* As Jonathan, 9govs, others set for Post-Amnesty Dialogue
By Okey Ndiribe, Asst. Political Editor
Former finance minister, Dr. Kalu Idika Kalu is proposing what he calls a win-win formula in resolving the under-development problem of the Niger Delta.
Dr. Kalu who is also a former consultant to the World Bank and member of the Niger Delta Technical Committee said in an interview ahead of the Post-Amnesty Dialogue opening tomorrow in Warri, that the formula entails building up the region â€œlike it should beâ€
The Niger Delta is a very important segment ofÂ this country.Â It has been for a long time. I have a win-win formula for the development of the region.Â The win-win scenario is a situation whereby we are trying to get the Niger Delta to be built up like it should be, given the resources coming out of there; given the tremendous potential of the region. By the time you do that you would have been able to remove something likeÂ a heavy anchor weighing down theÂ Nigerian economy, nation and polity. By building up the Niger Delta, you wouldÂ effectively lift up that anchor and the Nigerian economy as a whole would also take off. When this happens, the Niger Delta would win and the Nigerian economy would win. These are the two sides of the situationÂ because all Nigerians have agreed that there has been a lot of injustice and lack of development in the nation as a whole; but particularly so with the Niger Delta. So itâ€™s like you are now trying to killÂ two birds with one stone.
By the time you apply adequate resources to build the infrastructure in the Niger Delta; by the time you build the base of the region on the premise of the agro-mineral resources of the Niger Delta; it would require the entire Nigerian economy to provide consultancy and otherÂ linkages includingÂ infrastructure, power and transport.Â A proper addressing of the issues of the Niger Delta would willy-nilly lead toÂ addressing of issues that have led to the Nigerian economy being tied down.
How would you apply this approach in specific terms to the development of the region.
I cannot speak much now onÂ this matterÂ because in a few days time,Â I shall be deliveringÂ a paper whichÂ shall provide at least 12 different sources of funding.Â My paperÂ shallÂ also address the constraints that have prevented the region from developing.
As a member of the Niger Delta Technical Committee ( NDTC) would you say that the Amnesty Programme reflects the recommendations in your report?
I donâ€™t know what is in the Amnesty Programme. I would describe it as a good beginning. You have to bring about peace;Â then you can begin to address the problems of emergency programmes like the perennialÂ pollution,Â desolation and degradation of the environment.
You have to address the problems of reactivating economic activities. You have to start a programme of rebuilding the infrastructure. You have to provide the proper environment for massive investmentÂ into theÂ agro-alliedÂ sector.Â That is the way you provide the jobs .Â In order for that to happen, infrastructures have to be in place, including transportationÂ and social welfare. You cannot be talking about the amnesty programme alone in our report; it just happens to be an element in our report.
What is your reaction to the view held in some quarters that the Federal Government only appears interested in the Amnesty Programme to the total exclusion of the other aspects of your committeeâ€™s recommendations?
I think that impression is wrong. I can see why some people have that impression. I feel that the Amnesty Programme is a pre-requisite for the implementation of other aspects of the programme.Â I think that President Umar Yarâ€™Adua had underscored the fact that we need to have peace in order toÂ develop the Niger Delta. You cannot just implement the Amnesty ProgrammeÂ and doÂ nothing else. It would be counter-productive and unsustainable.
But it has taken a long time since you submitted your report to the Federal GovernmentÂ and yet no white paper has been issued on it. What do you think is responsible for this?
I am not in government. I agree with what you said that the white paper should have been out by now. We have been pushing for that. I believe that the Federal Government could not have set up the committee without intending to implement its report. I know it has been slow in coming but I believe it would surely come.Â The issuance ofÂ aÂ white paper is the proper and accepted procedure to go about implementing recommendations ofÂ the committeeâ€™s report.
But the refusal on the part of government to implementÂ recommendations ofÂ past committees that were set up to study problems of the region seemed to have been the trend over the years..
Cuts in: We have said theÂ report of our committee is the report of all reports; therefore we cannot let it go the way of the others. We reviewed all the past reports and came out with recommendations. We are insisting that there is absolutely no reason whyÂ there should be another report.
Dr. Kalu is expected to speak on â€œFinancing the Development of the Niger Delta Region: A Win-Win Scenario.â€
Already the dignitaries to the epoch-making Post Amnesty Dialogue are due to start arriving the oil city of Warri, Delta State, today, to proffer solutions to the multifarious problems facing the Niger Delta region.
The two day national dialogue, an initiative of Vanguard Newspapers, Media Limited is fully supported by the Federal Government and the nine states that make up the oil rich Niger Delta which has been racked by militancy and kidnappings. Billed to attend the event are the Minister of Defence General Godwin Abbe, the Minister of Niger DeltaÂ Affair, Chief Uffot Ekaette and the Niger Delta Governors with Dr. Emmanuel Uduaghan of Delta State as host governor.
The other governors expected at the event are Obong Godswill Akpabio of Akwa Ibom State, Dr. Olusegun Mimiko of Ondo State, Chief Theordore Orji of Abia State, Mr. Rotimi Amaechi of Rivers State, Chief Timipre Sylva of Bayelsa State, Mr. Liyel Imoke of Cross River State, Chief Ikedi Ohakim of Imo and Mr. Adams Oshiomole of Edo State.
Equally expected to attend are Nobel Laureate, Prof. Wole Soyinka, Professor Pat Utomi, Dr. Kalu Idika Kalu,Â the leader of Arewa Consultative forum, General I.B.M. Haruna, the President General of Ohaneze Ndi Igbo, Chief Ralph Uwaechue and the leader of Oodua Peoples Congress, Dr. Fredrick Fasehun.
Gen. A. O. Azazi, the immediate past Chief of Army Staff, is the chairman of the Post Amnesty Dialogue which is scheduled for the Government House Annex, Warri.
The issues to be discussed include reconstruction and rehabilitation of the villages devastated by the open military confrontation between the Joint Military Task Force (JTF) and the militants in May 2009;Â evolving a new security framework for the Niger Delta region; capacity building; industrial and economic development, women and youth development, resource control, equity and social justice.
The Dialogue is a fall-out of Amnesty Programme which took effect from October 4, 2009 but has suffered setbacks owing to the ill-health of President Umaru Musa Yar â€˜Adua, who took a medical leave in the kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
The issue of the presidentâ€™s health had become a major political and diplomatic debate as the process of governan