By Jimitota Onoyume
PORT HARCOUT â€” FOR the amnesty for militants in the Niger Delta region to be meaningful, the Federal Government has been urged to make it go hand-in-hand with develop-mental programmes for the region as failure to take practical steps towards addressing challenges of underdevelopment and poverty in the Niger-Delta could further deepen conflicts and crisis situations being witnessed in the region.
A clergy, Mr.Â Jones Erue who spoke in Port Harcourt, blamed the deplorable state of the region on lack of political will to do what is right.
He urged President Yar’Adua to demonstrate the necessary political will to tackle challenges of underde-velopment in the region, noting that failure to do this will make nonsense of the presidential amnesty.
Erue, who is also President, Global Peace and Relief Initiative, a non- governmen-tal organisation, also called for creation of massive job opportunities in the region with the development of a functional agro-industrial complex to productively engage the youths.
According to him, agro-industrial complex is a major employer of labour.
â€œThe oil and gas companies should establish industrial develop-ment funds, where oil and gas bearing communities can partner with them to establish SMES, using locally sourced raw materials which include:Â palm oil, cassava, sharp sand and timber.
â€œConceive and develop a functional agro-industrial complex. A well developed agro-industrial complex will be the greatest employer of labour,â€ adding that the government should properly fund interventionist agencies like the Niger Delta Development CommissionÂ and the newly established Niger Delta Ministry.
Erue also appealed to multinational oil firms and other related companies in the region to set up an industrial development fund to assist those in oil bearing communities in small scale ventures.