Nigeria to implement new vision for Niger Delta

Cyril Okonkwo, Abuja

The Nigerian government and the Pan Niger Delta Forum, PANDEF, will work together to implement President Muhammadu Buhari’s new vision for the Niger Delta.

PANDEF will join the Federal Government’s Inter-Ministerial Group tasked with the implementation of the vision.

This was one of the resolutions reached at the meeting between the federal government and leaders of the Niger Delta, under the aegis of the PANDEF.

Speaking at the meeting, Acting President Yemi Osinbajo while welcoming PANDEF’s offer to fully join the inter-ministerial group, restated the full commitment of the Federal Government to realize a new and prosperous Niger Delta developed through forthright partnerships between Federal Government, State Governments, private sector and local communities.

He said: “We are fully committed and thankful for your contributions and feedback. We are working on this day by day. From the beginning, we took the 16-point demand very seriously and we also developed our own plan mostly based on those demands. “Personally, I believe the issues of the Niger Delta must be addressed. When I undertook the visit to the Niger Delta region, my sole intention for participating in this process is that we need forthrightness and a hands-on approach. There is no week that has passed that I‘ve not held one meeting or the other on the Niger Delta issue. I’ve spent quality time looking at how we can implement this (new vision).”

The Acting President said the Federal Government would implement the new vision in a way that is fair to all parties.

 “It can’t be done overnight. We are also looking at the integrity of the process so we can meet our targets. We are not out of line. Everything is on course the way we set it out. We have got to do it right,” he said.

The inter-ministerial group, consisting of all relevant ministries, departments and agencies, MDAs of the FG, with the involvement of relevant State governments led by the Acting President, meets regularly to drive the different initiatives and ensure effective and ongoing implementation of the FG Niger Delta new vision.

Prof. Osinbajo further stated that the Federal Government was committed to the Amnesty Programme, the establishment of the Maritime University, the clean-up of Ogoni and the general development of the Niger Delta region.

Speaking on behalf of PANDEF, Chief Edwin Clark thanked the Federal Government for being forthright and showing commitment to improving the fortunes of the region, noting that the Acting President’s visit to the Niger Delta has contributed to the peace in the region.

Clark said, “The meeting was excellent. We met with Mr. Acting President. He was very forthright, truthful. We were very satisfied. There is no ultimatum. We agreed on many things and we came in with our own address, presented it; the ministers presented their cases. Mr. Acting President rounded it off and we saw in him the genuineness, truthfulness and forthrightness. He is a gentleman and we support him. We are satisfied. We did not use the word ‘ultimatum’. We only said we would withdraw. But we have agreed to work together.”

Also speaking, the Minister of State for Petroleum, Ibe Kachikwu said the meeting was held in an atmosphere of peace.

He said: “Today was an environment of peace, calm and friendliness and mutual dialoguing of issues so that they understand where we are coming from.  We listened to some of the most pressing concerns that they have.   They did in fact pledge their loyalty and their willingness to continue to work with us to find solution to issues. “

Leaders of the Niger Delta from Akwa Ibom, Bayelsa, Cross River, Delta, Edo and Rivers States attend the meeting.