By Daniel Idonor
ABUJAâ€”ACTING President, Goodluck Jonathan yesterday rose from a stakeholders meeting on the Federal Government intervention programme for the Niger-Delta, with an approval for the release of N19 billion for the reclamation of lands in areas that have hitherto been washed away into the ocean.
The spokesman for the Acting President, Mr Ima Niboro, made the disclosure at the end of the meeting, which attracted Niger-Delta Governors and the Special Adviser to the President on Niger-Delta Affairs, Chief Timi Alaibe.
He further said the Acting President also directed that consideration for the communities to be protected should not have any political undertone; stressing that it should be those communities that are seriously affected because many communities had lost most of their land to water.
The governors include Dr Emmanuel Uduaghan of Delta, Godswill Apkabio of Akwa-Ibom, Timipreye Sylva of Bayelsa, Rotimi Amaechi of Rivers and Olusegun Mimiko of Ondo who was represented by his deputy, while Comrade Adams Oshoihmole of Edo State, however, arrived after the meeting had ended.
Project part of amnesty
The project which starts off immediately is part of the amnesty programme which encompasses massive infrastructural development of the Niger-Delta signed into law by ailing President Umaru Yarâ€™Adua.
The fund is being sourced directly from the special intervention fund that was earlier approved for the dredging of the lower Niger River but stakeholders agreed that the funds be used for the reclamation of lands which ought to come first before the dredging.
â€œSo instead of using it to dredge now which will cause greater challenges, you know when dredged, the water channels becomes deeper, flows becomes faster and it will actually impact more on the shores of the communities.
â€œSo that fund would be redeployed to protect the shoreline according to the request of the communities. We had a meeting last week and the governors were mandated to go seek the opinion of the communities what exactly is there requirement and this is exactly their consensusâ€, Niboro said.