By Festus Ahon
UGHELLIâ€”THE Minister of State for Niger Delta, Elder Godsday Orubebe, has said the ministry would soon be relocated to the region, with a view to putting it in a better stead to address the problem of the oil rich Niger Delta.
He also disclosed that state offices of the ministry would be opened for use in all the states of the region before the end of July, 2009.
Orubebe, who spoke during a meeting with the national leadership of Isoko Development Union (IDU) at the weekend in Oleh, Delta State, said the ministry was working closely with national legislators and stakeholders of the region on how to resolve the problems of the region.
He explained that the 2009 budget of the ministry did not meet the expectation of the people of the region because ministers for the ministry had not been appointed at the time the budget was passed.
He, however, assured that the needs of the various oil bearing communities in the region would be considered before making proposal for a more comprehensive and workable budget in 2010.
While reiterating that President Umaru Musa Yarâ€™Adua was genuinely committed to the development of the region, Orubebe urged the people to embrace the amnesty offered by the Federal Government to militants.
He advised Niger Deltans to re-order their thinking, with a view to enthroning peace and held that the people of the region, though blessed with abundant human and natural resources, lacked unity and coordination.
Orubebe expressed the determination of the ministry to make judicious use of funds made available to it and assured that wide consultations would be made with the leadership of the various oil-bearing communities before projects are executed in their areas.
He commended the people of Isoko ethnic nationality for their peaceful disposition and emphasized that absolute peace was all that President Musa Yarâ€™Adua had been clamouring for to enable him embark on massive development of the region.
Earlier in his speech, the President General of the IDU, Elder Peter Ovie Erebi, lamented that the Isoko nation had been neglected over the years in the scheme of things by the federal government, irrespective of the abundant crude oil and other mineral resources that abound in the land and its non-involvement in acts detrimental to national development.
Erebi held that the unrest in the Niger Delta was foisted by decades of neglect in the area and expressed optimism that the federal government, from the indices on ground, meant well for the people of the region.
He called on stakeholders to accept the olive branch now offered by the federal government, saying â€œall hands must be on deck to restore peace to the Niger Delta and work in unity to ensure the success of the federal government towards realizing the elusive development of our communities.â€