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Niger Delta – Unfair Fair

EFFORTS  at redeeming the damage done to the Niger Delta region are increasingly becoming facades, charades and circuses – government actions consistently fail to match the intent of those acclaimed efforts.

The activities of the Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs, starting from the location of its headquarters in Abuja, rather than the ravaged Niger Delta, serve as premium examples of how the Federal Government develops the Niger Delta with words.

From today, the Ministry begins a multi-million Naira project it tagged Job Creation Fair/Training Expo 2009. The main disaster around this project is that it would be held at the International Conference Centre, Abuja.

The choice of a venue outside the Niger Delta region instantly exposes the fair as a show. It denies the peoples of the oil producing areas participation in this important programme.

How could Chief Ufot J. Ekaette, and Elder Godwin Orubebe, the two Ministers of the Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs, both from the Niger Delta, host the training fair outside the capitals of the nine Niger Delta States? Are there no suitable facilities in those States to hold a job training fair that was for the ordinary people? Why hold it at a location they cannot access?

According to the Ministry, the fair and expo would train participants in oil and gas, information and communication technology, artisanship, agriculture, journalism, public relations, soft skills, maritime/dredging, civil and mechanical engineering, tourism, entertainment, sports and telecommunications.

Noble thoughts had gone into planning this fair, but definitively, the fair was never for the benefit of the peoples of the Niger Delta.

Where are the job seekers supposed to get money to travel to Abuja for the job creation fair? Is the Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs aware of the level of poverty in the region? What type of facilities were required for this job creation fair that are not in Akure, Asaba, Benin City, Calabar (Tinapa), Owerri, Port Hacourt, Umuahia, Uyo, and Yenagoa?

For the class of people the fair targets, it would have been necessary to stage the fair at state levels, if taking it round the local government areas would not have been feasible. To have invited unemployed people to Abuja for job training is totally a negation of moves to bring governance nearer to the people, or a ploy to exclude Niger Delta peoples from the fair.

It is important the Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs retraces its steps from wasteful projects like this fair. They add nothing, except more poverty, to supposed beneficiaries. The headquarters of the Ministry should also move to the Niger Delta for effectiveness.

Who would the Ministry train today? Where are the trainees from? They are not likely to be from the States of the Niger Delta.

The future of the Niger Delta and Nigeria are linked. The leadership of the Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs must show deeper appreciation of the issues, instead of frittering away the meagre resources it should use to develop the areas.


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