth Nigeria, Philip Jakpor and ICT consultant, Dayo Ibitoye.