Niger Delta, a region that has been neglected for long – Osinbajo

Nigeria’s Vice-President, Yemi Osinbajo has admitted that the Niger Delta region has long been abandoned.

Osinbajo made this assertion when he led a Federal Government delegation to the oil rich region on Monday.

The Vice President noted that most of the developmental initiatives started by the past administrations had not achieved their developmental objectives for the geopolitical zone.

He, however, called on the people of the region to support and pray for the APC-led government as it worked towards rebuilding the neglected areas in the region.

Osinbajo and his delegation comprising the Delta State Governor, Dr. Ifeanyi Okowa and the Minister of State for Petroleum, Dr. Ibe Kachikwu, landed in Oporoza in a Nigerian Navy 231 helicopter about 12.04pm.

They were received by His Royal Majesty, Oboro Gbaraun II, Aketekpe, Agadagba, the Pere of Gbaramatu Kingdom in the Warri South West Local Government Area of the state.

He said the delegation were in Gbaramatu at the instance of President Muhammadu Buhari towards finding lasting peace in the region.

The Vice-President said, “We are here as messengers of President Buhari. I have come with a message for the people of Gbaramatu Kingdom and the people of the Niger Delta as whole. It is a short message and I quote ‘we must prepare for the future.’

“The Niger Delta that you see today, including this kingdom we are now, is an area with poor infrastructure. No schools, no hospital but only severe pollution. The Niger Delta of today is that of daily pipeline vandalisation. In 2014 alone, there were over 3,700 incidents of pipeline vandalisation. From January to June 2016, there were over 1,447 incidents of vandalisation.

“The Niger Delta of today aside from environmental degradation, between 1998 and 2016, over 20,000 persons have died from fire incidents arising from breaches of pipelines.

“Many of the initiatives to change the story have not been able to make those changes. From the Niger Delta Development Board in the 1960s to ONPADEC to the NDDC and the amnesty programme, many of these projects have not been able to meet the objectives they were set up to achieve. My message to you today is, it is time to prepare for the future.

“It is not the future of degradation, poor infrastructure and it is not the future of no roads. It is not the future of harassment and locking up. Our future is the future of progress and development. Unfortunately, there is no time because the future is already here. Fellow citizens, to ensure that the future is not worst than today and to prepare for a great and promising future for the Gbaramatu Kingdom and the Niger Delta as a whole, three things must happen.

“First, we must recognise the unique environment and terrain challenges of the Niger Delta. We must also recognise that the Niger Delta is a special place and a special economic zone, and then we must treat it as a special development zone.

“And I agree in entirety that this zone ought to be treated as a special development zone. What does this mean in practical terms? It means that the FG, state governments, National Assembly representatives from this region alongside the NDDC and the civil society representatives of the Niger Delta people must sit together and develop a plan for rapid development. There is no excuse for not planning together.

This, he said, was because the “Federal Government alone cannot solve the problems of the Niger Delta.”

Earlier, Okowa had told Osinbajo that the state government was ready to partner the Federal Government and the people of the area to bring about lasting peace.

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