By Emma Amaize
PORT HARCOURT- ABOUT 500 participants, including governors of the Niger Delta states, federal appointees, ex-agitators, leaders of ethnic nationalities and traditional rulers are among stakeholders the Federal Government invitees to chart a new template for the region at a two-day summit on the region, being organised by the Office of the Vice President.
The Federal Government in a concept note sent to participants for the September 26 and 27 talks, stated: “The objectives of the summit are, to provide an enduring political blueprint geared towards a more lasting peace in the Niger Delta region; to delineate an acceptable security framework for consolidating and sustaining peace and stability in the Niger Delta and to review current development initiatives in the region and outline a concerted and coordinated framework for delivering development results in the region.”
Also expected at the summit are state executive officials, National Assembly members, party leaders (past and present), opinion leaders, youth groups, women groups, civil society organisations, leaders, elder statesmen, diplomatic corps, bilateral and multilateral agencies.
The government noted: “It will seem that the current renewed hostilities by militants in the Niger Delta region have a political undertone. However, this political motivation derives from and interacts with perceived neglect of the development of Nigerians living in the Niger Delta region in all its ramifications as a result of poor governance and mismanagement of investments by government, which run into trillions of naira over the years.
“Apart from government, there has been support from the private and non-governmental organisations working in the oil-rich region, as well as international development agencies focused on various aspects of development such as education; economic empowerment; human rights, environmental protection and sustainability; women empowerment and gender; conflict resolution; peace and security; social justice; health and so on, to improve the quality of the lives of the people.
“Over the years, government has constantly re-strategized and renewed efforts to ensure sustainable development of the region; improve the lives of the people and enhance environmental sustainability with the anticipated benefits to the nation at large. These efforts have been through numerous developmental platforms and initiatives of government such as Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC, Ministry of the Niger Delta, and more recently through the Presidential Amnesty Programme, among others.
“The ‘homegrown’ Disarmament, Demobilization and Re-Integration, DDR, programme, also known as the Presidential Amnesty Programme, PAP, in the oil-rich Niger Delta region, comprising Abia, Akwa-Ibom, Bayelsa, Cross-River, Delta, Edo, Imo, Ondo and Rivers has been on for about seven years now. The PAP was conceptualised to arrest restiveness in the oil-rich area by devising mechanisms that provide support for social re-integration and economic empowerment to 30,000 former agitators (29,178 males and 822 females)”.