The Honourable Minister, Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs (MNDA), Sen. Godswill Akpabio, CON, has reiterated the commitment of the Federal Government in ensuring that peace and security is maintained in the Niger Delta region despite the turbulence presently experienced in the country.
The Minister stated this when he received in audience the Ambassador of the United States of America to Nigeria, Her Excellency, Ambassador Marybeth Leonard, who came on a courtesy visit to his office in Abuja on Tuesday 11TH May, 2021.
According to the Minister, in a bid to live up to the President’s mandate, the Ministry is engaging stakeholders and youths of the region through Community Development Education and Empowerment programmes geared towards promoting the well being of the people and sustenance of peace and development of the region.
“As at today, there are very difficult challenges in the Niger Delta region but the Niger Delta region is the most peaceful, the Ministry is mandated by the President to work very hard to ensure that peace remains in the region….we are working very hard, we are engaging stakeholders and the youths to maintain peaceful atmosphere and consistent development”.
He stated that despite the fact that the Niger Delta region in the recent times had experienced infiltrations due to agitations from the South Eastern and Northern Zones, the Ministry is determined to find a lasting solution that will give stability to the region.
The Minister commented that with the inauguration of the Forensic Auditors charged with scrutinizing the operations of the NDDC and embarking on a holistic examination of activities of the NDDC from inception in 2009 to August 2019 in order to check corruption and reposition the Agency, contractors has gone back to site out of fear and the Ministry has completed over 75 road construction projects and others, awaiting commissioning.
MNDA Boss stated that it is in the interest of the global community for Nigeria to remain peaceful to avoid multiple negative effects that will affect the socio-economic wellbeing and structure of other countries.
Akpabio further stated that, to transform the Niger Delta region, United States’ assistance is needed, informing the Ambassador that a Web- Based Monitoring System has recently been developed by the Ministry to ensure that infrastructure provided by International Oil Companies (IOCs), Donor Agencies and other development partners are projects needed by the people.
He solicited the assistance of the U.S. in the area of the two master Plans (Ministry’s Regional Plan and the NDDC Action Plan for development of the Niger Delta Region) in order to facilitate the achievement of a harmonized Niger Delta Master Plan.
In his welcome address, the Permanent Secretary, MNDA, Dr. Babayo Ardo went down memory lane recounting that, the Ministry was established in 2008 by the Late Yar’Adua Administration to address monumental challenges in the Niger Delta region occasioned by oil exploration activities from which environmental degradation, poverty and youth’s agitation had become the order of the day.
Dr. Babayo said “when the two Ministers came on-board in August 2019, they were charged with five deliverable mandates which include, Monitoring all the infrastructural projects in the region at all tiers of Government, co-ordinate and harmonize the Ministry and NDDC ‘Action Plans’, supervise the activities of the NDDC which is also an interventionist agency and also address issues on health, education, social services and agriculture.
Earlier the United States Ambassador to Nigeria, Mary Beth Leonard, congratulated the Ministers and officials of the Ministry on the recent completion and commissioning of the NDDC Headquarters in Port-Harcourt, Rivers State.
The US Ambassador while appreciating the various areas of endeavors of the Ministry as outlined by the Ministry, the Ambassador noted that she is aware that the Ministry had come up with a road map that was supposed to guide the development activities of the Ministry for 2020 which unfortunately was disrupted by the outbreak of the Global Pandemic of Covid-19.
“Considering the issue of security challenges within the region, we look forward to the revised timetable of activities of the Ministry and the NDDC Roadmap becoming a reality in reaching all important goals of development and the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) passed into law for the benefit of the population in the Niger Delta region”, she added.