President Muhammadu Buhari on Friday accepted to implement the 16-point agenda outlined by the Pan-Niger Delta Forum, PANDEF, as minimum preconditions for peace and stability as well as development in the Niger Delta region.
The President, who gave the assurance while addressing stakeholders at the 4th meeting of the National Council on Niger Delta, in Port Harcourt, the Rivers State capital, said the government was ready to implement the 16- point agenda in order to sustain the relative peace in the region.
He noted that the outcome of the Federal Government engagement with elders in the region has provided his administration the opportunity to ascertain the diverse needs of stakeholders in the region and experience some of the critical developmental challenges confronting the people of the region.
Buhari, who was represented by the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Senator Godswill Akpabio at the Council, said that the relative peace in the region was a manifestation of the government’s commitment to implement those concerns expressed by the PANDEF.
According to him, “The government is repositioning the Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC, and the Amnesty Programme to ensure they deliver on their objectives and mandate.”
He disclosed further that the completion of the East-West road, which is a priority project to his administration, has been handed over to the Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs and assured the elders that the project would be delivered by the end of 2021 or early March 2022.
While commending the leaders and youths for the relative peace and security the nation is experiencing in the region, the President admitted that the government was aware of the deplorable state of infrastructure both human and capital in the region.
Buhari said efforts are being made to stem the tide and transform the physical and economic fortunes of the region.
He said, “The on-going forensic audit of NDDC is expected to reposition the Commission and galvanise it towards optimal performance to provide the needed infrastructural and socio-economic development for the people of the Niger Delta Region.
“I am delighted to note that the new leadership in the Ministry has prioritized the implementation of the Harmonization of all Developmental Plans of all Agencies and Development Partners operating in the Niger Delta Region into a single plan as a roadmap to accelerated development of the region.
“As Stakeholders, some of the issues that must engage your minds as you deliberate in this meeting today should relate to economic diversification, fostering economic growth, eradication of extreme poverty, promoting social inclusion, creation of jobs and stemming environmental degradation including climate change in the Region.
“If you are able to achieve these, a significant part of the challenges in the Region would have been resolved.
“I therefore call on all Council Members and Stakeholders to engage constructively as this will afford everyone the opportunity to come together as experts to deal with issues that are of utmost importance to the well-being of the Niger Delta people and largely, the country as a whole.”
Earlier in his welcome address, Akpabio explained that the Executive Council is aimed at achieving optimal utilisation of funds and the provision of landmark infrastructure in the region.
The Minister disclosed that provision has been made in the 2021 budget estimates towards the completion of the East-West Road, which he said was the flagship project of the Ministry.
Akpabio said that countless achievements have been recorded in the region in the area of socio-economic development, capacity development of youths, construction of housing estates, provision of Schools, Hospitals, Electricity and Pipe-borne Water in many Communities.
He assured the leaders that the government is committed to sustaining the gains and even do more to improve the living condition of the people of the region.