Vice President Yemi Osinbajo Monday reaffirmed Federal Government’s focus on the implementation of Niger Delta Master Plan to drive development of the region.
Osinbajo at the inaugural meeting of Partners for Sustainable Development Forum organised by Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), in Port Harcourt said President Muhammadu Buhari had also expressed concern with current degradation of the environment with a view to addressing challenges faced by the region.
“Niger Delta remains a priority of the President Muhammadu Buhari-led APC government with a view to attending to current devastation and environmental degradation in the region.
“The federal government will give NDDC all necessary assistance and support to achieve its mandate of ensuring rapid and sustainable development of the region.
“For meaningful and sustainable development to take place in the region, citizens and stakeholders must be peaceful while curbing militancy and eliminating terrorism”, he said.
Osinbajo, represented by Adeola Ipaye, the Deputy Chief of Staff in the Presidency, added that Niger Delta, being the world’s third largest wetland, had immense potential to become an agriculture hub.
He said the nation’s over-dependence on crude oil was partly responsible for “redundant human resource base and high level of corruption.”
According to him, there has to be a major shift from dependence on oil to agricultural production which will assist job creation and encourage development of the manufacturing sector.
The Vice President assured that on going clean up of several years of un-addressed oil pollution in Ogoni area of Rivers and other communities in the region would be completed.
Managing Director of NDDC, Bassey Dan-Abia said poor funding was a major challenge facing the commission.
He explained that the commission was an intervention agency, not an alternate government, as widely held by some people.
“Youths should reduce the level of restiveness because NDDC does not have the capacity to solve all their problems.
“Restiveness and tension caused by some youths in the region clearly have direct negative impact on the development of the region”, he said.
Dan-Abia called on the Nigeria Liquefied Natural Gas Company (NLNG) to commence payment of its own contribution to funding of the commission.
According to him, this is based on the fact that NLNG falls within the oil and gas producing companies within the Niger Delta.