Chioma Onuegbu – Uyo
WORRIED by the dearth of key infrastructure in the oil-producing states of Nigeria, Pan Niger Delta Forum (PANDEF) has urged the Minister of the Niger Delta Affairs, Senator Godswill Akpabio to ensure the completion of the East-West Road.
The National Chairman of PANDEF, Commodore Idongesit Nkanga, who spoke to newsmen in Uyo, also appealed to the Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, to ensure that Lagos-Cross Rivers State Railway was constructed.
Nkanga implored the ministers especially Akpabio to accomplish the two projects because they are key to the economic development of Niger Delta.
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He regretted that the two federal government agencies in the region, the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) established in 2000, and the Niger Delta Ministry established in 2008 have not achieved their core mandates of developing the oil-rich states and curbing hostilities and militancy in the region.
He said: “The only major task that the Ministry of Niger Delta had been given since its creation in 2008 is the East-West Road. Although it was started by the last administration, in the last five years they have not put even an inch there.
“The last Minister of Niger Delta is from Cross Rivers State and he is also my friend. When I see him I will tell him that I am completely disappointed. My advice to Godswill Akpabio is that he should go and complete the East-West Road.
” For the railway construction, we have told Rotimi Amaechi that no matter where he runs to, it is immaterial if we cannot have the railway from Lagos to Cross Rivers State during his tenure as Minister of Transportation.”
Nkanga, a former military administrator of Akwa Ibom State, pointed out that some of the demands contained in the PANDEF’s 16-point agenda which the present administration has refused to look into were issues that do not even require money but only political will to implement.
He stressed that the Niger Delta must not continue to be fetchers of firewood and water, when it contributes much of its resources to the nation’s purse.
The PANDEF chief added: “These things don’t make us happy. The money used in funding the one that goes from Daura to Maiduguri comes from here. The colonial masters did the railways from Lagos to the North and PortHarcourt to the North.
“I hope the minister will talk to the central government to give him enough leverage and funds to come and do something here. He should get himself acquainted with the the 16-point agenda that we (PANDEF) presented to President Muhammadu Buhari on November 1, 2016.
“We (PANDEF) are advocates and the voice of the Niger Delta people, while the implementers are the governors and ministers. We will continue to be advocates which we are.”