President Buhari has been urged to jump-start the resolution of the Niger Delta crisis by initiating tangible development of the embattled region.
“For the past months the oil-producing Niger Delta has been embroiled in renewed multiple crises with oil/gas installations being the main targets in an avowed attempts by rampaging militants to bring Nigeria to its knees with zero-oil production. This, no doubt, has brought more hardships to a country that is not only reeling in dwindling oil prices but is now hemorrhaging from untoward destructing of oil/gas pipelines and installations from several sides, all at the same time”, a community leader/political activist, Pa Sandys Omadeli Uvwah, said in an open letter to the President.
He made this plea, according to him, in the spirit of finding a mutually acceptable solution to the crisis in the region despite several attempts in the past. To Sandys, the past was never ready for the resolutions of the problems because there were self-serving interests built in by several stakeholders which he called ‘the dubious and suspicious triangle’ – past Federal Governments/NNPC, the International Oil Companies, IOCs, and greedy, self-centred community leaders who collectively undermine the overall interests of the indigenes of the hosts communities.
Amongst others suggestions of ground-breaking initiatives that can quickly and rapidly take the Niger Delta out of the woods, Sandys told Buhari, is to continue works on the multi-billion Dollars Ogidigben, Ugborodo (Escravos) Export Processing Zone, EPZ, which has been commenced by the Federal Government with site clearing. This dream project, which has been classified as one of the largest in both Africa and the world, is proposed to be home to several oil/gas facilities that can drive both domestic and export markets thereby reviving the backward Nigerian economy in very many telling ways.
With a proposed capacity to improve the formal and informal business sectors and engage hundreds of thousands of formal and informal labour, the EPZ will not only raise national revenue tremendously in the face of dwindling oil revenues but mop up for good the ‘idle minds’ that voluntarily and involuntarily put fire to issues in the region.
Other projects Sandys recommended to Buhari are: The resuscitation of the comatose Delta Steel Company, DSC, Aladja; the revitalization of the dying Warri Port, the commercialization of the standard railway line between Itakpe in Kogi State and Aladja in Delta State, in a North and South passengers/goods movement; the quick delivery of the railway route between Calabar and Lagos; the resolution of the controversy and commitment to the establishment of the Maritime University in Okerenkoko; and the initiation of a holistic orientation programme for the Niger Delta region.
On the issue of whether to dialogue between the stakeholders of the Niger Delta, Sandys called for the quality exercise of discretion on the part of the Federal Government that holds the majority stake in the matter. He stated that the absence of dialogue can only lead to ‘violence begetting violence’ and ‘blood calling for blood.’ He, however, did not give the direction the required dialogues should take especially with the benefits of the failed attempts to do this in the past.
He requested Buhari to pay a GOODWILL VISIT to the people of the Niger Delta and connect directly with them for their good and that of Nigeria as a whole.