The Federal Government on Thursday renewed its commitment to restoring lasting peace and progressive development in the Niger Delta region.
The government spokesperson and Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Dr Ibe Kachikwu, made this known during a meeting with Inter-Agencies Committee and the Pan Niger Delta Forum (PANDEF) in Abuja.
The agencies involved in drawing a work plan to finding solutions to the region are the Ministries of Petroleum Resources, Niger Delta, Environment and Works as well as the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC).
Kachikwu, who was represented at the meeting by his Technical Adviser on Niger Delta Affairs, Mr Charles Achodo, said the Vice President wanted a clearly-defined roadmap hashed out for the region by the inter-agency committee.
“All these efforts are by the various Federal Government agencies that are driving the peace initiative of the region and that is why under the vice president we have the inter-ministerial working group.
“We on the technical level support that group and an implementation work plan that will replace responses to the issues raised in the region,’’ he said.
Kachikwu said for the first time in the history of the region, agencies had come together to work on one common platform to avoid duplication and waste.
“It will help avoid duplication of projects, avoid wasting scarce resources and reinforce the process of joint accountability and benchmark the process of holding each agency accountable on what they have committed to deliver.
“We have been asked to put this together as quickly as possible and the team has been put together and hopefully within the next couple of weeks, it would come out with a clearly defined work plan.
“This work plan will rid the region of militancy and begin concerted development of the region. Changing the direction of the region from militancy to development is the critical challenge facing all of us,’’ he said.
Speaking to newsmen after the event, Achodo said the meeting was basically an implementation work plan to address challenges in the Niger Delta region.
He said: “Within that work plan, responsibilities are assigned to every agency regarding the assignment they seek to implement.
“So every agency will identify which activity they will do, when they will do it, where they will do it and how do we know they have done it.
“The work plan provides for us an avenue where you hold everybody accountable either performing or not performing on what you have committed to do.
“It also seeks to tackle development challenges in the region, how do we clean up environmental degradation, address the challenges of infrastructure and unemployment, militancy and begin to push for the development of the region.’’
Achodo said the meeting was in response to the 16-point agenda raised by PANDEF and in the context of the 20-point agenda raised as part of the implementation of the 7-Big Wins of the Ministry of Petroleum Resources.
He said funding would come from developmental partners supporting the process, adding that with the political will of government and drive of all the agencies, the narrative of the region would change.
Prof. Lucky Akaruese, Central Working Committee member of PANDEF, said: “What we have done is to come up with a masterpiece developmental plan for the Niger Delta region.
“This plan will be inclusive of peace, security, stability and development. The plan is ongoing and within the next four weeks or thereabout the blueprint will be out for public consumption.’’
The federal government had earlier in the year sought to negotiate with leaders in the region by raising a 20-point agenda, while PANDEF came up with a 16-point agenda, to begin the process of rebuilding the region.
The 16-point demand, prepared by PANDEF under the leadership of Chief Edwin Clark, was presented to Buhari when the group met the president at the Presidential Villa on Nov. 1, 2016.