Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Mr Umana Okon Umana, has reassured Nigerians of the Federal Government’s unwavering commitment to fast-track the transformation of the Niger Delta region.
Umana committed in a keynote address at the opening ceremony of the 5th National Council on Niger Delta region in Uyo. Anchored on the theme, ‘Harnessing 21st Century Development Initiatives as Strategies for Greater Developmental Impacts in the Niger Delta,’ the annual meeting was held in Uyo, Akwa Ibom state.
The Minister described the theme of the conference as “an apt focus on the commanding imperatives of new strategies, fresh ideas with which to chart a pathway to the development paradigm that can more effectively address persistent problems that have so far defied traditional solutions.”
Umana stated that “the Ministry is responding to the urgent need of developmental strategies that can help the Federal Government to reposition the Niger Delta region for a better economic standing with regards to infrastructure, healthcare, manpower development and security,” adding,
“The theme of this year’s conference speaks clearly on why the Ministry was established: to drive Federal Government’s development plan for the region through the formulation of realistic policies and practical programmes that can be efficiently implemented to better the lots of the people of the region”.
The quick deliverables within the mandate of the Ministry for the feasible transformation of the region embarked upon by the Ministry include and are not limited to:
Ø Harmonise and coordinate the implementation of the Niger Delta Action Plan, the Niger Delta Regional Development Master Plan and other relevant plans and programmes to encourage rapid socio-economic development of the region.
Ø Supervise and control the activities of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC).
Ø Actively partnering and collaborating with other relevant agencies, development partners, International Oil Companies (IOCs) and other stakeholders on infrastructure development, investment in social services and institutional capacity for the region.
He revealed the Ministry’s commendable progress made in the areas such as repositioning the NDDC to achieve its core mandate and the submission of the forensic audit report to the President as the white paper is awaited among others.
While declaring the meeting open, President Muhammadu Buhari, who was represented by the Minister of Environment, Mohammed Abdullahi, reiterated the government’s efforts and commitments to addressing the challenges of underdevelopment and insecurity in the Niger Delta region by evolving different programmes to address the diverse needs of stakeholders in the region.
He enjoined the stakeholders and participants to engage their minds on various issues that will foster growth and promote peace and security in the region.
Speaking at the event, the Governor of Akwa Ibom State, Mr Udom Emmanuel represented by the Secretary of the State Government (SSG), Dr Emmanuel Ekanem expressed optimism that the collaboration and synergy between the state and the Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs would deepen developmental strides already achieved and expand them further.
According to him, “I am however hopeful that going forward and based on the numerous memoranda of engagements that this meeting, which started last Monday may have produced, will signpost new vistas of collaborations and engagements with member states of the commission and ministry”.
In her vote of thanks, the Minister of State, MNDA, Sharon Ikeazor noted that several engagements such as UK Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) have already begun discussions with officials of the ministry to provide funding and technical support in areas of biodiversity conservation, carbon sequestration and trading framework for the region under its UK PACT programme.