#NDNewVision: We are making progress in the Niger Delta – Vice President Osinbajo

President Muhammadu Buhari administration would continue to make efforts towards the development of the Niger Delta region through its New Vision, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, SAN, has said.

The VP said this during an interview he granted a group of journalists and social media practitioners in Lagos State, over the weekend.

The Federal Government’s Niger Delta New Vision is designed to “develop a new and prosperous Niger Delta through the forthright partnerships between the Federal Government, State Governments, Private Sector and Local Communities.”

The New Vision for the Niger Delta was birthed following the President’s meeting with Niger Delta leaders under the aegis of Pan-Niger Delta Forum, PANDEF, in November 2016. On behalf of the President, Vice President Osinbajo, undertook a tour of the oil producing communities.

Giving an update on the progress of the FG’s Niger Delta New Vision, the VP noted that the take-off of the Maritime University, modular refineries and the Ogoni clean- up efforts were indicators of the Buhari administration’s commitment to develop the region.

The Vice President also said the administration was continuing it engagement with all the groups in the Niger Delta to ensure continued peace and stability in the oil-rich region.

Below are the excerpts of the interview:

Q: Crude oil as the main driver of the economy, and FG dialogue with groups in the Niger Delta region.

Vice President: First of all, the dialogue started in 2016 and it continues. We began to dialogue with all the groups in the Niger Delta and we hold very regular meetings with PANDEF, which is the umbrella body. We also hold regular meetings with many of the groups in the Niger Delta and they are all actively involved with us.

I don’t know whether you are familiar with the Maritime University. The Maritime University has taken off, you know. Only a few days ago, the announcement was made that they are eligible for JAMB (the University was recently granted approval by the National Universities Commission (NUC) to commence undergraduate degree programmes effective from the 2017/2018 academic session). Interviews are taking place for the Maritime University, forms have been provided and we are talking to all of the principal parties in that zone who are interested in the work the Maritime University is doing. Many people are involved in that process. That is the kind of thing we are talking about to provide the kind of facility to help people in the Niger Delta, especially in Maritime University.

Also, look at modular refineries, 38 licensed modular refineries investors have indicated interests (10 of the licensed refineries are at an advanced stage of development). One, of course, has started in Bayelsa; another is being shipped in at the moment. There are about three or four different engagements with modular refineries operators. So we are putting that together, and one of the critical things with modular refineries is that we are trying to ensure that, first of all, it is private-sector driven. Government has to provide the licenses, but also there is community involvement; communities also have a stake in the modular refineries. So we are doing that as well. We are working very hard on that.

Q: Alleged claims that PANDEF leader said FG isn’t doing anything in the region.

Vice President: I don’t know when Chief Clark made that statement. I think that, by and large, all of what I’m saying is being done.  It is obvious for everyone to see. I’ve no real problem demonstrating this, but as a matter of fact, if you look on our website, on the all of the Niger Delta issues, we have almost a blow-by-blow account of what we are doing, including the Ogoni clean up.

I think there is a lot going on. You can’t address all of the problems at once. We have provided plenty of information. We have Inter-ministerial meetings where the different stakeholders meet constantly with leaders of the Niger Delta. I think you can imagine development is something that no one can be completely satisfied with at any point in time; that’s why it’s called development.